I Love You, Now Shut Up

Roger H. Goun | Creative Commons

Roger H. Goun | Creative Commons

April and I aren’t very good at bedtime, but she’s better about getting up in the morning than I am – especially when she has somewhere to be. We both decided sometime in the last year we were going to really try to get to bed on time, which we’ve generally done. We’re both in bed between 10 and 11 most nights, usually right at 10:45.

I love routine.
I love to unwind. When I get home from work, I like to get a few chores checked off my list before sitting down and staring at something for a bit. After I finish a big project I need to decompress. When the day comes to an end, I need to lie down and read for a spell. I need to finish reading whatever my required reading for the day is (I’ve been trying to read through the Bible this year so lately that’s been a few chapters in 2 Samuel which always leave me feeling like I’m at someone else’s family reunion) and then whatever nice leisurely book I’m reading (The Vacationers, it’s way better than I expected).

April loves defying the rules when those particular rules don’t have real consequences.
When it’s bed time, unless she is bone tired, she usually starts her “I don’t want to go to bed because then it will be tomorrow,” routine. She will come to bed but as soon as we get in bed she’s in my face (like less than an inch from my face) talking loudly about something she thought was funny that day or complaining that I’m not playing with her or cuddling with her. Sometimes she’ll just jump up on top of me and I have to use the moves I learned in high school jujitsu to escape. The net result is that in every book I’ve read since getting married, I’ve read each sentence at least twice.

I found a compromise recently while I was at Barnes and Noble where I purchased a bedtime activity book. It’s a question book with a question for each day of the year. Under each question are blanks for two people to answer the same question on the same day for three years. It’s sort of a conversation starter for couples – so they can see how their routines, lives and ideas have changed over the years. We enjoy doing it and usually have a little conversation about the question and then talk about our days. I thought, since she wants to hang out and I just want routine we can say that bedtime is at 10:30 sharp and that is question and hang out time. At 11 p.m., personal unwind time starts and everyone has to be quiet.

Does it work? No. Well, not exactly. We have had much nicer bedtimes, with her filling fulfilled and me feeling relaxed. We have also had some nice conversations and it gives us a reason to shoot for getting in bed on time, so we will feel rested the next day but also so we can spend some time together. I still find myself sometimes at 11:02 saying, “I love you so much April… Now shut up!”

That’s the thing about marriage, or any relationship, compromise. She would love it if we stayed up all night, or at least until she was sleepy, talking and laughing and cuddling. I would love it if we did all that earlier in the day and then respected the silence of the night. This way we blur the lines of each others’ comfort zones a little but still feel nice at the end of the day. We both have loved each other the way the other wants to be loved. I’ve also found that when I really work to love April in her love language (face to face attention and adoration) she is better about coming alongside me and loving me the way I want to be loved. It doesn’t always work that way but when we fight, it usually comes down to us trying to force our love languages on each other. As a side-note, until the day I got married, I thought the term love-language was a stupid way to sell relationship advice books. 

I’ve talked to some of my married friends about this and I think it’s kind of funny that most couples I talk to can’t agree on bedtime. I even saw an article in the New York Times magazine about bedtime procrastination being a thing scientists are actually studying.

What about you? What routines work for you? Do you and your spouse fight about bedtime? 

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