Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Tubes of Toothpaste

Amanda and Joe got married this past weekend, and as a wedding present I gave them two little travel-sized tubes of toothpaste. You may think this is a rather strange gift, but I think it was a very important one. The card I gave them with it should explain why. It said:
There are two types of people: those who squeeze their toothpaste from the middle, and those who steadfastly believe that you should squeeze it from the end.
I say that each person should get their own tube.

When I first tell people about two tubes, they argue that that will cost more money because you’re buying two tubes instead of one. But it’s not really true. You’re actually still buying the same amount of toothpaste. The difference is that instead of buying a tube a month for two people to share, you’re buying two tubes every two months so each person can have their own. Either way you’re buying two tubes every two months.

But there’s much more to this than a simple lesson about shopping.

So many marriages fail these days because ask too much of it. Yes, you saw that right, we ask too much of marriage. I’m all for the bride and groom being each other’s best friends…I think that the best marriages are built on friendship rather than passion or hotness, the latter two of which will eventually fade away. Cheryl and I are each other’s best friends, but just as we each need our own tube of toothpaste – and different brands too – we each need our own circles of friends to hang out with every now and then. Sometimes those circles will overlap, and sometimes they won’t; but the moment that one of us expects the other to be our everything, and to “complete us,” we’re in trouble.

And that goes for everyone. Everyone needs a little time and space to themselves in a marriage, otherwise life together gets claustrophobic. And when things get claustrophobic, you find yourself screaming and clawing to get out.

We also need our own activities and interests to be involved in…which may not necessarily be shared by the other. If he likes Shakespeare while she prefers science fiction (in which case I’d wonder how they ended up together in the first place), he shouldn’t have to be dragged to every Star Trek movie by her, nor should she be dragged to every production of Macbeth by him. It’s OK to have separate interests, and not to constantly inflict them on each other.

Now, that being said, he should understand that he’ll get serious brownie points for suggesting that they go to see the latest sci-fi flick together. The same applies to her for not only suggesting that they go see Kiss Me Kate, but for also understanding that it’s a modernization of The Taming of the Shrew. But she shouldn’t get upset, and think that he doesn’t love her, just because he doesn’t want to go to the All-Night Star Trek Festival. That’s what her other sci-fi friends are for.

I don’t know how or when this trend started toward looking at our spouses as our “soulmates,” or of looking for a “soulmate” to marry, but I think it sets us up for expecting too much. Me? I was just looking for a nice girl who I shared some of the same interests and values with, who was nice to me, was smart, and funny, and was “low maintenance.” It’s important that when I met Cheryl, my first thought was that she’d make a great friend…and later, a friend that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Too many people expect perfection in their marriages, and are devastated when they don’t find it. My advice to everyone is to expect less, and you’ll be amazed at what comes your way.

And while you’re at it, get separate tubes of toothpaste.


  1. Wisdom as always. Still looking for my other tube of toothpaste...but thanks to one of the people who taught me it's always OK to look in your own direction. Thanks, "Mr. G."

  2. Just a minor nit; the carrying cost for two tubes of toothpaste is slightly higher than what you'd pay for one. This is terribly pedantic, but you could be investing the cost of one tube of toothpaste and earning a microscopic return.