the single best thing we’ve done for our marriage (lately)

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Things you should know going into this post:

1) Christian and I do not have a perfect marriage. We have a good, strong marriage. He is my best friend and probably the only person around whom I will ever pass gas (on purpose). Not too terribly unrelated (or totally unrelated), I had a friend years ago who never tooted in front of her spouse. I can’t live with those kinds of boundaries. You love me, you gotta love all of me, especially the stinky me.

2) If you can show me someone who claims to have a perfect marriage, I will show you someone who is clearly living a one way fantasy. Or they are a liar. Or they have terrible gas pains from holding it in. I’ll go with all of the above.

So…this may have gotten a bit off track, but the secret to a big chunk of our happiness has nothing to do with tooting.  No, the secret to part of our happiness is extremely simple. Like, you’ll read it and say THAT’S IT?! because really, it’s absurd. Here it goes.

We let each other sleep in.

I KNOW.

I know it is terribly simple, and I also know that there are SO MANY exhausted women and wives and mothers who don’t get this small, yet extremely meaningful reciprocation. I did a little informal poll on my Facebook page a while back, and most of the responses went something like Gurl, you trippin.’ I never get to sleep in!

Ladies. Seriously. This has to stop. We need this. Look at you, you can barely read this you’re so tired. Your sweater is on inside out, and I think you might be drooling.

I get up early to get kids to school. That sucks. I am the first line of defense when they need food, snacks, a hug, or their butt wiped at 3 am. That really sucks, especially when Christian is RIGHTTHERE. Hand to God, I can sleep on the complete opposite side of the bed, and they will walk all the way around it to get to me instead of bothering him. It’s sweet and all, but TOTALLY UNFAIR.

By the end of the week – well, Tuesday if I’m being honest – I am DEAD TIRED.

So just about every week, unless we have plans, Saturday is my sleep in day. And Sunday is his. Sometimes we switch, maybe if he stayed out late for a Friday night poker game. Sometimes if I have weekend morning plans, I give up my day because I’m thoughtful like that, albeit a bit of a martyr. Depending on how busy we are, the person who got up early usually gets to take a nap later in the day.

[Side note: Naps are NOT a long term substitute for sleeping in. They work on the fly, and they might, in fact, be better than sleeping in, but the thing is, a nap is never guaranteed. So just kick your beloved out of the bed when the kids come a-calling at 6:54 am.]

 

Now for the next secret:

This did not happen overnight.

Sometimes in telling people that we have this sleeping in arrangement, I get wistful stares and You’re so lucky! and That would never fly with my husband. Mmmhmmmm, girlfriend. I feel you.

But the thing is, this whole thing isn’t about sleeping in at all. It’s about compromise.

Each morning for years, we would both lay in bed, stiff as boards, when the kids cried out, wandered into the room, or we could hear them wreaking havoc in the bathroom. Why isn’t he getting up? I would think-shout. Why isn’t SHE getting up? He would equally think-shout. We could barely hear ourselves over the think-shouting.

And then inevitably, someone would throw the covers back, give a big HARUMPH! and stomp out of the room, almost-not-quite slamming the door on the way out. It was passive aggressiveness at it’s finest. An entire argument covered with no one saying a word. Think-shouting and silent arguing is not the best way to start a morning.

Every few months or so I would reach my breaking point and I would have to talk it out by basically exploding and projecting all of my fatigue onto him with ear splitting shrieks and general nastiness towards everyone. And it would come out that I was just tired, and I would really appreciate it if he would get up with the kids once in a while.

But it never stuck. He eventually slipped back into his groggy ways.

See, instead of continuing to make my needs known, I assumed that he would continue to meet them without fail. And being a flawed human (like we all are) who is SO not a morning person, he failed.

Our partners, they are not mind readers. Oh, I wish he was, but he’s not. I have to nudge him sometimes to do this or that, just like he has to nudge me to show a little extra affection or PDA, which is MY flaw. One of many.

So here’s what I did.

As I was crawling into bed one Friday night, I said, Man, I cannot WAIT for tomorrow.

Him, puzzled: Why’s that?

Me, matter of fact: Because I’m going to sleep in while you get up with the kids!

Oh yes, I did. And I stand corrected: THIS may have been passive aggressiveness at its finest.

