The Couch is Not a Bed, Right?
September 12, 2013 10:35 PM   Subscribe

My significant other (with whom I share an apartment) falls asleep in front of the TV every night and sometimes doesn't make it to bed. I am annoyed. Should I be?

My boyfriend falls asleep in front of the television every night on the couch — never in the bed. He is mostly a wonderful human being, but he wakes up around 6:30 a.m. for work and usually falls asleep on the couch somewhere between 10:45pm and 12:00am. I think he truly needs 7-8 hours of sleep but wants to tell himself he can still stay up to 1 or 2 a.m. like he used to when he was younger, so he plops himself on the couch at 10, passes out in front of the tube, and then wakes up in the middle of the night and comes to bed anywhere between 12am and 4am. Sometimes later.

I am particularly bothered by a few consequences of this: One, he will suggest we watch a movie together, then fall asleep after I'm all involved in its stupid plot. Two, I end up with more housework, left to "close up" the house — lock the door, walk the dog, turn off the lights and make sure there's not food left out in the kitchen everynight. Three, it's gross: he doesn't brush his teeth at night. Four, it causes stress because he fails to set his alarm clock for the morning (so he wakes up late and curses in the morning).

Maybe most importantly, it prevents closeness. If we are not in the bed together in the evening, we are spending less time together and "spending" "less" "time" "together," if you know what I mean.

I try very hard not to enable this behavior. I don't mother him by "waking him up and asking him to come to bed." I do plug his phone in and set his alarm occasionally, because I hate that morning stress when he's late, but I am stopping that now. We tried having a TV in the bedroom but neither of us liked that idea. And the couch isn't even that comfortable to begin with.

Other than backing off and letting him experience the consequences of this, do I have a right to ask for different behavior? If so, how?
posted by amoeba to Human Relations (46 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Have you had this conversation with him? Specifically, tell him that you're upset, for all the reasons you've listed above. Ask him what he thinks you should do about it. Listen to what he has to say. Because while you don't get to dictate the bedtime of another adult, you're upset, and you're upset because of things he has some control over. And it sounds as though he's upset too sometimes. And if you talk about it, the two of you can try to work as a team to figure out how to make your mutual life better.

If you have had this conversation with him, or if you have it and nothing changes, then yes, I think you need to stop coddling him and let him suffer. In particular, wake him up half the time and make him walk the dog, and don't set his alarm, and don't let him curse at you when he's stressed out because of a situation he created.
posted by decathecting at 10:41 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

He needs to walk the dog, do dishes sometimes, and meet your "other" needs before 10:30, period. Those sound like problems wherever he sleeps. Then just decline invitations to watch movies that will go past 10:30. I think it would be fine to express a preference on remaining details like where he sleeps and when he brushes his teeth, but those don't sound like the key issues here (though good dental hygiene is certainly worth it on many levels).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:48 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]

My SO and I each fall asleep on the couch on occasions.

When one is asleep, and the other is retiring, the moving one will generally give the other a nudge and say "Oi, bedtime". Then we both go to bed.

Is there a reason you can't give him a nudge? I consider it a favour, as I prefer to wake up after a night in bed than a night on the couch. I don't get from your question whether this would upset him or you or what.
posted by pompomtom at 10:50 PM on September 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

Your #2 complaint about housework, in particular, doesn't need to be parceled in with falling asleep in front of the television, and I'd suggest you separate it. There shouldn't be any reason most of the chores you list can't be completed before 10:45 pm. If he's slacking his share of household duties, I would address that on its own merits.

I think separating this one out, at least, would both help you solve this complaint and help narrow your focus about the larger issue of...coordination.
posted by cribcage at 10:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

I also have a tendency to fall asleep on the couch around 10-11pm. The only issue we have had was me falling asleep during movies – but we solved that by me saying that if we are watching a movie/TV show we have to start it at 8:30-9 (depending on length).

We both make sure that all housework is done right after dinner, so that is not an issue. The big difference, though, is that I don't consider it "mothering" when my boyfriend wakes me up to go to bed at 11 or 12 or whenever, just normal boyfriend/girlfriend behavior. I just get up, brush my teeth, and go to bed with him. Why can't you just wake him up?

