In Carole King’s memoir, A Natural Woman (2012), she describes how mismatched sleep schedules contributed to her divorce (page 253-254).
“I’m not a late-night person. I’m an inveterate diurnal. I’m one of those really inconsiderate early-morning people that nocturnal people hate. Never giving thought to whether someone might be sleeping in the next room, I rattle the cereal box, clink the spoon wile stirring my tea, and yell at the top of my lungs to a dawdling child, ‘Hurry up or you’ll miss your bus!’
“Nocturnals enjoy watching the sun come up only when they’re making their way home after having been out all night. I prefer to watch the sun rise after I’ve slept for eight hours.
“And that was the problem. Charlie and I still cared for each other, but we were spending almost no time together. Our disparate schedules continued through 1974 and part of 1975. Some couples are able to preserve their emotional connection from different cities or on different shifts, but our overlapping hours were simply not enough.”
One of the adjustments newlyweds make is synchronizing body clocks. After the love drug of infatuation wears off and reality sets in partners might realize that one of them is a morning person and the other is an evening person. This becomes problematic when the party-loving night owl says to their early-to-bed partner, “You are such a party pooper!” and the early-rising lark says to their sleep-to-the-crack-of-noon partner, “You are so lazy!” Thus sleeping becomes another of a million adjustments intimate partners must navigate.
The marriage bed can become a source of conflict beyond sexual adjusting. Newly married folks are often shocked to discover they now share a bed with a snorer, restless leg twitcher, teeth grinder, pillow/blanket hog, snack eater, C-pap machine wearer, or a Facebook scanner.
Rituals for preparing for bed time differ, too. Some partners brush their teeth, floss, put the cat out, check the doors and windows, read, pray, watch television, and want to snuggle. Others fall into bed and pass out stone cold and remain motionless for eight hours.
A fun conversation to have which preempts conflict in these areas is called the, Four Crucial Moments of Every Day exercise. Each partner should fill in the following blanks and then share their answers with each other.
Four Crucial Moments of Every Day
Four Minute “Good Morning” Time
Interview your spouse, “(Name), what kind of touches, hugs, etc. would you like to experience in the first four minutes we are both awake in the morning?”
One Minute “Goodbye” Time
Interview your spouse, “(Name), what kind of touches, hugs, etc. would you like to experience in the minute we say goodbye in the morning?”
Four Minute “Hello” Time
Interview your spouse, “(Name), what kind of touches, hugs, etc. would you like to experience when we reconnect at the end of our day?”
One Minute “Goodnight” Time
Interview your spouse, “(Name), what kind of touches, hugs, etc. would you like to experience when we say goodnight?”
Tomorrow: Why Do We Resist Rest?