It was our third couples counseling session. My husband started off, "She's so ungrateful. Everything I do makes her mad. I made dinner, and she didn't even appreciate that!"
"Is that true?"
"He made delicious enchiladas. I asked if I had to pay $18 because that's what they would charge in a restaurant for enchiladas this good. We tend to make the same four dinners. Knowing this recipe was a keeper, I said they were great, but next time, can you please leave out the raw onion?"
Sure enough, the next week he made them again. I was excited because I had a long day with the baby, I was starving, and I was tired of takeout too. I asked if he could please leave the raw onion off of mine. 'No.'
I thought he was being sarcastic. But 9 p.m. rolled around and finally his new signature dish was done. I took a bite, and, you guessed it, a mouthful of raw onion. It was in the entire dish. I picked through my dinner, but the onion land mines were impossible to avoid. I thanked him for cooking and asked if next time he could please put the onion on the side. "Why?" he asked.
Our therapist jumped in. "Couldn't you just put the onion on the side?"
"Fine. It's not important. Next time I'll put the onion on the side."
"But it is important. It's very important. I can't tell you how important it is," said Dr. B. I was surprised to hear him say this. I know most women would say I should stop my bitchin,' at least your husband makes a meal... I thought Dr. B would say just pick out the onions like my mother suggested. But, he didn't.
Dr. B. continued, "Some people like mustard on their hamburgers. Some don't. I wouldn't think to force someone to eat mustard on their hamburger if they don't like it. She had a long day with the baby. She was hungry. Is there a reason you couldn't leave the onion out of her enchiladas?"
"She's so picky, if I leave off the onion, next time she'll decide she doesn't like the chicken, and then I'll have to leave that out too!"
That's when an onion made me cry, and there wasn't even one nearby. Hearing my husband, I realized he didn't want to do anything to please me. He had so much anger toward me that it even came through in a simple Mexican dinner.
I wondered, "Is it possible to sustain a relationship when your spouse feels you're so impossible to please that they stop trying?" I wasn't sure, but I knew this was VERY important.