*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a friend who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
As a newlywed, my friend lived upstairs from her mother-in-law.
My friend told me that living upstairs from her mother-in-law was stressful because she felt like her husband was constantly comparing her to his mother, especially at mealtime.
She felt insulted when her husband asked her to make his favorite red kidney bean soup from his mother's recipe. "Why doesn't he just ask his mother to make it herself if she's such a wonderful cook?" she asked me.
My friend didn't want to follow her mother-in-law's famous bean soup recipe. She said she would cook what she wanted to cook and not what her husband wanted to eat.
Then one day, she came home from work early to a familiar aroma permeating the hallway. The smell in the foyer told her that her mother-in-law was busy making her special red kidney bean soup.
Not so fast, my friend thought to herself. She went back outside, got in her car, and drove to the grocery store.
My friend bought all the ingredients for her husband's favorite soup.
"Let's see who wins this battle," she told me.
I tried to tell her bean soup wasn't a battle at all, but my friend can be stubborn.
She decided to make the soup.
When my friend's husband arrived home, he was unaware that his wife was already home early from work, busily cooking up a pot of his favorite soup. He stopped on the first floor to visit his mother as usual and learned that she had made his favorite soup.
He was so happy, and he gorged himself on several bowls of his mother's soup without knowing more soup awaited him upstairs.
Meanwhile, his wife was upstairs cooking a big pot of soup of her own.
My friend finished cooking just as her husband walked in through the door of their apartment.
It surprised him to see her home from work early, and he felt even more surprised when he realized the big pot on the stovetop contained more bean soup. His eyes widened.
"I have a surprise for you," my friend announced. "I made your mother's soup recipe you've been begging me to make. I got out of work early today, and I thought, 'Why not?' Sit down, and I'll get you a bowl."
Her husband didn't dare tell her he was already full of soup. He gave her a kiss and thanked her for cooking.
She set the table and put a steaming bowl of soup in his place.
"That's a lot of beans," he told her. "Don't give me so much. I want you to have some, too."
"Don't be foolish," my friend told her husband. "Eat up. You've been carrying on about me making your mother's soup recipe forever, and I finally did. The soup is all yours."
Her husband didn't want to disappoint her or make her angry, but he had already eaten a lot of beans downstairs in his mother's apartment. He ate as much of his wife's bean soup as he could handle and spent the rest of the evening clutching his stomach in distress.
My friend told me she had to sleep on the sofa, not because they were arguing, but because she couldn't handle listening to the aftereffects of her husband's stomach discomfort.
He never asked his wife to make him red kidney bean soup again, and she considered that a win.