Among the dangers of snoring is that it can lead to some serious domestic conflicts, even domestic violence if not properly addressed. And what many partners find almost as hard to deal with as the snoring itself is the way their partner constantly ignores complaints about snoring.
When this issue comes up in our office (or a counsellor’s), it turns out that the snoring partner is often a very considerate and caring individual otherwise, which makes the snoring issue even more hurtful and contentious. So why do people respond dismissively or just give excuses about their snoring?
People Don’t Know How Bad Their Snoring Is
You say their snoring is terrible, but that’s not how they see it. After all, they’re sleeping when they’re snoring. How bad can their snoring be if they’re able to sleep through it? And if they can sleep through it, why can’t you?
You might try to help them see how bad their snoring is by recording the sound, but that rarely conveys just how loud and disruptive their snoring is, and it can even cause other problems (see below).
Poor Sleep Is Sapping Their Empathy
Whenever trying to address snoring with your partner, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one being disturbed by their snoring. They may look like they’re peacefully sleeping, but the truth is that they are probably being awakened several times through the night, possibly hundreds of times a night, if they have sleep apnea, which is more common in loud snorers.
And when a person isn’t getting good sleep, empathy is one of the first things to go. It’s a higher brain function that requires good health and rest to operate. When they’re not sleeping well, either, they may be more likely to respond with a hostile fight response than try to talk about the problem.
Irritability Escalates the Situation
Not only does sleep make it hard to put yourself in your partner’s situation, it can make you more irritable and angry. With both you and your partner walking on glass because you’re not getting sleep, once one of you brings up the sensitive topic, the other can respond angrily, which brings an angrier response in return, and the situation tends to get worse and worse.
You Are Being a Jerk (from Their Perspective)
Here’s an empathy challenge, even though we know you’re short on sleep: think of the situation from their point of view. To them, this problem isn’t their fault, it’s your fault. You are the one who is constantly nudging them in the ribs at night, hitting them with a pillow, complaining, and even nagging about snoring every morning.
For example, if you confront them with a recording of their snoring, it can seem like an ambush. And recording them while they’re sleeping can seem like a violation of their privacy, even an exploitation of them while they’re vulnerable. Add to this the fact that your language and manner reflects the fact that you’re low on empathy and high on irritability, and you can see why they might not be completely responsive.
You Aren’t Proposing a Solution
One of the mistakes people make when talking about snoring is coming to their partner with the complaint. We understand how upset you are, and how much you want to air your grievances, but resist this temptation.
If you don’t have a solution, your partner will treat it as complaining for no reason. They will ignore you or respond with irritation. And then you’re fighting again. Instead, it’s best to do some research and have some recommendations about what can be done.
It’s also best if you can frame your recommendations in a loving way–snoring is a real health danger, and you are concerned about them. This combination can help make them more receptive to your suggestion.
Understanding Is the First Step
Snoring can be damaging to your relationship. It’s one of the leading causes of divorce, so if you want to continue to enjoy a happily married life, you need to try to be understanding.
Hopefully then you can get through to them that it’s important to get snoring treatment. And you’ll both sleep happily ever after.