Five Reasons a Man Should Shop with His Wife

Editor Note: This is a repost of an article posted last week. David did a live, nationally televised show regarding on ABC Money Matters titled Shop With Your Man: Why husbands should shop with their wives.

Although the men I know seem uniformly capable of going to a store, buying a product, and feeling confident in their purchases, most of the women I know are quite the opposite. As a result, the women I know seem to return almost as much merchandise as they purchase. Indeed, I am always amazed by the number of women I overhear in stores — especially clothing stores — who exclaim, “I’ll buy [this] but I’ll probably return it next week.”

What the …. ?

When I shop, I like to find what I need, get out of the store as quickly as possible. I think such concepts are alien to the female mind, but they do not have to be. For this reason, I am a firm believer that every husband should shop as much as possible with his wife. When a husband is present, he can dispel his wife’s doubts about almost any purchase because a husband is more than willing to assess each purchase to make sure he can live with it. Whether the purchase is too expensive or impractical or just “not right,” I believe husbands are much better equipped to make validating or invalidating comments to ensure that minimal time is spent in the store.

Usually, shopping with my wife is very easy and she appreciates the time I take to shop with her while we both appreciate our time together. Today, however, I was faced with the greatest horror a husband can face when shopping with his significant other. My wife and I were shopping for things we have never purchased before — pet supplies for the dog we bought. My wife had already spent 40 minutes grilling the floor assistant at PetCo while I wandered over to look at the fish. We had almost made it to the checkout counter when my wife stopped to by a floor mat on which we could put the dog’s food and water bowls. There were many mats from which we could choose. They varied in price from $3.99 to over $20. My wife agonized over various mats while I could only wonder why we were agonizing over a dog bowl mat. To end the discussion, I picked up a mat and said, “this one is perfect. Let’s go.”

I moved towards the checkout counter, holding my breath. One step, two steps, three steps … I was almost there. Then my wife stopped me and asked the worst question that a man can hear when shopping for anything that is appreciated subjectively. She said, “Why?” Why was the mat I had chosen the perfect mat? I needed an answer and I needed it fast. I very quickly looked at the mat that I had chosen and read aloud all of the positive features that were described on its packaging. My wife was still not convinced so I talked about the color scheme in the room in which the dog would eat and I observed that the texture on the mat would not allow food and drink to get caught in tiny nooks and crannies.

I recited every possible positive aspect of the dog bowl mat and finally my wife agreed with me that it was perfect. Do I think that the dog bowl mat was perfect? No. It is a mat. I won’t notice it ever again. I just realized that agonizing over every purchase does not make a lot of sense. Not every purchase needs to be perfect. Some just need to be practical, even if they are less than perfect. Indeed, I have no desire to put the effort into researching the perfect mat. I just don’t. That mat was perfect because it was the closest mat to me and the cheapest that I could see.
If you are a husband and your wife asks you to shop with her for anything at all, you should say yes. If you do, here are at least five benefits that you will enjoy:

Easier Returns: If a man has a return, he will bring it back to the store as soon as he realizes that he has a return. A woman is far more likely to leave returns to the very last day of the 90 day return window. By charging everything on his own credit card, the husband can take charge of returns and not give his wife’s favorite stores 90 days of float!

Husbands can offer Immediate Opinions: If a wife is going to go home and ask her spouse whether he likes something, the husband can avoid amazing trauma by offering the opinion at the store. At home, the husband is trapped. If he says he dislikes something, he risks spousal frustration. An indication of approval is almost always followed by the horrific follow on question of “Why? Why do you like it?” for which there is never an acceptable answer. In a store, a trained husband can usually scout an entire store or department and announce before further damage is done that “There is nothing here. Let’s move on.” He has thus immediately eliminated an entire store without questioning his wife’s taste. At the same time, if the store does have good selections, a trained husband can respond to queries with “I don’t think that is right for you, but you really should try this on.” Giving a new approved option will do wonders and it will help to cut down on returns.

Shopping with a Spouse is Good Training for Christmas and Birthdays: A husband should learn what his wife likes to buy in a clothing store and the best way to do that is to shop with the wife. It significantly increases the likelihood that holiday gifts will be appreciated and actually used!

Window Shopping is a Cheap form of Entertainment: I’ve read that most women would rather go for a long walk with a husband than go out for an expensive dinner. Walking through a quaint shopping district and admiring a wife while she tries on clothing, even if she would never buy it, can be a very romantic and inexpensive way to spend an afternoon or evening.

Combining Shopping Trips Saves Gas: I spend about thirty minutes buying clothes every year. When I see something on sale when I am shopping with my wife, I buy it. I wear it. I would never go to a clothing store if my wife did not want to shop. I still wear the same black t-shirts that I bought 20 years ago. Until they fall off my body, I will find a way to keep wearing them! Shopping with my wife allows me to add to my collection of black t-shirts without actually driving to the Mall for my own purposes.

Of course, the main reason that I shop with my wife is because I would rather spend my time with her doing anything than spend my time away from her doing anything else. I like to think that she enjoys my company when I shop with her as much as she enjoys mine, and I am confident that she likes being able to get my opinion on the spot (whether or not she agrees with it or acts on it). And sometimes, we even get to stop in stores that look interesting to me.

