Atypical Dating, Day 1: Women Who Can’t Cook and Reversing Expectations

I don’t pronounce myself an expert on dating, but as a married man and father of two, I feel I have some wisdom to share.  I also believe anime, with all its quirks and make-believe scenarios, can teach us something about relationships.  With this in mind, I’ll be sharing a bit about relationships over the next three Wednesdays, presenting points that may be considered unusual by western standards. But my hope is that you’ll consider these principals as you engage in or seek romantic relationships.

Cooking Is for Ladies

Any of us could probably easily list a dozen or more scenarios, symbols, or other items that pop up time and time again in anime.  One trait that’s common is for a show to feature a female character who tries to cook something for a boy, but fails miserably.

She can’t cook, even though she’s a woman.  Get it?  It’s hilarious. -_-‘

Toradora Taiga
She doesn’t cook, clean, do dishes, or do laundry. YOU do it, Ryuuji. (Art by Mokako)

Okay, maybe it’s funnier from an eastern perspective, where the traditional “wife in the kitchen” role is stronger (although I admit I personally find the trope humorous).  But I was reminded of the trait when my wife (who luckily doesn’t read my blog!) cooked pho the other day.  She’s actually quite a good cook, but an inexperienced one, so it was no surprise when everything in her dish turned out quite tasty, but the overcooked noodles sucked up all the soup and turned the dish into mush.

My wife complained about the quality of the soup.  I pointed out that we were all enjoying it: “Pho-get about it!”

But later, as I was cleaning the pot, I did complain about having to clean up the mess.  She replied that it was my fault.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because,” she replied, “You said ‘I do.’”

The Server is More Important Than the Chef

Those who know me best know that one of the two quickest ways to my heart is through food.  Make me a yummy meal and I’m a happy man.  But cooking, obviously, wasn’t a concern for me when deciding whether to ask my wife (then girlfriend) to marry me.

In a marriage, and hopefully in any dating relationship, there’s a sharing of roles.  If the wife wants to be in the traditional housewife-type role, then so be it.  If the husband wants to reverse that, then that’s great.  If it’s somewhere in between, that’s fine, too.

But more than that, I want to emphasize that in whatever the pair does for each other, they should do so with a serving heart.

Serving demonstrates love because it emphasizes sacrifice.  Serving isn’t easy – it’s a denial of self and a weighing down of pride.  It can be insulting, annoying, or boring.  For instance, I do the dishes at home…I hate doing dishes.  But it’s one role I take on to serve my wife and my kids.

In my wife’s case, her serving led to frustration, but it also demonstrated a…mushy love.  But that love was also a wonderful kind – one that filled the stomach and warmed the heart.

19 thoughts on “Atypical Dating, Day 1: Women Who Can’t Cook and Reversing Expectations

  1. TWWK, this is one of my all time favorite posts by you. I love how you talk about your family (you even fit Toradora in.) After being in Japan, the eastern mindset that you mentioned is very apparent. It is quite funny that a lot of the things we find so interesting in anime, are normal here. Maybe I should do my next post on that.

    1. Thanks, man.

      Yeah, it can be quite a culture shock going to East Asia, even if you’re prepared. When I went to visit my wife’s relatives several years ago, it still stood out to me how the men in the household sat down and waited to be served, while the women (even pregnant) did all the household work; there was even one relative whom we didn’t meet because she just stayed silent in the kitchen cooking the whole time!

      Of course, that said, roles are certainly changing – you know this from being in Japan. Another of my relatives had a situation sort of like in Madoka Magica – the wife was a high earner while the man stayed at home with their son (though he did work from home).

  2. This is a really great post. Being willing to serve is a vital part of a relationship because a peaceful union cannot exist if both sides are unwilling look past their own needs and feelings. I think I learned a lot from my dad in regards to this. Even though he works long hours and doesn’t get home until late in the day he still runs errands and helps out around the house. Though it doesn’t happen on a regular basis, he will even cook on the weekends (especially when Mom is unable to or too tired to do so). Oh yes, and I’m not overly fond of the doing the dishes either.

