Why I Stopped Eating Dinner with My Husband

For as long as we have been a couple, my husband and I always ate dinner together. Even before kids and Taco Tuesdays, I would wait until whatever time he got home from work so that we could break bread. Since he’s a real estate broker, and often shows clients around in the evenings, this meant that, more often than not, I was waiting for him with a hot meal on the stove until 9 or 10pm. When we were younger and kid-less this was mostly ok. As a freelancer, I made my own schedule, so I had plenty to keep myself occupied until he walked in. Plus, dinner was usually the time of day that we really got a chance to spend time together. Whether we were talking or watching TV (and back then we did eat in front of the TV) it felt necessary to the relationship that this was something we did together.

Even after we had our twins, now 11, I would feed them first and then wait for my hubs to come home to eat our grownup dinner. I had read articles about how you should have your kids eat the same food as you and the importance of family meals, but like for many people, this just wasn’t feasible with our schedules. Plus, I enjoyed the act of putting away the colorful interlocking playmats, stashing the toys and enjoying dinner, just the two of us.

But as I started to put more focus on my health and nutrition, I began to realize that waiting to eat so late was wrecking havoc on my diet (and my ability to button my jeans). The longer I waited to eat dinner, the more I found myself turning into Pantry Monster. As the clock ticked on, I scrounged in the fridge for bites of this and tastes of that to tide me over. I’m not proud to say that there were many handfuls of cereal, pilfered chocolate chips and slivers of cheese consumed to “even out” the block I was cutting from as I tried my best to hold out for our dinnertime together.

The idea of not eating together was, at first, unthinkable. I’m sure I’m not alone in equating food with love, and the idea of him eating solo, especially after a long day of work, seemed unloving and cold. Sure, I could offer up some reheated plate, but where was the companionship in that? So, I continued my pre-dinner grazing, which probably added up to the calories of an additional meal.

I’d heard different debates as to whether it really matters what time of day you eat. Did a late-night dinner get stored as fat because you weren’t using the energy you’d just consumed? Would that stir-fry make it hard to get a good night’s sleep? Did the calories of midnight bagels count if you ate them over the sink? I wasn’t certain about any of this, but I did know that ignoring the fact that I was hungry wasn’t healthy. With much trepidation, I made the decision to start eating dinner at a normal time with my kids.

The positive effects were immediate and obvious. Eating earlier put a stop to my evening pantry raids because I had just eaten a satisfying meal. The kids now eat the same meals that we do, and I began to enjoy the special time with them. Initially, I decided that I would reserve our daily ritual of sea salt dark chocolate for when my husband got home, so I could participate in some aspect of his meal. But now, years on, I don’t even do that, and it’s ok! While I’m not consuming food at the same time as him, we still sit together and talk or watch tv together and say nothing at all.

Now, on the nights that we do get to eat together as a family, it’s something extra special. If it’s Taco Tuesday, the shredded cheese and the Cholula will be passed around the table, tales from our days will be told and since it’s our family, someone will inevitably laugh and spray seltzer out their nose. Pantry Monster is a thing of the past, but the conversation continues, no matter what’s on our plates.

Freelance PureWow Editor

Ronnie Koenig is a writer with 20+ years’ experience who got her start at Playgirl and went on to write for Cosmo, Redbook, The New York Times, The Atlantic and many others. She’s...