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Wife refuses to cook

(138 Posts)
4thtwin Mon 30-Jan-23 22:07:07

The title of the post may come across as chauvinistic but I assure you it's not. Here's the background. I was a single dad with full custody of my daughter since she was about 2 years old. We had our own place and I was responsible for all meal prep. If we wanted to eat then it was all on me. I come from a mom who always cooked big sunday dinenrs for me and my 6 other siblings and we'd always get together with food being the central theme. I quickly learned how to cook like my mom. A few years later I met my wife, girlfriend at the time. She was coming off her first divorce with 2 sons in tow, I'd invite her to my place and cook meals for her and she loved it. And every now and then she'd invite me to her place and she'd cook for me. Her meals were typically spaghetti or fried chicken. Nothing too extravagant. Her and her sons eventually moved in and with both of us working we made the meal that we would alternate cooking nights. She'd cook one day and I'd cook the next. This way no one person is responsible for cooking every day. Granted, my wife claimed to be a great cook. She loved southern style cooking. Fried chicken, pork chops, greens, etc.

Fast forward some 20 years and it seems that she refuses to cook anything. She blames me for that saying since I don't eat greens and cabbage and stuff like that she forgot how to cook them. We're Afro-American and those dishes were staples in our home growing up. I never took a liking to green, cabbage and things like that. Well, it seems that the longer we were together the less she cooked. We both worked outside of the home and when we'd get home from work you cooked for the family. On my nights I'd have a meal planned but on her nights it was always "I have no idea what I want to cook". She thinks meal prep takes days and hours to do. I can think of a meal for the next day during a commercial break. My wife now says things like "I hate to chop veggies" or "I don't have an idea what to cook." She's gotten to the point to when she cooks I have to do the prepping for her. Our cabinet is full of spices and we have two deep freezers stocked full. She refuses to dig in the deep freezer to pull out some chicken or ground beef because that takes time away from her doing something else.

Now it seems like when it's her night to eat we'll usually do take out or fast food. Typically on Saturdays we'd be out running around and I'll ask what she has planned for dinner the next day so we can stop byt he store if she doesn't have everything or if she needs an ingredient or spice. She'll now complain saying it's her night and I shouldn't worry about it. Typically the next day she still won't have an idea then complain when she's short on an ingredient. Typically she'll continue to cook it minus the ingredient she didn't have. We're now in our early 50s and I can't seem to get her to cook anything.

We both work from home now permanently due to covid and we're steps away from the kitchen. She actually has her work station on our kitchen table. But when she gets off work she'll sit there for an hour or two playing on her phone or scrolling through Facebook. When I get off work an hour or so later she'll ask me what I want for dinner and I'll say something like " a home cooked meal." She usually smacks her teeth and walk away. I've even gotten to the point where I'll even say "hey, I'd love for you to cook this week, something, anything." And again she complains that cooking takes too long and she just doesn't have the time. But again, she gets off work an hour and a half before me.

I've asked a similar question on other forum sites and most of the people have usually replied that if I want a mean I should just cook it myself. That sort of defeats the purpose of us alternating nights so one person isn't responsible for cooking every night. Others have said that maybe I should just start cooking for myself and leve her to fend for herself. But do you know how well that would go over if I only fried 1 or 2 pieces of chicken, make a lasagna for 1, or just fix enough for me?

I've even offered for us to cook together and she hates that because when I try to show her anything then she gets all in her feelings saying I'm just lecturing her. I'm surprised she hasn't cut herself by the way she holds a knife.

I'm at my wits end on this. How do I get her to cook once in a while? Again, I'm not asking for a gourmet 5 course meal but just something she thinks about and plans. Standing in the kitchen stirring a pot takes away from her checking everyone's Facebook status. I've even given her recipes to follow and if it has more than 3 or 4 ingredients then she thinks that's a facny meal and she doesn't want to try it.

Bringing it up in a casual conversation usually ends up in an argument. Help. IS there anything I can do?

