There’s a self-help book out there that talks about being able to categorise people by the main way they show love. I’ve heard of it but never read it. I’ve only read one self-help book in my life, and it made me feel so manifestly inadequate that I swore I’d never read another. I know these types of books own a fairly significant corner of the publishing market, but when a book has chapter titles like ‘Getting the Best Value Out of Your Personal Relationships’ it doesn’t make me want to improve myself, it makes me want to take a couple of friends on a trip to the local DFO.
So without the benefit of any self-help manuals from which to research, I have come up with my own theory based on a sample of two. It is thus: I am a feeder and I’m married to a fixer. Put simply, I show love by cooking, and my husband shows love by fixing things. I come from a long line of feeders – women who find deep pleasure in preparing food to share with loved ones. My brother once noted that it didn’t require a heart specialist to work out why the men from my mother’s side of the family all died from dodgy tickers. One only needed to look at the morning tea table laden with sponge cakes with fresh cream, the standard lunch which involved two different types of roasted meat, or the light afternoon tea where the chocolate eclairs were still a touch warm from the oven to know what had caused these blokes to drop like flies (albeit with contented smiles on their faces).
When I met my husband Dave he was a bachelor of long-standing (although ever the follower of fashion, he’d had one of those trendy starter marriages in his 20s). Anyway, as a hard-working bloke with no interest in cooking but a reasonable interest in eating after a long day on the tools, he had a standard set of go-to recipes like apricot chicken done entirely in the microwave. At that point he was a man in his late 30s who was still wearing the same size pants that he had at 18 – he was lean and possibly even a little hungry-looking. I suspect it was that look that called to the feeder in me … plaintive cries of please, for the love of god, no more microwave apricot chicken …
Our romance was of the whirlwind kind, so within six weeks we were living together and I was doing all the cooking. Slowly his cheeks started filling out, and as we settled into our comfortable bliss, he started to notice that his pants were feeling a little tighter around the waist. When a man’s been in 30 inch waist gear since he was a teenager, his first thought is not: geez I’d better lay of the cream puffs, but rather: why are my pants all shrinking? By the time he worked out that it wasn’t his pants that were getting smaller but his mid-section that was getting larger, it was too late – he was hooked.
When Dave met me, I was a bachelorette without even a starter marriage to show for myself, and had lived alone in my cute little inner-city cottage for a few years. Did you notice my use of bachelorette there, rather than spinster? That was entirely on purpose. And I lied when I said I lived alone. I had a cat. Anyway, I am what one might kindly describe as challenged in the area of practical skills, so meeting this man who could turn his hand to fixing, building or making anything was like coming home to a beautifully renovated and maintained place that I never knew existed.
Over the years he has undertaken massive projects like single-handedly renovating an entire house in time to bring our baby home to it, to making a palatial cat run to keep my beloved moggie safe near a busy road, to smaller projects like making a chair and matching footstool out of branches cut down from a tree in our yard.
But the fixer’s best fix to date has been the installation into our kitchen of The Falcon. No, not the car my parents were driving when I was a kid, but rather a fancy schmancy stove from England (that probably cost more than the aforementioned family vehicle). Since moving into our house five years ago, I have been using the bottom half of a crappy 1970s double oven (because the top half conveniently stopped working a week after we moved in) and a stove top which had only two of five elements working. It made expressing my love difficult, and often resulted in offerings which were charred around the edges and raw in the middle. That is not how love is meant to be, but we had decided that as we couldn’t afford to reno the whole kitchen, we would live with what we had. We did that for five years, until a sudden rush of blood to the head saw us at the appliance shop hungrily eyeing off the stoves on offer. It was pretty much like Oliver Twist meets The Block.
Anyway, having sold three of our combined four kidneys to buy the Falcon, it was up to
Macgyver Dave to use half-price tile oddments from Bunnings and bits of secondhand timber from the shed to remodel our shitty old kitchen to fit it in. It was hot, dirty and difficult work involving crawling around in our roof cavity on a 40 degree day. But finally, with my gorgeous new stove installed, I was able to finally and absolutely say that I know what love looks like:
And every time I cook dinner for my family, I see love and I create love. The feeder and the fixer, perfect symbiosis since 2005.
I would love some feedback!! So, tell me dear reader, are you a fixer, or a feeder or something else entirely? Share please!