It’s well known that snoring doesn’t just affect the person who’s doing it, it affects their partner as well. In the wee hours of the night we all have the same goal: to get a peaceful night’s rest. Being the partner of someone who snores can be quite a challenge, especially if the snoring disturbs you to the point where sleeping comfortably is impossible. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and if your partner’s snoring is making that tricky, something has to be done. Unfortunately broaching the subject of snoring may be rather touchy. This is why it’s important to face the issue together, and make sure that both you and your partner’s feelings aren’t hurt in the process. To that end, we spoke with six relationship experts who can help us understand when to say something, how to say it and what to expect.
How soon after you notice the issue is it time to bring it up to your partner? Dr. Margaret Paul says that, in an ideal situation, the answer to that is “Right away.” Paul is a bestselling author, popular Huffington Post writer, as well as being the co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding self-healing process, and the related SelfQuest self-healing software program. Paul feels that in a loving relationship it behooves the non-snoring partner to be gentle and kind as they bring it up, and the snorer to spend less time worrying about feeling criticized and more time feeling concerned and caring. If both parties express a sincere interest in supporting each other, the time and method for bringing up a topic of this nature matters a bit less. However, there are still some things to consider.
I suggest not waiting too long to bring up the issue of snoring. In fact, if you can bring it up the very first time you can’t sleep, that’s best. If you wait, then your partner may think it was fine all along, and will feel a bit betrayed if you acted as if it was okay when it wasn’t. If snoring is having any effect at all on your sleep, then gently and kindly bring it up. There are always minor things in relationships that can be overlooked, but not sleeping is not one of them.
Before you bring it up, it’s important to have a solution in mind; other than your partner doing something about his or her snoring. For example, you might say something like, “I’m having a hard time sleeping with your snoring, so when I can’t sleep I’m going to go into the other room.” This way your partner won’t feel pressured to change, which might lead to resistance and defensiveness. It’s important not to bring it up as a criticism of your partner, but rather sharing something about yourself. You can also ask your partner if he or she has any other ideas of how to handle this.
As any relationship expert will tell you, honesty is the best policy, and Dr. Gary Chapman is no different. Chapman is the author of the bestselling The 5 Love Languages series, which has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 49 languages. Chapman says approaching the problem with the intention to work together to find a solution that works for the both of you is the best way to get results.
Being open and honest with your partner about the snoring or other conflicts is always the best plan. The best way to approach the subject is with a desire to find a resolution. It will be helpful if you express a willingness to help find one that works for both of you. If your partner understands that the reason for bringing up the subject is to solve the problem, and you’re expressing sincere interest in their welfare and yours, you can help them see the problem(s) the snoring is creating in your life. Then you are able to discuss the subject with the goal of finding a solution. When you approach the topic be sure not to attack the person, instead address the problem.
If you’re taking the time to consider when and how to bring up the subject of snoring, you may as well spend some time thinking about where. April Masini says that it’s no insignificant consideration. Masini, nicknamed “The new millennium’s Dear Abby” by the media, writes the critically acclaimed Ask April advice column. Masini feels that some neutral ground could make both partners feel better about the discussion.
I suggest using neutral ground. If your partner is sensitive, in general, it’s best to broach this topic out of the bedroom — and better yet, out of the house. Over lunch at a restaurant, during a walk, or at the gym are all better places to start a conversation about a snoring problem. A more neutral venue can sanitize the conversation so it doesn’t feel like you’re blaming anyone. It’s also less likely that the conversation will end because of household distractions like pets, the mail or a delivery. And nobody gets to storm off, angry, into a bedroom or to the television! Neutral venues are great for any sensitive subject.
Many snorers realize that they snore, and also, are sympathetic to the fact that it may be disruptive. However, for some, their snoring may come as news to them. Dr. Jane Greer says it’s natural for a snorer to feel embarrassed about their snoring. Greer is a New York based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship. She also posts regularly on DrJaneGreer.com. Greer feels that it’s important to get your partner to understand that they do indeed snore, and that it is affecting your sleep all while keeping accusation out of it.
You can handle your partner’s reactions by not presenting it in a critical, blaming way as if the person is doing it on purpose. Present it as if they don’t know it – “I bet you don’t know this, but you actually snore!” Tell them it’s becoming regular and consistent, and explain it’s a problem for you when you’re sleeping. When they try to deny it, you can say, “I know you don’t think so because you’re asleep, but I know you do. I can record you so you can understand what I’m dealing with.” If they’re embarrassed, tell them a lot of people snore and reassure them you don’t blame them and know it’s just something that happens out of their control. Show your concern for them. It’s important to keep it out of the accusatory conversation. Be open about it and present it as a joint problem. Be open to coming up with options for a solution together.
Once you and your partner have committed to working together to find a solution there are a number of different ways to go about it including: lifestyle changes, sleeping position, anti-snoring devices or even surgery. Minnesota marriage therapist Elizabeth D. Thomas pulls from her own experiences and says that finding the right solution is also about negotiating a compromise.
I’m pretty sure I told my husband the very first night when I was unable to fall, or stay asleep. He knew he snored, and I didn’t say it with anger or annoyance. I was just tired the next morning and knew I could not repeat that night’s sleep! A serious question is how far the non-snorer is willing to accommodate being in the same bed and if the snorer has any opinion on sharing the same bed. For my husband and I, there was no question we both wanted to share a bed, so he tried some products that didn’t work well and hurt his skin, and I figured out how to block the noise. I think I’ve tried every ear plug on the marketplace, and am now, 10 years into my marriage, I’m unable to sleep well without ear plugs, even when I travel without him!
Steve Cooper of Hitched, an online magazine dedicated to entertaining, educating and inspiring married couples, feels that the inconvenience of snoring is reason enough to explore solutions, but it’s also worth mentioning your partner’s health to help motivate them.
Rather than just telling your spouse they need to stop snoring, which is something they can’t consciously control, suggest a few solutions they can implement. The solution can be as simple as changing sleeping positions or even the pillow. Other solutions–such as losing weight–will take some time, but could bring you closer together if you accept the challenge together. If they continue to resist, you can explain how snoring isn’t just bothersome, but you’re concerned for their health. Sleep apnea has been associated with heart problems, daytime fatigue and many other issues.
There is no one-size-fits-all fix for snoring, and solving the issue may take some extra effort. Taking the time to present the issue to your partner in a caring and gentle way shows that you are concerned about both of your feelings. Having a few potential solutions locked and loaded shows that you’re serious about working together to solve the issue. There are some great anti-snoring devices, ranging from the simple to the extreme, on the market that may help tremendously. One thing is for sure, if you’ve chosen a good time, method, place and solution to your partner’s snoring – you’re on your way back to a good night’s rest.