What do you think? Are you a wife who enjoys having her husband in attendance at the store? Or would you rather have your husband remain blissfully unaware of your shopping patterns? Are you a husband who can comment on hemlines and who knows which colors work best during each season? Do you like shopping with your wife or are you an unwilling participant in shopping excursions?

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19 Responses to Five Reasons a Man Should Shop with His Wife

  1. Annie Jones says:

    Many of your points are just as valid when you consider having a wife shop with her husband.

    My husband is fairly frugal-minded, but he will over-buy every time if I’m not with him. He’ll buy a larger quantity than we need, more features than we’ll ever use, more power than is necessary, etc. Or he’ll find a dozen more things to buy once we’ve found what we went to the store for in the first place. It doesn’t matter whether it’s PetCo, Wal-Mart, the tool department at Sears or the local hardware store. It’s just the way he shops if I don’t gently rein him in.

    He never remembers to return anything, so if a return is to be made, I do it for him.

    It’s also nice for him to come shopping with me sometimes, because he’ll encourage me to splurge on some small something for myself that I would talk myself out of otherwise.

    I never let him grocery shop with me, though. Our budget would suffer, for sure.

  2. Princessperky says:

    I think I am a wife who doesn’t buy much stuff. And I never buy planning on return. (ok so once I bought a shade that was too small and I kinda thought it might be, I figured if husband had to return one he would get the right size, if I didn’t buy on the other hand the shade purchase would be put off for another year)

    I would prefer never to set foot in a store when I need something, I hate the wall of mats like you described! (when I was a kid we just set the bowl on the floor?)

    Though I will say shopping with my husband takes some of the pain out of it.

  3. Eleanor says:

    David, I consider your remarks to be rather sexist. In our home, I (the wife) am the black belt in frugality, and I cringe when my husband wants to go grocery shopping with me. There goes my 50% savings. Also, much as I dislike a certain local discount store, I will go with him just to rein in impulse purchases.
    Your article does make some good points regarding the spenders vs savers in the family; it should be presented from a gender neutral position.

  4. Alex says:

    I am a husband and agree with you in general about women being rather more slower to reach a decision, blah blah blah, but I think what you don’t realize is that this is actually because women are more selective than men. Studies actually show that women spend less money overall then men (though not by much) and if you look at it, women’s clothing is cheaper than men’s, which I think is almost certainly a function of women being less decisive and more selective.

    All of this indecision drives me bonkers though, so I prefer to allow my wife to do her shopping by herself, which usually results in us getting better stuff for less money, without the hassle of me being driven bonkers by her indecision.

  5. Monkey Mama says:

    I laughed out loud about the broad generalizations made about women and men (teehee).

    I actually, as a wife, don’t particularly enjoy shopping. My husband does more shopping because he has more time. Since we have a joint credit card I have him make most of my returns anyway (primarily, clothes that don’t fit. I hate spending all day in the dressing room – rather try on at home. At least clothes that usually fit – like shirts. I wouldn’t buy pants or a dress without trying them on).

    If I had a return I Was going to do personally I’d do it like the next day. IT’s just a function of my personality – I don’t procrastinate.

    I guess we both have little issue with the way the other shops. I think we could both care less and would rather do other things with our time together than go shopping!

  6. Ann says:

    David, one of the reasons I refused to have a joint checking account with my ex-husband was that HE was the one who constantly overspent! LOL

    I have mixed feelings about shopping. Most of the time I’d just rather avoid up, and actually enjoyed finding Peapod when I lived in the UK where I could grocery shop on-line and they’d deliver it to the door. :-) That meant I could spend my shopping time on interesting things like “the great Baltic amber hunt” and street markets. Here my favorite things are farmers’ markets and antique/junk shops… and I’ll admit that they’re more fun when you have a friend to share or laugh at things with.

  7. crazyliblady says:

    I hate shopping with my husband. He wants to buy everything in sight whether we need it or not. If I go grocery shopping with him, I will come home with 10 things we probably really didn’t need and needing at least 5 we did not get. I find it disorienting and upsetting. He took me into a women’s clothing store recently and said I should try a certain sweater on. He wouldn’t tell me what he honestly thought of it, so I should have left it in the store. I did buy it, but wound up hating it and will take it back on Saturday. So, I am resolved to make my shopping list, take my coupons and calculator, and go shopping without him. I occasionally do forget something, but it is rare.

  8. Debbie M says:

    I am stereotypically male in this way. In the situation you described, I would have said we do not need a mat.

    Stereotypes usually have (or had) some basis in reality, but if you switch from clothing to tools or electronics, you might find the shopping stereotypes reversed.

    But to your original question, I like having my guy with me when I’m shopping for clothes because I can ask him whether he hates something and eliminate that. Anything that he’s more of an expert in like clothing styles and cameras, of course I will take him with me.

