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Before You Say “I Do,” Find Out Their Favorite Cream Cheese.

In 1956, Ed Norton (Wiki him if needed) once told a bridegroom…who wanted to be agreeable and didn’t want to have any arguments with his future wife…

“Well, if you don’t want to argue, what are you getting married for!?”

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Truer words were never spoken, and even in the strongest of marital unions, it’s not the major disagreements which cause the most pain. It’s the stupid little ones, because they never go away.

Love may conquer all, and it can even conquer drastically polar opposite political views. Just look at mega-Liberal political pundit James Carville and his 26-year marriage to  Conservative political consultant Mary Matalin. These two even take their arguments on the road, appearing on television and in print as news coverage’s answer to Lucy and Ricky.

But if James went grocery shopping and brought home orange juice with pulp one more time when he obviously knew Mary preferred original, the two would be standing before a divorce court judge the next day. Of course, a successful couple like this could certainly afford to buy both types, but that’s not always practical, and most working American couples don’t have this option. Plus, it’s the principle of the thing:

“He knows I don’t like the pulp, so why did he buy it!?” And James is thinking, “She knows I prefer pulp, so why is she making such a big deal about it!?”

These are mere minor annoyances in a marriage just starting out, because you love him or her to death and success comes from compromise, right? But after 25 years, there’s nothing minor about it. After decades of suffering without pulp, or suffering with pulp, it can get a little annoying.

You worked your butt off all these years paying off the mortgage and the kids’ college, and you can’t get a damn glass of OJ with some pulp when you want it? Similar examples are salted or unsalted butter, white or whole wheat bread, low fat or whole milk, and spaghetti #8 or spaghetti #9. (Bring linguine into the discussion for some couples and you may be talking domestic violence.)

Your partner’s favorite meals may also drive you to drink if they’re not compatible with yours. I have a long-married friend whose wife won’t eat a clam, oyster, lobster, crab, mussel, shrimp…not a single shellfish on the vast and glorious Periodic Table of Delicious Shellfish…while he absolutely loves the stuff. This makes grocery shopping a little difficult for them, and when it comes to dining out, it’s a regular Uncivil War choosing a restaurant.

These two must love each other like crazy to have gone through this for so long!

I understand there are those who think I’m exaggerating here, and that means you haven’t been married very long, or you’re a Type Triple-A personality who avoids conflict and is happier to be more laid back and walked all over by your spouse. Every couple has at least one of these issues that can throw them over the edge at any moment, but like a smart General who retreats from a single battle in order to win the total war, we make a distasteful, tactical decision.

My advice to young couples is to take note of these culinary differences before you tie the knot, and while I’m not saying to call off the wedding in the event they’re too many, just be aware of them now, and understand that they’re rarely reconcilable and it won’t get any easier, just more annoying.

Maybe like separate vacations, separate refrigerators are the answer.

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