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Ask Ellie: Don't bring cranky husband Christmas shopping

For those who enjoy gift-buying amid bustling crowds, choose a like-minded shopping buddy for your outing

Dear Ellie: My husband hates shopping unless it’s for food. But it always turns into a bad-time outing for me because he argues about everything that I choose.

I know that food prices are high but we still have to eat, so I am definitely watching our budget. But he’s walking behind me, putting things back, searching for cheaper items, and talking loudly so everyone else in the store can hear.

Things get worse in a department store when I want to just “look around” at the displays. I especially enjoy shopping at this time of year.

I know that Christmas is an expensive time, but we have grandchildren, my sister, his two brothers, and my elderly father. I buy small items but they all add up.

So, I look to see what’s on sale while my husband waits outside, and gets irritable.

I still love my husband. We’re both divorced, then were very excited to fall in love again nine years ago. We laugh a lot when alone together.

We each go to a workplace every day, and consider our home a “love nest.”

So why does even food-shopping ruin our time together?

Shopping Battles

You’ve both forgotten some basic rules of marriage: Think like a team. Be realistic about the costs and your needs. Make compromises.

Create your grocery list together. You can consider the extra costs of any expected company. Encourage him to make it his task to study different food sales and prices offered at various stores or locations.

Then consider your budget realistically, and go together as a team with your list in hand.

But when it comes to pre-Christmas shopping as an outing you personally enjoy, go alone or with a friend or your sister, etc.

And yes, watch your budget! Too many people go overboard on their gifting at Christmas, leaving them worried and owing too much money on their credit cards in cold, bleak January.

What’s needed most is getting together for the holiday, if possible, with the people you most care about, and sending warm wishes and gifts you know will be appreciated, and which you can afford.

Reader’s Commentary regarding the woman fearing her husband’s ex-wife (Dec.6):

“I think she should accompany her husband to visit his son from his first marriage. It’s ridiculous not to have met him over 20 years, especially when he visited their city as a ­teenager.

“Now, her husband wants her along, to help resist the mother’s pressure to spend beyond his means.

“She just needs to meet them, perhaps for dinner, and then go sightseeing, joining her husband each day. If the first wife is indeed a financial threat, being present will ensure that her husband won’t succumb to unwarranted pressure.”

Dear Readers — During this traditional season of family gatherings, and gifting to loved ones, especially children, I’m moved to include the following message for those people, particularly grandparents and other family members, who are estranged from their relatives whom they love and would like to be close:

From Constance Marsh, Facilitator, “Our Alienated Grandparents Matter:”

“Our grandparent support group has recently launched our landing page.

“Our mission statement is this: ‘Our Alienated Grandchildren Matter (OAGM)’ is a peer-support group for grandparents alienated from their grandchildren by their adult children. Although deeply anguished, our grandchildren are unable to advocate for themselves. We work to strengthen their rights while helping ourselves.’”

Ellie’s tip of the day

For those who prefer Christmas gift-buying amid bustling crowds rather than ordering online, choose a like-minded shopping buddy for your outing.

Send relationship questions to [email protected].