How To Keep Love Alive (Spoiler: Eat Risotto)
When we first lived together, mealtimes were big for me and my husband, Matt. We would call each other at work to discuss what we might cook and who would pick up the ingredients from the shop. But once parenting hit, we soon slumped into a world of nibbling cold fish fingers as a base level of nourishment.
It’s easy to de-prioritise your life lobster and assume that they’ll always be there, always understand your need to work, or WhatsApp friends or stare dumbly at a gif of a penguin falling over. But the truth is, they need your attention too.
In our second book – Where’s My Happy Ending? – we try and find out why fairytales always finish at the wedding, and what the heck you’re supposed to do after that.
How do you get to your ‘happily ever after’?
We spent a year finding out for ourselves what love is all about. Matt stayed in a free-love commune with lots of young hippies, then he lived in a monastery on an island where no women are allowed. I slightly cyber-stalked a very friendly trans-rights activist, and wondered if my lesbian sister might be happier than me.
Field research & love experts
We spoke to a whelk fisherman, an 80-year-old sex blogger, a lollipop lady, people with loads of kids and people who decided to have none, porn-makers and feminist academics, neurologists, psychologists and romance novelists, plus couples, throuples and people married to themselves.
There were lots of things we learned along the way, but perhaps the most important was that, whatever your set up, relationships are hard. Matt’s monks had crises of faith, the free-loving hippies felt twangs of jealousy, and throuples usually end up separating.
The trick? Spending time together
We got lots of good advice about making relationships work, and waded through lots of bad advice that we cast aside, but one of the biggest bits to stand out for me was making the deliberate effort to spend proper time together (with phones far, far away).
Cooking and eating together is one of the best opportunities to gaze at each others’ slightly wearied faces. So, here are my top-three Gousto recipes for steering the ship into romantical times. Because whatever your set up, there’s a meal that can bring you closer.
Cheesy Risotto With Ratatouille & Basil
For those days when you’re both pasty-faced and weary, when the sun hasn’t really shone, and at least one child has been crying for the last two hours, and you’ve spent the day subsiding on vending machine coffee and those free sweets offices sometimes have on reception. This dish has four out of your recommended five a day and feels like a warm hug for your insides.
10-min Blackened Fish Tacos & Pineapple Salsa
I’ve come to realise that most of our spats stem from either hunger or tiredness, or both. This fixes both, very quickly. It can be made in less time than it takes to call a takeaway, and delivers spice and tang whilst defeating hanger.
Chicken, Red Pepper and Lemongrass Curry
On our honeymoon, we spent three weeks backpacking around Vietnam and pretending to be 21. The first thing we ate was lemongrass frog’s legs from a street stall and whenever I taste lemongrass now, it reminds me that we were once free and breezy, and that we will be again.
Anna Whitehouse bears all in the frankly honest book Where’s My Happy Ending?, written with husband Matt Farquharson, available to order now.