The Romaine Lettuce Incident
I had a boyfriend who really liked it when I cooked him steak and roast potatoes (literally). I pretty much knew that if I cooked him steak and potatoes he would be happy with me.
With my hubby, there aren't sure-fire things like that. He wants me to be me, fully me, fully actualized, in my power, whatever that looks like. And since I'm not totally sure what that looks like, it's scary. And way more difficult than making steak. I mean, he likes it if I make a nice salad, but only if it's because I wanted to make the salad, not if it's to please him.
This phenomenon became glaringly apparent the other day when I tried to make him a salad from the fresh romaine lettuce I'd just harvested from our garden. I was trying to do something extra caring since he was sick.
I harvested the lettuce, dunked the leaves in cold water and drained them a couple of times. Then I individually examined each leaf and removed the snails, worms, and stuck on dirt. I caressed each one clean and pruned the imperfect bits off. Then I re-rinsed them, dried them, and tore them into perfect inch-and-a-half-wide fork-sized pieces in his favorite big wooden bowl.
Hubby likes to add interesting combinations of things to his salads, so I left the leafy base in the bowl for him to accessorize to his liking. But that's not what happened. What happened was he proceeded to the bowl and began to RE-TEAR the lettuce pieces into smaller pieces!
I said, "You want the pieces smaller?" like a loan shark to a deadbeat. Silence. "You don't like how I did the pieces?" I persisted, sad now, but that peculiar aggressive and hostile wife-sad.
"Uh," he said, or something like that, in that deer-in-headlights, I-stepped-in-it, confused husbandy kind of way. And just like that I was so sad, so angry, so hurt that I wanted to flee. I said, "I should just get out of here!" But I didn't really want to, I actually wanted to have dinner with him and to watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix like we were planning to do.
We got through it. Mike got to shred his romaine to an inappropriately small size and I fixed myself something to eat which was probably more than half the problem in the first place, the fact that I was hungry, and we ate and watched TV and snuggled.
And I realized that it's actually a good sign when our partners feel comfortable enough to do their own thing and not just take whatever we serve up. Even though it feels like rejection and failure when Mike re-shreds the lettuce it's better if we can be ourselves, together, honestly and be comfortable rather than have to eat salad that's not how we want it just to make the other person feel okay.