And why not just set his alarm for him? It seems like a nice thing to do without much effort, and (hopefully) he'll do other nice things for you, like walking the dog in the morning or whatever. If the issue is that he is not doing enough housework and so you don't want to do "one more thing", I agree with cribcage that it's a separate issue from the couch sleeping.
posted by coraline at 11:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

You may find the replies to this previous question helpful.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:42 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely have this talk with him. Most of your concerns seem reasonable, if perhaps not tied directly to the couch sleeping itself. Some ways that they could be mitigated that might or might not work for you:

-Do you guys snack at night? If you don't, the both of you could brush your teeth after dinner, or he could own up to it and just do his own teeth-brushing after his first yawn of the evening. (In my opinion this is the most immediate issue. Dental hygiene is serious business.)
-Tell him about your sexual and romantic needs! If that's not enough of a motivator for him, you've got more "fun" things to discuss. (These can turn into actual fun things, though, so it's not so bad.) Consider pre-dinner cuddle/sex times, if your schedule allows.
-Get an alarm clock that doesn't need to be reset every night. (There are alarm aps for smart phones and other devices that work according to a calendar, as well as more intelligent traditional alarm clocks. Presumably his schedule isn't so variable that he can't do it a little bit in advance.)
-Alternative evening entertainment that's more bedroom friendly - audiobooks, narrative podcasts, albums of actual music. Maybe he could watch a movie/show on a laptop or tablet in bed? Technology is your friend. You don't have to have a tv in the bedroom to watch tv in the bedroom.
-Divvy up your chores officially. Maybe you should take responsibility for evening dogwalking because you know you'll be awake, but he needs to do doggy stuff during the daytime, every time. Locking up is no big deal, but maybe he needs to definitely put away food and dishes after dinner, while you run through the rest of the house. Talk to him about it. Explain what you do, because he might not notice or think about it. Ask him to help you out.

And finally, maybe he's a bit like me. I always have a lot of trouble falling asleep in my own bed. But being somewhere else, either traveling or as easy as being on my own couch or the bed of my roommate or at a friend's house, I can drop off in two seconds. It's got something to do with anxiety? I don't know, but it's frustrating! Maybe he really does sleep better when he's on the couch. Think about making the couch a little friendlier for naps so he doesn't mess up his back or neck, with supportive pillows and such. If anything, it'll help him get better sleep so he'll be less groggy in the mornings. I have a friend who sleeps in a hammock on his closed-in porch most nights, and spends mornings with his wife in their bed. They're perfectly happy. Not sharing a bed isn't a bad thing for every relationship.
posted by Mizu at 11:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're absolutely right to be aggravated.

Hey, there's nothing wrong with falling asleep in front of the TV. Everybody does it now and then.

However, your situation makes it sound like your significant other needs to put on his big boy pants and be a grown-up. If you're an adult and you need to be up at a certain time, you go to bed on time and set an alarm. You brush your teeth and take care of whatever needs to be done and turn off the tube.

What he's doing is fine if he's a teenager or a retiree... but he's neither.

Definitely tell him how you feel and don't be afraid to talk tough just a bit- "hey, you're being a bit irresponsible, it's aggravating me, and it's a totally easy thing to fix... I need your help and responsibility here."

One last thing... at the end you mention just "sitting back and letting him experience the consequences." I wouldn't recommend that. It feels passive aggressive to me- if you love someone, why passively watch as they do something dumb, just so you can say "ha, told you so" later? Step up and call them on it. You totally should!
posted by Old Man McKay at 1:54 AM on September 13, 2013 [6 favorites]

Sometimes it's easier to fall asleep somewhere you're not "supposed" to, whereas being in your own bed waiting for sleep just leads to rumination, anxiety, and teeth-grinding insomnia. Does he have any problems like that?
posted by Jacqueline at 1:56 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am particularly bothered by a few consequences of this: One, he will suggest we watch a movie together, then fall asleep after I'm all involved in its stupid plot. Two, I end up with more housework, left to "close up" the house — lock the door, walk the dog, turn off the lights and make sure there's not food left out in the kitchen everynight. Three, it's gross: he doesn't brush his teeth at night. Four, it causes stress because he fails to set his alarm clock for the morning (so he wakes up late and curses in the morning).

Maybe most importantly, it prevents closeness. If we are not in the bed together in the evening, we are spending less time together and "spending" "less" "time" "together," if you know what I mean.

Deal with the consequences as a separate thing, let him sleep wherever he sleeps:
1) Decline invitations to watch movies late.
2) Insist he do at least some of these things earlier.
3) Suggest he brush teeth before he settles down to watch TV.
4) If necessary, set his alarm for him because if he gets fired, that negatively impacts you.
5) Try to address the need for more sexual intimacy separately as well.

Be prepared for the possibility that he will be uncooperative. It is possible that falling asleep on the couch works for him for some reason and he just hasn't really thought about these consequences. It is also possible that it works for him in part because it is a passive-aggressive means to worm out of some of these things.

My ex used to do this a lot (so much so that, at one point, the kids thought he just slept there). I used to wake him up and send him to bed before I went to bed. At some point, I began just sticking his alarm clock on the coffee table in case he stayed there the entire night. (We had a travel alarm.) Once I began doing that, I quit stressing.

