"By going to bed earlier with my wife, I feel like I would miss out on having some 'me' time. Should I compromise on this and go to bed earlier?"
That was one of the listener dilemmas on this week's So You Think You're An Adult, where Barbara Scully and Declan Buckley join Moncrieff to offer advice to the nation.
My wife and I have been together a little over three years. For the first year and a half or so, we pretty much always went to bed together at the same time. However, things were simpler back then, she wasn’t working and I had a job with flexible hours. We usually would not go to bed till around 2am.
However, in the last year or so especially, she started working a strictly scheduled job from 9-5. She now avoids the late nights and tries to go to bed by 10. But I’m working from home with even more flexibility, so I still burn the midnight oil and stay up late. This has created a situation where we are constantly going to bed and waking up at different times.
My wife said to me she gets really sad that we don't go to bed at the same time anymore. I understand where she's coming from, but I find it difficult to force myself to sleep at 11, and I’ve really come to value the quiet nights. By going to bed earlier with her, I feel like I would miss out on having some "me" time. Should I compromise on this and go to bed earlier?
“I think a lot of people can relate to this - it’s partially down to the fact that the honeymoon phase of being together is kind of wearing off, and people are trying to negotiate the way they want to live in their own little part of the relationship.
“Being in bed alone isn’t a nice place to be, so I feel sorry for the person who goes to bed early.
“It always works out better if both parties can find a way to go to bed at the same time.
“There’s a lot of talk at the moment as well about sleep hygiene as well - about getting a good night’s sleep. That includes not being interrupted by some clown who has been up watching whatever in the middle of the night.
“There’s also what going to bed means… you get a chance to have a chat about things you mightn’t have had a chance to talk about. Obviously, there’s the escalation of any other type of intimacy that might present itself at that moment. All that’s being brushed aside by someone saying ‘I want some me time’.
“I totally get where the complainant’s perspective is… but I’m not really sold on the ‘me time’ thing.
“Either they need to be a little bit more sympathetic to the wife’s perspective, or they need to communicate much clearer about what exactly they are gaining by not coming to bed at a similar time.”
“Declan painted this lovely picture of going to bed together and your mind emptying out and all that nonsense. That is lovely, but it’s not real life.
“In reality, the world is made up of night owls and early birds. It just sounds like here one is a night owl, and one is an early bird. Just because you’re in a relationship with somebody doesn’t mean you’re both going to have your body clocks be exactly the same.
“The one thing I agree with [Declan about] is that three years in, the honeymoon period is over. Unless there’s a reason to go to bed early - and I’m assuming this letter isn’t about their sex life - I really don’t understand what the problem is.
“I don’t think most couples end up being completely synchronised like that.
“If she is upset about it… yeah [you should compromise], but only occasionally. I totally get the ‘me time’. Occasionally, he could go to bed a bit earlier to make her feel better… or occasionally she could stay up a bit later, maybe at the weekend.
"I don’t think it should all be him having to go to bed early because she’s upset - I think they should accommodate each other on occasion.”