Friday, August 24, 2012

The Great Mayo Debate

I just couldn't believe it! I had my hands on my hips glaring at my husband in the middle of Econo Foods grocery store.  The term husband was a very new concept since we had been married 4 days.   I thought that there wasn't anything we couldn't talk about and reason out together.  Until that day.  There he was, my brand new husband with the same stubborn look on his face as mine, along with one of disbelief. 

"No, don't even think about putting that in the cart." I said

James gave me his eyebrow and replied with equal fierceness.  "Oh really and instead you're going to put what in it?"

"Mayo of course! I can't believe that you eat that nasty stuff! Do you know what they put in Miracle Whip? It’s totally gross!"

"I hate Mayonnaise. Its tasteless and I won't eat it!" James replied

"Fine.  You don't have to eat!" I yelled

There we stood, our first fight. We like to call it the great Mayo/Miracle Whip debate now.  Back then I was truly upset that there was something we couldn't compromise on.  We both thought there was nothing the two of us couldn't talk through.  A two year, long distance relationship had cemented our ability to talk but as we were staring each other down in the condiment aisle, all of those skills slipped by.

We were on our first grocery shop ever.  Our goal was to fill our new 500 sqft. home with things like hamburger helper, soda, spaghetti, ramen and Mac and cheese. Neither one of us knew what to do next.  I had gone straight from living with my parents  and high school, were James had been living in the barracks eating at the chow hall every day since joining the Army two years earlier. 

We were young, 18 and 20 respectively.  Not to mention tired because we had been on the road the last three days from Washington State to Ft. Riley, Kansas where James was stationed.  Add to it that we were completely ignorant on how to set up a home. 

I look back at our stubbornness and laugh, but at the time the ability to compromise and shrug off the little things were major blocks to allowing each other into our everyday lives.  What was the line where one of us was going to give up something for the other?  Even something small like Mayonnaise.

  We were both upset that we couldn't convince the other to join their side on the issue.  We had not yet learned to allow us each to have our differences.  We knew we had a lot in common but we didn't see all the differences because we were so wrapped up in our individual lives.

The process of joining our lives together was more complicated than we understood. We didn't look beyond the surface things, like bills, and name changing, to the more important things like what makes my spouse happy? What hurts her/him?  What is my spouse passionate about? What kind of condiment does my spouse like on their turkey sandwich?

You might say I am making a bit much over our fight but it was the first of many clashes that still 15 years later happen occasionally.  James and I are better at recognizing the symptoms of selfishness and stupidity.    We now use effective tools like rock, paper, scissors to make all minor life decisions.

Time, effort, and caring about what our spouse likes also helps prevent confrontations in the grocery store.    Sometimes just a raised eyebrow and "Really, Rachel?" (James forte) and we both stop and look at why we are both being so stubborn about something.

James and I in that aisle looked at each other in a new way.  We saw a person that we had cleaved our life to.  We saw a person that despite all the letters and phone calls and love for them, we probably needed to get to know more.  What makes them who they are and how can I be part of that? 

We still have to look at each other with those eyes sometimes.  Who is James today?  What would make him happy?  What does he need and how, as his wife and friend, can I meet that need even if it clashes with one of mine? If my spouse’s happiness is linked to mine then these are important questions.

So, you are asking what happened in Econo foods aren't you? Who won right? Well we both did. After yelling it out and maybe seeing how completely silly we looked, we decided this was a fight we needed to move past.  We decided that there was no compromising so we put both Mayo and Miracle Whip in the cart.

 15 years later if you look in my fridge door you will see both labels sitting side by side.  Not that the great debate has ever ended.  My oldest son Ben is a strictly Miracle Whip man and daughter Sarah is a mayo girl and Sam likes neither. 


  1. Thanks for sharing. We have had some doozy fights too over the silliest of things. 36 + years later we occasionally have those arguments still - the most recent where to place the sensor for the thermometer???? Who really cares as long as we know the inside/outside temp :)

    Have a great day Rachel & James!!!

  2. My husband and I also have a "mixed marriage." I am anti-MW and he is anti-Mayo, and we came to the same conclusion and bought both. Great minds/marriages think alike. ;)

    But really, that was a small barrier compared to the "Great Processed Cheese Debate" of 2006, or the "Creamed Corn Debacle" of 2008.


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