Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Off the boil after too much of a fun thing

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The novelty of being a housewife is wearing off. Photo / Thinkstock
The novelty of being a housewife is wearing off. Photo / Thinkstock

It's now six weeks since I began my year-long challenge to be a supportive wife, spending more time cooking, cleaning and caring for the man in my life.

How's it going? I hear you ask. Well, not very well, thanks for asking.

"I haven't had a home-cooked meal for weeks," said my youngest daughter at the weekend.

"That will be because I've gone off cooking," I said, as if that simple statement made everything all right.

"I liked it when you cooked," she said staring at her butter chicken, a variation on the chicken madras and the chicken korma I had been feeding her courtesy of the local Indian takeaway which not only delivers but has eftpos as well.

There was a time when the same daughter begged to be allowed takeaways as a welcome relief from stuffed roast pork, lemon risotto with snapper and rabbit pie.

"Just something plain would be nice," she groaned.

Before my supportive wife challenge my husband and I shared the cooking depending on who felt like it that night and it usually ended up with us cooking equally.

I eagerly collected recipes for interesting dishes, enjoyed shopping for all the ingredients and then started out at 4pm to cook the meal of a lifetime.

It was fun, because I had to do it only every second night or so.

But then I started cooking every night, to give my husband those few extra hours to keep working.

I'm not saying out loud that my husband has some form of attention deficit disorder, but let's just say he has an impressive work ethic which means that when he has stuff to do, like publishing two books simultaneously for his new publishing business, he works every damn hour God gives him and then some. I'll often wake to find that he and the puppy have been in his office since 5am.

The cooking every night thing coincided with my decision, before I decided to become a supportive wife, to agree to do a week's worth of seminars entitled A Simpler Life. Yes, I get the irony.

I delivered 11 of them around the country in five days while still writing my "columns and things".

This is how I describe my normal work week as a supportive wife. When asked what I do, I describe the four columns plus a newsletter I write as "columns and things".

Added up they resemble a fulltime work week but I try to pass them off as at best part-time work, similar to helping out at the school tuck-shop. It makes me feel better.

During the week of A Simpler Life, supportive wife morphed into stressed-out, angry, resentful, don't give a toss about what you're having for your bloody tea, wife.

There was no coffee in bed, dishes done in a jiffy, don't mind me as I sweep around you at your desk.

The whole house slumped into a state of disarray. Dust balls danced down the hall, clean washing luxuriated over the couch while more washing remained on the line for days on end. My house was dishevelled and so was I.

One morning I caught my husband putting on a load of washing.

"Don't do that!" I screeched. "My job, not yours!"

"I'm just trying to help out and I have five minutes before I need to start proofing again."

"Not on my watch mister, get back in there."

Then he tried to cook dinner.

"I just bought some steak when I was up the road at the post office," he said apologetically.

The one night I did cook I was testing a recipe for one of my columns involving the use of tinned corned beef and mashed potatoes, sometimes known as a hash. My hash stubbornly bubbled like a Rotorua mud pool then refused to leave the pan.

"Need a hand?" asked my husband at 8pm when most people would reasonably expect to see something resembling dinner on the table.

"Over it," was all I said and walked out of the kitchen as I heard him get out the toasted sandwich maker - again.

I'm now making a concerted return to my new role as supportive wife, and only time, or the lack of it, will tell if I can keep it up.

- NZ Herald

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