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Carolyn Hax: Must snoring and light sleeping drive a couple apart?

(Nick Galifianakis/For The Washington Post)
3 min

Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi Carolyn! This seems low-stakes given the state of the world, but it’s really dragging my family down. My husband has become an extremely light sleeper (stress!), and I snore. Last spring, I did three sleep studies, got diagnosed with sleep apnea and got a CPAP machine. It’s not working. I’ve tried many different masks, and I keep having the doctor increase the pressure, but I’m still snoring audibly all night. I have follow-up appointments with my sleep doc and ENT coming up, but in the meantime, my husband is so sleep-deprived that he walks around in a funk all day.

I know sleep deprivation is torture, but I’m starting to get resentful, too! I know the answer is for me to move out of the bedroom, at least temporarily — we don’t have a guest bedroom, but we do have a daybed in the family room — but how do I get over feeling resentful? Part of it is that he snores, too, but it doesn’t bother me. Also, my apnea is caused by a connective tissue disorder that causes me lots of pain every day, so it feels especially outside of my control. Thank you!

— Big Snorer

Big Snorer: Sleep separately. Alternate weeks on the daybed to preempt any resentment. Sleep is not to be trifled with; there is nothing low-stakes about it.

And stop resenting each other. Both conditions — the noise and the sensitivity to the noise — are involuntary.

Carolyn: Thanks for the advice. We both hate the concept of sleeping separately, but in practice we’re much happier when we do it.

— Big Snorer again

Big Snorer again: Yes, please give each other this gift. That is, if the gift of earplugs doesn’t suffice. Judging from my queue, there are about 10,000 different kinds on the market right now just for this.

Dear Carolyn: My mother-in-law, 73 and in good health, wants to move in with me and my spouse when her current lease expires. This would be a permanent move, and (she proposes) she would live in our basement, which is a more or less private space, though she would still need to use the family kitchen and a bathroom.

I am not enthusiastic about this arrangement. Although I love my mother-in-law, I feel as if my spouse and I have worked hard to build a home we enjoy, and I don’t want to lose the free use of any of it.

I would feel differently if there were health concerns. My spouse, however, is very unwilling to say no to my mother-in-law, so keeps stalling through all these circuitous conversations about logistics. When it comes down to it, I feel as if no should be a complete sentence, and I can’t quite see why it is so tough to treat it as such. My spouse does not want to share our space any more than I do, so I’m struggling with how to proceed.

— Struggling

Struggling: Oh my goodness, she needs to know right away. She needs to make plans. Please remind your spouse of that, and set a truth-by date — and a backup plan if they can’t or won’t just spit it out: You say it? Your spouse writes a letter? Something, anything, stat.

Telling Mom to take a hike is “so tough”; I don’t share your mystification. But this is a logistical 911, and the unwillingness to hurt her feelings today is really creating a mess for her tomorrow. Finding a place to grow old affordably amid love and support is one of the hardest damn things there is in America, no exaggeration. Putting it off isn’t kind.