The Playroom: Jelly wars

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA


I am intense about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Actually, I‘m intense about a lot of things, like balsamic vinegar, coffee, butter, duvets, donuts, socks and calculators. I know just what works and what doesn’t, and I spend a great deal of effort making sure I get it right.

In eight years, I have never gone anywhere of merit without a diaper and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my purse. I make mine with strawberry jelly. Smooth, sometimes organic, just-fruit, no-sugar jelly.

Recently, my husband asked if we could buy raspberry jelly. He said that after 15 years of being married to me, he was tired of strawberry.

For 15 years, strawberry was fine. Now my husband is asking for something a little different. I’m fine with strawberry. It works for me. But, after 15 years, if he’s asking, I guess I could try. The thing is, I don’t like raspberry jelly.

I wonder if any of my friends buy raspberry jelly. I’m not comfortable asking. Really, what am I so hung up about? What’s the big deal? I can buy raspberry jelly. Can’t I?

But for some reason, I can’t do it. I don’t like the seeds. I don’t like the taste. So instead of raspberry, I decide on my own version of a compromise, which technically isn’t a compromise, since I made the decision unilaterally.

Still, I’m trying. I’m taking little steps, trying to push myself outside my strawberry comfort zone, outside the jelly envelope. I go for a jar I see at the wholesale club.

Since I don’t care about raspberry jelly, I figured I might as well be economical about it. I bought a huge jar of strawberry, blueberry and raspberry, a mixed-berry jelly. I thought my husband would be pleased. I tried, right? Nope. He immediately took to calling it the “cheap-ass jumbo jelly.” Again, he asked for raspberry.

I wonder: If I buy it once, will he expect it all the time? It just never occurred to me that when I took my vows I’d be eating raspberry jelly. I did manage to delete the “obey” part, but was there a jelly part I missed? Did I sign up for this too? I like strawberry.

Still, marriage takes work. Sometimes (I’ve been told by well-intentioned friends) we need to do those little things for our spouse if for no other reason than because they asked us to.

So now we have two jars of jelly. I can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich both ways. I can make his with raspberry and mine with strawberry. It works for me, and, I hope, for him too.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at