The Dancing Puritan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reading With Your Spouse

What are some of the positive things that happen when you pick up a good book (not People as pictured) and read with your spouse?

1. You spend time together in a meaningful activity.

    Marriage is a great adventure in discovery. When a couple says, "I do" they are making a commitment to one another. Often neither one knows much about the other while the wedding bells are chiming. They begin a journey of discovery. Discovery requires time. Every day you and your spouse make choices that impact the degree (or lack thereof) of interaction with one another. What is one meaningful way that you can engage your spouse on a regular basis? Read to them and listen as they read to you.

2. You hear your beloved's voice.
    Think back to when you were first getting to know that wonderful person to whom you are now married. Didn't you enjoy hearing their voice? Over the years, if you are not diligent, you may emotionally drift apart. But what if you could find your voice again? What if you could rediscover their voice?

The voice of my beloved! Behold he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills…My beloved speaks and says to me: 'Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away . . . . O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely (Song of Solomon 2:8,10,14).

When you read together you get to hear, and perhaps rediscover the voice of your spouse.

3. You learn from or simply enjoy the book.

     In one sense all reading is instructive. For example, you might learn how a book should not be written. Don't think of reading as a how-to-do activity. Good books have a way of encouraging activity without directly telling us to be active. C.S. Lewis writes about worship in a similar way:

Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best--if you like, it 'works' best--when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance.”
C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

4. If the book is not that interesting, then you may fall asleep together. 

     This is better than one person falling asleep in front of the television in a different room.

     Certain books may send you into a slumber. Isn't it a good thing to fall asleep with your spouse at the same time and in the same place? There are a lot of good books available that will capture your imagination. You don't have to linger long over a bad book.

5. You vocabulary is expanded and points for conversation and writing are cultivated.

    Many couples are at a loss for words when it comes to engaging conversation. Part of this is the wear-and-tear of life over the years. It is easy to just get tired, stop learning, and clam up. Communication takes energy and many folks are just drained. Reading will stir your imagination, increase your vocabulary, and enhance your conversation.

     My wife and I were visiting my daughter and her husband recently. We noticed that they had about twenty words written on a chalk board in their kitchen. Some of the words were circled. They are learning new words and freshening up familiar words for use in their communication with one another (especially letter writing). That is a fantastic idea!

6. You participate in an activity that many people throughout history have enjoyed.

     Charles and Susannah Spurgeon were avid readers. Charles loved for Susannah to read to him. Often she would read a selection from one of the Puritans. On Sunday evenings when Charles was weary, Susannah would read to him from the poetry of George Herbert.  Her voice, reading the poetry of Herbert, was a soothing balm to Charles.

Interestingly the first gift that Charles gave to Susannah (prior to their engagement) was a copy of Pilgrim's Progress and the first gift that she gave to him was a complete set of Calvin's Commentaries.

Two months before asking Susannah to marry him, Charles had her read a section from Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy.
Seek a good wife from thy God, for she is the best gift of His providence;Yet ask not in bold confidence that which He hath not promised;Thou knowest not His good will: be thy prayer then submissive thereunto,And leave thy petition to His mercy, assured that He will deal well with thee.If thou art to have a wife of thy youth, she is now living on the Earth;Therefore think of her, and pray for her weal
He then asked her, "Do you pray for him who is to be your husband?"

The rest is history. Read all about it in one of the many biographies of Spurgeon. Better yet, read a Spurgeon biography with your spouse.