    However, I also dislike having him with me for many general purchases because he will usually find loads of stuff to buy that will not easily fit into the house. And then say he doesn’t know why his credit card bill is so big again. (At least he pays off that bill in full each month.) And he will ask me to look at icky things like unflattering clothes and gigantic purses and make me feel bad for being so negative toward him.

    If I did have trouble choosing, I think that having someone with me who doesn’t care which option is chosen would not help me make the choice except that sometimes being faced with a specific future (such as the mat you chose) can help you see what your real feelings are.

  9. Tightwad says:

    Sexist. Go into any man’s workshop or garage and see the all the crap that they have spent tons of money on and never use.
    Males are just as bad as female and some are even worse!

    Now go play with your “The Pocket Fisherman” folding fishing rod!

  10. Lou Russo says:

    I also kind of enjoy shopping with my wife for much the same reason you do, I enjoy being with her. Grocery shopping does drive me a bit nuts, though. My wife is an inveterate coupon and sale item searcher. We routinely save 30-50% off our grocery bill. That said, she is still capable of spending an agonizing 5 minutes deciding which of the items she has a coupon for to actually buy. On those occasions when I go myself, she gives me the list and the coupons and I go like Mario Andretti through the aisles getting what I need. I always attribute this to the concept that in the early history of human beings, men hunted and women gathered. To me, shopping is like gathering. My wife carefully selects those items that appeal to her. Me, I just want it to be over.

  11. Dena says:

    I think if you are in a relationship, one person tends to be frugal and the other more relaxed in their spending. Opposites attract. I haven’t stepped foot in a mall in years. My husband loves shopping. I tend to research my purchases and know exactly what I want and the best deal. My husband loves to window
    shop and rarely puts any thought into what he buys. Christmas shopping is a complete nightmare to me (the crowds, the marketing) and my husband says it puts him in the
    Christmas mood. Hmmmm… I guess we don’t fit the roles you described.

  12. Justin says:

    My wife and I love spending time together and we rarely shop without one another. We are both frugal minded people and this definitely makes shopping easier when we you and your spouse are on the same page.

  13. Gail says:

    Tut tut tut David. You made huge generalizations in this post! I have never bought anything with the intention that I can bring it back if needed. What a time waster! In my experience it is the guys that buy parts they aren’t sure they need and then they have to find the receipts and unused parts to return them to the store after a project is finished unless they decide it is easier to keep the stuff ‘just in case’.

    However the redeeming part of your post is the fact you want to do things with your wife and that even includes shopping. During the rare times that we have money to shop at the store for clothes for me (instead of my sewing them) my hubby loves helping me find clothes and talks of how he loves dressing up ‘his’ Barbie. We just like being together.

    Not all women are ditherers and can’t make decsions. I’m perfectly capable of grabbing what I need at a correct price and getting out of the store. I don’t have the energy to stand around debating the merits of whatever. My son usually helps me get groceries due to my poor health and he is now excellently trained to to anybody’s shopping and bring home exactly what was needed and only what was needed.

  14. Natalie says:

    This article overgeneralizes to the EXTREME. Who edits the articles on this website? Anybody?

  15. Moneylady says:

    I agree with Natalie…..I saw the post on the website, David I hope this is your hobby and you have a real job somewhere, or are you really and idiot!

  16. probuyer says:

    I was a buyer for a major international corporation for almost 2 decades.

    I’m also usually the one in our household making purchasing decisions.

    I guess I should go see if I have a pe-is that I’m not aware of.

  17. OldFriend says:

    David, I am a ghost from your past. It was fun seeing this issue addressed on the news (and fun seeing you). I do enjoy shopping with my wife. In our case I am the impulse buyer. The other comments about a man over buying (tools esp) apply to me and I am not ashamed of it. Nothing is better than having a completely over-engineered jackhammer to punch in a few staples. Then watch it hang on the garage wall for years gathering dust. Most women (and some men) out there will never understand this power trip. Also, I never return things. After my wife points out how rediculus the purchase is I promise to return but do not. Why in the world do we need two shop vacs? I don’t really know but I trust my gut instincts on these matters. I also
    do not price compare when I shop.
    Probably because I am in a mathematical profession and doing math in the grocery feels too much like work. How many times I have I come home with medium sized eggs and told it was the large eggs on sale that week. How does she even know this? Don’t get me started on itune purchases.

    My wife does most of her non-food purchases at the Goodwill store. She has created a fantastic home environment at a fraction of the cost of my tools. Unbelievable.

    Now my wife has walked in and found me wasting time on the internet again. She wants to add something ..

    Hello,all of the above is very true. Also, I am a craigslist junkie and have begun to get my husband addicted too. (He is not as bad as me). But this hails to your “shopping on line” tip–fast and fun (and a great way to recycle) Well I think we have turned our comment into our own blog… please keep in touch with your old friend and keep him in line.

    OlFriend is back. I want to give my number one reason for shopping with wife: Women’s clothes shopping. It does not have to cost anything – I will leave the benefits to your audiences imagination.

  18. spicoli says:

    I don’t mind shopping but I hate shopping with other people. If I am in a store, it has to be all about me!

  19. Persephone says:

    I love to shop with my husband but I know my way around a store as well as he does.

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