But he was cool with it, because deep down inside, he knew I needed this. And after a few weeks of the same, silly passive aggressive statements, we fell into a pattern, and here we are. I don’t really recommend passive aggressive tactics (although they ARE my specialty), but this is what worked for us. It was my way of sitting down and saying Look, dude. I needs me some sleep.

 

Now for part three.

We don’t let one another sleep all freaking day.

Neither of us really wants to sleep past 9 or so, unless we’re sick or have spent the majority of the night bed-hopping with the children. But we do want to get a good start on the day.

Now when I’m the one who gets up, I get the kids fed and usually let them watch some cartoons to keep them quiet. I use that time to drink my coffee, read some internet, and maybe do some writing. I love those mornings.

When Christian is in charge, it eats him (and the kids) alive that I am sleeping in. They constantly ask Where’s Mommy? Can we wake Mommy up? I NEED MOMMY. And he – no joke – comes in and wakes me up approximately 20 seconds after the clock strikes 9.

They don’t ask about him when he’s sleeping in. ‘Tis a blessing and a curse to be the mom.

Again, this isn’t really about sleeping in at all. It’s about compromise. I needed something, and I had to make it known, even if it took a few tries to make it stick.

Whatever it is, you have to find an area where you each can give and take a little, your compromise. Maybe it’s sleeping in. Maybe you get up with the kids all the time, but then your partner gives you a few hours to yourself to go have coffee, shop, or nap. Maybe the compromise is that he makes dinner, or bathes the kids. No one should feel like they carry all of the burden of caring for young children, and no one should especially have to live with crippling, mind crushing fatigue.

Stand up for yourself in your marriage, and make it clear what it is that you need to get a little sanity. I was dying to sleep in JUST ONCE A WEEK. That was all I wanted! All I wanted was – just one day out of seven – to NOT have the responsibility of getting up and making breakfast fall on my shoulders. I had to start a conversation about it and make this one thing very clear. This isn’t by far the only compromise we have in our relationship, but I do credit a good portion of our happiness (and my now lack of resentment) to this teeny tiny agreement.

 

What compromises do you have in your marriage?

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33 Comments

  1. I so need to do this. I swear I was just whining to myself about my role as the default get-out-of-bed person even on the weekends. I’m so desperate to sleep in. I’m going to see if I can enact this new marital policy by Saturday morning!

    We are OK at compromising in theory, but we don’t have any official compromises that we adhere to – but we should, to avoid that whole passive aggressive thing.

  2. We tried this a few times, me taking a weekend day to sleep in. BUT, like you correctly said, our spouses aren’t mind readers. If I don’t say that I want to, then it doesn’t happen. I’m just the default early riser. I would love for this to be a regular thing for us.

  3. As you know, I am incredibly jealous of this. My husband is a serious night owl, and he has his own business and is responsible for the breadwinning now; so he stays up late thinking and working until he wears himself out. Usually around 2. Our son wakes at 7:30. So doing the math… I am always the one who gets up early. However, I’ll be going to Erma for 4 days soon, and it will be his turn. 🙂

    1. I’m sure you guys make compromises in other areas, and that’s the important part. 🙂

  4. We go back and forth on the “who’s on call” and I think we have a good compromise. Since I have English classes Sat morning and church Sunday morning and we have a dog, it’s hard for any of us to get extra sleep in the morning. But right now it’s still just survival with him traveling so much. I hope we’ll get into a better rhythm after that.

  5. Yes!! to compromise. My husband and I love being married (it’s not perfect, because like you said it’s real life, nothing is perfect). We have also found that compromise and a lot of give and take is key to being happy. We do let each other sleep in, but not on a regular schedule. We also appreciate that we both need to do things on our own. And I think it’s important to compromise and let each other sleep in and go on weekends with friends because we truly care about each other. I want my husband to be well rested and happy and he feels the same. When it all works with schedules and four kids and busy lives, boy does it work and we are both happy. And we always TRY to make it work. 🙂
    p.s. I love getting to know you and your blog and your family!

    1. Thanks, Angela! I have a feeling it won’t be exactly like this for long, as we dive into soccer and other activities. And on those weekends, the non-activity days will default to me because I still have to get up Monday – Friday! Bahahahaha!

