To the wife of a distant husband,
If you’re like me, you’ve had times in your marriage when you and your husband felt blissfully close, so much so the whole house itself seemed filled with light and joy. Other times, it’s as if you two couldn’t be more distant. Monotonous work and home routines seem to get in the way and it’s like you’re both just waking up to go to work and care for the kiddos, only to then just go to sleep exhausted (and then wake up and do it all over again). During these bleaker times, I felt lost, like I wasn’t living the life I had lived maybe months or even just days prior, despite the fact our routines hadn’t changed one bit.
If this sounds like you, read on, because I picked up a trick from a girlfriend who was going through the same thing, and it’s worked wonders for both of us and our hubbies.
The trick involves that after-work time when your husband’s home from work, when you’re covered in flour or applesauce or worse trying to wrestle all the kids to where you need them to go. Your man’s dead-on-his-feet tired, and you’re no beacon of sprightliness yourself. Somehow, you both get the kids fed and then later, into cribs and race car-shaped beds (our boys hit that phase when everything has to be cars).
Phew. But, now what?
You could watch TV, but that’s just an hour of silence between you two as you stare at the screen, and then inevitably, quietly, go to bed. My friend said she was either watching TV with her husband or just scrolling Facebook (for a few hours) before eventually going to sleep, and sometimes they would even both just be on their phones, with the TV on. Not a nourishing or God-honoring way to end the day. But then, one night while her husband was scrolling through some news articles, she asked him to read her one.
He was a bit taken aback, I mean, they read stories to their kids, but, to each other? A little weird right? But she pressed him, and he started to read the article, and pretty soon they were both engrossed. Having to read aloud meant he had to go slower and he even started to adopt a kind of newscaster-voice (which my friend thinks is cute and hilarious), and he even felt like the article resonated more because he wasn’t skimming it and then jumping to the next article like a mindless smartphone zombie.
When my husband and I tried it, it was a little awkward at first, but after a few times, and once we got into the right kind of articles, it just clicked.
I don’t really get out much (not since our little miracles arrived), so hearing the reporting and then his opinions afterward really gives me a perspective on what is going on outside our little home universe. Sometimes I need a little bit more explanation, and so when I start to get, just, severely lost, I can poke him or just give him a cute, “Huh?” and he can get into the nitty-gritty and put it into terms I can understand.
I love seeing him get passionate about his interests, and it really makes me appreciate when he’s getting excited about this stuff, that this is what my husband looks like at work with his work-friends. This is him in his element—and it’s so wonderful to see.
Looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this idea myself. I used to love reading, and I used to have the time for it. In high school, I would read until the early hours of the morning, but once my babies came into the world, I could barely find the time to crack a book with all of the more important tasks of supporting my family and our home. It is tougher to rationalize honoring Jesus by devouring that new novel than it is by giving the kiddos a bath or making a special dessert to brighten the whole family’s day. As for my hubby, he was never a big reader at home. He does a lot of reading at his job, but the world of reading just fell away to other things at home.
Our nightly ritual became a way to bridge the gap between our reading habits and our separate day-to-day worlds.
Someday maybe I will read him the Betty Crocker box or baby shampoo directions, but I doubt he would have much fun hearing that.
Now a few weeks later, we can’t wait to see each other each night. Because these reading times are filled with questions and conversations, we find ourselves having fun with each other again, and I’ve rediscovered how smart and interesting my husband is. I had just been seeing the tired, after-work version of him, and this little nightly routine (though it doesn’t have to be every night by all means) reminded the both of us we aren’t a bad match.