By now, my boyfriend is used to my experiments at work. He ate alongside me when I cooked food from books for a week and he humored me when I took notes in bed after I decided to see how reading erotica would affect our sex life. So when I wanted to read out loud to my partner for a week, he wasn't surprised. After a while, he even started to like it, but that was only after I got him to agree to do it with me.
I read (and write) a lot about the benefits of reading, and one of the more surprising things I've found is a reoccurring argument as to why you should read out loud with your partner. It's a sweet and romantic activity, something intimate you can share with your special someone. Couples are constantly trying new things to improve their relationship, and books, not just self-help ones, are now a part of that conversation. When I came across the idea myself, I saw it as a fun way to spend time with my boyfriend in a way that broke up our normal routine.
It took some convincing to get my boyfriend on board. I told him how fun it would be to share one of our favorite activities together, how nice it would be to end the day talking instead of watching Netflix, and how it might bring us closer together. When I finished my argument for this fun little experiment, I got a variety of responses, from "Do we have to?" to "Can't we just read separate books next to each other, silently?" But finally he agreed with a simple, "Okay, but I get to pick the book."
For a week straight, when my boyfriend and I went to bed, I would read out loud to him for 30 minutes. It took us a little while to get in the habit and to find the right book, but once we did, we were happily surprised to find out that these 5 things happened.
1. The Kind Of Book You Pick Matters
When it came to choosing the book to read together, I gave my boyfriend the honor. We both love science fiction, so he picked one of our favorite authors, Isaac Asimov, and we curled up in bed with I, Robot between us. The technical language of the book made it hard to enjoy together, and we often found ourselves rereading passages for clarification. After one night, we decided it was not the right book for us. Kurt Vonnegut's Galapagos, however, was.
It was easier to read Galapagos out loud because it was more conversational. Before long, we were laughing out loud, shaking the bed with our hysteria. Some of the lines were so good, we reread them out loud more than once, but this time to enjoy them again — not to make sense of them. Once we found the right book, the whole activity became more enjoyable.
2. It Felt Really Intimate
You remember that feeling of being called on to read in front of the whole class? Yeah, the first few paragraphs I read out loud to my partner made me feel exactly like that. There's something so personal about sharing your voice in that way, whether your doing it with 20 kids at school or with your partner in bed.
Reading out loud with my boyfriend felt just as intimate as the other things we did behind a closed bedroom door, but in a totally new way. It gave me butterflies in my stomach, and every time we laughed or gasped or scoffed at the same part of the book, it felt like a special secret between us. Sharing a story together, reading to one another, became an intimate and romantic activity, even when the subject matter itself wasn't.
3. It Was Relaxing
After a long day, there is nothing I look forward to more than that moment when I lay down next to my boyfriend in bed and all my stress goes away. Unfortunately, it's usually short lived, because after a few minutes, I'll pull my laptop onto the bed and start working or my boyfriend will turn on the TV.
When we made our nightly bedtime activity reading out loud, though, those feelings of relaxation stayed with us longer. We lounged in bed, flipping paperback pages and worried about nothing but the book and each other. It was an amazing way to spend time together that didn't involve getting absorbed by technology or distracted by unfinished to-do lists. It was a guaranteed 30 minutes where we could enjoy each other's company and a great story all at once. I don't know if there's anything much more relaxing than that for a book lover like me.
4. We Both Slept Better
One of my worst habits is going to bed with the TV on. While my boyfriend snoozes off and on beside me, I stay up way later than I need to pressing "Yes" in response to the "Still Watching?" screen. I have a hard time powering down at the end of the day, and my tossing and turning keeps my boyfriend from getting a restful sleep, too.
During our reading experiment, we decided to end the night with reading out loud and then going to straight to bed — no last minute work emails, no final social media scans, not even an episode on Netflix. Instead, we'd finish reading, turn out the light, and just try and fall asleep, sans distraction. We'd usually drift off to sleep talking about our favorite parts of the book so far, what we thought would happen next, and how we felt about the experiment as a whole. It was a nice way to fall asleep, and we both did fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
5. It Brought Us Closer Together
Books have always been a big part of my relationship with my boyfriend. They helped us when we were long-distance for a few years, and we've even used erotic passages to spice up our sex life. But this experiment made the biggest difference of them all. It helped bring us closer together by guaranteeing that we ended every night together. No matter what happened during the day, no matter how much work we had or how many chores needed to be done, we had a half an hour each night to throw all that out the window and just be together. It has become one of my favorite things to do.
If you get the chance, read out loud with the person you love. Whether it's the morning newspaper or a chapter each night at bed, reading together is a great way to bring you and your partner closer together. Trust me, once you try it, you'll realize just how amazing reading out loud, together, really is.
Images: Giphy (5); Sadie Trombetta