  6. I love this so much. You rock. The farting thing, especially. I know couples who don’t fart in front of each other, and I’m just like, WHAT? I can almost feel their gas pains.

    Donny and I were rigid about our schedule for years–him Saturday, me Sunday. But now that the kids can get up and basically take care of themselves, we both sort of sleep in. But I don’t sleep that well when I hear them downstairs–he can sleep through anything. So sometimes I still have to say, hey, get up and take care of them so I can really sleep and they will stop yelling for breakfast (even though they are fully capable of getting their own breakfast). Compromise and communication are everything.

  7. YES.
    We do it , have been for a about a year now. Saturdays and Sunday mornings I sleep in a bit, John makes breakfast, lets the boys watch ONE DIRECTION videos and comes up to check on me (or just lets me go through my DVR for a few hours before I have to start our weekend)

    it helps so much. We both work full time and I know he’s tired on the weekends too, but it is such a romantic thoughtful thing to do for me and I love him even more for it. Just keeping the boys occupied makes it easier for me to leave that warm bed on Saturday mornings.

    great piece LeighAnn. 🙂

  8. I’m with you on this! We each take turns sleeping in and it’s wonderful. It saves our sanity and makes me feel like we’re playing fair.

  9. I simply cannot sleep while my kids are awake. It’s impossible. So sleeping in ain’t my thing. But I took a job at the Farmer’s Market Saturday mornings at 9 – I get up at 7:30, get dressed, and leave. I don’t make breakfast, I don’t remove pull ups, I don’t do jack. I go to the market and I talk to grown ups and I talk about food and health and nature, all the things that are my not-kid-related passions. And honestly? A big part of it for me is to know that he is NOT sleeping in. For 3 hours Saturday morning, he gets to be me. And I get to be him. It works for us! (Sunday morning our kids go to church without us – grandparents – so we get them out the door and then sleep till noon. Or sleep till 9 and then show each other stupid videos on our phones till noon.)

  10. This is awesome. I never thought about to but yes to all of this. I hate the “who’s more tired” fight bc nobody wins. We have started to compromise about bedtime. We alternate now. It used to be me all day every day until he realized that with 2 kids it will be nearly impossible for me to do both. So here we are. And now I need to sleep in. 🙂

  11. The husband came up with the same idea a few years back. He works shift work so on his days off we take turns sleeping in. However, he sleeps in a heck of a lot longer than I do (sometimes until 11am). Whereas, I am most often out of bed by 9 or 9:30am. I just can’t seem to sleep any longer. Plus it is difficult as our bedroom is in the basement and I can hear the kids running and yelling all morning. It’s not so peaceful. And the kids always seem to want him to be the one who wakes up. I guess they like daddy a lot more than mommy. LOL!

  12. We do this SAME THING. Even though we BOTH get up early during the week, Cort knows one of my triggers is lack of sleep AND he can’t stay in bed past 8:00am without get all sore, so he ALWAYS gets up when the kids get up on the weekends. They get me up no later than 9am, but this is our arrangement. Once in a while if I hear the Bird first and Cort is sawing logs (and it’s the summer or one of my “breaks”) I’ll get up first so he can stay in bed.

    It makes everyone happier because the boys love to spend some one-on-one time with their dad who is better at making breakfast anyway.

  13. I think my husband might be some sort of secret saint. He let’s me sleep in whenever he’s home and I don’t have to work. I mean, I’m up with the baby to nurse her and so he knows I need an extra hour or so in the morning. After being together for nearly 13 years he also knows that I require more sleep than him. That’s not an excuse. It’s a FACT and we both know it. I am a BEAR when I don’t get enough sleep and he can function well on just a few hours. I wish that were me. But it’s not. He doesn’t want to deal with the bear. So he has learned to give me what I need so that I’m a nice person 🙂

    Great post!

  14. We sort of have this going on in our house too but no “Formal” agreement like you two. lol. Tim IS a morning person and I so AM NOT, so I usually get to hang out in bed later on Saturdays just because he likes to get up and make breakfast, etc. He’s the pancake master. OH and omelets too. Anyway, besides the delicious breakfast, yes it is very nice to be able to hug my covers longer.

