9 Kitchen Habits that Cook Up Trouble in Your Marriage

Posted by: Shel 26 Comments

9 Kitchen Habits that Cook Up Trouble in Your MarriageI have already warned you how what happens in the bathroom – those little annoying habits that crop up – can harm a marriage. But annoying your spouse in the kitchen could be even more dangerous – there’s knives there!

It’s often the little things that cause the biggest spats. Here are nine of those little things – insignificant kitchen behaviors – that can cook up trouble in your marriage by causing tempers to reach the boiling point!

1. Not draining the dishwater. Sure you get brownie points for doing the dishes. But you actually lose points if you don’t drain the water. Saving the water in case you come across one more dish that needs washing or a missed counter sounds virtuous in the moment, but the virtue is gone once the water cools. There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as having to stick one’s hand in cold, now-greasy water.

2. Wadded up wet stuff. Once you’ve drained the dishwater, you must wring out the dishrag or sponge and put it in a position in which it can dry out. Unless you’re willing to be the one that deals with  it hours later – thus, being the one that has that delightful mildewy smell clinging to your hands for the rest of the day.

3. Leaving dirty dishes in/by the sink. This is especially annoying if done within 2 hours of the kitchen being cleaned. It’s egregious if the dishwasher is two steps away.

4. Loading the dishwasher wrong. Please keep in mind ‘wrong’ is a subjective term and it’s meaning may differ from household to household. “Wrong” is defined in the marital dictionary* as “not being done in accordance with the procedure that the spouse who cares most wants it done.” Memorize that. If one of you cares less, I promise you doing it ‘their way’ is less time-consuming than listening to the chat that will follow (repeatedly) if you do not. If both of you truly care to the same degree, save your marriage by alternating weeks for dishwasher-loading duty.

5. Putting uncovered food in the refrigerator. Not only do surfaces of once-good edibles dry out and rubberize, there’s that whole absorbing odor thing. You know, the reason people put open boxes of baking soda in their refrigerators.

6. Leaving small portions. You can try to play off leaving a minute portion of food in a given container as not wanting to be greedy by finishing it or trying to help your spouse with portion control (be careful with that one). But good luck convincing the spouse that is pretty sure  you just didn’t want to deal with cleaning or otherwise doing something with the empty container.

7. Eating/drinking right out of the container. There is a reason God made juice glasses and ice cream bowls – it was so we could all avoid the ewwwwww factor. And to help you avoid being griped at. If you know in your heart this is a habit you just cannot break, at least be smart enough to stop eating the ice cream with a fork – it’s such a dead giveaway.

8. Putting things away creatively. By ‘creatively’ I mean anywhere it fits because you’re not sure where ‘it goes.’ Initially, it seems easier to stash it somewhere than it is to ask your spouse where ‘it goes’ and get a lecture about how you should know where it goes by now.** You should just suck it up and get the quick lecture out of the way. Because the conversation that’s going to take place later when your spouse starts hunting for for it and you can’t remember where you put it is going to take WAY longer to get through.

9. Not emptying the dishwasher. This is a job that rarely takes more than 3 minutes. Yet we pretend we don’t notice it needs to be done. Even though we have to open it numerous times as we run out of dishes in the cupboard and silverware in the drawer. Just carefully close it back to the locked position and it won’t be noticed that it’s been opened since the dry cycle ended – three days ago. You’re determined not to be the one who always does it. It becomes a standoff. Much like the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where the suitcase sat on the stairs for weeks after a vacation, each spouse pointedly leaving it so the other would take it up the stairs. Check out this brief clip to see who won their standoff and for an, um, interesting way to resolve your own “which one of us should do it?” conflicts!


* The Marital Dictionary is a book I think should be written – I just may take it on.

** Shrew-B-Gone is a product I came up with for just such a problem

Related post that may be of interest: 10 Bathroom Habits that Can Harm Your Marriage

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  • While I have always been rather impressed with my Refrigerator Tetris skills, I recognize that not everyone in my household is quite as impressed. Luckily, my husband is far more relaxed than I am about most things.

    • Shel Harrington

      It does make things easier when both spouses are OK with one spouse’s procedural preferences (read: the right way)! Thanks for checking in, Holli!

  • Hubby and I have had many discussions about things on this list… I finally got rid of the whole ‘loading the dishwasher wrong’ problem by just not having a dishwasher.

    We’re still working on draining the sink and wringing out the cloth, though. Ick.

    • Shel Harrington

      Haha – well, that’s one way to solve the problem! If I didn’t have a dishwasher, where would I stash whatever’s on the counter when the doorbell rings unexpectedly?? Have a great week, Rebekah!

  • LOVE this list – it’s so hilarious and true! I shared it on my Facebook page.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks for sharing, Melissa – and thanks for checking out my site!

