Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cooking Is A Problem

Cooking has been a major source of conflict around our house since I retired.  Very few women side with me on this issue.  Believe it or not but it is a problem.

Bob grew up in a children's home where he worked in the kitchen.  At our house he want's everybody to come running and skid right up to the table when he calls that it's time to eat.  We're then suppose to eat as rapidly as we can in order to get the meal over with and the kitchen cleaned up.  Having coffee between a meal and dessert is unheard of in this house.  It took me a lot of years to realize that came from his years at the children's home.  The goal was to move those kids through as fast as possible, get the dishes cleared and move in the next group.  Come on, step it up, you're burning daylight, move, move.

He came to our marriage a good cook, and I'm a good cook.  For many years all was well.  I worked days and he worked evenings.  He prepared dinner and left it for our children and me.  That was great, who could quarrel with that?  

Then the day came that I retired and decided I'd like to do some cooking again.  I quickly realized I had a problem.  The kitchen was no longer mine, it belonged to Bob.  He would say things like "I need to clean the knife drawer.  There's a lot of knives in there I don't use.  I need to get rid of them." What about me?  Are you sure we like the same knives?

I think I've posted before on this blog about our battles over grocery shopping. I've given up hope we'll ever be able to shop peaceably or share the kitchen peaceably.

Now I'm confronted with a new situation.  Bob's health has declined to the point he simply isn't capable of doing the cooking anymore.  It would be nice if he realized that but he doesn't.  A few days ago it suddenly dawned on me that I was hungry, that we needed food in this house.

I mustered up my courage and made a grocery list.  He never misses an opportunity to go to a grocery store so I knew he would go with me.  Our shopping methods are totally different plus he moves so slow these days that it takes ages, and I have to shop his way.  I gave myself a talking to and we took off.  Even though I have a list I never get everything when I go with him because I have to keep my eye on him and I get distracted.

Tonight I walked in the kitchen and said "Now look what you've done.  Now you've got to cook."  Bob is right at my elbow at all times telling me how he does it.  He asked to see the recipe but I was smart, I didn't have one.  That way he couldn't hold me to it.

I'd bought an acorn squash so I thought I'd cook a little ground beef, mix a little rice with it and some of the squash and then fill the cavity of the halves.  When I went to cook the ground meat I discovered he'd picked up sausage at the store.  I looked at it a minute and decided sausage would do so I moved on.  To my great surprise it was delicious. 

He's been eating very poorly lately but tonight he cleaned his plate and thought it was wonderful.  I can't afford to back off this time.  I'm going to try sneaking in the back door.  The kitchen needs a good cleaning.  He doesn't see well and refuses to wear his glasses.  I'm going to try cleaning a little every day and try not to move things out of their familiar places.

It would be nice if we could share the cooking but he just keeps creeping in on me.  I'll need to remain vigilant at holding my own.  He's prepared a lot of fabulous meals over the years but that's beyond his capabilities now.  For both our sakes it's time for me to do the cooking.


  1. Retirement must be one of the biggest upsets to married life. I only hope that I'm long gone when my husband can retire. As it was, I had a hard time handing over the 'keys' to the kitchen, so to speak. He does all the shopping and we eat what he wants most of the time. I do try to make something once in a while, when he's not at home. I wish he was neater ...

  2. I think S.J. said it well in her first sentence. I have seen so many couples suddenly alarmed at having to deal with their spouse 24/7. Really glad I am divorced and am spared that adjustment. My parents went thru similar battle but my Mom finally gave up and let Dad take over. She enjoyed it after a while.

  3. I'll have to jump in here to represent the "traditional" cooking situation, and an easy retirement. I have always done the cooking and Tom has always done the cleaning up. He retired before me, which means he took on more of the housework so we could have weekends free, but I still did the cooking. I prefer my own cooking. I do the shopping too. There has never been a battle over any of this. It has worked for us for almost 47 years.

  4. I'm perfectly happy to let Art do the cleaning. Right now mom does 75% of the cooking. When we moved back to Hawaii and did the house renovation, we installed two sinks, one for her and one for us. It's funny that when we're doing the cooking, she'll sometimes hover over us. I don't like cooking so I'm happy to have mom and Art do it. I should work on improving my kitchen skills again though because I'm relying too much on mom and someday, I know she won't be able to do as much.

  5. This is an unusual story. Haven't worked for an older attorney for a long time I saw his abilities to do many things slip through the years. He knew and I know he knew but he kept holding on to that thing he could not do. I was never able to get him to let go. You may not either. I guess we just learn to work around the situation the best we can. Bless you and may you have lots of patience in the days and years to come.

  6. My father used to cook. When dinner is ready, my mother would semi run to the table. My father was in the military since 17 years of age(exact time to bed and eating etc.)