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Dear Parents: Sleep Scorekeeping is Probably Eroding Your Marriage

Because here’s the thing: When you have a newborn, sleep deprivation is expected. You and your partner are (probably) in it together and, while it’s not enjoyable, there’s shared sympathy. But as time goes on and lack of sleep becomes normalized, there’s less acknowledgment and validation of the experience.

Leigh, 37, from New Hampshire agrees: “When my son was four months old, even though I was nursing and therefore the main person required for wakeups, my husband would at least try to join me in solidarity, writes Purewow. Or have my coffee ready in the morning—a form of recognition! But now that he’s four and still sleeping horizontally in our bed most nights, I’m acutely aware that I’m the only one missing out on sleep while my husband snores—or worse, wakes up to climb into my kid’s unoccupied bed.”

A better approach than simply grousing about it? If you find you’re frequently keeping score with your partner over sleep (or anything), sit down weekly to discuss each other’s wants, feelings and needs.

“Schedule it in your calendar and when sticky topics—like sleep—come up, instead of reactively expressing your frustration, try a more helpful format like ‘I have been feeling exhausted lately and waking up repeatedly. Could you handle the morning shift so that I can try to catch up? Or cover bedtime so that I can chill out/go to bed early?’” Freeman says. [In other words, insert your best-case solution here.]

Bottom line: Find time to listen to each other in an environment where you can both be calm (ie: not the middle of the night) and problem solve together. Oh—and don’t hate us for saying this—but allowing each other to get more sleep helps too.

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