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Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Bad Taste in my Mouth

Advice from Dr. Stanwix – Bad Taste in my Mouth
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Dear Dr. Stanwix,

My wife is simply a terrible cook and I don’t know how to tell her this. We used to share the cooking and during that time she made a few dishes that were okay. However, because I enjoy cooking much more, I took over the reins of the kitchen and have cooked most of the meals. Unfortunately, now I am too busy at my job to do the cooking.

We ordered out for a while, but then my wife and I decided it wasn’t very healthy or economical. We discussed some options and that’s when my wife decided to take up her cooking crusade.

I really appreciate her taking on this job. We have always been supportive of one another and try to pick up the slack when one of us is too busy.

At first, I welcomed the relief. Unfortunately, her experiments in the kitchen are getting bolder and the results are less than spectacular. On many occasions I have to lie to her and tell her I had a late lunch, because I simply don’t have the stomach for her latest experiment. Other times, I have to lie and tell her it tastes good when nothing could be further from the truth.

I have tried to make subtle hints about what she should do in the kitchen to improve her cooking, but she always gets offended. She is very sensitive about these things, so it is difficult to give her any constructive criticism whatsoever.

Do you have any advice to help me get through to my wife? This may be a minor thing for some, but food is extremely important to me. I just want a decent meal when I come home from a hard day’s work.


Bad Taste in my Mouth


Dear Bad Taste in my Mouth,

It’s nice that you and your wife share the chores at home, and that you are both willing to pick up any slack when necessary. Your wife’s offer to cook is generous and should be appreciated. However, that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t accept a little constructive criticism in the kitchen.

I’m no chef, but I do know a little about cooking. It is not just throwing things in a pan to cook. In many instances the same ingredients just don’t taste as good because we don’t know what order they should be cooked in. There are also combinations that work better than others and some that we never imagined would taste so good.

The question is whether your standards are too high or your wife’s cooking is really that bad. If it is, as you say, the latter, then you should make your feelings clear to her. It will save you problems down the road and will also save on food.

The only advice I can think of is to cook with your wife more. Perhaps you two could do more cooking on the weekends together. Then she would see how you do things. You could also follow recipes to make your wife aware of the order things are cooked and the precise combinations that really bring out the best flavors.

If she becomes offended by these cooking “lessons”, you may also want to point out instances (if there are any) when she gave you constructive criticism and you accepted it without a problem. If there aren’t any of these instances, think about why. Are you willing to accept constructive criticism or are you as sensitive as your wife? Remember this is about specific actions or behaviors; we must make sure we are criticizing these actions, not the person. In every relationship we should be willing to give and receive constructive criticism.

While it is important to respect our spouse’s feelings, we should be able to say how we feel in the event we are not happy with something. If we aren’t sincere about the smaller things with our partners, then we run the risk of having them develop into bigger problems in the future.

Your wife and you seem to have a very good and supportive relationship. I think she can handle a little constructive criticism regarding her cooking. Just be sure that you are also willing to accept constructive criticism from her for things that you do not do well.

Best of Luck,

Dr. Michael Stanwix



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