The Dancing Puritan

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Someone to Read With: Thoughts on Marriage

Have you ever read to your spouse?  Reading to someone is not an exclusive activity reserved only for marriage.  However, reading to your spouse can be a wonderful exercise to cultivate friendship.

Early in our marriage Lori and I read The Pursuit of God  by A.W. Tozer.  I remember that to be a rich time of fellowship and growth.  Since then we have read many books individually, but few books together (out-loud).  I am not sure why that is.

I want to change.  I want to start reading with my wife again.  I think that reading together will be a good use of our time. It can be enjoyable, edifying and instructive.  We can interact as we read, discuss points, laugh, learn new things, be reminded of old things and find ways to grow together in knowledge, wisdom and friendship.

A few years ago I wrote a book, Family Worship for the Thanksgiving Season. In that book, among other things, I wrote about a lady (Sarah Hale) who worked tirelessly to promote an official, national Thanksgiving Day. Sarah Hale was a prolific writer for a ladies magazine but she also wrote numerous books and columns.  She became a writer after her husband David Hale died at a young age and she was left to support her family. She was able to provide through writing.

Sarah and David had a wonderful marriage.  One of the interesting activities of their marriage was that David would read to Sarah.

We commenced soon after our marriage, a system of study and reading, which we pursued while he (David) lived.  The hours allotted were from eight o'clock until ten--two hours in twenty-four.  How I enjoyed those hours! In this manner we studied French, Botany--then almost a new science in this country but for which my husband had an uncommon taste; and obtained some knowledge of Mineralogy, Geology, etc., besides pursuing a long and instructive course of reading.  In all of our mental pursuits, it seemed the aim of my husband to enlighten my reason, strengthen my judgment, and give me confidence in my own powers of mind, which he estimated more highly than I did.  I equalled him in imagination, but in no other faculty. Yet the approbation which he bestowed on my talents has been of great encouragement to me in attempting the duties which were to be my portion...To me the period of our union was one of unbroken happiness... (pp 35-36: The Lady of Godey's  by Ruth Finley, 1931)

It may not be possible for you and your spouse to spend two hours each night reading together. However, could you not spend some time reading together?  It was no doubt the case that David and Sarah Hale's marriage was strengthened through those reading times and that she was better prepared to care for their family after David's death.  Day after day they enjoyed two hours for "a system of study and reading." Much more was gained through those times than mere intellectual knowledge.  The story of David and Sarah Hale is a classic and tender love story--strengthened by spending time together in the worthy pursuit of reading.

Why don't you give it a try? Choose an interesting book. Read a section with your spouse each morning or evening. Engage one another in conversation as you read. Laugh together when the book is funny. Pray when you are convicted. Make a note of principles that you learn and seek to put them into practice in your marriage.

I am not suggesting that this take the place of family worship times or of reading the Bible and praying with your spouse. Though you may read a variety of books, and find in them ways to appreciate God's grace, don't neglect to read the Bible and pray with your family and spouse. I am most convicted that I need to be faithful in Bible reading with Lori even as we read books together on a variety of subjects.

I think reading together with your spouse can help your marriage. What do you think?

After all marriage provides you with someone to read with.