The proper response when your wife says 'I can’t make dinner tonight?' Japanese Twitter debates

By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

Proper communication is vital for pretty much any happy interpersonal relationship, and that goes at least double for married couples. The tricky part, though, is that husbands and wives may not always agree on what qualifies as “proper” communication.

Recently, Japanese Twitter user and married woman @multikeeper sent out a now-deleted tweet, saying:

“If a wife suddenly says to her husband ‘There’s no way I can make dinner tonight,’ and he responds with ‘OK,’ don’t you think that’s strange? And then if he says ‘Should I pick something up?’ and thinks that’s supposed to be a kind gesture on his part, isn’t that weird too?”

For some, @multikeeper’s complaint might be hard to understand. If one spouse says they can’t get dinner ready, and the other immediately offers to handle the task instead, is that not a reasonable, thoughtful reaction? But @multikeeper’s dissatisfaction doesn’t lie with what the husband in her scenario says, but with what he doesn’tsay. Other Twitter users who shared he irritation chimed in with:

“If a wife says ‘There’s no way I can make dinner tonight,’ there must be something behind those words. She’s not feeling well, or she’s depressed about something, or something unexpected happened so she’s busier than usual. Doesn’t her husband think about, or care about, that? Just being considerate enough to ask ‘Are you OK? What happened?’ makes all the difference.”

“Sounds like my husband. He never asks ‘Are you OK?’ But when he’s feeling sick, he makes a big deal out of it. I think a lot of people who were raised having others worrying about them, but who never worried about others, end up lacking in human empathy.”

@multikeeper confirmed this was exactly what she was getting at, that by not asking his wife why she’d become unable to prepare dinner, he was also showing his indifference to whatever unspoken plight she was going through.

However, when screen captures of @multikeeper’s tweet were recently tweeted by another Twitter user, @BEW__B, it prompted several people to say her stance is overly harsh and unappreciative.

“This is an example of a bitter wife who’s turning a blind eye to her own inability to explain her situation, and instead painting her husband as cold-hearted or inconsiderate,” @BEW__B tweeted, and many others had a similar reaction.

“So is the husband supposed to be a mind-reader?”

“It’s important to tell people the things you want to convey.”

“If you’re feeling sick or something, just say so.”

“It’s a mistake to say ‘You’re not doing enough to understand me’ if you yourself won’t tell that person what’s going on.”

“It doesn’t make any sense if someone is talking to you about dinner and you suddenly jump to ‘Are you feeling OK?’”

“Maybe the husband thinks that if the wife doesn’t mention, on her own, why she can’t make dinner then that means she doesn’t want to talk about it, and that’s why he doesn’t ask.”

There were also a number of people who took a middle-of-the-road approach, saying that yes, it would be nice for the husband to follow up on “I understand” by inquiring about his wife’s physical or emotional condition, but that not doing so doesn’t necessarily reveal him to be selfish or unkind.

A quick glance at @multikeeper’s publicly visible Twitter account shows a steady stream of tweets expressing exhaustion and exasperation with her husband, so it’s possible that her harsh take on the “I understand” response is being colored by pre-existing marital friction. Still, regardless of whether or not it’s an absolute necessity, asking a quick “Is everything all right?” when someone says they won’t be able to do whatever they said they were going to is almost always going to be appreciated, and might be a smart habit to get into just in case your spouse shares @multikeeper’s opinion.

Source: Twitter/@BEW__B via Hachima Kiko

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© SoraNews24

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Sounds like @multikeeper has a problem in her marriage, and it's being fuelled by her inability/reluctance to communicate with her husband.

If you're up for making dinner, and for some reason you can't, you don't just text 'There's no way I can make dinner tonight', you give him some background/direction. If you're feeling ill, then say so. Ask him to take you to/pick you up at the doctor's. If you're just too busy, ask him to pick something up on his way home/grab something out of the freezer.

(There should always be at least two or three quick meals in the freezer for just such occurrences).

Then again, that 'There's no way...' already smells like the start of a fight bubbling up. Any normal married man with experience of this will instinctively just keep his head down and wait for the storm to pass, maybe putting out peace offerings (making dinner, looking after the kids, being flowers, whatever has been found to work in the past, whether or not it's appropriate this time) if he's that way inclined.

@multikeeper needs to rethink her attitude.

And wot zichi sed. Marriage is about what you give, not what you take.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Overthinking kills the marriage, if the wife puts out coded messages then there is a communications problem and not anything else.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"no problem, everything ok?*. Simple response that doesn't subtext "why can't you".

Its up to both people in a marriage to know how thier spouce communicates even when your spouse is a terrible communicator.

After 35yrs with the same lady I can honestly say I don't miss those first couple of years when we were trying to figure out what it meant to be married to each other.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Zichi, Trevor,

The housewives in our neighborhood have been aghast for the last umpteen years that I, a man, can a) cook, b) do the laundry, c) shop for food, d) vacuum (a tough one, eh?), and e) made the kids’ bentos when they were young. And still make good money.

I guess their husbands can dress themselves? Maybe?

However, my wife doesn’t speak in Code. She uses Japanese when she’s angry, and English when she wants things done. “Wash the dishes” vs “I see the dishes haven’t been washed yet; strange, isn’t it?”

4 ( +4 / -0 )

In a nutshell,

"Marriage is about what you give, not what you take."