I concluded my ex had trouble falling asleep without the TV. Our oldest son had/has sleep issues as well, so some of it was just brain wiring. But I later concluded that another contributing factor was cleanliness of the bedroom. (The mattress we had when he did this a lot was inherited from relatives. I later threw it out after I became convinced it was helping to keep me ill, which turned out to be a major turning point for my health.) So perhaps a good thorough cleaning of the bedroom would make your SO more likely to sleep there?
posted by Michele in California at 2:00 AM on September 13, 2013

It sounds like he's tired and stressed both mornings and evenings and hasn't got the energy to do more than veg out.
The consequence is that he is not holding up his end of the relationship both in terms of chores and of intimacy.
Of course, his solution to the lack of energy (plop down infront of the tv) only makes it worse (lack of sleep). It's hard to break out of this cycle once you're in it.

I think you have expressed your concerns succinctly. Can you explain it to him the same way? Don't hang it up on where he sleeps but on your needs that are not getting met. Suggest solutions like doing everything that needs to be done before 10pm.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:27 AM on September 13, 2013

Every night?! Is there a nearby college dorm he can move to? He might fit in better there. But seriously, I think it's fair to sit down and have an adult conversation about sharing household responsibilities and allowing his girl her goddess-given right to (cue music) lovin' and kissin' and huggin' and squeezin' from her man. If you determine that television is more important to him than you are, well that may adjust your perspective on things.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 2:56 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

There's absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping in front of the tv every night and then coming to bed. The probably is with all the stuff around it, especially him making you do all the night time chores and not brushing his teeth.
posted by empath at 4:00 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Like the others have said, I would try to separate some of the issues. You can also ask him what he suggests to solve the problem:
1. You can organize (take turns or whatever) that one of you does the dishes / puts away the food right after dinner.
2. You can forget about the task of locking the door and turning off the lights. You can do this before you go to bed (these are really easy - unless you have a huge house).
3. You can make a plan about who walks the dog each night. Take turns or whatever. If he can not take his turn, maybe you need to find another loving family for the dog.
4. He is an adult. Let him decide where he sleeps. You can tell him that you are sad not to go to sleep in the same bed as him, but it is his decision.
5. He is an adult. Let him decide to brush his teeth or not. You can tell him that you find it gross and it makes him less attractive to you.
6. If he falls asleep while you are watching a movie together, you can tell him how that makes you feel. You can also propose other activities or starting movies earlier.
7. You write: "I think he truly needs 7-8 hours of sleep." Let him, as an adult, decide how much sleep he needs. If he is in a bad mood or mean in the morning, you can tell him how that makes you feel. You do not need to wake him up, nor do you need to make sure he gets somewhere on time. He is an adult.
8. You write: "it prevents closeness." Tell him how this makes you feel and what he is missing.
posted by jazh at 4:33 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Husbunny and I have a nightly ritual. At around 10 we get into bed, with the cats for 'pride time'. We all hang out, in a darkened room and watch fluffy TV until we're sleepy. For us, about 40 minutes or so.

Since you don't like TV, how about reading in bed time.

The idea is that all the little chores are done prior to 'pride time' and once you're in bed, you determine how that time will be spent.

Everyone negotiates this for him or herself.

If it makes your morning better, set his alarm, wake him up from the sofa. It's not mothering, it's caring. Also, it's in your self-interest.

I have found in my marriage that I can try to get my husband to grow up and do X, Y and Z, and be frustrated with the failure because Husbunny's brain doesn't work that way. Or, I can do X, Y and Z, and reap the benefits of no hassle and peace and harmony. In the end, is X, Y and Z so very hard to do? Not really.

Yes, I'm a different generation than you are, but I'm a very happy person and I don't feel taken advantage of. I view doing these small things for Husbunny as a way of showing him my love for him.

What I've found is that the more I show my love, the more loved I feel in return.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:01 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

Other than backing off and letting him experience the consequences of this, do I have a right to ask for different behavior? If so, how?

Yes. Yes you do.

I used to do a lot of the same things you describe your boyfriend doing and when it was brought to my attention, I didn't even realize it was that bad.

When I worked to change that habit (i.e.--passing out/sleeping on the couch) and actually have a routine before bed, it made me a much happier person.

That doesn't mean he won't fall asleep occasionally if you guys are bumming around on the couch, watching a movie. I actually would recommend nudging him to get him to go to his room.
posted by PsuDab93 at 6:01 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I feel like I'm missing something here. Clearly he knows that he is falling asleep on the couch and sometimes even waking up on the couch in the morning and this is not normal or good for him. Does he genuinely not care (except for when he oversleeps)?

In any case, you love him, right? So, coming from the point of view that his sleeping on the couch is not good for both of you, and yet it has become a Thing He Does, acknowledge it. If he asks to watch a movie, then say, "Sure - let's just close up the house and brush teeth first, in case you fall asleep." And don't put the movie on until you both do. That solves a couple of your issues, and acknowledges that there's a problem.

