If you and your significant other are wasting every night sitting on opposite ends of the couch and not talking to each other, it may be time to get up and do something together. A major sign that a relationship has hit a snag is if the couple stops doing things together. You may also just be in a run-of-the-mill rut — not one that’s leading to divorce, just one that’s occurring because you’re super comfortable together. You can fix that, too.
Creating a welcoming space to prepare and eat meals, then prioritizing cooking and eating together as a couple, can help get your relationship back on track. This isn’t baseless advice, either — it’s a trend that’s seen in surveys of real couples. The actual food and cooking portion isn’t what’s so great for a relationship, though; the communication involved plays a larger role. Think of the food as the cherry on top.
You’ll Discover What You Like as a Couple
Food is a major part of every person’s life. We eat every single day, so it stands to reason that a lot of those meals and food decisions are going to involve your spouse. When you opt to cook together, you’ll figure out what you like together as a couple — which foods (and cocktails) are your favorites to make and enjoy, and which ones you’d rather never have again.
You’ll also figure out where you both shine in the kitchen and how those preferences and skills complement one another. For example, maybe you set a killer outdoor table in your backyard kitchen while your S.O. is busy grilling the world’s perfect steak. Or maybe you excel at main courses and your hubby rules the realm of desserts.
There’s an Opportunity to Share Differences, Too
The foods we love are personal, often connected to memories and past experiences. When one person’s preferred diet differs greatly from the others, there’s a chance to share your differences. If one person is a vegetarian or grew up with a certain kind of ethnic food, plan a meal 100% around that. Make sure to chat about why these foods are so important or memories that involve childhood or family.
Also, don’t pressure the other person into liking what you like. The point here is to discover and celebrate your differences, not to force someone to like those things too. On the same note, if you’re not into the new cuisine, don’t complain and whine about it — you can always order a pizza later.
You Can Show You’re Thinking of Your Spouse
Think about all of the things that go into planning, cooking, and eating a meal together. You have to figure out the menu, shop for the ingredients (and maybe a cooking appliance you don’t yet have), prep and cook the food, dine together, and then clean up. There are all sorts of opportunities to show the other one you’re thinking of them:
- Plan the menu based on your spouse’s favorite foods.
- Offer to do the shopping if they’ve had a long day.
- Pick up their favorite bottle of wine on your way home.
- When cooking together, listen to a podcast or soundtrack you both love.
- Surprise them with a special dessert.
- Make a game out of cleaning up.
Happy couples take small opportunities to show that they care about one another, and spontaneity makes something as normal as cooking a meal all the more fun.
Eating Together Provides Times to Check-In
Successful couples make sure to find ways to emotionally connect with one another, even if their days are wildly busy. Sitting down for a meal together is a great time to ask about one another’s day and talk about what’s going on in your lives. The conversation can be deep or light — the point is that you have it.
If you end up hating your meal because those conversations always turn into unhealthy debates or fights, though, you may want to set some ground rules. The point of doing all this together is to find something you enjoy, not loathe. Stick to safe topics, like the latest book, TV show, or podcast you’ve been interested in. There’s another time and place for the must-have, unpleasant conversations.
After you and your main squeeze have prepared a few meals together, think about how you can outfit your home and kitchen to be more in-line with your newfound love of cooking and dining together. You could upgrade your kitchen appliances, build storage for your wine collection or seek out offbeat food stores for uncommon ingredients. The point is that you’ve found something you love to do together and ways to keep it fresh and enjoyable as time goes on.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.