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The Early Riser and the Night Owl: How to Make It Work

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It can be easy to reach the point in your marriage where you are like passing ships in the night. That point where you go about your daily business and your relationship becomes almost a side note. Little conversation other than “arrangements” and schedules happens, and you just keep it moving.

The early riser/night owl conflict

This becomes even more challenging when one of you is an early riser and the other a night owl. It means one of you is sleeping while the other is awake. It could also mean that while one of you is at your peak energy level, the other is not, which just happens to be a great setting for clashing.

My wife and I are kind of in that boat. I prefer to rise early, and she’d much rather stay in her bed for an extra hour or so. While we both are at home throughout the day (I work from home and she home schools plus directs our kids’ homeschooling community), that part about our peak energy and focus time definitely doesn’t mesh.

My peak time is early in the morning. I’m usually a big sloth beginning around 9pm. Although I may not go to bed super early, I’m mentally gone and am not much use to anybody by that time. (Just ask my kids how many times I’ve fallen asleep before them or in their room, waiting to put them to bed.)

On the other hand, my wife wouldn’t mind an evening run to the store or starting a late movie on Netflix, no matter how late it is. But if I try to share my ideas or have a deep conversation in the morning with her when she first wakes up, she doesn’t want to hear it and only about half of it probably even registers with her.

The early riser/night owl solution

Needless to say, this issue has led to some miscommunication, or lack of communication at best, during our relationship. Knowing this scenario won’t help our relationship long-term and that we are just missing out on each other, we’ve tried to find ways to make it work better. If you are in the same boat, here are some suggestions to help you:

1. Sacrifice something

While one of you doesn’t have to switch up and morph into an early riser or night owl, you may have to sacrifice something. We’ve found the best possible way for us to get some quality time when we both are coherent is by putting the kids to bed early, consistently. By putting them to bed early, (i.e. starting bedtime at 7:30pm and being done by 8:30pm), then we’re done before I’ve mentally crashed and we have at least 30 minutes together. While getting our kids down early is a challenge, that 30 minutes before my mental crash time can be the spark to keep me up and focused for another 30 minutes or more.

2. Add something you both like

Last year we began working out in the morning. My wife doesn’t enjoy the morning, but having something productive to do encouraged her to rise early. Since we were active, it also got her blood flowing and “worked her up” so she was focused. Not much talking happens during the workout, but afterwards there will be time for a great conversation about how much fun the two of you had burning those calories together!

3. Find time during the day

Some friends of ours have a great method for this. The husband is the early riser, and the wife is not. What they’ve done is schedule a lunch during the day that is blocked out on both calendars and gives them the time they desire away from work, away from kids, and even away from home. It’s a great solution.

While matching an early riser and night owl can present some challenges when it comes to spending quality time alone and having great conversation, it’s not impossible. With a little sacrifice, creativity, and intent, you can do it — and you just may create some new habits in your relationship.

Are you an early riser married to a night owl, or vice versa? How do you make it work?

Read more from Jackie on his blog, JackieBledsoe.com, or receive his Babble posts in your inbox plus all his relationship posts from around the web by subscribing to his weekly newsletter!

photo credit: anieto2k via photopin cc

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