*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
Working two jobs left me little time to cook dinner every night.
In the early days of my marriage, I tried to cook dinner every night. My husband and I each worked roughly the same number of hours outside the house. Yet he seemed to expect me to do all the domestic duties myself.
Those duties included not just cleaning up after him and doing his laundry but cooking his breakfast, packing lunch for him to take to work, and making dinner when I got home bone-tired after a long day at the office.
We didn't always have leftovers after we ate dinner, but when there was extra food, I noticed something troubling. My husband wouldn't eat leftovers.
The first few times I warmed up leftover meatloaf or meatballs, he met me with icy disdain. The third time I tried it, he let me know in no uncertain terms that he would not be eating it.
"I don't eat leftovers," he said, despite never having lifted a finger to prepare dinner himself. Didn't he realize how much work it was to put supper on the table every night? Maybe he did, and that's why he was having no part of it.
I responded in the only way I could: I stopped cooking dinner.
Not only that, I also stopped making breakfast for him, and I stopped packing him a brown-bag lunch for work.
I stopped doing all the domestic things I'd been doing for him, including household chores like vacuuming, dusting or sweeping floors.
My husband didn't complain about my lack of housekeeping skills. He stopped saying please and thank you. And he never uttered a word of gratitude for anything I did do around the house prior to ceasing my dinner-time cookery. But he still expected dinner to be on the table when he got home from work each night.
I was more than willing to pick up a bag of fast food burgers and fries on my way home from work; I even asked for extra pickles on the burgers, just the way he liked them, but I didn't cook.
My husband knew dinner was not being made in the house. He may have also sensed I wasn't performing any other household duties either. But he never said anything about it to me.
After a few weeks of living on fast food, I realized my actions were not putting much strain on my husband's wallet or waistline. After all, he wasn't the one paying for all those double cheeseburgers, and his waist was smaller than mine even with all the French fries he ate every night.
Nonetheless, I felt good knowing I was no longer spending half my waking hours on domestic chores and cooking to make him happy.
After several months of living on fast food, I finally broke the silence.
"I'm not cooking dinner anymore," I told him when he got home from work one afternoon.
He looked confused at first, but then his face broke into a grin. "So that's why there are no dinners in this house!" he said gleefully before eating a handful of cold French fries right out of the bag.
I said nothing back to him. It was hard for me to understand how someone could be so happy about something like this happening, especially when I'd gone without a home-cooked meal too often because my husband refused to eat leftovers.
Months passed, and we went through many bags of burgers and fries. Eventually, we moved into a new house and I quit my second job, which was cutting into the time I had available to cook dinner every night.
At long last, life came down to this: We ate dinner together every night at the table like a normal, unhappy couple. But he still didn't eat leftovers.
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