|Photo by Nina Matthews|
Some of my favorite memories over the three and a half years Niall and I have been married include times of reading together. I remember during our honeymoon sitting out on the deck under Florida sun reading Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. In the summer we love to sit on our own porch after dinner and listen to a tale of Sherlock Holmes or science fiction (his favorite, not mine :D), and winter finds us doing the same inside, curled up on the couch, cups of tea in hand (usually chocolate is also involved). We read The Hobbit on a road trip, and lately Julia Child’s My Life in France has been our great enjoyment (caution: do not read when hungry!). Most evenings right before bed Niall reads a chapter or two of Scripture out loud.
So what? You might think. What if reading isn’t everybody’s thing? You may have a point. But I have several good reasons why you ought to at least consider reading together as a couple.
1) Reading can be a more wholesome form of entertainment then just sitting in front of the tv. Think about it; reading requires active thinking, while watching tv is passive. Reading fosters thoughtful communication, while watching tv does not (interrupting a show to say something usually causes annoyance to other people watching). Reading entertains while educating, and although some shows may do the same, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of the time what you watch is simply entertaining. Not necessarily a bad thing (right now we look forward to watching “Downton Abbey” on Friday nights), but for your regular unwinding times, maybe you’d like to invest it in something of greater value. We often feel guilty over time wasted when we’ve just plopped in front of the television, but have NEVER felt that way after opening a book together!
2) Reading encourages thoughtful discussions. In the course of your reading, often you will come across ideas or thoughts that you might not have considered left to your own devices. How wonderful to chat with your husband about these things! You might be surprised at things you learn about him, and you might be challenged to think differently in certain areas. Reading will broaden the topics you discuss, and will encourage even more open conversation after you put the book down.
3) Reading gets you on the same wave length. It is very easy to wind up just co-existing with your spouse. Life is busy, and each one of you has different responsibilities to take care of, and different ways of relaxing and unwinding. There was a good chunk of time in our early marriage when Niall would be in one room on the computer, and I would be in another room working on something else, reading, or just on another computer. What a shame! How can you really connect with a roommate you aren’t spending significant time with? When you read together, you are leaving your separate interests and getting on the same page, and hopefully talking more (see number two).
These are a couple of reasons why you and your husband might benefit from the lost art of reading J. Maybe you’re sold on the idea, but don’t know where to start. Here are a few suggestions:
-If nothing else, make sure that you are at least reading Scripture together! God’s Word is of the utmost importance, and being on the same page where Scripture is concerned is one of the most important factors in your marriage.
-Don’t feel overwhelmed or pressured to finish what you start. Niall and I have started many many books together, and rarely finished one. That is okay! The time spent while we were reading was beneficial, and if we move on to something else of greater interest before finishing, what does it really matter? For example, I loved reading Sherlock Holmes together, but Niall found it hard to concentrate on when hearing it out loud. So we chose something else. Make sure that what you are reading is fun for everyone, the goal of this is not to add one more stressor to your already hectic life.
-Incorporate reading into activities you already have to do. I know of one couple that while the wife is washing dishes after dinner, the husband reads to her. How sweet J! When Niall and I drove to work together, oftentimes I would read a daily devotional reading from Voices from the Past. Be creative!
-Read snippets of interest to one another from books you are reading individually. If you are each already reading on your own, share things that pop out to you with the other person. This is another way to get on the same page and have good discussions.
May you enjoy the richness of reading together, and may it bless your marriage!