Love

How Starbucks Explained My Marital Problems

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starbucks drink

“Can we stop by Starbucks?” I ask.

“Boys, your mother needs a four-dollar cup of Starbucks coffee,” says my husband. “My coffee costs less than a dollar but we gotta stop because that’s not good enough for your mother. She needs her Starbucks.”

To the average person, this appears to be an exchange for a beverage.

But this simple cup tells a far greater story: One of two vastly different personalities, a lack of respect, and a wildly different idea of love. But first, let me answer your logistical questions. No, I wasn’t going every single day so this wasn’t a budgeting issue. And yes, gasp, I am one of the lowly who actually drinks decaffeinated Starbucks coffee.

Back to my story.

My husband and I weren’t entirely alike and that bothered him.

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He saw this as an opportunity to talk me out of being me. To chastise or mock me in a ‘humor disguised’ format for wanting, liking, or believing something. He would tell me all the reasons I was wrong, essentially explaining why I should think as he does.

He didn’t do this while we were dating.

He tricked me and waited until we were married.

I remember as a newlywed telling him it was exhausting talking to him. It was like point…counterpoint. A bantering back and forth of opposition rather than an actual conversation. I was young. I didn’t yet realize there was a name for this.

A disrespectful communicator.

But that brewed beverage broke open another truth, a heart-crushing one.

My husband and I had wildly different ideas of love. If he liked something I would exhaust myself to provide it.

Had he been the Starbucks steady, I would have surprised him with a cup of Starbucks, bought him Starbucks gift cards, Starbucks emblazoned mugs, googled every Starbucks map location, and possibly bought some Starbucks stock.

Okay, I jest but only slightly.

I wouldn’t have purchased the Starbucks shares but everything else is pure truth.

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Making him happy brought me joy. I would love to claim responsibility for this trait but honestly, it’s inherited. Every single member of my family is like this. If we know one another likes something we supply it. We’ll buy it for you, ship it to you, or have it waiting when you come to visit.

Sadly, my husband derived no joy out of making me happy. This is huge. Because there wasn’t a trademark “Love Language” that he filtered it through. It wasn’t just a Starbucks excursion. My husband didn’t speak love through any of author Gary Chapman’s five languages.

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Starbucks brew explained the greater state of my marital problems. Being different wouldn’t be tolerated. Respect wouldn’t intercede to allow and celebrate those contrasting characteristics.

And when those two things failed, love wouldn’t rescue my relationship either.

Ultimately, I stopped asking my husband to swing by for my Starbucks. Or I would work up the nerve to ask him with an accompanying pit in my stomach. Until I left.

These days I walk into Starbucks unencumbered. I get to enjoy what Starbucks founder Howard Schultz intended Starbucks to be. What he called “The Third Place.” A destination where people would choose to go if they weren’t at home or at work, their first and second places.

On my birthday I received mail from my nephew.

A smile crossed my face as I opened it, tucked inside was a Starbucks gift card.

And an inherited trait: to love with joy.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist & former business columnist. 

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.