Cooking up some love

It takes a real man to be comfortable in the kitchen, and I am most definitely married to a real man. Before I started dating my future husband, I could make three things well: chocolate chip cookies, Annie’s mac and cheese, and a grilled cheese sandwich. As an aside, I was about ten pounds heavier than I am now with weekly menus like that. To say my culinary skills were lacking would be an understatement.

So when, for our second date, my husband-to-be made the most delicious manicotti I had ever tasted, I fell in love. The next day, I called my mom and told her, casually, that I thought I had met the man I would marry. She started dreaming of grandkids while I started dreaming of elaborate meals cooked for me every night for the rest of my life.

Here’s a little feast he surprised me with one summer evening early in our relationship:

Summer surprise

It’s funny how dreams rarely parallel reality. After 4+ years together, I do the bulk of the cooking in our house, but I’m okay–nay, grateful–for that because I finally know how to cook and cook well. What’s more, I enjoy it. Once or twice a week I’ll take the time to cook something a little fancier. A few nights ago, it was homemade manicotti, just like he had cooked for me all those years ago. I poured myself a nice glass of California red and started sauteeing the onions and garlic. I turned up Adele and sang along in my off-key voice.

When my husband got home from work, the apartment smelled like a Florentine restaurant. He began quizzing me on what I had added to make the filling so creamy and complimented my handiwork. Cooking has become something we share, rather than a way for him to spoil me. And as much as I like to be spoiled, I prefer sharing.

What activities has your partner helped you grow in? What new skill have they taught you?

In with the in-laws

Last Friday, I went out with two of my girlfriends to a local wine bar. We imbibed a few cocktails and took turns sharing humiliating stories about ex-boyfriends. It was your standard girls’ night out, but with one caveat: these women were my sisters-in-law, not just my girlfriends.

I grew up with one sibling, a younger brother, and had always thought it would be nice to have another girl in the family. Well now, thanks to my husband’s traditionally gigantic Catholic family, I have four sisters, three of whom I would definitely be friends with even if I hadn’t married their brother. We workout together, shop together, make dinners together and get everyone gathered for Apples to Apples tournaments. I finally have sisters, and I love it.

The following night after the girls’ night out, my husband’s parents treated the two of us to a dinner with them. That’s right, I’m using “treated” in a completely non-sarcastic, non-ironic sense of the word. It really was a treat to sit down with the two of them and hear about the construction project my father-in-law is managing and the trip to Israel my mother-in-law took a few years ago.

I know that many people have difficult relationships with their in-laws, so I’m extremely grateful for the enjoyable one I have with mine. I’m grateful not just because it makes my life easier (we all live in the same time, so it could be rather hellish if things were tense between us), but because it gives me insight into my husband as well. He is not one to offer up his feelings or past experience without plenty of prodding. When I listen to his siblings or parents tell stories about him growing up, a few more pieces fall into place.

Gratitude for family who are friends. That’s what I’m feeling today.

Just the two of us

Today, I’m grateful for not having something in my life: children.

Okay, wait, hear me out. I love kids. Really, I do. Despite the fact that I have a career, I still babysit on the weekends just because I have so much fun playing ninjas and tag. On top of that, I mentor a middle schooler every week. Someday in the not-too-distant-future, I’d love to have a couple kids of my own. Just not right now.

Right now, I’d rather soak in that special brand of marital bliss that only comes (or so I’ve been told) in the first year of a marriage. The newlywed glow and all that. Last night when my husband got home from work late, the two of us uncorked a bottle of wine, heated up some leftovers and plopped ourselves firmly on the couch to catch up on each other’s days and on the latest episode of New Girl. We didn’t worry about anyone but each other for the next three hours before we turned out the lights. Instead, we talked, laughed, and yes, even flirted a bit. I know romance doesn’t end when you have children, but right now it’s nice to focus solely on the romance and communication in our relationship. I know it will make us that much stronger when we do take the plunge into parenthood.

So my gratitude reminder for today is this: At whatever point you are in your life, it is absolutely worth celebrating. While you may not have it all right here, right now, it’s on its way. So sit back and soak up today. And maybe flirt with your spouse while you’re at it.

What future goal are you happy to not have attained yet? Owning a house? Finishing a degree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.