One of the fun things about being married is doing lots of things together. We have dinner together and travel together and sit together and visit folks together, and we really enjoy being together. Then, there's shopping. 

It is Christmas season and the shopping question arises again. There is a desire, on the part of most people, to shop together. We all have the idea that sharing in getting things for others is part of being married. Trouble is, we have to shop.

Now, if you have gone totally into online shopping, this is not a problem. But physically shopping often is a problem, because men and women tend to be very different in shopping styles.

Men tend to be "buyers." They go to a store to buy Christmas gifts, they buy them, then they leave. I (speaking of one man) can shop for my whole family in an hour in any good Target store. It just isn't that hard to do. You see what you want, you take it to the counter, you buy it. End of story. A lot of men are like me, some more and some less.

Women tend to be "shoppers." They go looking for presents. They will buy something, eventually, but what they really enjoy is looking at stuff. Lots of stuff. They look at stuff that has nothing to do with Christmas. They look at things they never thought of looking at. They become immersed in the experience of shopping. Not all women are shoppers, some are buyers, but the general rule still applies.

When you go shopping together, one or the other is going to be unhappy. My wife and I almost never shop together, except for groceries, where she wanders anywhere she wants to wander and I buy groceries. We arrive together and leave together. That works out pretty well. 

But going to a mall or a large department store together is very difficult. Someone has to do what they do not want to do, and that is often the husband. He has to find something to do while she shops. He has to find a chair or a bench, or just stand there looking lost. It is very frustrating and kills the "Christmas Spirit" in a man to have to do this. 

So, before you go shopping this season, think about it. Do you really want to shop together? If so, then be considerate of the other partner. Do not spend hours in a store looking at things you are not really interested in buying anyway. Do not expect him to stand around while you plow through a pile of coats or dresses. Take some time off while you shop. Let him buy some things. Seriously.

Most of the couples I know do very little shopping together and it seems to work out pretty well. And this is okay. Nothing in the wedding vows is about shopping together and there has never been a divorce case based on a failure to jointly shop. 

Young couples often have the idea that shopping together is somehow required. They tend not to really know each other very well yet and their passion tends to overcome much of their boredom and frustration, so this tends to be okay. Older couples know that their relationship is not about Target or Macy's or Wal-Mart and that splitting the duties can be a good thing. 

Besides, this way you might be surprised on Christmas morning, even by what other people receive.

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