Balancing Life / Marriage

Internal Clocks – Whose Schedule Wins?

For those of you who read my blog often, you know that I think Harry and I are uber compatible.  Did I just say that?  I mean, a really good match.  I’ve been hanging around my kids too much.

But, if I were pressed to give an area where we simply don’t jive, it’s our internal clocks. Left to his own devices he would go to bed at sundown or before and rise before sun up.  He is much like an old man in that he eats dinner between 4-5 pm and falls asleep between 5-7 pm and rising around 1-2 am.  I say that joking, but it’s true!

My internal clock wants to eat dinner around 8 pm and fall asleep around midnight and wake around 8 am.  Sounds perfect to  me!  Our compromise when we married was that he would stay awake until 9:30 and rise around 3:30 and I would go to bed with him and rise around 6:00.

So far, it hasn’t worked out that good.  Because he’s so busy with work, he always feels like he has to get the most out of his day.  He’s toast after 3 pm so the earlier he wakes up, the more he gets done.  This has led to many nights with him going up to bed around as soon after he eats as possible.  6 or 7 pm is just way too early for me.  I can’t do it.

One of the reasons we first became friends is because he was online at 1 am when I couldn’t fall asleep.  I have terrible insomnia.  We’d chat because he was up already working away.

For those of you who know the 5 love languages, both Harry and I have quality time at the top of our list.  It matters so much to us, we don’t ever want to take it for granted.  And yet, TIME has been Harry’s most precious commodity.

I think it’s really important to go to bed together, but until his work is less demanding, I’m not sure we’re going to.  I have hope in all things because everything he’s said has happened…eventually.  I know he doesn’t tell me things because I want to hear them.  I think he really wants to get to that place where he can go up to bed around 9.  So this is one of those areas, where I just have to be patient and believe, eventually we’ll get there.

When he’s gone on business trips, I revert to my old schedule.  I exercise during the time he likes to eat.  I’m way more active and then end up eating around 8 like “normal” for me.  The schedule works for me and if I had my choice, it is how things would go everyday.  I’m happy for the times I get to have my normal routine.  But I would never choose it over being with him.  In fact, I’m glad I don’t get “my way.”

Two people with very different body clocks got married, who LOVE each other’s company, and want to spend all the time we can with each other.  So we make do.  When he’s home I exercise at the gym around 3 or 4pm instead and eat dinner a bit earlier.  I get to spend his downtime in the evening with him and then he goes to sleep.  I try to go to bed as early as I can.

While it isn’t perfect (and really what is?) , I know he is pushing it so that we get a couple hours together.  He has so many clients gnawing at him for his time, I know what little time I get is a conscious choice on his part to make me a priority in his life.  And I think that is where all of this becomes ok.

It isn’t like he’s saying, well I don’t really care about you, this works for me, so have a good evening, see you tomorrow.  He actually hates to pull himself away and march up to bed.  And sometimes, I’m the one reminding him of all that is on his table and due the next day. Sometimes I’m the one taking his hand and leading him to his pillow.  It’s all about the heart…not the circumstances.

I had a friend who was married to a woman who would literally do her own thing in the evening until around 8 pm and then go to bed.  Sometimes she would sit with him on the couch to watch tv but would often fall asleep, so it wasn’t like they were getting much quality time together.  He felt so alone in the evening and wouldn’t go to bed until 2 or 3 am most nights.  She would get up at the crack of dawn and be gone before he woke up.  They were like ships that pass in the night.  It left him feeling so lonely and like he didn’t matter.

I remember asking him if sometimes he’d follow her into bed and he said that when he did he was just ignored anyway.  And it seemed she never made much of an effort to adjust for him.

Another couple I know of, the wife did all the adjusting to the husbands habits.  She used to go to sleep fairly early with earplugs in perfect darkness and silence.  But when they got married, suddenly she is a night owl and they’ve moved a television into the bedroom and keep it on all night because that is the only way he can sleep.  The flashing light alone would be enough to drive me crazy, but the volume is way up too.  More power to her, if she can adjust that much.  But it all seems very one-sided to me.

Harry actually likes going to sleep with noise too.  But what he does, is plays whatever he wants to listen to as he’s going to sleep and sets it on timer.  He knows he falls sleep in the first 5 minutes anyway.  This way, when I come up to bed, I don’t have to deal with the noise.  It’s thoughtful and is a compromise.  When we go to sleep together we usually talk instead, and he gets relaxed enough to drift off.

With Harry and I, it is this way because it has to be right now, not because either one of us is not considering the other.  Because neither one of us “WIN”  I think we both do.  Because marriage is about compromise and about wanting the best for the other person.  It’s not about getting your way, or making someone else change.

He flies in from Philadelphia on Friday night.  I already miss him so much.  He’s booked a hotel by LAX again for me to pick him up.  Don’t worry, this time, no sitting alone at the lounge and no talking to handsome foreign or domestic men!

He thought his flight was coming in at midnight again but just realized today he’d be in by about 10:30 pm.  Almost three hours earlier.  So this was our conversation today.

Harry: Baby, just so you know I’m really gonna push it tonight.  I’ll go to bed like normal after I eat dinner but when I wake up around 11 pm I’m just gonna stay awake and power through until 2pm when I have to leave for the airport.  I’ll get about three hours sleep but I can sleep on the plane.  I have two hours to Chicago and another couple hours to LA.  But now that I know I’m coming in early, we can even go out on Friday if you want?

This is just like Harry…he always tries to make me happy.  Even if the schedule he keeps seems like torture to anyone else.  I know if he can, he would rather be out having fun with me.  I also know, that when he says he can’t it’s not because he doesn’t want to.

I told him we’d play it by ear and see how he feels when he gets in.  Hanging out at a Sheraton, enjoying the gym, and the club, and the view is enough of a treat for me.  If we get to go out and have some fun, all the better.  But not if it makes him miserable.

So, when he’s away, I will have my evening runs, and eat when I want.  And when he’s around, I will do the same for him that he does for me.  I will make the most of what little time we get together and make it my priority to give him happiness.

We both win because it’s truly not about winning.



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