Advice on how to reclaim the bedroom and sleep–even with an insensitive spouse.
My wife and I have been married for 10 years now. I work a job that requires me to get up at 5 a.m., so I go to bed early, at 9 p.m. My wife likes to sit in bed and watch TV until about midnight. When she turns the TV on it wakes me up, and so I end up going to work with very little sleep. I have asked her to watch TV in the family room so I can get enough sleep to safely drive to work and perform adequately at work. She says I am inflexible and stirring up trouble. When I go to sleep in the guest room, she becomes angry. I have asked if we could move the cable connection to another room but she says the joy is lyingin bed and watching TV. Any suggestions?
Hara Estroff Marano is the Editor at Large of Psychology Today and writes the magazine's advice column, Unconventional Wisdom. Her newest book, A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting, grew out the groundbreaking Psychology Today article A Nation of Wimps.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
You have access to a telephone, I presume. Why not call the cable company and arrange to have the connection moved to another room? Why do you feel you need your wife's permission to use your bedroom for sleeping? Why have you acquiesced and ceded to her all the power to set your own sleep-wake schedule—and to call you names for not accepting her terms on everything? Sleep is a fundamental need of all human beings. By just about any standard of valuation, the need to get sufficient sleep takes precedence over watching TV. That should not be up for debate, let alone surrender. As a member of the human race, you have an obligation to stand up for your basic needs,in your own home or outside.
Either your wife is a supreme narcissist, incapable of understandinganyone's viewpoint but her own, or she's a successful sadist. Deliberately depriving another person of sleep is a time-honored method of torture. Perhaps it's her way of paying you back for your passivity. No matter how much one loves watching the 50th Seinfeld rerun, no one really enjoys having a pushover for a partner. You definitely have some ground to reclaim in your relationship. By all means, sleep in the guest bedroom until the cable connection is moved. And when your wife becomes angry, stay put. She may throw a tantrum, but she'll eventually calm down, especially once she realizes you're not caving in to her anger. And be sure to tell her you'll be happy to negotiate a plan that works better for both of you after you get the good night's rest that you need.