I thought he would know better.
I thought all men had a briefing somewhere, somehow, from men who were already married, or from some inborn survival defense mechanism that warned them of it.
But I was wrong.
When I married my husband, we bought our own little house on a few acres where we could raise some steer and chickens and a dog. It was sweetness.
One day, I decided to make pancakes.
My sister had been married for six years when I got married, so I'd had plenty of experience sampling her cooking and was over-joyed when I tasted her pancakes. To me, they were the perfect pancakes: the right thickness, sweetness, texture a pancake should be. It was a recipe from her mother-in-law that she had adapted to use wheat flour, but they still tasted delicious, so they were healthier, too. I copied the recipe and when the desire to impress my husband with breakfast arose that morning, this was the recipe I ran to, believing there was no way he wouldn't love these pancakes.
Then, it happened.
"What's this?" he asked, unaware of my excited hopefulness.
"What do you mean 'what is this'? It's a pancake. Taste it. It's good."
Cutting his pancake and looking with a disappointment I didn't understand, he took a bite and chewed. He looked tired chewing, and I didn't understand what was going on.
"I thought you said you were making pancakes," he mumbled.
"I did make pancakes. What are you talking about?"
"Well, where did you get this recipe?"
Confused, I'd admitted I'd gotten it from my sister who had gotten it from a long loved recipe of her mother-in-law.
"But, I like my pancakes thin. These are fat...."
It was coming, I could see his lips forming the words as I gripped my frying pan a wee bit tighter...
As I turned to face him with these words, I looked into his face and tried to gain composure.
My husband's mom made a pancake that was more of a crepe and they would be slathered in jelly. His expectations of pancakes was not a bready type with syrup, as mine was.
Expectations are the dogma that often dictates whether we will rise on the occasion, or sink. Without expectations, our lives would be much simpler, but there they are, regardless, and learning to deal with them when they are dashed is crucial in any relationship.
Learning to express disappointment is yet another learned discipline. My husband's expectations for pancakes had been dashed. My expectations for his happy response had been dashed. We stood at a crossroads: war or peace, the inevitable outcome, depended on the next move. So much emotion wafted with the steam rising from the controversial pancake.
I think one of the biggest lessons in making a marriage better is dealing with expectations while trying to see the other person's point of view. It's a piece of work sometimes, climbing the mountain to see from their vista, but it is well worth the effort. It is a crucial journey of the mind. I often still have trouble getting up that mountain.
There may have been a few exchanges or words at this point, a few explanations and a touch of heat, whether from the pancakes or the exchange, my memory now fades on me; but eventually,
I plunked another pancake down on his plate and said,
"Eat them. They're good for you."
He looked at his plate, picked up his fork, and began eating, and he admitted, perhaps out of truth mingled with some necessity, that the pancakes were actually good. I had learned that men have expectations when it comes to eating, and to try to not take it personally when they bumble them out haphazardly. My husband left the table a bit more informed on the dangers of questioning the validity of a recipe before eating it.
Sometime later, while rummaging through my recipe box, I came upon his mom's pancake recipe and made them up for him.
They are very good.
So, today, for my last day of the month of posting recipes, I am giving you two recipes:
the pancakes and the other pancakes,
only, I'm not telling which one tastes best.
That would just be crazy.
Linking up to:
Dutch Pancakes Feather Pancakes