One of the most romantic possibilities in a relationship is being able to turn everyday activities into dates.
Whether it’s a walk round the park, doing the weekly shop, or even cleaning up, everything has the potential to feel that little bit easier when you do it with the person you love.
One household task that can easily become a bonding activity is cooking.
But what’s it really like to cook with a partner? Are the benefits worth the mild frustration you might feel having someone in your cooking space?
We heard from the couples who cook together regularly:
Imogen and Duncan, 39, Whitstable
Imogen and her partner Duncan cook together all of the time and make a concerted effort to learn something new each week.
‘I love it,’ Imogen tells Metro.co.uk.
‘We don’t have family nearby so it can be hard to go out, so we create our own date nights when we stay in.’
They even go foraging for ingredients together, adding an extra, adventurous step to the whole process.
‘It’s the time we spend together that bonds us,’ says Imogen.
‘Being outside to collect it and then coming home to make it and share.
‘We made gnocchi together for the first time a few weeks ago, using wild garlic that we had collected.
‘I love learning new things together and talking about them.’
The pair also cook with their daughters Xanthe, 4, and Athene, 4 months.
‘I love the memories we create so much when we cook and eat together,’ Imogen adds.
The couple have even written three best selling books on their love of food – Foraging Fairytales; wild festival, Foraging Fairytales: Elderflower Festival, Foraging Fairytales: Hedgerow Festival.
The benefits of cooking with a partner
According to Charlotte Hastings, an accredited psychotherapist and cooking teacher who offers ‘kitchen therapy’ to couples and individuals, this is because it ‘cements our need for one another, and our connection to one another, at a very primal level.’
This is because cooking – or feeding – is the first way we, as babies, learn to attach to and connect with another human.
It’s also something that needs to be done, fundamentally, because we need to eat to survive.
‘Cooking with a partner connects both our goal directed needs, so getting from A to B, with our connection seeking needs,’ Hastings tells Metro.co.uk.
She adds that it’s also a great way to spend quality time together without so much pressure (because you’re focusing on an activity) and that it can really help with problem solving in a relationship.
‘How you cook actually says a lot about how you are,’ she says.
‘Being able to decide who does what task, especially if there’s a disagreement, can help couples to learn how to negotiate and work through problems without resorting to arguments.’
Natalie, 31, and Nick, 34, London
Natalie has been with her husband Nick for four years.
Although Natalie was originally the main chef of the relationship, Nick has always been into health, fitness and food.
‘Between my Guyanese cooking, which can involve a lot of fried fish and rich curries, and his preference for lean meats, we definitely learned a lot about each other’s health and fitness goals by cooking together in the early days,’ says Natalie.
‘It was also a really relaxing and fun way to get to know each other at the beginning.’
In lockdown, cooking together replaced date nights out at restaurants for the couple, says Natalie.
‘It definitely helped us to forget how strange the times were,’ she adds.
Although they don’t find the time to cook together as easily, especially since Natalie founded her oral cosmetics company SmileTime, the pair still prioritize it in their relationship.
‘That has just meant that, when we do make time to cook together, it’s a safe space where we can relax and switch our devices off,’ says Natalie.
How to navigate cooking with a partner
Cooking with a partner sounds great – given you have all the equipment, enough space not to butt heads (literally and figuratively) and a potwash.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a fancy island kitchen or a dishwasher, so compromises may need to be made to make the process as smooth as possible.
If setting up parallel chopping boards and divvying up the tasks equally simply isn’t possible in your kitchen, Hastings recommends seeing the activity not just as the act of cooking together, but everything that goes into it.
‘It’s also about the planning and talking about and obviously the clearing up and the eating,’ she says.
‘So it’s a whole process that you do together.’
So, if you cook together weekly or even monthly, it might be a good idea taking turns deciding who does the shopping trip, who does the chopping, who cooks and who cleans up.
She adds that while there may be a battle over who gets to do what, you might also find that one person will naturally take on the more creative role while the other may be happy playing sous chef.
‘The most important thing is working out the tasks and being appreciative of the fact that making a whole meal requires so many different equally important parts to it,’ Hastings adds.
Farren, 36, and Sarah, 38, Westminster
Farren, a personal trainer and soldier in the military, started cooking with his wife Sarah during the pandemic.
‘We took the opportunity to use cooking as a way for us to spend time with one another,’ he says.
As well as cooking healthy and tasty meals together, Farren and Sarah use their time cooking to focus on communicating, which means no phones.
‘By solely focusing on our communication, we both have the opportunity to speak and listen to one another so that we both feel heard which has significantly contributed to us supporting one another in our marriage,’ says Farren.
Both with stressful jobs – Sarah is a nurse – cooking together helps the pair manage their stress.
‘We both enjoy cooking so by doing it together we ultimately get to create a great meal that contributes to our health and wellbeing while creating moments and memories that we’ll be able to share with one another for years to come,’ says Farren.
He adds that the activity has definitely brought the two closer and helped them ‘reevaluate the importance of our time that we spent together.’
Farren says: ‘Through cooking together, we were able to connect with one another once more on a deeper level, and actively provide that emotional support for one another to make our marriage even stronger.’
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