Married Life Lesson #8: The hubster can also occasionally have the palate of a kindergartner.
It’s probably a good thing that (most) people feel some weird compulsion to act more grown-up when they get married. You pay bills a little earlier. You grocery shop a little more regularly. And you try to eat dinners your mom would make.
When I was single, dinner was entirely determined by a) what I was feeling at the moment and b) what was in the fridge/freezer/cupboard. Here’s a brief sampling of things I have eaten for dinner as a single person:
1. Bowl of cereal
2. Celery and peanut butter
3. Dunkin Donuts egg sandwich
4. Roasted broccoli with a glass of milk
I mean, I was only worrying about myself. There is no shame in eating something weird as a meal when you’re alone and no obligation to serve up something a little more…nutritionally diverse when you’re only worrying about your own palate.
And then you get hitched.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like part of my “wifely duties” (as well as being the better chef of the two of us) is to prepare something good and healthy for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, the hubster can cook up a mean burger or chicken wraps or dish of scrambled eggs, but 75% of our home-cooked meals are prepared by me. And since his lunch choices aren’t always the most nutritionally sound, I feel a double obligation to make sure he gets at least one vegetable and lean protein meal a day. (Hey, I like him. I want him around for a while.)
Plus, I like cooking. I think it’s relaxing at the end of the day, and you already know how excited I get when a recipe I just made up in my head works out.
The problem arises when I happen to be particularly tired, or we slack a little in our grown-up duties and don’t go grocery shopping in as timely a fashion as we should.
I’ll usually look around the fairly bare cupboard and think, “If I was single, I would totally just nom that granola bar, eat some carrots and hummus, and call it a night.” But something about laying that out on the dining room table, shouting, “Dig in!”, and expecting Joey to be as gung-ho about it as I am feels…lazy. And inconsiderate. So I dig out a hidden box of rice from the back shelf, stirfry some chicken and frozen vegetables, and pat myself on the back for making an effort.
The thing is, this whole crazy obligation I’ve worked up in my head is still only in my head.
My husband does not have any crazy expectations of me. He isn’t a viking who clomps in the door after a day of pillaging helpless peasants, flops down at the table (still wearing his muddy viking boots), and starts beating it with the butt of his sword demanding roast pheasant with an assortments of jellies. (Too specific?) He’s a normal, laid-back dude who likes eating dinner with his wife, whatever the fare may happen to be.
This was never so clear as the other night, when I had just come home from the gym after running a sizeable distance. I stood in the living room, which is somewhat in a shambles because we’re rearranging furniture, feeling even more exhausted at the prospect of putting it all in order, when it occured to me that neither of us had eaten yet.
“What do you want for dinner?” I asked weakly, already mentally steeling myself as I tried to think up something with the limited groceries I knew we had.
“Um…maybe just like peanut butter and jelly or something?” he asked casually.
I swear, my eyes must have lit up like he’d given me a present. “Seriously, you’d be ok with that?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Sure. Can I have the cherry jelly?”
God love that man.
So we ate peanut butter and jelly for dinner. And somewhere, my good wife stats sunk a little. But you know what? We both ended up full and happy. And those points don’t actually exist anyway.
I’m not saying I’m totally giving up on the idea of healthy dinners most nights of the week. I really do like cooking, and I know we both eat healthier when it comes from our kitchen (as opposed to Gino’s take-out). But it’s nice to know that I’m really not letting anyone down when I don’t live up to the “perfect” wife ideal I have in my head.
Plus, peanut butter and jelly, not unlike my handsome husband, is just good.