*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When I was a newlywed, I cooked a handful of favorite recipes in the kitchen on a regular basis. I wasn't the best cook, but these four dishes came out delicious every time. I tried to use that to my advantage by cooking them often.
My husband loved them.
Orange chicken with stuffing, shells stuffed with ricotta cheese, meat pie, and spaghetti with marinara sauce were my specialties. These four dishes were in heavy rotation in my kitchen.
As a newlywed wife, I wanted to please my husband. I tried to make dinner every night after I came home from a full day at work, even if I was bone-tired.
It didn't matter if I had worked all day, and he had spent the day watching television on the sofa. I was in charge of dinner. My husband wouldn't even lift a finger to toast a slice of bread or dial the local pizzeria for delivery. That wasn't his job.
He expected me to cook him dinner every night. He didn't "do" leftovers.
I arrived home from work exhausted one night. It was late. I knew my husband was waiting for his dinner. So my nerves were already on edge. I didn't even take off my jacket before I ran water in the sink and filled a pot with pasta to the sound of my husband shouting from the next room
When the pasta wasn't ready soon enough, he threw the pot of water and half-cooked spaghetti on the floor. And that wasn't the worst of it... but it was the beginning of the end of my time in the kitchen.
I refused to cook dinner for my husband after he threw that pot of boiling pasta on the kitchen floor.
That doesn't mean I didn't feed him. It doesn't mean I didn't provide dinner. I did.
I just didn't cook it myself.
On my way home from work, I'd go through the local fast-food restaurant drive-thru and pick up greasy paper sacks of Big Macs with extra pickles and French fries. No salt, just the way my husband liked it.
Asking for extra pickles on burgers and no salt on fries was his way of ensuring his fast food was prepared special, hot, and fresh. It embarrassed me to make those special requests, but I did it to please him.
I always did everything to please him.
But that night, after he threw the pot of boiling pasta on the floor, I didn't cook dinner. I went through the fast-food drive-thru and got him his usual order.
The next morning, I woke up early and cleaned up the exploded pasta from the previous night. I swept up the broken glass from the shattered pot and mopped the floor. I tried to act like nothing had happened, like it was just another night.
But it wasn't. It was the beginning of the end in more ways than one.
After that night, I didn't cook dinner for my husband again. And he didn't seem to mind. In fact, he seemed to prefer it that way.
He didn't mind endless parades of fast-food burgers and delivery pizzas, and neither did I.
I think he minded the idea of my refusing to do something for him, something to which he felt he was entitled.
But he didn't mind the result. The result was that he didn't have to wait for a home-cooked dinner every night. And I didn't have to cook dinner for him.
You could almost say it was a win-win, except, in the end, neither of us really won anything except for a slow, laborious divorce less than five years after we said, "I do."