Thursday, March 26, 2009

Reading: A Way to Connect with Your Spouse

Prior to having a child, my husband and I usually spent our dinnertime recounting our teaching days, which were never short of funny, inspiring, aha! moments.  We poured over challenging situations and sought each other's advice in dealing with helicopter parents.  I've always viewed our shared passion for educating youth as a gift.  It connects us; it's nice to come home to someone who genuinely understands your world.  

As you might imagine, when I chose to become a stay-at-home mom, I suddenly felt dull and boring.  I didn't have stories to share at dinner, at least not ones that I believed were worthy of sharing (There's that inner critic.).  Besides, did he really want to hear about how many diapers I changed or the challenge of finding my way into the shower?  While my daughter brought me great joy, there was also a sense of loss.  Really, I think this is a natural part of the process of redefining oneself.  

That Christmas, my husband gave me Plain Truth, written by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult.  To my surprise, he suggested that we read it together; yes, men read her books too.  What I love about Jodi (we're on a first name basis in this house) is that her books are emotionally charged with multi-dimensional characters who are struggling with difficult moral issues reflective of our time, many of them controversial.  She challenges my own belief system, as her characters walk a fine line between what we consider to be right and wrong, and I love that.  So, naturally, her books sparked some fresh dinner conversation, which is exactly what my husband intended, and exactly what I needed.  

Our little "book club" turned out to be a whole lot of fun, far more than I would have anticipated. During the day, I'd email him at school: "What page are you on?"  I was secretly hoping to be ahead.  No such luck.  He always managed to sneak in a few pages here or there during the bedtime bottle-feeding.  I hate fast readers.  

As an English teacher, I've always emphasized the power of words and language to connect us as human beings.  Although my role has changed, reading together has helped me to feel connected again, not only with my husband but with that teacher-self who was craving something more stimulating than baby babble.  Our evening book talks have filled an intellectual void for me, and frankly, my brain doesn't feel quite so mushy.  Tonight we're having roast chicken with a side of good conversation.  I can't wait to dig in! 


DinnerWithLove said...

I heart Jodi Picoult! Great message about taking time to grow together with the one you love.

Samantha said...

MJ....thank you for this blogspot...what a wonderful writer you are! You inspire to want to write! I will be checking in often! (and I love Jodi Picoult!)
~Sam Muti (Appleton)

Allison said...

What a great idea that was! I am glad y'all are enjoying your "book club".

PS...check out my blog tomorrow (3/31) as I am giving you a little shout out!

Elizabeth said...

I totally heart Jodi Picoult, too!! I never thought of asking my husband to read a book with me. I absolutely love reading, and since becoming a mom last year, I've found it hard to find time to read, not to mention connect with my dear husband. This is an awesome idea!

PS - Did you read "Handle with Care" yet? I just finished it. It was wonderful, not that I'd expect anything less!

Laurie said...

I just got into her books and loved Plain Truth! I am currently reading one, as well. This seems like a great idea!