Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi Carolyn: My husband loves to keep our house lit with high-wattage fluorescent lighting. I prefer natural light.
I’m OK with the kitchen, living room and office looking like a prison yard, but when it comes to the bedroom, I can’t get a decent night’s sleep unless it’s dark.
I say there are other places in the house to read, but there is only one place for me to sleep, so it should be lights out. He says it’s his bedroom too, and the way he relaxes before bed is by reading in bed.
I’ve tried compromising by using a sleep mask, which is uncomfortable and doesn’t really help with the whole relaxation thing. He’s tried to compromise by cutting the lighting down from three bright bulbs to two and by shutting the lights off earlier, but it’s still later than I need (I get up for work 90 minutes before he does). A bedside reading lamp didn’t help because it’s still a bright light.
In our 10 years together, this is the only issue we’ve been unable to tackle! Can you think of anything we might have missed?
Well, from the way you’ve presented it, the only thing that’s missing is a partner who’s ready to stop being a jerk about getting his way all the time.
Keeping someone else awake with one’s own bedtime ritual is just not OK, nor is it OK for the sole compromise to be from three bulbs to two. What about a clip-on book light? What about an e-reader with a dimmer? Mine is readable with its screen dimmed to the point where it’s almost invisible to anyone else. The fact that he’s not concerned for your rest is disturbing, especially since his way has prevailed in every other room in the house. And since light is known to disturb sleep.
I’d be curious to read his take on this, because it’s hard to see how someone would justify the position he’s taking — and yet be agreeable on other issues.
If you’re able to have different bedrooms, that might be the only solution that makes sense with the facts as presented, though that still doesn’t address his inconsideration.
Re: Bedtime lighting: My husband and I have a similar issue — we decided on a time limit. For us, it’s lights out at 11 p.m., but that was negotiated, so choose whatever time works for you both. If I want to go to bed at 10, lights stay on till 11. If he wants to read past 11, he has to go somewhere else.
Re: Lighting: I feel there’s nothing wrong with a married couple with separate bedrooms. Assuming, of course, they visit each other’s beds for other activities.
About 10 years into our marriage, I had a serious emergency surgery that left me in severe pain for quite some time. Husband moved into the guest room; when I recovered, he moved back but we found we both loved having our own bedrooms. We each had the right number of blankets, temperature control, quiet, light, clutter, etc., so he moved back into his own room.
We’ve been married 30-plus years now and still going strong.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at washingtonpost.com.