I didn’t mean to, but I unleashed a hairy, scary monster on Facebook the other night. I whined about making dinner for the family and having no one show up to eat it “on time.”
The ladies are in agreement: It’s altogether aggravating to put together the biggest meal of the day and then have no one respond to “Dinner’s ready!” except the family dog(s). However, I got a very grouchy (and uncharacteristic) message from my husband pointing out the other side of the story. Most other fellas were apparently too scared to dive into that seething mass of feminine frustration.
It appears the family dinner table – the epitome of the happy nuclear household – has become (or perhaps has always been) a source of silent contention and hidden resentment.
Have we been surreptitiously brainwashed by the 1950s image of the happy homemaker who has a hot meal on the table every night at six o’clock on the dot? It’s like a virus. No matter how odd our household schedules might be, somewhere around 4:30 or 5 p.m. that internal wifely virus is triggered. Like an automaton, I go into Stepford mode.
TIME TO MAKE THE DINNER
TIME TO MAKE THE DINNER
Once the meal is prepared the spell breaks, and I realize I’ve prepared food for six and no one is home to eat it but me. Then I get testy and bang things around in the kitchen and send angry text messages to my absentee family members. Based on the following photo, this reaction is universal enough to warrant its own wine label, in red or white, depending on whether you’re serving beef or chicken.
The sniping can go either way. Fifty years ago (if FB had existed) some man might have grumbled about his wife not having supper on the table when he came home from work, and his male buddies would have commiserated with him. Today if a man posts a statement like that he’s apt to be drowned in a sea of feminist wrath.
My husband’s perspective has less to do with dinner itself and more to do with what he comes home to, I think (he can correct me if I’m wrong). After working a 10-11 hour day, encountering a snarly witch-wife with a chip on her shoulder is not his idea of a pleasant evening. I can see his point, and I believe he can see mine, as well.
What’s disturbing is the level of hidden resentment my FB comment unleashed. The root of it? Unspoken expectations we place upon ourselves and others, and the guilt and anger generated when those expectations aren’t met.
How many marriages are poisoned by this kind of toxic resentment? Whether it’s over who makes dinner and when, empty toilet paper rolls, dirty socks on the floor, toothpaste and whiskers in the sink, or (fill in the blank)?
Here’s a tip from Proverbs we could all stand to apply: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Prov 17:1)
Solomon, with his 300 wives and 700 concubines, probably knew a thing or two about cranky wives and meals that cause indigestion.