Can't Stand Her Cooking

Q: I didn't move in with my wife until after our wedding a few months ago, only to discover that she is a terrible cook. And I mean terrible. I don't necessarily think a woman's role is in the kitchen. But I work full-time and she's only working part-time, so it feels like a lot to expect me to do the cooking, too. I suggested we take some classes together but she said she likes to make up her own recipes. If I don't act soon I'm going to wither away to nothing before our first anniversary. Help! — William, 33

Dr. Susan: Suggesting taking cooking classes together was a great idea. Now continue that creative streak and think of additional ways to educate your wife about what you like. (Be thankful it's not her intimate behavior you find unappetizing!) Think of this as a good test of your communication skills in your new marriage.

Consider just coming out with it, right now. The longer you wait, the more hurt she may feel. Try something like this: "Light of my life, remember when I wanted us to take cooking classes and you said no? Well, some of your made-up recipes just aren't working for me. Maybe I'm more of a traditionalist [or prefer simpler, or spicier, or more trendy, or more healthful foods]. I can make a meal or two each week of the kind I like, or we can cook together on weekends, or let's go out a little more often (or bring food in) so you can learn what I like. I shouldn't have expected you to know my tastes by osmosis. Surely our tastes overlap on some foods. I adore you for your creativity, but not everything a person tries is going to be a raving success. So let's brainstorm on how to make both of us happy at mealtime."

Try to be specific with your critique. Let her know when something is a tad overcooked, or slightly lacking in flavor, or when some mixture doesn't go well together in your tummy. Whatever you say, do it with gentleness and love, and let's hope she can hear you without becoming defensive.

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