05 February 2012


Call me old fashioned, but I have, for as long as I can remember, been a fan of the “wives, be submissive to your husbands” lingo found in the New Testament. I know that I have my own thoughts and my own opinion but I also know that marriage is about compromise and in many cases, especially in Asia, the man is the head of the household.

If Paul and I disagree on something, I will usually give my 50 cents and then tell Paul that the decision is up to him. Decisions can be as simple as which church service out of the four offered we attend on a Sunday or which bookstore to investigate while we are out wandering.

In the few instances when we actually get frustrated at each other (usually I get visibly frustrated at Paul – very rarely does Paul get frustrated at anything), I usually just give up and give in to whatever he wants.

One evening we were supposed to meet friends downtown for dinner. I advised Paul what time we needed to leave and told him that we were taking the train. He absolutely insisted that the train was a bad idea, he did not want to take the train, and that we were going to take a bus. He was so stuck in his ways that, after leaving the house and walking to the bus stop outside, he decided that we should race – yes, race. Paul would take the bus and I would take the train and we would see who would arrive first. I wanted to scream.

Since, in my opinion, he was acting like a 5-year-old, I, like a 5-year-old, told him that was just stupid. I gave in, and walked with him across the street to the stop that would bring us a bus headed downtown. I feel like I should tell you that Paul’s plan totally backfired and we ended up in a cab because we were running late but I won’t.

To me, giving in to the little things is usually pretty easy. In a life and death decision, I will surely hold my own. For instance, when Paul was unsure about moving to Singapore, I was yelling in his ear that we had to go.

I suppose food could be considered a life and death decision because if one does not eat, one will die, but I have recently noticed that my surrender to Paul’s requests is leading to the demise of my soul and the demise of Paul’s ability to do anything for himself.

Now, I have to say that I realize this is completely my fault. I love to cook. I love to plan meals. I love to sit down with my husband and enjoy some great-tasting food, especially if I present something new. But this has gotten out of hand.

If Paul is hungry, he will walk into the kitchen, open up the cupboards or the fridge and grab whatever he can that will not dirty any dish larger than a knife or maybe a bowl that can only be filled with cereal and milk. If a plate or the stove or the microwave or the oven is involved, he just won’t eat.

I went out one day and came home in the afternoon.

“Did you eat anything?” I asked my husband.

“I had a bowl of cereal…”

“Oh, good. That is much better than what I was expecting you to say.”

“After the chips ran out.”

And there it is.

“Will you make me a grilled cheese?” he will ask, batting his eyelashes like a little girl. I give in.

Last night he jokingly demanded that I make him a sandwich. I became frustrated since we were both standing in front of the fridge, door open, at the time.

“Look!” I said and pointed. “There is the bread, in that drawer is the meat and the cheese and, ooh, lettuce down at the bottom,” and I walked away.

Paul, in turn, made some sarcastic dig at me, shut the door, turned off the kitchen light and exclaimed that he just would not eat. And this is what happens. If I do not make him something, he goes on a hunger strike.

His biggest worry right now is what will happen if I get a new job this week. What will he eat? This cannot happen.

I have more than frustration toward Paul when he gets like this – I have genuine worry. In December, I left for the States 10 days ahead of Paul, leaving him to fend for himself. The day that I left, I made a special trip to the grocery store and purchased items I knew Paul would eat. I even got easy things that I knew he could make for himself.

You see, Paul used to cook. He used to be proud of his ability to cook. He would make waffles for breakfast or a Valentine’s dinner, he would grill anything, he would make lamb and steaks. Now, he won’t even make himself a deli sandwich.

When I got home from the store, Paul came into the kitchen and saw all of the bags.

“What is all of this stuff?” he asked, visibly frustrated.

I explained that I was certain that he would not eat anything at all while I was gone so I knew that I had to get home something. I stocked him up on bread, peanut butter and cereal. I bought hamburger meat so that he could make himself burgers. I bought spaghetti because that is always a quick and easy meal for the helpless.

Paul was not pleased.

“I have half a mind to leave everything just the way it is so that it’s all still here when we get back in January!”

Fine. Don’t eat the food. Go on your hunger strike. I don’t know what I was thinking by taking away your ability to make yourself some food.

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