Humor, Life, Social Commentary
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Why Can’t My Husband Find the Ketchup?

Men and women see the world differently. This isn’t my opinion; it’s a strongly supported scientific hypothesis. Men and women perceive space and the items in it differently. I wrote an article about it. I think about it all the time for my work. But for some reason I never applied my ivory tower notions to my household.

 Why does my husband have to lean into the refrigerator hunting the ketchup? It’s been on the same door shelf position in all 11 of our households over the years. It isn’t rocket science. The man memorizes the URLs of hundreds of routers and switches and techie stuff for his work. But he can’t reliably find the ketchup.

 It just isn’t his fault. Evolutionary psychology tells us that men learn large territories and routes through them, while women learn smaller areas in greater detail. Back in the day, men were hunting the big game over days of effort. Women were taking care of every other detail of life, including feeding themselves and their families using their detailed knowledge of local, smaller resource areas. Don’t argue it. Just accept it as an idea. A maybe explanation for inexplicable male behavior in the household.

 The notion has important implications for maintaining a harmonious marriage.

 You have to remember that your man is not being deliberately obtuse to avoid domestic responsibility. He is using the skill set thousands of generations of men developed during critical phases of our species’ survival. He quite honestly may not have the ability to remember that the ketchup lives on the second door shelf.

 You are thinking that he should be able to see the bright red ketchup there on the door. That the bottle placement is stupendously obvious. But evolved psychological tendencies can be remarkably subtle and powerful. Give your man the benefit of the doubt. Don’t expect him to know what you know about the ketchup, the car keys, the dog’s leash…when he asks, just tell him exactly where the object is or pretend you can’t hear him. Don’t worry if he can’t find stuff when he is on his own. He won’t even notice there’s a problem because this is normal for him.

 Is it easier to be a woman? I think so. After all, I can use a map to go the long distances – and I have all that extra time to travel them because I am not hunting the house for my keys, the dog’s leash, or the ketchup. Enjoy the partnership. Let evolution run wild and free!


  1. Dwain says

    My wife puts ketchup on everything. So much so that we have a 55 gallon drum with a pump beside the fridge. Easy to find but hard to re-fill.

  2. Mom says

    Kind of like…………..”hey, who used up all the milk?” isn’t it?

    • Exactly like that! Dad had to PUSH the new milk out of the way to make that accusation – classic inability to see resources on the small scale! Hah!

  3. We have exactly the same issue at my house! I’ll open the refrigerator door and be unable to find what I seek, even though it’s right in front of my face. Mrs. Funk finds it right away and becomes annoyed.

    I hate ketchup, though, so that’s never an issue …

    Cool blog, cousin!

  4. Brian says

    I too have trouble with the small scale navigation. I look for ketchup about 2 or 3 times a week. I usually find it without help about half the time. I could do better, but Nancy gets a little impatient after about 30 seconds with the refrigerator door open. The worst is that she is also better at the long distance navigation. Once driving from MN to Florida I turned west in Illinois. It was about 3 AM. Nancy was asleep. I was happy singing to the radio until she woke up and asked me where we were. She of course never forgets a mistake, She is quick to remind me of my right turn anytime we have an argument about directions.

    • Suddenly I feel grateful that when you and I work together, we are on an island…and I admit – that frridge door hanging open is a Hard Thing for me to ignore around here. I feel Nancy’s pain.

  5. Amanda Tate says

    I couldn’t agree more. Evolution dictates so much of our behavior; it simply is what it is, and it should be accepted instead of resisted. Yes, I have to repeat myself. Yes, I am often incredulous when the shortest distance between two points is overlooked. And yes, I find humor in all of it.

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