    Also, this reminds me of a great moment in Honey and Clover that I recently watched, but I won’t go into details because I’m not sure if you have seen it or not.

    1. That’s wonderful – it’s that sacrifice that helps to show others love.

      I definitely have seen Honey and Clover – what scene are you speaking of?

      1. I was referring to the scene in episode 17 where Takemoto is visited by his mother and Kazuo. The conversation between the three of them was quite good and it reflected some of the ideas that you discuss here.

        1. Gosh, I don’t remember that at all…I’m going to go revisit that scene soon. Honey and Clover is one of my favorites, but I’ve forgotten too much of it.

  3. @TRazon, I, too, was amused by the hilariously bad pun. I did laugh, TWWK, I did. In a relationship, I think things should be done that is best for the entirety of the couple/family. If it is best for the woman to do the household chores (as in she’s a better cook, no one wants nasty food) then that should be worked out as a family. We are not individuals just roaming around alone, in a family, you are intertwined and connected.

    1. Good! I was trying to be pho-nny. 😛

      Yeah, great point. A family is bound together not just by blood, but by love. Each person should, out of that love, want to fill roles that help everyone else. Oftentimes, those roles fit quite nicely (as with a good cook). Sometimes, though, no one is good at a certain task (or no one wants to do it) – that’s when it takes a serving heart.

      1. I was going to put it was pho-nny but I changed my mind. HAHA! And you’re right there are times when no one is good at a certain task or wants to do it (cleaning is the one in our household) but we have to work together to get it done. Because I don’t know about you but I don’t like a dirty home. Great post, btw!

  4. Beautiful post-I think this is the best one I’ve ever read on your site.

    I admit it- I’m a bit of a cooking snob. I wince when anyone – boy or girl, 2D or 3D – can’t cook! Then again, being raised in a family that had very few traditional gender roles, I probably have a very different outlook on this sort of thing than some people.

    I’m fine with cooking – I love to do it – but there’s a whole lot of things that I prefer to share responsibilty on. I will almost never wash dishes if I’ve cooked, because cooking itself is a hard job. I stood in front of a hot stove for over an hour making dinner today… in 85 degree heat! That’s not fun >.> But I try to recirocate when someone else does the cooking, because I know that it’s hard because I’ve done it. It makes life just a little bit easier.

    1. Thank you for the kind words! To be honest…I wasn’t very happy with this post after I wrote it; I edited it many times. But the response has been very encouraging.

      Cooking snob? That’s a new one to me. 😛

  5. “Pho-get about it!”

    I see what you did there lol.

    Anyways, thanks for this post. My current girlfriend and I are in a very serious relationship, but we both had concerns when we first started dating since we were both very selfish. Turns out it wasn’t much of a problem. Being in a relationship requires give and take on both sides, and if you love and care for one another, then you’ll have no problem sacrificing and serving one another. Sure you may not like it, but it’s for the good of both of you (or your family).

    And if you don’t mind, may I ask what ethnicity your wife is?

    1. That’s great to hear. A relationship usually pulls out the best and worst in you – it’s wonderful to see you and your girlfriend are growing in yours!

      My wife is Korean American. I didn’t grow up with too many close friends who were Korean, and never dated a woman of that background before her, so I definitely never expected to marry into that culture (even if I share it).

  6. I am sure you’re a good, loving family man, TWWK. And you do the dishes! You’re wife is so lucky to have you ! ! I hope we single women will be as lucky to find someone like you, too. ^____^

    Here’s to you…. CHEERS !

    1. Aww, you’re too nice! Thank you. 🙂

      But you might think different if I wrote more about my lazy and impatient side. 😛

  7. Everybody has that side. It would be quite intimidating to be with someone who’s perfect, hahaha.

    For some reason, we have 3 different versions of Evangelion here at home. the first one has an ending that ‘s quite weird, and i think all the fans hate it, so the creators made another version. We have that too, but I don’t know why my brother bought a third one, with a different cover, though. I’ll check it out and let you know why we have 3.

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