Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to have your books...and a sig other too.

A little while ago on Twitter, I was asked by my friend Cari (whose non-book blog you should totally check out):

Cari Renn (@CariRenn)
@TheWRRedhead could you do a post on your thoughts on diving into books without isolating the hubby all night/week long?

And I replied with:

Well-Read Redhead (@TheWRRedhead)
@CariRenn Hmmm yes I will think about that one!  Going to be a tough post because I have not perfected that art yet...LOL.

True story though, right?  If you have a significant other, AND you love reading, life gets hard sometimes.

My husband doesn't dislike reading.  In fact, when we go on vacations, he often gets lost in some book or other.  But during a normal work week, reading is not his idea of relaxation--mostly because he is in a PhD program while working full time, so he gets his fair share of reading in already.  It's okay, I get it--I didn't read much for fun when I was in school either.  But it's hard to be always reading when your significant other isn't--and even if they are, not much chit-chat happens when you're both buried in different books.

The main issue is that reading, while AWESOME, is a very solitary activity.  After our son goes to bed, Hubs and I love to relax together in our family room downstairs.  His idea of relaxing is vegging in front of the TV, flipping through all the channels, and eventually landing on DIY Network, or a repeat of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  (Seriously, is that show ever NOT on?)  While I stretch out on the other end of the couch, buried in a book.

So, what to do?  How to spend good time together, but also Read All The Things?  Well, I thought about it a bit, and I've put together a few suggestions from my own experience.

1. Share the room.
You may have noticed above that Hubs and I sit on the couch together most nights--him watching TV, me reading.  As a reader, this is not easy to do, because I prefer to read in silence.  However, rather than retreating to the bedroom with my book, I always stay in the family room, because at least we are together.  The only real concession is that I end up reading a little more slowly, which I can live with.

2. Keep in "touch".
Just because you're both involved in different activities, doesn't mean you can't relax together at the same time!  Sometimes Hubs and I sit head-to-foot on the couch and give each other foot massages while I read and he watches TV.  Yes, we are both doing different things, but we are also both giving out awesome foot massages, so everybody wins.
(Note: in these cases, an e-reader comes in handy for one-touch page flipping.)

3. Pick one solitary activity per night.
One thing I struggle with is that many of my other hobbies are also anti-social.  Reading, scrapbooking, blogging, schooling people at Hanging With Friends on my phone...none of these are things I can do in collaboration with my husband.  And it's easy to start the night reading, then want to do a little scrapping, and then maybe work on the blog...but no.  Each night, I try to limit myself to one of these activities.  That way, my husband doesn't feel like I'm moving from one thing to the other, and never including him.  Try not to overbook yourself during your downtime if you want to also be present with your sig other.  (Of all my suggestions, I think I find this one the hardest to follow!)

4. Schedule breaks.
Sometimes it's fun to schedule in a break for you and your SO to drop your activities and hang out together.  For example, Hubs and I will agree that at the end of his Sons of Anarchy episode, I'll pause reading and we'll have an ice cream break together.  The advantage is that you know exactly how much interrupted reading time you're going to get, and you can plan accordingly.

5. Make up the time elsewhere.
Torn between spending the evening with your SO, and finishing the last part of Gone Girl?  Wake up a half hour earlier the next day to finish it up.  Plan to do the elliptical machine instead of the treadmill at the gym for your next workout, so you can read on the machine.  Think through your day, and find other times where you can squeeze in that reading!

6. Take a night off.
The most obvious (and important!) suggestion: take a night away from reading every once in a while.  I know, blasphemy!  But the best together time that the Hubs and I have happens when there's not a book (or a computer, or a phone...) between us.  We have movie nights, DIY project nights, fancy dinner nights, etc. where our other hobbies don't come into play.  Plan ahead or do it impromptu--either way, it's nice to switch gears every once in a while.

How do you balance reading with your romantic/social life?  What suggestions do you have for other voracious readers?


  1. I love this post! It's something I've had to learn how to do as well. My boyfriend fully supports my reading habits but he's not a reader at all. We still get to spend time together though - he'll watch TV and I'll read or he'll work on his car/motorcycle projects and I'll sit and read in the garage. That way we still get to spend time together and we're both getting things done! :)

  2. My husband is pretty supportive of my reading habit, but probably because it gives him plenty of time to be a news junkie. Mostly, I schedule a lot of my reading for "me" times like breakfast and my lunch break. In the evenings, I usually will read before bed, but my husband and I always observe cuddle/chat time before I go to sleep (he's a night owl, so we rarely go to sleep at the same time).

    The hardest time for me is when we're on vacation. I love to catch up on reading when I'm out of town, but my husband doesn't usually bring something to entertain himself individually. So I try to keep my reading to down times- when he's in the shower or watching TV.

    I figure our system works, as there are plenty of times we do other things together and generally my reading (or his) doesn't cause a problem!

  3. Yes, meal times are great (especially lunch breaks!). I get a designated half hour lunch at work, and that is one of my favorite "me" reading times.

    I understand about vacation too. I am happy sitting on a beach/cruise ship/etc with a book for the entire day, but DH gets antsy faster.

    Sounds like both of you have come up with systems that work though--and I think that's the key. Finding a way to mesh your needs in the best way possible!

  4. Balancing reading with everything else in life is tough, but this is good advice!

  5. I really loved this post! It did not disappoint! #3 hit home and it seems so obvious but hard to not have the all or nothing kinda mentality. When I get into a hobby kick its all night and taking breaks is brilliant! It's hard for me to read with Steve watching TV because he normally comments about the shows so it's a lot of start/stop reading. Reading in bed is my fav but I would be isolating him. All great food for thoughts!

  6. I'm over 50 and well past the point of worrying about balancing my romantic life. I read when I feel like it

  7. Cari, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, hobby kicks are very VERY time consuming for me too.

    techeditor, I suppose it will be nice when we reach that point in 20-25 years! :)


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