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My wife always complains about my way of cooking

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a company executive in my 40s. My wife complains about how I cook, which depresses me.

Since she also has a job, I sometimes prepare dinner. I like cooking. And this may sound like bragging, but I have a relatively wide repertoire because I was single for a long time. However, it bothers me when my wife says my cooking style is wrong or bad.

After I wash vegetables, my wife washes them again, saying: “You didn’t clean them enough.” When I stir-fry something, she adjusts the heat from the side without saying anything. When I grill meat, she checks whether it’s cooked enough inside. When I’m done cooking, she washes the pots and pans and lets out a sigh every time she encounters a dirty spot — even though, of course, I intend to wash them later on my own.

I don’t just cook out of a petty desire to improve my wife’s mood or gain points with her. All I hope is that she sits at the table and eats dishes I prepare.

At this point, after having endured a steady stream of judgmental comments from her, I’m finally starting to lose my confidence and motivation to cook. Is there anything wrong on my part?

J, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Mr. J:

A wife is an invaluable person, because she can complain about what you’re doing without holding back. Everything she says and does is reasonable, and if you don’t obediently abide by her rules you’re bound to pay for it. Do just as she says, and you’ll likely improve your cooking skills.

Your wife seems not to bring up how your dishes taste. This is likely because she is considering your feelings.

You can do whatever you want in the kitchen, as long as you cook alone and eat your meals on your own. But you can’t take that approach if you’re cooking for others. Different people have different preferences regarding cooking, and there is no one flavor that everyone likes.

In short, even if you have a recipe that you think is tasty, there will be people out there who think it’s not all that great. But they’ll probably still say, “It’s so delicious” in the belief that candidly revealing their true feelings would offend you.

Only within families can opinions be straightforwardly expressed. Therefore, even if your wife makes comments about how your dishes taste that you think miss the point, you should at least hear her out.

Tatsuro Dekune, writer

(from Nov. 30, 2017, issue)Speech

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