Every week, Dear Prudence answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.
Q. I’m dreaming of a single bed: My husband’s sleeping habits are getting worse and worse and I don’t know what else to do.
We are both in our mid-30s and have been together for six years. He has always snored, but over the last two years it has become so much worse. It doesn’t even just include snoring anymore—he tosses and turns all night long, steals the blankets, and gets restless legs and kicks me hard, multiple times per night.
Now at this point, I would like to say that I am a person who has some sensory issues, particularly related to sound and noise, but that has never really impacted my sleep until now. As long as it is reasonably quiet, I sleep really well. In fact, I used to sleep so heavily that when my husband and I first got together, his snoring wasn’t that bothersome. Then about two years ago, I started waking up in the middle of the night suddenly, as though someone had screamed in my ear, and then wasn’t able to get back to sleep due to his snoring. I brought it up with my doctor, who put me on anti-anxiety medication. It helped a bit, but not enough, so I tried all kinds of earplugs, but they all hurt my ears. I also tried a white noise machine and a fan … turns out I hate white noise! The problem has persisted and worsened, with me often moving to the couch or kicking him to the couch so I can get some decent sleep at least a few nights a week.
I have asked him to talk to his doctor about this, since the symptoms are painfully consistent and getting worse, and all this paired with pandemic weight gain … I am worried about his health. And honestly, my own. He knows that I am sleeping more poorly now than I ever have, and how that’s affecting me overall. Again, I say this as someone who was previously a great sleeper! I’m now taking a sleep aid in addition to the anxiety meds, and have all but given up caffeine. All this to still spend two to three nights a week on the couch in my own home, four to five nights a week sleeping apart from my husband, and still waking up with bruises on my legs.
He has steadfastly refused to bring it up with his doctor, saying that she will diagnose him with sleep apnea and he doesn’t want a sleep apnea machine. Well, frankly, if he needs one, he needs one! And besides, that isn’t the only therapy that a doctor could suggest for this.
In my worst moments, at 3 a.m. when I’m wide awake and staring at his handsome face in rage, I fantasize about leaving him. I dream about my own tranquil apartment where I sleep peacefully night after night. The other part of me remembers my vows, “in sickness and in health,” and thinks, This is where the rubber hits the road and this is supposed to be hard, but it’s part of marriage and the commitment we made. But I can’t go on like this. What should I do?
A: You say your husband knows how this is affecting you, but does he really, really know? I think you need a super serious, clear, sit-down talk about how you are suffering physically and mentally and beginning to question whether you can stay in the relationship under these circumstances. I mean, he’s giving you bruises!
If he doesn’t care about that, he doesn’t care about you. If he refuses to get help, he should at the very least volunteer to stay on the couch every night, starting not after he has already destroyed your sleep, but at bedtime.
For the past six months, my husband has been distant, secretive, and impatient with me while also being in frequent contact with his cousin’s wife. I assumed there was an affair, but it turns out that he was helping her to leave a domestic abuse situation, and she had sworn him to secrecy. They both swear that nothing happened, and I believe them.
The problem is that it doesn’t help. For the past two months, in my head, I’ve been emotionally on my way out the door. I’ve talked to lawyers, investigated my options for rentals closer to work, and been unhappy but ready to leave. Now that I’ve discovered I was wrong about my husband, I still feel ready to go. My mother and sister think I’m being ridiculous and that he’s a hero.