The Gottman Institute did a study that shows that many marriages end due to a loss of intimacy and connection, especially 10 to 12 years into the relationship. Well, that’s not surprising.
But what’s interesting is that a “silent drift apart” typically starts much earlier.
About three and a half years into a relationship, couples also tend to stop going to bed at the same time. Lack of closeness leads to less connection, less intimacy, less conversation, less time spent together, less appreciation.
Most Couples Go to Bed at Different Times
A full 75% of couples admit they go to bed at different times. Men and women clamber into bed alone up to four nights a week, due to their partner being out, at the office, surfing the web downstairs, or watching TV, according to research.
And when they finally do retire to the bedroom, they frequently disturb their sleeping partner, by moving around or pulling the covers away.
Natalie obviously loved me very much because she put up with my strange lifestyle for so many years.
Here are just two examples of extremes I subjected her to.
Going to bed: 1:00 AM- 2:00 AM
Waking up: 7:00 AM
Speaking of working late, there was a period in my life when I worked a lot, and often came home late. The working days literally flashed by. After the kids had gone to bed, I would work even more, there in the living room with my laptop on my lap, quite often until early in the morning. My wife would be on the couch, mostly watching reality shows, only to fall asleep soon after, right there on the couch.
When I finished working somewhere around 1:00 or 2:00 AM I would wake her up, and we would both go to bed. That was what my working week looked like. We’d spend weekends somewhere outside. I think that was my way of making it up to the kids and, at the same time, avoiding spending idle time together with my wife, because I feared yet another argument or criticism.
As you can imagine, it was difficult for me to wake me up every morning living like this. I’d hit the snooze button indefinitely. It was my job to take the kids to school every day, and so my wife was worried that I might simply sleep late. So she’d come to our bedroom several times every morning to check and try to wake me up. I’d go “yeah, yeah, ….in a minute…” and then I’d fall asleep again.
I was a living zombie.
My wife was steaming (she told me years later). At the time I wasn’t aware how damaging my lifestyle was to me, my health, and my straight thinking, as well as others around me, such as my kids and my wife. As for the sleeping part, we slept physically next to each other only half of the time.
Going to bed: 9:00 PM
Waking up: 4:00 AM
Yeah. You read that right. 4:00 AM.
See, if you want to wake up at 4:00 AM, you need to be disciplined. You need to have ironclad willpower. And an iron will I had, because that was the time when I made most of the substantial changes in my life, my business, and my marriage.
Early mornings are incredibly rewarding. It’s peaceful. It’s beautiful. At 4:00 AM all the usual noise is muted down to almost complete silence. It’s magical to work and be able to observe the dawn, with daylight starting to emerge. Let me tell you this, you can get a LOT of things done before other people even open their eyes.
This was also the time when I wrote most of my books. So, in as little as eight months I went from one extreme (going to bed at 2:00 AM) to another one (waking up at 4:00 AM). That’s almost a 100% U-turn.
But there was a downside, which kind of brings home the point of this post.
Not so long ago my wife told me that even though she was pleased that I changed my unhealthy sleeping pattern, SHE personally was not happy. Every day I’d go to bed at 9:00 PM, and she would watch TV alone. Then I would wake up in the middle of the night when she was still sleeping. We shared our bed physically just a couple of hours every day.
Again, she was alone in the evenings.
Going to bed: 10:00-10:30 PM
Waking up: Mon-Wed-Fri 6:00 AM (gym). Other days 7:00 AM.
So we went on a trip overseas. As it usually happens on a trip to a foreign country, it’s really difficult to maintain the same lifestyle as at home. That is kind of the point of going on vacation, right?. Anyway, the jet lag and different time zone contributed to the fact that my “monk-like” early bird schedule got all messed up. When I got back, it wasn’t the same anymore.
So I modified my sleeping schedule again. But with a big difference.
My wife and would now go to bed at around 10:30 PM together. Can you imagine? After 15 years of marriage, we actually went to bed together?! Then, we’d snuggle and cuddle before slowly drifting into sleep.
When Your Spouse is in Bed, Should You Be There Too?
My verdict is…. definitely YES.
And you don’t need to do that every day. It’s fine if sometimes you go out with the girls or he goes with his friends. It’s no problem if you stay up late to binge watch Netflix or catch a favorite game.
Lastly, going to bed at the same time is not a silver bullet. It will not magically solve all of your problems. But doing so at least a couple of times per week will contribute to a much deeper intimacy, feelings of closeness, and security.
That, to me, sounds like a good start.
So, if your spouse is in bed, be there too.
You won’t be sorry.