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Reading this... If my wife said to me "I can't make dinner tonight" and I responded with "are you ok?"... I might as well just say "Why can't you? you better have a damned good reason why not." To me it comes across as very demanding. I think better to make the offer then ask.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

“peace offerings (making dinner, looking after the kids, being flowers, whatever has been found to work in the past,”

I for one, just love it when my husband is being a flower ;-)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I reckon she means it something like .... "There's no way I can cook dinner tonight as i'm too busy responding to my Twitter followers"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“If a wife suddenly says to her husband ‘There’s no way I can make dinner tonight,’ and he responds with ‘OK,’ don’t you think that’s strange? And then if he says ‘Should I pick something up?’ and thinks that’s supposed to be a kind gesture on his part, isn’t that weird too?”

Err, entirely normal.

“So is the husband supposed to be a mind-reader?”

“It’s important to tell people the things you want to convey.”

“If you’re feeling sick or something, just say so.”

Far too logical

But when he’s feeling sick, he makes a big deal out of it

Man flu is real and scientifically proven. Research it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't know how people can stay in relationships like this. I've had some friendships with Japanese women that I've had to toss out the window because they never say what they want to say... they just lightly hint at it and then marinate in their own fury for weeks and weeks until they implode. Japanese men have their own problems but this is one of the best parts about being married to one... if I said I didn't want to make dinner he would just assume that I have a reason and be fine with it. Sometimes I wonder how exhausting a Japanese + Japanese marriage must be for all parties lol

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wife - "There's no way I can make dinner tonight"

Husband - "What's wrong, honey? Aren't you feeling well?"

Wife should now explain what she means by "there's no way". If she doesn't, she's really just playing games or being passive-aggressive. Maybe she's annoyed because he never makes the dinner. So she should say so.

If this kind of "guess what's bugging me" is really part of most Japanese women's approach to domestic relationships, then I have to agree with savethegaijin that marriage in Japan must be exhausting for all parties. I hope that @multikeeper's approach is an exception rather than the rule, though.

zichi, I'm keeping your post well away from my wife. No way I could match what you serve up. I already do most of the housework, except for the cooking - I only do that on the days when my wife says to me, "There's no way I can make dinner tonight."

Matt, damn right man flu is real. They might at least allow us that one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"I can't pay the rent this month". BOOM, problem solved and 7 course dinner on the table when I get home!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@zichi, I was cooking dinners for my mom, step-father and two sisters when I was thirteen. When I visit my friends in Sendai during my annual visits to Japan, I almost have to beg the wife to let me cook a meal. Her servile attitude drives me nuts, sometimes.

I also learned to use a needle and thread to put leather patches on my jeans, when I was in my teens, and can still use those little tools. But not a single other man I know can do that. It's only self-sufficiency, a concept I've come to realize is alien to most Japanese men.

As for what the Tweeter wrote, I'm with the 'Does she think I'm a mind-reader?' crowd. I had a wife like that for seven years, and that ended twenty-two years ago.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What about when your husband says he can't make dinner tonight?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

being flowers


Auto-correct has a lot to answer for....

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So is the husband supposed to be a mind-reader?

Yes. And any good wife, too. Times are emotions are too complex to put into words. That's the magic of marriage, in both its joy and torturousness.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Burning Bush = you make me laugh

@Zichi = what did you need a wife for ? (joking mate)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Each to their own, but I would last about five minutes with a wife who gave me cryptic messages as a test. If push came to shove, I could probably forgive infidelity, but I've no time for silly games.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If my wife sent me the same message, I'd be quite thankful for dodging a potential case of food poisoning for a day.

But seriously, I would have responded with a doshita? Her husband seems a bit self-centered, but that's par for the course in this country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Copy that!

Actually every night my wife takes a photo on her iPhone to show her friends. I think so far this year her food album has more than 180 photos. They told her when she finished with me to send me round there. I've cooked professionally, for more than 100, so for two isn't hard. You can with thought and a lot of practice make a great dinner in less than 30-45 minutes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


I think it opens the question of division of labor and tasks within a relationship and certainly there isn't one solution fits all and each couple needs to discover their own. I don't do all the domestic duties. My wife does all the laundry, most of the shopping except when its heavy and pays all the bills. Being an artist I have been working at home or nearby studio for decades, and now also semi-retired, I'm at home most of the time. My wife has private students kids/adults most nights 6-9pm, also in our home so I cook and when she's finished the dinner is on the table.

I spent some time in the navy in my youth and most sailors know know to sew and even knit which is just knotting wool thread, same as making a fishing net.

When visiting or staying with friends I think we have to accept whatever way they usually do, like cooking but always polite to offer your help even if declined.

'Does she think I'm a mind-reader?'

I think that is something quite unique to the Japanese, men and women not having the habit to express themselves because of not wanting to disturb the group harmony or wa. I met my wife in London and we lived there for several years before moving to Japan where we have lived for more than 25 years. My wife was the same and its been the hardest for me to get her to express her true thoughts and emotions and still only successful about 80% of the time.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This seems like a normal exchange in many of my friends' two-income-earning families. Sure, it'd be great if he'd follow up his offer to make sure dinner happened with making sure everything was ok, but seriously? This article sounds like the inability to make dinner had nothing to do with a last-minute schedule interruption and everything to do with a passive-aggressive "You take me for granted!" If it's the later, dinner is the least of your concerns.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If she is a housewife then I'd ask why not.

If she works then I'd offer to pick up dinner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My wife never has to say "I can't make dinner tonight" because I always cook it or on occasion take her to a restaurant instead. I even wash the dishes too and clean the house. She does frequently help when preparing the food. We usually cook a different country dish every night including Japanese, but also Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Italian, British, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, French, Spanish, Dutch, American.

My own mother "house trained" me from an early age, since I was the eldest in a hose of four boys. Also sewing and other abilities so I could always take care of myself and others. I hem my wife's dresses and repair them. Man shoe repairs.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Bottom line.

Women are attention seekers.

-11 ( +5 / -16 )

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