What If Your Partner Doesn't Like Reading?

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When I was younger, while all of my friends dreamed about ending up with a partner who was rich, or extremely good-looking, I only ever had one rule: the person I would marry one day must love books. Reading was my first love, and is still pretty much my favorite thing in the world. So when I fantasized about my love story, it usually involved my future partner and I reading to each other by the fire, or drinking wine and intelligently discussing our latest read, or curled up together in bed silently reading. But I never imagined what actually happened: I married a non-reader.

This was not part of my life plan. Like, at all. In fact, ever since my mother told me as a child that I should never date someone who doesn't read "because they're all creeps" (oops, don't tell my husband), I'd been fairly certain that this tragedy would never happen to me. So I was totally unprepared when I found myself accidentally falling in love with a guy who's read about five fiction books in his entire life.

But you know what? My younger self never would have believed this — but the fact my partner isn't a book-lover doesn't actually matter to me. Sure, I used to get frustrated when I would lend him my favorite novels and they would go totally ignored. And yeah, sometimes I look at stock images of couples reading together on a picnic and get a pang of jealousy. But my husband and I have found a multitude of ways to bond over books, without him having to read any of them.

1. I Changed The Way I Talk About Books

When we first started dating, I used to recite certain quotes and paragraphs aloud to my partner and expect him to feel as moved or excited by them as I did, or as my other book-loving friends would. When he didn't get it, I would try filling him in on the entire plot first — which of course he found incredibly boring. Now, I get straight to the point: if a particular passage makes me feel sad, or angry, or really really happy, I just tell him that. My husband may not be interested in books, but he's always interested in my feelings.

2. I Look Up The True Stories Behind Books

My husband is more of a nonfiction kinda guy, so if I'm reading a novel set in a particular time period, or based on real events, I'll look up the true stories and chat to him about those. I might even look up some cool facts about the author that he'd enjoy, and the best part is that learning the context enhances my own reading as well.

3. We Watch Movie Adaptations

When I read a great book, my first instinct is to recommend it to somebody else so that I can talk to them about it. I've given up on this with my partner after he DNF-ed a few of my faves (that's "did not finish" for those of you who don't spend every waking hour on book forums) — but my compromise is to drag him along to the movie. That way, he gets a glimpse into what I've been spending my time reading about — and he's usually pretty patient when I bitch about how much they changed the plot.

4. I Give Him Clues About Books To Buy Me

When I read a book my husband bought me, it feels extra-special — but as a non-reader, it's hard for him to know which books to pick out. So I'll give him some clues: I let him know what's been catching my eye lately, or if there's a particular author I've recently discovered. For my last birthday, he bought me The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson and a feminist coloring book — so he's a fast learner! And in exchange, he'll drop hints for the types of games I should get him. We both enjoy our individual hobbies even more knowing that they came from each other.

5. We Spend Time Together Even While I'm Reading

Just because my partner doesn't read with me doesn't mean we can't share that time. If he's watching TV, or playing a video game, I'll curl up next to him on the sofa with a book — so we can spend quality time together even while doing our own thing. He might not be a big reader, but my love for books is still a big part of our relationship.

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