This is an essay by Sophie Lizard.
Have you ever heard the saying that education, for adults just as for children, is founded on the 3 Rs: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic? When it comes to reading and writing in relationships, simple arithmetic goes out of the window, and you plus your partner can become more than the sum of your abilities.
In many relationships, reading and writing have become specialised tasks that are almost always handled by the same partner. If you read faster and understand a text more easily than your partner, then you may become the designated reader while your partner avoids most reading by simply handing it to you. That’s not good for either of you, and it can lead to resentment in your relationship.
Here are some simple ways to make reading and writing work for you as a couple:
Read Aloud Together
Couples in which one or both partners read aloud for the other say that it can be a rewarding romantic experience, creating a bond that wouldn’t quite be the same if you watched a movie or listened to an audiobook together. Hearing your partner’s voice and knowing that they’ve dedicated this time to you alone can be a turn-on for your relationship and for your learning skills.
Even if you’re only reading very short pieces together, hearing something read aloud stimulates your brain in a different way to reading it with your own eyes. This novelty of stimulus makes your brain pay more attention and absorb new learning more easily, so you can expect to see improvements in your vocabulary, creativity and overall learning ability when your partner reads to you.
If you’re the one doing the reading then you’ll benefit from a similar mental boost, as well as developing public speaking skills like clear enunciation.
Read Together Without Impatience
Not everybody likes to read aloud. Not everybody can read aloud, for one reason or another. That’s not a problem! You can enjoy reading something together in silence, too, even if you read at different speeds.
You might be wondering how that’s going to work. What if one of you has already finished the page when the other is still working through the first paragraph? Well, there’s a simple solution to this: you both read at the speed of the slower reader.
If you’re the faster reader in your relationship, slowing down may sound like a drag. It isn’t! Reading more slowly gives you the chance to gain a greater appreciation of whatever text you’re taking in. If you rush ahead to the finish line, you’ll be missing some of the finer details. As you read, ask yourself questions like
- What do I think of this writing?
- Why did I form that opinion?
- How did the writer work to influence my reading experience?
Taking this approach means that you, as the faster reader, get the time to gain a deeper understanding of the writer’s craft.
Read Together Without a Schedule
You don’t need to set aside special times to read together. Many relationships suffer from a shortage of free time for both partners, and this can make reading together seem like one more chore on an endless to-do list. It’s enough to read together when the opportunity presents itself.
Going to a restaurant? Read one menu together, instead of sitting with your faces hidden behind a menu apiece. Point out and read aloud the descriptions of dishes that you think might interest your partner. You can find other opportunities: read a letter together, or the local news, before discussing its contents. Reading like this is enhanced by the presence of your partner as a sounding-board for your thoughts, and you will both develop a greater understanding of each other as well as of the texts you read.
Read Alone, Together
You don’t have to read together to benefit your relationship. It’s easy to read on your own, but still companionably share that reading time with your partner.
If your partner read the newspaper already, but passes it to you so that you can read it too, then the two of you can talk over the stories together later on. This exercises your memory as well as your reading skills, while your relationship will reap the benefit of shared memories and conversation starters to bring you closer together.
If you both want to read completely different things, that can work too! Maybe you’re happier reading fiction while your partner reads the news. Maybe you read horror stories but your partner would rather read recipes. Differing tastes are a common complaint when you ask couples why they don’t read together more often.
The solution, again, is simple: spend the same time reading, but read different things. Take a comfortable seat with your partner and enjoy some quiet reading time.
When you read separate texts at a shared time, you’re likely to learn more than if you read alone. Why? Because people often perform better at all kinds of tasks, including reading and learning, when their partner (or a potential partner) is present. In short, your brain works harder to impress that gorgeous observer.
Just like reading, writing often becomes the job of one partner instead of a shared activity you do as a couple. It’s easy to let the better writer tackle the task, but wait! Better writing is not that easy to define.
To share a personal example with you, let’s look at me and my partner. I’m a professional freelance writer, earning enough from my craft to support our family. He was diagnosed as dyslexic in school and has never gained any academic qualifications. But in the last 24 hours alone, he has improved my professional writing several times. How? By sharing his honest opinion.
When I’m struggling (and yes, even professional writers sometimes struggle) to find the right words, my partner listens to what I’m trying to say and offers me alternative ways to write it. When I’ve finished a draft, he’ll read it and point out anything that’s unclear. His feedback is beyond price: it’s thoughtful, kind, and freely available. It also brings us closer as we share in the creative experience of writing.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to write together. There are lots of ways you could do this:
- Collaborate on a message to write in a greetings card
- Keep a journal together of your proudest moments and fondest memories as a couple or family
- Write down descriptions of things you hope to do together in the future
- Write joint letters or emails to your family and friends
Reading, Writing and Relationships
It really doesn’t matter if you have very different reading tastes, writing skills or literacy levels. By spending time together and supporting one another’s enjoyment of these activities, couples encourage an improvement in the reading, writing and learning of both partners. And let’s not forget the potential boost to your romantic life! The bond you build by reading and writing together can help to improve every aspect of your relationship.
What other ways can you and your partner find to enjoy reading, writing and learning together?
Sophie Lizard is the founder of Be A Freelance Blogger, a blog dedicated to helping everyday people earn more money and work from anywhere as a blogger-for-hire. She enjoys reading, learning and writing obsessively, as well as taking frequent travel breaks with her partner and their young daughter.
To learn more about how to earn money and win freedom as a blogger-for-hire, check out Sophie’s successful freelance blogging tips at http://beafreelanceblogger.com.