CanadianGran Mon 30-Jan-23 23:10:57

I hate to say it, but 20 years into this relationship I think you have to face the fact that she's just not going to do meal prep.

Why don't you negotiate that she do other household chores, and then on your nights for prep, make two meals worth? Try not to let resentment get in the way.

Hithere Tue 31-Jan-23 00:08:36

She doesn't like cooking - that is clear

If the issue is that she doesn't know what to cook, why not making a meal plan?

Redistribute the house chores to compensate for this

welbeck Tue 31-Jan-23 01:25:57

you sound a bit rigid in your thinking.
consider that maybe she never liked cooking, but agreed to the alternate nights just for a quiet life.
why are you trying to enforce it.
she doesn't want to do it.
you are better at cooking, so why don't you do it.
or have take-aways now and again.
are any children still living with you ?
you have to decide if this is so important.
is it worth splitting up over.
try to be more flexible.
you cook and she does the washing up, tidying away, cleaning the kitchen.
but don't sound like a schoolmaster, laying down the law. that would annoy anyone.

Hithere Tue 31-Jan-23 01:43:26

Also looks like eating home cooked meals is a priority for you, not so much for her

Hithere Tue 31-Jan-23 01:46:08

"I've even offered for us to cook together and she hates that because when I try to show her anything then she gets all in her feelings saying I'm just lecturing her. I'm surprised she hasn't cut herself by the way she holds a knife."
No wonder she doesn't want to cook with you, it is not an enjoyable experience at all. Don't blame her

This is now a powerplay between you too.

I would respect she doesn't want to cook

NotSpaghetti Tue 31-Jan-23 02:38:24

I also think she you won't ever make her cook as you want. She obviously isn't that bothered about food. If you won't eat "greens and cabbage and stuff like that" you obviously have fixed ideas about what you actually want so she doesn't actually have free rein either.

If she's told you that you are "lecturing" then you probably are. I wouldn't want to cook with you either and wouldn't want you breathing down my neck about it.

You are making this about power and control I think and will be pushing her away by being an enforcer.

If I found myself in your shoes I'd suggest we revise the cooking situation altogether. I'd ask her would she be happy doing (say) the shopping and I'd take over the cooking of the evening meal.
Give up on this alternate-night business as she loathes it. Stop forcing her to abide with this ancient agreement and see if you can come to a mutually acceptable way of living.

Alternatively try never ask what she's cooking, whether she has the ingredients and don't take over the prepping and then eat what she gives you. Take yourself away, do other chores or read a book. On her days give her absolute autonomy.
I would hate it if my husband "helped" me if I was cooking and although my husband cooks more than I do I don't enjoy watching or helping him do it!

Good luck.

Kim19 Tue 31-Jan-23 02:48:06

Think this adapt and survive (blossom even) time. If the lady doesn't want to cook and you don't mind then just get on with it. Do it with a willing heart or not at all. Good luck to both of you.

Mitzigem Tue 31-Jan-23 03:53:12

It sounds to me as though she does not like cooking . I’m not sure you can persuade her . I’m on the other side of you . I do all the cooking , my husband does not cook and will not . He has no interest whatsoever. We have been married 42 years . He will of course make the odd sandwich or toast but that’s it . I’ve accepted it . He does help with all housework and he does the gardening which I don’t do , so it does balance out . You seem to enjoy cooking , so maybe just keep enjoying.

argymargy Tue 31-Jan-23 06:48:04

This really isn’t about the cooking, is it?

Madgran77 Tue 31-Jan-23 06:50:29

I think you need to

1. Accept she dislikes cooking
2. Batch cook yourself and fill the freezer
3. Make meal plans for a week and shop accordingly, no big fuss, just do it
4. Plan in occasional take away meals to your meal plan
5. IF she decides to cook when the pressure on this issue is off, accept it with grace , adjust the meal plan and move on
6. Stop being fixated on your idea if sharing the cooking, it won't work

sodapop Tue 31-Jan-23 08:59:53

I have never cooked since I remarried. My husband was a chef and I hate cooking. He would like it if I cooked once in a while but has accepted its not going to happen. I do all the washing up and if he doesn't feel like cooking we have beans on toast or similar. There are no take away places in our rural area of France.
Accept the inevitable 4thtwin and adapt to the situation.

pascal30 Tue 31-Jan-23 09:08:17


This really isn’t about the cooking, is it?


