Archived Story

Marriage advice: Don’t say, ‘I don’t care’

Published 9:52am Friday, November 22, 2013

Column: Things I Tell My Wife, by Matthew Knutson

“I don’t really care,” I told my wife.

Those four words are probably the famous last words of many husbands. I knew it wouldn’t be wise to say them before it came out of my mouth, but I was at a point of frustration where I couldn’t hold it in any longer. She was at the point of frustration where I should have just decided to care enough to pick something. If my mom was upset at my dad, it was probably because he responded the same way. Even my coworkers expressed their frustrations when their husbands didn’t just pick something. What were we discussing?

Dinner.

Every day Sera asks me what I want for dinner, and I hardly ever care what we have. I’m just not a food person.

There are some people out there who record cooking shows to watch later, savor every bite they eat, and can, in detail, describe the richness of a main dish.

That’s not me. I either like a meal or don’t, and I simply eat it and move on with my day. There may be many readers out there questioning how I can live like that, but unless it’s chocolate, I’m just not that passionate about food.

My wife, bless her, actually enjoys cooking. She’s good at it, which helps, but her true joy comes from the act of cooking a meal for someone. There’s a book out there called “The Five Love Languages,” and Sera’s love language is definitely giving gifts. I’m certain she interprets her cooking as a mini-gift each night, and I’m thankful to receive it. It’s just choosing it every day that’s a problem.

Sometimes I wonder why she doesn’t seem to ever have an opinion for what we eat. Surely all people have to have an opinion on what to eat, right? Excluding me, of course.

Why does this decision come down to the husband, anyway? Is this some weird husband role that was hidden within my wedding vows? All I know is that my wife gets a look in her eye that I never want to see again when I say, “I don’t really care.”

Before I look completely like an uncaring husband, I do have a small defense. Every single time I have chosen something for dinner, we don’t have the ingredients to make it. Most recently I gave her two options, spaghetti or tacos.

Neither of which were actual options because we didn’t have any hamburger in the freezer. Actually deciding on a meal was an accomplishment for me, so having both of them denied was defeating. We do live next to a grocery store, so it’s always an option to walk across the parking lot, but our tight budget rarely allows us to partake in that convenience.

If we were wealthy, an excellent option would be going out to eat. We could both choose something we genuinely wanted. I can pick a restaurant without a problem, though perhaps that’s because there’s such a limited number of options in my town.

Truthfully, I know my wife isn’t getting upset about me not caring what’s for dinner. It’s the process of not participating in a decision that impacts both of us that’s troublesome for her.

If I had one piece of advice for married couples, it’d be to participate in your marriage as much as you possibly can. Still being a newlywed, I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to give advice in the marriage arena, but I’ll give it anyway.

We’ve all seen couples who let small things like a spouse not picking something for dinner build into a much bigger issue than it ever needed to be. By participating in choosing something for dinner, even if we can’t possibly have it, I’m showing my wife that she matters to me.

My wife’s suggestion to all the married couples out there? Remove “I don’t really care” from your vocabulary. It’s a great tip and something I’ll definitely be working on from now on. In the meantime, she’ll have to work on caring about which episode of “Friends” we watch.

 

Matthew Knutson is a marketing specialist at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Find him online at thingsitellmywife.tumblr.com.