If you find tempers flaring in the kitchen more than usual these days, get expert tips on how to stop fighting over cooking.
Quarantine has taught me a lot of things.
It’s taught me to be grateful for my health and to never take the time I have with loved ones for granted. It’s taught me to more carefully assess risks and to practice patience. It’s taught me to be creative with my free time.
It’s also taught me that it can be hard to share space—especially in the kitchen—with your significant other. When the lockdown first started in mid-March, my husband and I were living in a teeny apartment in Brooklyn. I’ve been working from home full-time since 2016, but my charming S.O. and I were suddenly in each other’s bubbles pretty much all the time. We’ve since moved to Philadelphia, where we have a lot more space, but our kitchen is still on the small side by most standards.
Over the last few months, my husband has taken up lunchtime cooking projects, started collecting hot sauces in our kitchen cabinets, tried his hand at homemade gnocchi, and more frequently wandered in to say “’Sup?” while I prepare dinner. Quarantine has scrambled life for so many of us in so many ways, and our handle on personal space is no different. If the kitchen was once solely your “turf,” I’m willing to bet that the lines have blurred at least slightly since March.
With this in mind—and knowing that so many are struggling with these shifts—I looked to relationship experts for advice on how to avoid tension and arguments in the kitchen with your S.O. Keep scrolling for their suggestions!
1. Keep Your Spaces Organized
In my personal experience, things can get tense in the kitchen when there’s confusion about who is occupying and working in which areas. Am I chopping vegetables for dinner on this patch of countertop or is my husband using it to take apart our robot vacuum to figure out why it hasn’t been picking up my dog’s ample fur for the last week? Is my husband rinsing dishes in the sink or am I deep cleaning it?
These questions might sound a little ridiculous in theory—shouldn’t we be able to sort all of this out fairly automatically?—but anyone who’s found themselves moving (or trying to move) through their kitchen on autopilot knows that you can easily find yourself feeling frustrated as you (literally) bump up against your partner while carrying out kitchen tasks. Some prior planning might actually be required.
Divorce Harmony marriage mediator Dori Shwirtz notes the importance of keeping kitchen spaces organized to minimize opportunities for argument. Talk with your partner about what chores you’ll be taking on and in what spaces or areas you plan to do them. Ask them to do the same. With practice, you may find it easier to negotiate around each other without this kind of explicit communication