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Adlen Robinson: Running errands with your spouse can be challenging

As my long-time readers know, when Paul and I married and moved to Forsyth County from Atlanta in 1990, we hoped to have children one day. We had no idea that only three months into our marriage, we would be pregnant. 

One year and a week from our wedding day, we welcomed our first born son. Thirteen months later our second baby joined our family, then two years later our third was born. A few more years later, we welcomed (with sleep-deprived and bleary eyes), our fourth and final baby. 

Of course, that brief description of the first six-and-a-half years of our marriage translates into many things — exhaustion, frustration, sleepless nights and more. Those years and the ones that followed also meant loving people more than I thought was possible, creating numerous traditions we still enjoy, laughing harder than I ever have, and thanking God for the privilege of seeing four babies grow into amazing young adults — not without the typical bumps along the way. 

Those busy years raising our four children meant something else too — it meant we usually ran errands with a child or two in tow, but rarely alone with each other. You can do the math to see how it was almost impossible for us to go to the grocery store or the home improvement store with just the two of us. 

A few years ago, as many of you know, we became empty-nesters. While it was strange to go from a house full of people to just us, we embraced it and have truly enjoyed this new phase in our lives. 

Besides the oddity of cooking for just two people after so many years cooking for more people, another newness is we now often run errands together. That means Paul goes along with me to the grocery store, the Asian and Indian markets, the craft stores and even sometimes (always begrudgingly) the cosmetic store. I, in turn, accompany him to the home improvement stores, the hardware store, and even (also begrudgingly), the auto parts store. 

Why do I dislike the auto parts store so much, you might ask, and not mind the home improvement and hardware stores? Here is why. If Paul needs a particular tool or piece of equipment, or lumber from those stores, I can let him do his thing and I can wander over to the appliance section, the houseplant and garden area, pick up some new bird seed and suet, look at barbecue tools, paint colors, or even cleaning products and tools. Light fixtures are always fun to look at, and depending on the season, I love looking at holiday decorations. Before I know it, Paul has found what he came for and we are good to go. 

The auto parts store is an entirely different entity. There is absolutely nothing of interest to me there. While Paul happily navigates through the store looking for whatever thing he is looking for, I find myself looking at the car air fresheners or the small selection of key chains. Paul also usually chit chats with one of the employees at the store, since car people love to discuss whatever project they are working on. Their conversation reminds me of those old Charlie Brown shows when the adults spoke and it sounded like, “Wha wha wha wha.” 

Paul said his experience at the cosmetic store is similar to my feelings about the auto parts store. He usually just stands by the exit and waits for me. When he hears how much my usually small purchase costs, he cannot believe how expensive the products are. We know. It is expensive to be a woman. 

While I will probably never love going to the auto parts store, I am glad we enjoy being together enough that I can power through it. Who knows? Maybe one day working on cars will interest me. I am positive Paul will never be interested in anything to do with cosmetics. Do you run errands with your spouse? What sort of places do you dread going to? Email me! 

South Forsyth resident Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at