  • Noreen Watts

    Oh… not loading the dishwasher correctly!!! One of my least favorite things that my hubby does! Of course he thinks he is doing it right and so do I.

    • Shel Harrington

      I was surprised to see there are actually videos on ‘how to load the dishwasher.’ Warning: there’s only a 50/50 chance they will support the real ‘right’ way of doing it!

  • Gary Cann

    Is an easier way to deal with all these issues for men not to venture anywhere near the kitchen area?

    • Shel Harrington

      Just the opposite, Gary! If one hasn’t learned to do things ‘right’ yet, he (or she!) should definitely get more practice at it! Nice to see you here – thanks for stopping by!

      • Gary Cann

        Having spent may years practicing in vain, at what point would you say ‘Just get back to your armchair and watch TV’?

        • Shel Harrington

          Not doing it ‘right’ can be an effective strategy for avoiding chores. Being a big believer in ‘the 100th time is the charm’ I’d be more likely to say ‘watch me’ than ‘watch TV’!

  • I’m laughing so hard I’m crying because between the Hub and me, we manage to have “issues” with each of these. But what you say is true – if you don’t care about the dishwasher, for example, let the other guy handle it. He hates the way I load; I quit trying.
    We’ve come to sort of an understanding about most of these, but a couple are still in the process of negotiation. For example, the “where does this go?” game is a huge one at our place – worthy of an entire blog post on my blog. The dirty dishes thing? An ongoing battle. But the funniest part is that the Hub is the one who leaves the dishes in the sink when HE is the one who cares about the loading. He won’t do it unless I do it “wrong.” Ridiculous, really. But hey, we don’t argue about the big stuff.
    And I definitely think you should pen the marital dictionary. I would buy it in a second. You know, to make sure he knows the rules. ;D

    • Shel Harrington

      He won’t load until you do it wrong? This is a good example of where a two wrongs could make a right! The idea of the marital dictionary is growing on me, Lisa – all contributions would be gladly accepted!

  • Hubby can get his dishes to the sink and help put away the food. He can’t, however, find the dishwasher. It is an improvement, however.

    • Shel Harrington

      Have you tried neon paint, Peggy? Sure it clashes with the rest of the décor, but no one can claim they can’t see it!

  • I do #7, but ONLY with ice cream. The Gman and I have our OWN containers so that’s never an issue. However, HE is guilty of some of the others…hahahahaha… 😀

    • Shel Harrington

      You tell me AFTER I visit and eat at your house that you guys eat directly from the carton??? (Don’t assume just because it wasn’t offered that it wasn’t eaten tasted looked at)

  • Having a method for knowing if the dishwasher is clean or dirty-we leave a dry dishrag in it when it’s dirty and wants more dishes to wash. Then when the dishwasher is started, first remove the rag and place in on the counter above the dishwasher. When you open the DW and there is no rag-you know the dishes are clean and ready to be put away!

    • Shel Harrington

      But does someone actually put them away timely? I’m probably projecting a bit here – we tend to keep using clean dishes from the washer until there’s really not much left to put away (unless, of course, we have a big meal with more dirty dishes than we feel like doing by hand – that’s just the little motivator needed to get that simple job done!)

  • This cracked me up, Shel. Fortunately we don’t exhibit any of the annoying habits you mentioned, but #2 did strike a chord. The dishtowel isn’t necessarily wadded, but it’s never in the same place. I end up walking around with wet hands, dripping water on the floor. 🙁

    • Shel Harrington

      Sounds like you are who ‘they’ make those hotpad/towel combos for – the ones where the hotpad part has Velcro on the back or a big button to hold the hotpad over the oven door handle. No wandering towels-it’s too much hassle to unbutton so one just dries their hands while it’s attached. (Anything else I can help with?)

  • Lindsey Vanhooser

    Oh it has been so long since I have commented…I have so much to catch up on!!

    I giggled quite a bit on #1 and #2. I SO cannot relate to that problem, I have never invited any dish into my home (for permanent residence) that must be hand washed. If it is actually supposed to be hand washed (my nice wine glasses) I just risk it and stick them in the dishwasher, taking extra care on strategically placing them away from other dangerous dishes. Ahhh the beauty of being a child raised in the “everything goes in the dishwasher” generation. 🙂

    As to the others, spot on! Although this post is more geared toward me and my bad behavior rather than my significant other. I am often guilty of the “if I don’t look at the dishwasher – I can’t know that it is clean and needs to be emptied” syndrome. Surely that is a syndrome that you could add to the “marital dictionary?

    • Shel Harrington

      Hey, Lindsey – good to ‘see’ you again! Thanks for the new dictionary entry – I suspect it won’t be too difficult to fill it out a bit if we put our minds to it!

  • Tina Carter

    Rearranging the pantry how you think it should be (even though you don’t cook).

    • Shel Harrington

      That would start trouble (especially if they don’t cook and it’s a kid “just helping out”!)

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