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Hi, Carolyn: My husband of many years won't go to bed. At bedtime. Or within hours of any reasonable bedtime. We have to get up for kids and dog in the morning, plus I go to work.
He has always had executive-function and time-management issues and has excellent mental health care, but this lately is too much. I'm recovering from a concussion and I need sleep. I will turn in early, he'll be up a bit, I wake a couple of times and wonder where he is? He's downstairs doing a puzzle or whatever.
Finally he drags himself to bed and then I am wide-awake wondering how my spouse, who says he cares about me, can be so careless and inconsiderate. For months at a time.
We disagree about this every night. I am ready to move out of our shared room, as maybe that would get his attention and I could stop waking up wondering whether he is ever turning in. Am I missing something?
— Sleepless in Seattle
Sleepless in Seattle: Move out of your shared room.
But not to get his attention, and not in a huff — but instead just to get some sleep.
Well, not “just”: Do it also to get out the trap of managing a competent adult’s bedtime.
If he’s not waking up “for kids and dog”? Then wake him up. Otherwise it’s his business when and how he sleeps — meaning you’re currently up half the night with a boundary problem.
In time, when you’re healed, you can reassess about sharing a room.
Don’t let tired symbolism influence you. If you love each other, then you love each other; rested, you’ll love each other more.
And please shut off the how-much-he-cares-about-me meter. That’s not only an extension of the boundary issue, but also as sure a torment as multiple stress-wakeups per night. His executive-function issues aren’t personal. And, to my knowledge and at this writing, there’s no amount of excellent health care that erases all traces of these conditions.
Finally, in general: When you disagree about something every night “for months at a time” without progress, then you need to look for a different change from the one you’ve envisioned. Futility is an answer to your question, too, even when it’s not the answer you want.
Dear Carolyn: Our son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first baby next year.
They're sharing their news and ultrasound pics with the whole world via Facebook — an almost hourly update, early in the pregnancy. What happens if, heaven forbid, something goes wrong?
They've also already named the baby. We don't know what to make of the clunker they want to saddle the little one with.
What if they ask us what we think of it? Should we say anything at all? Should we speak to our daughter-in-law's parents?
We generally respect our kids' choices and really, really don't want to be buttinskies. We're just at a loss.
Bewildered: You practice the art of saying absolutely nothing except congratulations, great photo, what a creative name.
If calamity strikes, they’ll have to manage.
You had your kids. You had your choices. You had, I hope, room to make any mistakes that didn’t pose imminent danger.
And you have the right idea not to buttinsky. Really.
Goodwill dividends await.