When Dylan and I first married, our arguments weren't over sex, money, or gender roles. Instead, we quarreled over how to balance our needs for solitude and companionship. Our biggest fight? About my reading habits.
I've always been a bookworm. I can't walk past a bookstore or library without feeling its gravitational pull. And I usually have two or more books going at any given time. When I was single, I read at least two hours a night, even on evenings when I had Bible study or social activities.
Marriage changed all that. Within months of our wedding, I was frazzled just adjusting to living with another person. I was lucky if I finished even one book a week. If I snuggled under a quilt in our bedroom with a novel or biography, Dylan was sure to join me with a book or magazine of his own. At first, I was happy to have him there, expecting he'd curl up beside me and become as silently absorbed in his reading as I was in mine. Instead, he kept up a running commentary on his book, or teased me about mine if it looked at all romantic or sappy.
The more he did that, the more angry I became—and I was convinced I was in the right. After all, he was disrupting my reading time. So I was surprised and indignant one evening when Dylan confronted me about how much time I spent buried in my books. He felt I was ignoring him, shutting him out. Angrily, I replied that on the contrary, I never had enough time to read anymore.
After we argued awhile, we started to understand our problem. I was more of an introvert than I'd realized when I was single and solitude was easy to come by. I required a certain amount of private downtime to unwind and relax, and reading was my favorite way to do that. Dylan needed to know I cared about our marriage, and we both needed to focus on spending time together to build a strong and lasting bond. Unfortunately, we hadn't been communicating well, and in our efforts to get our needs met, we were antagonizing each other.1