When I first met Bret, he knew how to make chilli – and I’m pretty sure he had to Google the recipe first. After he realized that man cannot live on chilli alone, he decided that he needed to learn how to make and consume other foods. We watched a lot of the Food Network in those early days and I ate a lot of things I wouldn’t choose for myself, but we made it through!
These days, I would say that he does the cooking about 3 nights a week. It’s not always super haute cuisine, but he’s developed a pretty solid repertoire thanks to the internet and the fact that I make him make me dinner 3 nights a week. Despite the fact that I’m pretty okay with our dinner-making setup, I’ve gotten a lot of strange questions from people about how I “taught” my husband to cook.
For the record, I wouldn’t say that I taught him how to do anything. I will say, however, that I supported him in his endeavors to teach himself to cook and that I gamely ate anything he put in front of me. Here are three things I committed myself to doing while Bret was getting better in the kitchen:
- I promised myself that I wouldn’t say I didn’t like something.
Early on in the “learn to cook” process, Bret made some questionable meal choices. There was a really expensive pot of french onion soup that springs to mind and a memorable evening where he rolled an entire pork tenderloin in dried thyme. Not tasty. However, I promised myself that I would never dismiss something that he had made because “I don’t like it.” Instead, I modified my vocabulary.
“This pork is a little assertive for my tastes,” I blithely informed him. “This is terrible,” he responded. See? Using big girl words to explain why a dish isn’t successful actually works.
- I refused to get caught in the “You Cook, I’ll Clean” rotation.
This runs contrary to every piece of marriage advice I have read ever. However, I refuse to say that I’ll clean if he cooks for a number of reasons. First of all, he and I cook/clean in two completely different ways. When I make dinner, I clean as I go. When he makes dinner, he leaves everything in the sink until afterwards. Additionally, I have some sort of ninja skill set that makes it possible for me to make an entire meal without dirtying every pan we own. Bret hasn’t hit that skill level yet.
In short, if I said that I would do the dishes every time the boy made dinner, I would spend all of my evening free time cleaning. That would not make me a happy camper and it wouldn’t encourage him to make dinner more often.
- I let him make whatever he wanted to.
My friends, I am a woman who has opinions. I have tastes and meal plans and a deep, abiding love for Catholic prison food. Naturally, if I were cooking dinner seven nights a week, my little two person family would eat a certain way. Not shockingly, my way of eating does not necessarily match my husband’s. For that reason, if he’s going to make dinner, he can make whatever he wants. You want to whip up an entire pork shoulder on a random Tuesday? Go right ahead, honey.
Forcing my husband to make things out of my playbook would not encourage him to learn and like to cook.