Not my most frequent complaint but the most enduring one has to do with my husband undercooking chicken thirty-five years ago. This complaint is now woven into the fabric of our marriage, indeed, it has become a central feature of our kitchen life. He anticipates the complaint if I so much as breathe in the vicinity of a cooking chicken.
He starts with assurances that the chicken will be fully cooked. He pulls out the recipe to tell me the proper cooking time and then tells me he’s adding on more time, you know, to reassure me that the chicken will be done. And then he’ll go on about how the undercooking, the pink chicken, well, it happened just once a very long time ago and hasn’t happened since and I should trust him.
Most of this goes on while I am still just breathing because, you see, the complaint, the original complaint made back when everyone had big hair and shoulder pads on their blazers, has a life of its own.
Over the course of a long marriage, I have complained about other things – how he loads the dishwasher, that he takes routes that have too many stoplights, that he has never learned to ‘cut and paste’ a Word document. He shrugs off these things, does not engage, and so I’ve mostly quit complaining because, really, what’s the point.
Interestingly or at least in contrast, my husband never criticizes me. About anything.
When I tell people this, they thinking I am kidding. Oh, come on, surely there are things you do that he doesn’t like. I’m sure there are but he never says so. Whatever I cook, he’ll say it’s yummy, using exactly that word. Everything is yummy. So, I have begun to take this approach, this posture of automatic approval of whatever he cooks, including chicken. And I feel like it’s spreading to automatic approval of the routes he takes and his requests for computer help. The dishwasher situation, however, is a bridge too far.
Still, it doesn’t escape me that somewhere along the line, very early in our relationship, he simply decided to never criticize me, never complain, and always affirm. I didn’t make the same decision, though I wish I had, but maybe it’s not too late.