While this site usually deals with marriage problems like broken trust, marital boredom or constant arguing, there is another very common issue that can sink a marriage, even if it does so slowly, night after night…night after night…and that issue is very loud snoring.
Like many marriage challenges, the amount of grief and conflict this problem causes largely depends on how both spouses handle themselves.
Here’s a scenario one client described to me: “I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years. My husband snores so loudly that it is unbearable. If I nudge him to sleep on his side, he wakes up and barks at me, saying that he can only sleep on his back. I’ve asked him to go to the doctor, but he says there’s nothing wrong with him, and it’s my fault because I’m a light sleeper. I even recorded him so he could hear how loud he gets, but he just got mad and said I was being childish for recording him. The last time I complained about it, he told me to exercise before bed so I was more tired.”
Here, we have a wife who is suffering from sleep deprivation. But that’s not her only problem. Her husband’s attitude—getting mad at her and making it seem like it’s her fault—isn’t helping matters. In fact, it’s his uncaring attitude far more than his loud snoring that has the potential to cause real damage to this marriage.
Of course, he’s probably not getting the best night’s sleep either. He’s being nudged and woken up, and he may feel embarrassed that she recorded him without his knowledge. He might even feel like it’s an invasion of his privacy.
Loud snoring is one of those issues that can have a web-like effect in a relationship. When a person feels run down and disrespected, and when their partner arrogantly ignores their complaints or feelings—or just turns the blame onto them—that leads to a resentment that spreads throughout the marriage to harm all parts of it, from spending to sexual intimacy and everything in between.
If your spouse is a loud snorer, I suggest you broach the subject when the timing is right—that is, when you’re both feeling rested and are getting along well. There’s no point trying to bring up a touchy subject when you’re already in a bad mood. When you do bring it up, make it a “we” problem instead of just his problem. Let him know that you don’t like to keep nudging him and waking him up, as you want him to be well-rested and healthy. At the same time, advocate for your own well-being in a firm but respectful way. You need sleep too. A lack of sleep can lead to more than marriage problems. It can lead to health problems too.
If you think you know the reason for his snoring, you can offer suggestions with tact and kindness: it may be that a lifestyle change is in order, one that you can undertake together. Taking off excess weight may help in some situations. If you don’t know the reason for it, there is nothing wrong with asking your spouse to visit his doctor to ask for advice or further investigation. It may be that sleep apnea is factoring into this, and there are ways to manage that.
Yet in many situations, it will come down to you and your husband working together—isn’t that what marriage is all about?—to find a solution that works for both of you. It may be that a mouth guard helps, or nose strips, or nasal mists, or even experimenting with the temperature in the bedroom or investing in a new mattress or an adjustable bed. There are even wristbands that buzz when someone snores, prompting them to shift position (hopefully before they get that elbow to the arm!).
Now, it must be said—women snore too. Of course they do. Everything I’ve said here pertains to the reverse situation. I’ve simply focused on husbands here, as in my experience, that is more prevalent and generally-speaking wives seem to have more trouble sleeping though a snoring husband than vice-versa.
So regardless of whether you’re the snorer or the snoree, or whether it’s your husband or wife who is shaking the walls, do your utmost to approach this problem together—with respect and as much patience as your red-eyed self can muster—until you find a solution. If your snoring spouse is cooperative and empathetic, be sure to show love and appreciation for that. If they are not cooperative or empathetic, then chances are you have more pervasive problems in your marriage, ones that may need to be addressed in a larger sense.