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Is Only One of You a Morning Person?

Married Morning Person
Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena

“Good morning! It’s a GREAT day isn’t it?!” If you’re a night person, those words can get on your nerves, can’t they?  What do you do if your spouse starts their morning like Tigger, full of energy, zest, and optimism…and you need lots of coffee and quiet to prepare for the day ahead? To you, Proverbs 27:14 is a deeply held value: “Whoever blesses his neighbor (or spouse) with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.”

On the other hand, if you are winding down for a quiet evening of relaxation and going to bed and your spouse seems increasingly hyper and energetic as evening comes, how do you handle that? They want to go out for late night ice cream or tacos. Or they have an evening project the two of you can complete. Maybe they want to engage you in a long conversation and you’re ready to zone out.

How can you navigate and build your marriage connection  when one of you is a morning person and the other is a night person? You both want to connect with each other, but your optimal biological connecting schedule is different. Here are four things you can do to navigate your oppositional daily rhythms:

1. Be respectful of how they are wired.

Research has shown that people are born with different “chronotypes” and circadian rhythms. Trying to get your spouse to match your sleep pattern may be a losing battle. Efforts to change them, shame them, or convince them to stay up with you or get up with you can feel unloving and even disrespectful to them. In fact, it can lead to their lower productivity and even declining health. 

Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” In this case, you have the privilege of helping your spouse get the best rest possible and adapting to their sleep patterns. And that leads to #2 which is…

2. Be flexible with your plans.

The best window for you to connect is when you are each at your sharpest. Ideally on the weekend this can be from late morning to early evening. Is there an important conversation you need to have? Don’t plan it for 8 a.m. or 9 p.m. Perhaps late afternoon or early evening when you are both home from work is best. Or hire a sitter and have a date night.

You may have to be creative in figuring out your optimal “alert” hours are as a couple, but try to do mind and energy consuming activities in those optimal windows of time. 

3. Appreciate the natural “air.”

Several years ago we were considering working closely together in a local church setting. We decided to get some wise counsel and call Bob, a professional Christian counselor who knows us well. Bob pointed out that we work closely with Build Your Marriage, writing and doing marriage conference speaking. He then said these wise words, “Every relationship needs a little air.” For us, that made sense and we didn’t pursue the church idea any further. 

As a couple with two different sleep patterns, you have micro-windows of natural “air” in your relationship on most days as one of you sleeps. Embrace that as a gift of time when you can engage in work or other activities that you find personally meaningful. 

4. Go to bed together.

We know that sounds counterintuitive since you’re trying to respect each other’s sleep patterns. But hear us out. In many marriages one spouse is the night owl and they don’t lay down with their spouse. They stay up and play video games, do work for their job, clean, watch TV, cook, but rarely go to bed with their spouse. 

In our article, Take the Cuddle Challenge, we share scientific research that shows how touch releases oxytocin which has been described as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin relaxes us, slows us down, improves our sex life, and has other health benefits. Just going to bed together and cuddling at the end of the day improves your marriage. 

You may choose to get up after your spouse is asleep. Or maybe you read an ebook in bed, or watch a movie on your tablet with earphones. No matter how you spend your evening as a night owl, we believe it’s important to finish the day with oxytocin flowing and the two of you enjoying the shared intimacy of going to bed together. 

Start with these four ideas on navigating your natural sleep patterns and adjust to what works best for each of you. As you do you’ll grow closer together and you will build your marriage.