Imagine the pressure– (perhaps you feel this pressure over the holidays!?)
Christmas dinner will be at your house, and everyone’s looking to you to make it.
Only problem is, you cook infrequently, don’t really know your way around the kitchen, and are relying on ingredients you only rarely use or eat. The pressure to produce something great is at its highest, but your likelihood of producing greatness couldn’t be much lower.
It’s a high-pressure situation with a low chance of enjoyment, sure to produce disappointment for others, and discouragement for you.
If you cook only rarely, with an emphasis on special occasions, a few things happen:
- it ups the ante for the rare times you DO cook.
- it makes cooking more stressful, in general.
- you are likely less talented in the kitchen than you would be if you cooked more often
But what struck me the other day was this particular truth– when you limit your cooking frequency,
- the ability for your spouse (or family) to be able to say, “ya know, I don’t really like that” is greatly diminished.
The freedom to be honest is lacking because so much is riding on this rarely-enjoyed occasion, and no one relishes dashing the hopes of someone they love. So, some people will over-compliment it in order to be nice, and others will say nothing.
But even if someone DOES have genuine feedback that would make for a better meal, they’re less likely to offer it, because so much is riding on this one meal’s success.
But if you cook every night and every week has Taco Tuesday, there is a greater likelihood of freedom for people around you to say “those tortillas aren’t like our normal ones. I like the normal ones better.” Or to say, “I liked those new taco shells an awful lot. We should try those more often.” And- it’s less likely that the cook will get their feelings hurt about occasional negative feedback, because the opportunities to try things differently or make adjustments come so much more frequently.
Cooking more often:
- puts less pressure on each individual meal to be amazing
- makes it increasingly likely that each meal will get better and better.
- makes each individual time of cooking less stressful.
- AND gives more real opportunity for constructive feedback (even of the negative variety)
Honest feedback (even negative feedback) isn’t as devastating when there are lots of good meals happening, with good feedback, before the occasional piece of negative feedback is offered.
COOKING AND SEX
It occurred to me the other day that (in this way) cooking and sex are similar.
The less often you’re having sex:
- the more every encounter has built-in pressure to be something uniquely incredible, special, important…
- AND the more any amount of negative feedback is going to sting and be unwelcome.
But the more often sex is happening,
- it takes the pressure off.
- Not only are you (most likely) getting better at it,
- but it also means that an occasional piece of not-great feedback shouldn’t ruin the big picture.
- It makes the person receiving negative feedback more likely to able to take it in stride, because
- each partner knows the relationship is (in general) still secure and that it’s just a one-off not-so-good thing.
Cooking and sex are similar, in that they both:
- get better over time.
- involve experimentation and enjoyment.
- involve getting to know what the participants enjoy and prefer.
- can be simple or elaborate.
- get exponentially better, the more often you do them.
- give more freedom to offer honest (and even occasionally negative) feedback, the more often we do them.
Having sex frequently, like cooking frequently, allows the participants to be more specific, and more honest, with less hurt feelings over occasional negative feedback, because the overall trajectory is one of healthy growth and enjoyment alongside one another.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: Has the honesty and specificity of communication about sex increased over the course of your marriage? OR, fire back at me– do you disagree with something here? Let me hear from you!
3 thoughts on “Cooking, Sex, and Giving Honest Feedback”
Great analogy, and so true! I agree that there is definitely more pressure for things to be just perfect when you are not having sex very often. I have found that my husband and I have grown into our ability to communicate honestly and openly around this issue, but it didn’t happen right away. I would say that our communication around sex has definitely increased over the 14 years of our marriage.
Thanks again for this post – not an easy topic to write about, for sure!
Our ability to communicate about it has increased over the years too… thanks for speaking up!