    And YES!! Marriage (and pretty much any close relationship) must have compromise! I am glad the two of you have found something simple but great that works for you!! 🙂

  15. Holy hell. This is so incredibly GENIUS!
    “As I was crawling into bed one Friday night, I said, Man, I cannot WAIT for tomorrow.

    Him, puzzled: Why’s that?

    Me, matter of fact: Because I’m going to sleep in while you get up with the kids!”

    Like mind-blown stuff.

    I don’t yet have kids (nor am I married) but I think there are a lot of gems in here that can be applied to a wide variety of relationships, especially where compromise is concerned. I’m learning myself which battles are meant to fight, and the best ones to walk away from. It’s not easy and I struggle. But I’m learning, slowly. Thanks so much for this! Sharing now 🙂

  16. I laughed when I got to the part about how when it’s your turn the kids are still trying to get to you, but they leave your husband alone. My husband works and I’m a stay-at-home mom but since I’m up later and his schedule is flexible he often lets me sleep in. My 3 year old, on the other hand, has other ideas. I can definitely relate to the walking around daddy’s side of the bed to get right to mommy thing. Thank God for husbands who keep the kids out and let us sleep! 🙂

  17. We do this too, every weekend. Except we sleep in longer and honestly it doesn’t really work. We need to institute the 9 am rule.

    But otherwise, yes! I don’t understand people who say this would never fly. Um, excuse me? You’re tired. He can’t be in charge for a couple of hours on a weekend morning? THAT would never fly with me.

  18. My husband knows the house is a much happier house if I get sleep. I don’t intentionally make anyone pay- but you know. It’ just not fun for anyone. So yes, he gets up with the boys 6 days a week. I need to gather myself before I come down which is by 730 anyhow.

    And we reached a really great agreement when it came to his business trips- he goes away, I go away. Works for me and makes me much less jealous/resentful while he’s gone. Additionally I don’t complain and I have something to look forward to. Hence a girls’ trip to London is in about 2 weeks 🙂

    And exactly- no marriage is perfect. You have to stand up for yourself, communicate and be honest. Sometimes honesty hurts too.

  19. The single best compromise that my husband and I made is that we all clean on Saturdays. After years of all the housework resting squarely on my shoulders, we all pitch in and do it on Saturday. It’s more of a compromise on his part, but still.

    Standing up for yourself in your marriage is great advice, Leigh Ann. Passive aggressiveness only breaks down the relationship. I also know that from experience.

    1. That’s a big compromise. Christian is our resident vacuumer, litter box cleaner, and toilet scrubber, along with yard mower. I figure it’s fair considering I do the majority of the caring of the children and cooking and shopping and general daily crap.

  20. This may not be what you want to hear so soon after the big 6 birthday, but quicker than you think those kids of yours will be teenagers who sleep in later than either of you can.

    And then they’ll stay up later than you, too. And their bedrooms might be right next door to yours and they might *know* what goes on when the lights are off (wink) and then your compromise will be about WHEN CAN WE HAVE SEX? Shhhhh…..

    So enjoy those mornings of sleeping in AND those early mornings with your kids. And then when they are teenagers and you’re not in the mood, remember the fart thing. Just a suggestion. 🙂

    (P.S. This was a great post, Leigh Ann. I was just laughing at myself because we used to trade off mornings for what seemed like forever when our babies were little and OH MY GOSH our lives are in such a different place now.)

    1. Julie, I LOVE hearing from parents of older kids. Because sometimes it feels like it will be this way forever. But then it so gradually shifts, and before we know it, yes. We are dragging teenagers out of bed and dragging them reluctantly on family outings.

      Also, I’m SUPER glad our room is across the house from theirs, but then again, it’s not exactly a very big house. 😉

  21. We use to do this when we only had one kid and it was glorious. I miss it! Compromise is essential in relationships. I REALLY miss those sleeping in mornings.

  22. I just want to say that I am in absolute agreement. My husband and I are on an almost identical plan, that came about through a nearly identical passive/aggressive process, but we are much happier for it. That one morning sleep-in a week plus a nap option on the early morning is a winner for us. I highly recommend it.

    1. I was floored to realize how few moms get this little token, even if just once a week. FLOORED.

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