My brother taught me to read. My best friends growing up were books or people who loved books. Throughout adulthood, I evaluated potential boyfriends and marriage partners based on their love of classic literature.
The irony of this is that my husband is not much of a reader. He generally just skims news articles or technology reviews. So what’s a poor, pretentious English major to do? Well, recently I’ve changed some of my own behaviors and, believe it or not, I think it’s made a difference. When my husband picked up a novel at the library just for fun, I was floored and knew I’d stumbled onto something good. Read on to find out how we made reading a little more normal and a little more mutual around here.
Be an example
You would think it would be obvious, but if you want reading to be a part of your marriage, you have to read. I made this mistake for the first several months of my marriage. I secretly bemoaned that my husband just didn’t seem to be the type to get swallowed up in a good book. But I wasn’t acting like that type of person either. So, my advice to you is to go to the library, pick a book, and plop down on the couch with it. Congratulations. There is now reading going on in your home.
Talk about the books you read
Once I had gotten into a routine of spending a little time each day reading, it was natural for me to bring up books in conversations with my husband. I could say things like, “the book I’m reading talks about such-and-such theme. So, hypothetically, how would you feel if ...,” without feeling a bit strange. My husband readily provided his thoughts and soon enough, I was getting the same enjoyment from a chat with my husband that I got in my literature classes in college. I just had to be the one to facilitate it. Take some initiative and start a conversation with your sweetheart, too.
Unless you have a book in extra-large print, chances are that you and your spouse can’t sit down with the same book. Audiobooks allow you to enjoy the same book at the same time while also leaving you free to do other things, like fold laundry or stay awake on a long drive. You may start a nightly tradition that is less mind-numbing than television. Audiobooks can be found at your local library or bookstore, as well as through various online venues.
Be flexible about your reading tastes
I sometimes remind myself that news articles, technology reviews, self-help books and contemporary best-sellers are books, too. When I do, I have an attitude of inclusion, not snobbery, and that helps my husband feel loved and supported. When you choose your reading materials together, you make an investment in an interesting conversation later. Or, at very least, a shared experience.
As my husband likes to point out, so long as we are in the same room, he feels like we are interacting. That means that I am free to read my book without worrying that he feels ignored or is getting bored. By having a reading date, you and your spouse have time to relax together without the trouble of going out or finding something to talk about. You can just be ... together, with your books.
Reading is a solitary and generally silent activity, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an enlightening and enjoyable part of your marriage. Conversations, technology, compromise and a little initiative can go a long way to make books feel welcome in your home.