Wyllow3 Tue 31-Jan-23 09:21:41

I'm sure she made the initial agreement in good faith: however in the complex circumstances you describe:

I think you should do what my son and Daughter in Law do:

my son always cooks, he's good at it and likes it well enough, and she has undertaken considerable other areas of home responsibility like house cleaning and other home management things.

People, situations change: I think if you wish to get on better terms and keep the relationship, you need to adapt.

It has become a "control thing", it would seem, and if you can't get out of it you will both just suffer.

Elegran Tue 31-Jan-23 09:27:59


I think you need to

1. Accept she dislikes cooking
2. Batch cook yourself and fill the freezer
3. Make meal plans for a week and shop accordingly, no big fuss, just do it
4. Plan in occasional take away meals to your meal plan
5. IF she decides to cook when the pressure on this issue is off, accept it with grace , adjust the meal plan and move on
6. Stop being fixated on your idea if sharing the cooking, it won't work

The usual complaint about this type of situation is that the wife does all the cooking, after she comes home from work, having shopped on the way and carted the ingredients back, while the husband sits down with a drink to recover from his work.

I see that you have not posted before. Are you quite sure that this, your first very long and detailed venture into posting on gransnet, is not a tongue-in-cheek wind-up?

Assuming for now that you are serious, I would advise you to take to heart Madgran's post. You could just accept that you are the cook and plan and execute meals accordingly, or you could keep taking turns, and batch cook when it is your turn, leaving her to just take out of the freezer the "ready meal" you have already made and put it in the oven or the microwave. There is a challenge for you here - what to make that will reheat well, taste good and contribute to a healthy diet.

And stop mansplaining to her how to hold a knife and do other cheffy things. If she hasn't listened to your lectures for 20 years, she isn't going to start now. Does she lecture you on exactly how to do all the chores that she is better at than you are? If she had belittled everything you did for 20 years, how keen would you be to submit to another ear-bending?

Shelflife Tue 31-Jan-23 09:28:34

You cook and your wife wash up ?

Caleo Tue 31-Jan-23 09:33:47

Who chooses all the food in the freezer? A cook not only cooks, he also chooses the ingredients.

Either your wife dislikes cooking, or she dislikes what you have chosen for her to cook.

Your household is not your mom's household. Your wife is not your mom. Either eat what your wife chooses to cook, or cook your own food.

Have you deprived your growing child of green vegetables ?

notgran Tue 31-Jan-23 10:34:37

Do what we did years ago, once the kids were no longer with us. Cook your own meals. If the other person can afford take-outs, then leave them to it. You have what you want when you want it. My OH often doesn't enjoy what I choose and invariably will make something for himself. He rarely eats takeaways but often takes me out for a meal. I simply can't relate to your problem and why it would be such an issue.

Doodle Tue 31-Jan-23 10:40:50

My son does all the cooking his wife doesn’t cook. However, my DIL does all the electrical and handyman stuff round the house.
Your wife doesn’t want to cook. Like others have said so either you do all the cooking or you just cook for yourself and not her. Can’t see how that would help a marriage though.

Callistemon21 Tue 31-Jan-23 10:46:15

"I've even offered for us to cook together and she hates that because when I try to show her anything then she gets all in her feelings saying I'm just lecturing her. I'm surprised she hasn't cut herself by the way she holds a knife."


Do you mean like a dagger?
I wouldn't keep trying to encourage her to cook if I were you.

