Monday, November 20, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Husband should stop worrying about wife's choice of books

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Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Q: My wife is an avid reader and enjoys a lot of different types of books. Among them are series usually geared towards teenagers, like The Hunger Games or Twilight. Before the premier of the latest movie, she rereads the series and then goes to the midnight showing with a group of girlfriends.

I am not talking about teenagers here, or even people in their 20s. We are in our 30s and both professionals. I think my wife's interest in these books and movies is juvenile and I don't really understand it. I feel mildly embarrassed that she can talk (in detail!) to my nieces about these books at holiday gatherings.

My wife thinks that her reading selection is her business only and that these books provide a nice relief from everyday problems. I can see her point, but on the other hand, I'm not sure why she can't get the same thing from adult literature. Who is the odd one here, me or my wife?

Anonymous

A: There's no odd, there's just snobby with a chance of insecure. Why do you care so much about what she reads?

Specifically, what are you trying to prove to others by having her appear too smart or sophisticated to enjoy the occasional "YA" potboiler — and why do you feel the need to prove this urgently enough that you're "embarrassed" when she goes public with her down-market tastes?

Not that it would change the answer if she were otherwise, but, cheez — she's an avid reader and likes all kinds of things, which means the lights are surely on for all to see. Plus, she's taking in information from a wide range of sources and (allow me to project a bit from her talks with your nieces) using it to relate better to people beyond her group of peers. How does that not make her awesome, and how would a strict diet of adult literature improve her?

I'm also wondering — now that I've surely discredited myself by using "cheez" and "awesome" — what the difference would be if she and her friends escaped to The Great Gatsby? Would they leave the theater more "professional"?

Let's talk about you again for a moment. Unless you're on to some secret formula, your life is headed where all lives are that aren't cut short: into terrain where your faculties gradually diminish but the challenges life throws at you remain more or less constant. The people at your side throughout may well decide how these years turn out for you, for obvious reasons. They can sympathize or patronize, help or harm, support you or let you drift.

Does it make sense — for you — to spend any time picking one of those people apart? To snip-snip at her literary preferences, or any other superficial trait of hers, just because you don't fully understand it or value it?

Speaking only for myself here: I envision my future as one where I will have to depend on my loved ones more, and therefore count on their patience, forgiveness and good sportsmanship more. (Who am I kidding, I envision my present that way.) I don't see that going well if I haven't given them those exact gifts myself. Do you?

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