How do you really know when something expires? Sometimes not until it’s too late…

Egg carton expiration date

Egg carton expiration date

Best by 04/08/15. So says the date stamp on the eggs, though most people know that you can keep them for at least a week after that, especially if you hard-boil them.

Sell by 03/28/15. So says the package of organic chicken. Unfortunately, you’ll find if you open it anywhere after that date, the smell won’t leave your house for days. Yuck.

Use by 04/04/15. So says the milk gurus.  If you use the sniff test, you’ll see it lasts longer than the date on the carton.

Dried spices and pasta have expiration dates too.  Though I confess, I’ve had some of mine for years after and still use them. They just lose their punch after a while.

I’ve thought though about how this applies to other things in life, in particular relationships of all kinds.  How do you know when one of those expires? When you meet a person, or start a job, sign a marriage license — not a single one of those situations comes with a date stamp. In fact, they often come with some kind of  “forever” timeline when you sign on the dotted line. You want those things to last, to have the longest shelf life possible, because change in any of those arenas falls onto that list of the most stressful things that can happen in your life.

It’s tricky though.

You can’t put a friend in a bowl of water to see if she floats.

You can’t lift up the corner of your employer’s outer layers to see if they are rotting on the inside, despite an innocuous appearance.

You can’t sniff your spouse to see if you should pour the marriage down the drain.

It would be so much easier if you could though, wouldn’t it? I’m not saying this to be flippant, I’m just saying that sometimes, it’s really hard to tell when something needs to end.  There are so many factors that come into play.  History, children, vows, finances, feelings of guilt, self-image, the economy, caring what others think in a way that makes you make bad decisions for yourself…you name it.

In the end I think, just like you do with eggs, chicken, and the lot – you end up using your senses and gut feelings to decide whether or not to cut your losses.

Depressing? A little, I’m just doing what I do.

In the spirit of today being Sunday and me wanting to give you an earwig (and hoping to leave you on a good note) – I chose a ’70s classic from Carole King – a favorite singer/songwriter of mine.  This tune is her honest goodbye to a relationship that has passed its expiration date.


By Joy

I'm 42, a remarried mom of an 8 year old girl and a toddler son, a teacher, and a writer. People tell me I tend to be brutally honest and ...tell it like it is, so I had hoped to use this outlet to keep me sane while I got used to my new life as a stay-at-home Mom back when I was home with my worked. And it's been therapeutic through the end of a marriage and the emergence of me...


  1. Always loved that song, but never really thought much about the words, just liked her voice. Had to laugh when I read the thing about milk, cause I love love milk and am very picky about it, often throwing it out before it’s date. I think how long something sits at the store before it gets refrigerated plays into how long things last alot. Eggs I pay really no attention to the date, but meat…and most other things my motto is when in doubt throw it out. Out blog walking gearing up for the a-z challenge, always nice to meet more bloggers.

    1. Nice to meet you too Sandy – thanks for commenting! And I agree, it’s definitely how long it sits in the store that plays into it too…

    1. Yeah, she’s awesome. I actually sang one of her songs when I took voice lessons some years back – I Feel the Earth Move. Did not sound nearly as good as her but it was fun anyway. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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