The Rice Wars

I don’t have much to say because I’ve barely lived today. I got up early (which, for me, is 7am) with a headache and couldn’t go back to sleep so I did a little cleaning and worked on making a grocery list for this week’s shopping trip, then spent a little time with my husband talking over some things that we’re planning on doing over the next few weeks. Then I decided to make some rice for lunch (we definitely need to get to the grocery store) and he decided to give me his input on the way I cook rice on the stove-top because apparently I don’t do it to his satisfaction. At one point, he went into the kitchen on the pretext of making a cup of coffee, and I spotted him adding water to the rice pot and immediately I started building my legal case against him for when he complained that the rice is too mushy later. And finally, just as the rice was a few minutes from being finished, he called his mother and engaged in a thirty minute conversation with her, leaving me the task of establishing if the rice was at the consistency he prefers and keeping it warm until he was ready to eat it. Needless to say, I gave up, served myself, and walked away to watch TV while he finished up his conversation.

I was really frustrated with him for this; I have no issue with him having lengthy conversations with his mother or anyone else, but I do have an issue with him asking me to make a meal for him, criticizing the way I make that meal, interfering with how the meal is made, then making himself unavailable once the meal is done, and then getting grumpy with the outcome of that meal. And I know that being frustrated usually leads to me snapping off about whatever goes wrong, he gets his feelings hurt, I feel righteously indignant about his hurt feelings, and we spend the rest of the day in separate rooms short-answering each other’s questions until one of us is tired and bitter enough to go to sleep. We never have big fights, only little ones, but they put me on edge enough that I’m just miserable all day. I’m not even angry right now, but deep down I feel hurt that the effort I made was not enough or was wrong or whatever. And so many hours have passed since today’s episode that I don’t feel comfortable bringing it up because it was such a little thing. We didn’t fight about it today, but on another day this same scenario could come up and it’ll be like ripping open a scar from a small cut, thus forming a bigger wound and a worse scar. So do I bring it up, this many hours afterward, or do I just try to let it go and feel crappy about it again another day?

I think I deserve better than the way I treat my own feelings, but it makes me feel so guilty for giving myself permission to express frustration over such a small thing. When my husband and I first got married six and a half years ago, he was absolutely useless in the kitchen. No kidding. I once caught him trying to make pancakes by mixing the pancake batter in the same pan he was going to cook them in. He didn’t understand that you have to mix the batter and then pour it into blobs in a pan or griddle. He had never cooked anything more complicated than toast, and he needed a toaster even to do that. On that particular day, I had only been home from the hospital for a day or two after a sixteen-day stay after a major surgery and he was trying to help me by making me breakfast. I was grateful for his effort, but in the end we both ate cereal instead. He has learned a lot about cooking since then after watching me and helping me with meals from time to time, but he doesn’t always understand why certain items you buy at the store have specific cooking instructions. He likes his white rice to be a particular consistency, that the rice grains are cooked through but not mushy, and that’s easily accomplished and would have been correct today if he had just stayed out of it. But he was worried I didn’t add enough water, so he poured a lot of water into it when he thought I wasn’t looking. He doesn’t understand that liquid is what breaks down the integrity of the rice and makes it mushy. So he messed up his own rice and I wasn’t interested in being criticized for it being too mushy for his taste.

It just feels like a stupid argument to have this many hours later, but logically I know it’s likely to come up again because he really loves rice and we seem to eat a good bit of it around here. So I’m almost sure he will sneak extra water into the rice again, and I will have to find a way to gently point out to him that adding water will ruin it. And every time I have to gently point out some mistake he’s making with cooking or cleaning or whatever, I feel like a nagging wife, which I just don’t want to be. I wonder if he hears a certain intonation in my speech that makes him cringe and think Oh, here she goes again, criticizing everything I do, and I just don’t want to be that wife. He already had that wife, and God help me, I don’t ever want to be another ex-wife he complains about to a future wife. But at the same time I feel like I have to stand up for my own feelings even in these little things. And really, we get along quite well, especially when we are open about the things we say and do and stay honest and give each other our space. So why am I getting upset about this? Because I know I have a history of letting the little things eat away at me until I’ve just had enough, and then I explode my feelings instead of speaking my mind in the moment when I should.

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January 4, 2021

Menfolk undoing kitchen things are the bane of my existence. As for rice, we have moved into variety and methodology for various types of rice, but it’s never really about the rice is it?

January 5, 2021

@tunguska Definitely not in my case, anyway. I can mix it up when it comes to rice but the old man only ever wants plain white rice with butter, so the discussions about variety and methodology just don’t really matter. 🙄

January 5, 2021

@foxitten you’d think it would on our end but after all the pretense Hubbin dumps hot sauce and jalapenos on everything. I mean everything. Bleah, too much work for that mess.