Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Grow up and accept husband falling asleep in front of TV
Q: I've been married for a year. Several times a week, my husband falls asleep in the basement watching TV and never makes it to bed. This has been an issue for us since day one. I've explained to him that I believe sleeping together (not sex, just physical closeness) is critical in a marriage, and that I will not stay in a marriage where we don't share a bed! I've also told him it hurts me when he doesn't come to bed — makes me feel undesirable, and that he does not care enough about my feelings to make the effort.
We're in counseling. I've gotten mad. I've pleaded. I've cried. I've acted passive-aggressive. We have discussed this 100 times. I suggested that he set an alarm. That he just not stay in the basement after I go to bed. Nothing has changed. I am beyond frustrated, feeling unheard and lonely.
It seems silly to consider an ultimatum over something like this, but at the same time, I really do not want to settle for sleeping in separate rooms — or to acknowledge that things may never change. Am I being unreasonable?
Really, Really in Need of Advice!
A: I'm sorry, I think you are being unreasonable. Unless you're ready to fight daily or divorce him over this, the only choice you have is to accept that he frequently sleeps downstairs.
I say this as a member of your camp, by the way. I agree closeness is important. But part of the reason I think it's important is that it's part of an iconic image of a happy couple, where they just like having the other person there, where solitude feels funny because you're so used to hearing the rhythmic breath of your sleeping mate. It's also important because two people are freely choosing this proximity.
Well, you don't have this marriage.
A happy couple doesn't fit anyone's mold, though, so it's not as if your sleeping arrangements stand as the last word on your marriage. But they will be if you don't face up to the fact of the marriage you have.
It's time to stop forcing this issue, to grieve if you have to, and then to start figuring out what you do have. See if you can fall in love with the reality of your husband as hard as you've fallen for the idea of What a Marriage Should Look Like.
Another reader chimes in:
I have to disagree.
The TV-snoozing husband obviously knows it seriously ticks off his wife when he conks out in the basement. Yet he continues to do so. I would look beyond how petty she's being (and it is kind of minor) to how he's reacting to her peeve. That to me is more telling about the state of their marriage than whether they actually sleep in the same room.
A: Likewise, it could seriously tick him off that she's so insistent on imposing her rules on him. Her pettiness is not minor, kind of or otherwise.
Yet she is badgering him, which is wrong. He, meanwhile, is failing to deal with her badgering and is instead hiding in the basement, which is wrong. People need room to be themselves.