At least 50% of people who come to see me were urged by a family member or partner. It may be because of snoring, noises, movement, being on different schedules or sometimes even more serious concerns such as one partner injuring or harming the other during sleep.
A lot of couples wonder how to resolve some of the differences that come up with regard to temperature settings, having the TV on, sharing covers, or disruptions from snoring or movement. From a medical standpoint, a seasoned clinician with the right diagnostic tools and skills can easily identify the root problems but the solution requires creativity and negotiations.
I’ve been influenced by the psychologist Jordan Peterson. Some of you might have read my post “There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon” where I talked about how people have a tendency ignore or avoid addressing small problems until they become big problems. I believe one of the most satisfying aspects of marriage can be the personal growth achieved by confronting such issues.
Sometimes the heart of the issue is really something deeper about the relationship. And then the negotiation is irrational and emotional and layered in other family dynamics.
People ask me if I ever suggest a sleep divorce and the answer is yes sometimes I do. I don’t like it as a first option, but sometimes it is necessary for one spouse to prioritize their own health. From an objective standpoint sometimes it is clear one partner’s health will suffer from the other partner’s health problem. Ultimately, it’s up to my patient to draw the line.
Here are some of the points I share with my patients:
- Sleep problems are private and need to be treated with sensitivity.
- It helps to come to the table with a priority of health and science to determine best practices.
- Difficult conversations need to be worked through and a good couples therapist can be invaluable.
- Each partner needs to be given their own space and patience to work through concerns at their own pace.
- It’s helpful when both seek help at the same time, to support one another in a shared goal.
Can you relate?