marriage metaphor

The Day I Stopped Shoe Shopping at Safeway: A Marriage Metaphor

For many years, I did my shoe shopping at Safeway.

This was difficult, because the Safeway near my home doesn’t sell shoes, only groceries. But I’ve never been one to let a challenge stop me! I became all the more determined to do my shoe shopping at Safeway.

Every week, I scoured the aisles: no shoes.

Every week, when the cashier pleasantly asked me, “Did you find everything today?” I responded loudly, “No, I did not. I came here for shoes, like I do every week, and I still haven’t found any shoes.

Every week, I filled out a complaint form at the so-called “Customer Service” counter: Why are there no shoes in this store?

Eventually, I became so focused on shoe shopping at Safeway that I started going daily, just to see if they’d finally set up a shoe aisle.Day in and day out, I experienced nothing but disappointment after disappointment after disappointment.

I grumbled about Safeway to my friends. Soon, complaining about the lack of shoes at Safeway soon became my sole topic of conversation.

It all seemed so unfair.

The Day I Discovered Payless ShoeSource

Then, one day, I happened to drive by a Payless ShoeSource. As I walked in, I could not believe my eyes: shoes! Aisles and stacks and end caps of shoes! I bought two pair on a BOGO sale!

My next stop was Safeway. As I walked in, I could not believe my eyes: so many beautiful groceries! Fruits and vegetables … breads and cakes … cheeses and deli meats … I filled my cart and headed to check out.

The cashier nervously asked, “Did you find everything today?” and when I responded, “Why yes, I did, thank you!” She looked shocked. The manager seemed surprised when I walked by the customer service comment box with a friendly wave.

The day I stopped doing my shoe shopping at Safeway was the day I started enjoying grocery shopping at Safeway.

A Marriage Metaphor

Okay, so I made all of that up.

I would never be silly or downright foolish enough to go shoe shopping at Safeway, would I? Well, in the early years of my marriage, I stubbornly “did my shoe shopping at Safeway” by expecting Daniel to meet some of my needs he was entirely unequipped to meet.

The more I demanded he meet these specific needs, the more hyper-focused I became on his failures. The more I focused on his failures, the more I ignored his myriad strengths. Sadly, for many years I acted as if everything he did bring to our marriage and all the ways he did meet my needs were worthless because I was so fixated on a few failures.

After years of frustration (for both of us!), I was convicted that 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 applies to the gifts our husbands bring to marriage:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

When we continually downplay the gifts our husbands brings to our marriages, we discount the work of the Holy Spirit.

On the flip side, when we take responsibility for the needs we’ve been trying to pawn off on our men, we may be astonished to discover all the ways they truly bless us.

Perhaps it’s time for you to stop shoe shopping at Safeway, too?


Cheri Photo CORRECTEDCheri Gregory is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. Her passion is helping women break free from destructive expectations. She writes and speaks from the conviction that “how to” works best in partnership with “heart, too.”

Cheri is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life and the upcoming Overwhelmed.

Cheri has been “wife of my youth” to Daniel, her opposite personality, for twenty-eight years and is “Mom” to Annemarie (25) and Jonathon (23), also opposite personalities.

Cheri blogs about perfectionism, people-pleasing, highly sensitive people, and hope at

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