When I met my husband, I knew within a few hours that I was going to marry him--or try like hell to marry him, anyway. We "clicked" instantaneously. He was handsome, hilariously funny, down-to-earth, chivalrous and incredibly smart. He had been in the military, which is something I deeply respect and appreciate. We had so many things in common. We even ordered the same meal on our first date. We were also very different in many ways. We had each had different life experiences which was cool because it gave us--and still gives us--lots to talk about. It makes us interesting to one another.
I have always thought that we complement each other well. He is very math/science/engineering-minded and I'm all literature and humanities-minded. He’s all neat and clean and I’m a big, old messy mess. He can cook meals that are so delicious they’ll make you weep, and if I even look at the toaster, the smoke alarm goes off. He can draw anything and build things, construct things out of almost nothing whereas I can barely draw a stick figure. He is very MacGuyver-like, and I never get tired of watching him work his magic, especially in an emergency. He is one of the most resourceful people I know. Anyway, the one major difference for us which wouldn't even be major except that I write books, is that I am a reader and he is not. To be fair, when I say not a reader, I just mean he doesn't read fiction. He can read a manual from cover to cover. He reads news stories and he'll read about history or historical figures. (I'm always astounded by the vastness of his knowledge of military history!). So basically, his tastes run to non-fiction. Plus even in terms of movies and television, he doesn’t like crime dramas the way I do and, as you know, my genre is crime fiction. Even if he did read fiction, I don’t think that my genre is one he would enjoy.
It's never bothered me. I know plenty of people who either don't enjoy reading at all or whose reading tastes are very narrow. I know it's not personal. So I never expected him to read my books. I know plenty of authors whose spouses don't read their work. He has always been supportive of my writing and my career and that's all I ever really asked.
So imagine my complete and utter surprise and delight when, for our anniversary this year, he read Finding Claire Fletcher! He read it in secret when I wasn't home so he could surprise me. On the day he knew he was going to finish the book, he told me he needed some time undisturbed to "finish" my anniversary present. He kept going in and out of the room with stuff like carpenter's glue and paint brushes and I kept wondering what he was constructing! Then he came out wearing his I Found Claire Fletcher t-shirt and handed me a box. I opened it and unwrapped the object inside and it was my book! I was completely baffled. I said, "I don't understand" and he said, "I read your book." Naturally, I didn't believe him (my exact words might have been, "GET THE $%&# OUT!" hah hah hah) but after quizzing him on several elements of the book, it was quite clear that he had, in fact, read it!
The best part is that he plans on staying married to me! Hah!
He actually enjoyed it too. He was surprised because like I said, crime dramas aren't typically his thing. I know he was being sincere because he asked me a lot of intelligent questions about it and we talked about the book for quite some time. He said since he enjoyed FCF so much, he is looking forward to reading the other two now. It's funny because pretty much everyone in his family has read all of my books (and he has a very large family) and since 2012 he has been subject to a constant ribbing over the fact that he is married to me and is the only one who hasn't read them. But he didn't want to read them just to put an end to the relentless ball-busting cause he's stubborn like that. (Our daughter gets it from him--now I've got two of them!) He wanted to read them on his own terms. I know it was hard for him not just because of the fiction or the crime drama disinterest but also because he is one of these people who is always busy. I can never get him to sit down for very long. God forbid he gets sick and has to rest. It never happens. But for me, he sat down for a few hours each day, figuring that, when he started, if he read seven chapters a day, he would finish by Valentine's Day. He finished two weeks ahead of schedule!
My husband and I love to watch television shows and movies together. We have great discussions about the writing, plot, and characters of our favorite shows and movies all the time. His feeling was that we should be able to do the same with my own books. Plus, he said he really wants to share that part of my life with me, which is incredibly freaking awesome. Maybe it's a writer thing but of all the romantic things my husband has done for me--and there have been a lot--this was the most romantic thing he's ever done.
For Valentine's Day, which is now our anniversary, I typically get flowers, a special meal of my choosing and a gift that he's put some thought into--it's usually something he knows that I've been eyeing, something I really want. I've always been thrilled with that. I'm a sucker for flowers and like I said, this man can cook his ass off. Him finally reading my book as an anniverary/V-Day bonus--I am really not sure he can top that and I’ll tell you why. We’ve been together for nine years. This is only our third wedding anniversary but we were together quite some time before that, and my husband was up front with me from the beginning that he doesn’t read fiction. And I was up front with him that it was fine with me that he didn’t read my work. I never expected him to read my books. I learned a long time ago that if you go into a relationship with the expectation that the other person is going to magically change for you one day, you’re dooming the entire venture to failure. So my husband had a pass. For nine years he didn’t read any of my work and he could have easily kept on going without ever reading a word that I wrote, but he didn’t. He made the effort, he took the time. He surprised me. Now we have a whole new level of closeness and lots more to talk about. He’s not only shown me a deeper level of commitment by doing this but he’s added a sense of newness to our relationship—and if you’re married then you know newness is hard to come by. Nine years ago, he walked onto my parents’ porch and the two of us talked for hours. We hadn’t even kissed yet but I can remember looking at him, thinking, “I’m going to marry this man.” Boy, was that one of the most awesome decisions I ever made!