Stop Going to the Hardware Store for Milk


We've been married for a year. It's the second marriage for both of us. We were trying to blend families with each of us bringing 2 biological children into our new family. It was more difficult than either of us had ever imagined even though we're both blended families ourselves. We continued to fight about the same core issues. We had tried to work on our communication skills and we read books about blending families. We came into this marriage with childhood issues and they permeated our behavior in this relationship. Even with all this awareness, I kept trying to get him to listen to me. I kept trying to get him to stop reacting the way he always reacted. I kept trying to force my will. And then I remembered the saying that has been a major perspective changer for me: "Stop going to the hardware store for milk"

I heard this in a 12-Step recovery program quite a few years ago and laughed out loud with an uncomfortable knowing the first time I heard it. It was so simple, as most poignant sayings are, yet spoke to the heart of the matter. I realized I was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have heard this described as the definition of insanity. I was doing things that I knew would not get me the results I wanted but kept doing them anyway. I was expecting things to be different even when there was no indication that they were. I was constantly going to the hardware store for milk and upset that, once again, that there was no milk.

In that moment, the eloquent teenager in me said "Duh !!!" Once I had that awareness, I looked at where I could get what I needed at the time. I could call a friend that has always made me feel better after I've spoken to her. I could journal my thoughts, which has always made me feel better. I could come up with other ways to feel better about the situation other than going to the hardware store AGAIN for milk. I was even able to discuss this awareness with my husband and especially apologized for putting that pressure on him. After a great deal of effort on both of our parts, including honest self evaluation, reading and discussing various books on second marriages and working with outside help, things have gotten much better. The major difference for me is that I now know I have choices regarding where to get what I need when I need it and my husband has the freedom to be a hardware store or whatever store he chooses to be. I am very happy to say that after 2 years of marriage, he is the store that's carrying what I need.

  • Is there a person or an area in your life that you keep doing the same things and expecting different results?
  • Can you think of one hardware store that you keep going to, expecting to get milk?
  • What one thing can you do to change that?


Leave a Reply