My mother-in-law was a stay-at-home mom and it caused trouble in my marriage
When my husband’s mother found out that she was pregnant with him, my in-laws decided that she would stay home with their children. Caring for their two boys, cooking, cleaning, being a great hostess and volunteering at the school became her full time job and she is amazing at it. So my husband grew up in a home where a home-cooked meal was on the table shortly after dad got home from work, laundry and vacuuming were done while he was at school. Surprisingly, this ideal family situation posed some challenges in my marriage.
B and I are both career-oriented and put in 40+ hour weeks at work and despite attempts to meal plan, there are many days when I pack up to leave the office and neither of us know what’s for dinner. Every time I would ask, “What do you want for dinner?” his answer would be, “Whatever you’re cooking.” Occasionally when I would propose an easy standby meal, he’d comment that we had just had it recently. After awhile, that got exhausting. Doing the laundry, 99% of the grocery shopping and the general cleaning on top of having to figure out seven dinners a week and lunches on the weekends was also exhausting. On top of that, he’d call his mom with every food question. How long is leftover chicken good for in the fridge? Rachel wants to make banana bread, what type of nuts do you put in yours? Can you send her your recipe? Simple things that I could consult Google on or use the recipe I already had, he’d check in with his mom because she’s a good cook, her recipe is the “right” one…
When I brought up the “what’s for dinner?” quandary, he responded that his mom having dinner on the table every evening, made him flexible with what he eats and didn’t change his answer.
Then I got frustrated after a long day at work when I needed to go grocery shopping and had no desire to also figure out dinner. I messaged my husband and asked him to go grocery shopping with me after dinner instead of me stopping on the way home. He hates grocery shopping and basically asked if I really needed him. I said I’d stop on the way home if he would take care of dinner. He said he can’t cook, but asked what I wanted to eat. I said “whatever you’re cooking.” The conversation came to him saying, “I’ll make dinner or go shopping with you. Or I can do both. Whatever you need.”
We needed to establish that living with his wife was different from living with his mom. He needed to know that I was overwhelmed and that his being “flexible” was actually causing me some stress.
Do we have a perfect marriage now? Does he have opinions on dinner every time I ask? Of course not. But we both get it.
I know that I need to tell him that I need help, not expect him to notice. He knows to pitch in more, and will take over some cooking tasks even though he “can’t cook,” he’s good at stove top tasks. He also knows to ask if we should call his mom instead of just dialing. I used to say no every time, but I’ve accepted that he loves certain things that his mom makes and it doesn’t hurt to take a look at her recipe (even if I frequently alter it).
About the author of this post – Rachel:
Rachel is a public relations professional and social media enthusiast who blogs about married life, home-ownership and living with type 1 diabetes at probablyrachel.com. She enjoys trying news recipes, digging into creative projects and traveling.
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