ClareAB Tue 31-Jan-23 11:24:05

Maybe your wife really doesn't enjoy cooking anymore and you guys could sit down and negotiate a trade of chores.
After 30+ years of cooking for my family, now they have grown and flown, I admitted to my husband that I was sick to death of cooking, planning, preparing meals and could quite happily live off sandwiches.
He has taken the role of head chef, and I'm the laundry queen and we muddle along with everything else.
It's bloody bliss.

Baggs Tue 31-Jan-23 11:25:16

You ask is there anything you can do. I answer yes there is something: accept that your wife hates cooking.

Is there some other chore she could do (or in fact does do already – bed changing, laundry, other housework – so that you wouldn't feel it was unfair for you to do all the cooking?

Also, if you can afford take-away food and like it, what's the problem?

Fleurpepper Tue 31-Jan-23 11:30:48

A friend was married to a man who chose to do all the cooking- and it suited them both. Then he became ill and was not able to do it- so she had to. For weeks he sat there tell her 'do it like this, no, not like that, etc'. As he was ill, she took deep breaths and got on with it. One day, she blew her top and said 'if I cook, I cook, I don't want or need your advice. And if you don't like it, your problem not mine'.

She waited far too long to say it imho, but ...

Again many unkind comments above. In a relationship, why should anyone just say 'don't like it' and refuse to share chores. Discuss it, and find a compromise of sorts. What will she do that you don't like doing, that will compensate.

It takes two to tango, and just because you like cooking, and she doesn't, does NOT mean it is automatically all up to you, day in, day out.

Germanshepherdsmum Tue 31-Jan-23 11:33:41

I would be interested to know what dishes you cook?

4thtwin Tue 31-Jan-23 11:50:55

Yes, I've read all the comments and even though I can't reply to each and everyone individually I'll try to touch on a few subjects here. No, maybe she doesn't like cooking and I can agree with that. However, don't call yourself a good cook then. A few years back we got into a discussion because I made the comment of "my kitchen" and she didn't like that at all. Several has suggested a redistribution of household chores and I have no problem with that. Other than cooking about the only thing my wife does is the laundry. No, I have no problem doing it but that's something she usually does. I'm responsible for handyman duties, car repairs, car washing, yard work, electrical, plumbing, etc. And with her doing the laundry that's about all she does. We have hard wood floors and she may vacuum the living room rug once every couple of weeks. Again I'm not saying that cleaning should be her job but there's a nice layer of dust on everything. I don't want to define anyone into a gender roll but if anything get done around her I feel like I'm the one to do it. Her life is her phone. There was a time once while she was cooking several years ago that she left food on the stove and went into the bedroom in another part of the house to play Bingo with her group of friends on Facebook. I walked into the kitchen and saw the pots unattended and went livid. Not only was that a fire hazard because when she gets into her bingo she can be gone a while. And in regards to her Facbook when she's driving she'll have Facebook open on her lap so she can stau up on the latest post. We'll be in church and she'll be scrolling through her timeline to see what someone has posted.

All the kids are gone so it's just the two of us. I just can't see myself telling her "from now on I'll cook for myself and you do for you." I'm not trying to pattern my house like my parents did, I just want her to take a little time, every now and then to cook a meal for me instead of me worrying about how something will taste for her. She'll do tacos one night and go to the store to get the ingredients and she'll forget to buy lettuce or shredded cheese. Or she knows I'm not a fan of hard taco shells but she'll come home with a box of hard El Paso shells. I like the soft tortillas but will always forgets to buy them.

And when it comes to us cooking together I'm no standing over her with a ruler ready to crack her knuckles anytime she does something wrong. But if I make the suggestion, "let me show you how to slice then onion", "hold the knife this way and let the blade do the work" or even "curl your fingers under so you don't cut yourself" then that comes across as lecturing.

Last night she did make tuna fish sandwiches but she didn't drain the juice off the tuna when she opened the can. I love her but I would rather not be in a relationship with someone who you can't say anything to ever. I'm just supposed to leave her be and let her do things the way she wants however, she's constantly telling me how I need to improve.