And second, when you're ready to go to bed, wake him up. That's not mothering him. That's saying that you're a couple, and you want him in bed with you, whether for intimacy or companionship, or just because you know it's not good for him to sleep on a couch every night, and you love him. It's nurturing, not smothering.

You have a right to ask for different behavior, but you shouldn't feel like this is something he owes you, or a sign that he's not a grownup. If you guys are partners, you help each other with problems, and he clearly needs help with this and on some level may even think he can't control it. Leaving it all on him - whether by demanding he change or passive aggressively leaving him to face the consequences - won't help anything.
posted by Mchelly at 6:36 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]

As a person with anxiety that I thought was "ok," I used to, even after having a very set bedtime routine, never be able to fall asleep in bed. I always fell asleep on the couch in the office while my husband played games at night. Sometimes he could get me up to come to bed, sometimes not. Now that I'm on meds, I can fall asleep in bed more easily, and I can do it when I'm alone, even, which was a problem in the past.

If he has any anxiety issues that are having an impact on his sleep, he should get that sorted. If that's really the issue, he needs sleep more than he needs a lecture. I was lucky in that my husband didn't take it personally and let me get what sleep I could, but I'm happier now that I'm sleeping more like a normal person.

Otherwise, I think you're perfectly justified in asking him to try to go to bed at a normal time and brush his teeth. After all, you want his teeth and your relationship to last a long time.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:40 AM on September 13, 2013

Oh, sleep is such a tricky thing, isn't it? There may be something about the couch, or about the noise of the TV, that may be more sleep-inducing for him than he consciously realizes. There are so many factors that could be involved that I guess I'd be here all day if I went any further speculating, but maybe he needs some different kind of pillow arrangement that lets him arange his body the way he does on the couch. My Mom got so used to sleeping on the couch during the death throes of her marriage that when we moved after the divorce she left their bed behind and just got a great couch for her new room.

One, he will suggest we watch a movie together, then fall asleep after I'm all involved in its stupid plot. Two, I end up with more housework, left to "close up" the house — lock the door, walk the dog, turn off the lights and make sure there's not food left out in the kitchen everynight.

How does he react when you say, "I'd rather not watch a movie tonight; the dog needs a walk, and then it'd be a great night to just hang out together cuddling in the bedroom," or something like that? Or, if you want to watch a movie with him, you could say, "Sounds great, but I won't be able to relax and enjoy it until we get X, Y, and Z done so we're all ready for bed as soon as the movie's over." Or maybe you could make a deal where he tries it completely your way for a week or two and sees how he likes it - that might mae it easier to envision a compromise.

The times when I've gone through phases of absolutely NEEDING to have the TV or radio on to fall asleep is when I've had so much going on in my mind that if I just lay there in bed trying to sleep or carry on a normal conversation, I couldn't shut the noise in my brain off. Some people have issues around sleep, and many have developed a mixed bag of coping mechanisms. Again, I don't know your SO, so I don't know if this is the case for him. But if it was me I don't think I'd automatically assume that immaturity or selfishness was the ONLY factor at play.

I'm not saying that any of the above is an excuse to be inconsiderate to one's partner, because it isn't. If you're not comfortable with the sleeping arrangements, you have every right to speak up. You both deserve the most restful night possible, and it's hard to be good to each other without it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:04 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't do all these detailed explanation things. Just tell him he needs to do his share and you're tired of not getting laid. The alarm thing is bad too and he needs to fix it.

Let him figure out the solutions here. He is a grownup. If he refuses to put effort into solving the problems, consider whether you want to continue to deal with his lack of initiative and competence. There are self-sufficient men out there, and it's a joy to know that your relationship is about enjoying each other and not constant babysitting and fixing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:18 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think he truly needs 7-8 hours of sleep

Why do you have an opinion on how much sleep he needs?

Two, I end up with more housework, left to "close up" the house — lock the door, walk the dog, turn off the lights and make sure there's not food left out in the kitchen everynight.

Ask him to make sure this gets done. It's up to him to figure out how. You can ask people to address your needs. You can't tell them how to do it.
posted by spaltavian at 7:20 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

Your concerns and frustrations sound normal and reasonable for two people in a co-habitating relationship.

I have a lot of anxiety around sleep, and have my whole life. I have a very difficult time falling asleep, and basically have to provide my brain with background noise in order to drown out the anxious thoughts in order to fall asleep each night.

For a long time, when I was single, I would stay on the couch until I literally passed out. Every night. This is obviously not good, and being perpetually sleep-deprived meant a lot of household chores were put off as I just tried to muster enough energy to get through my work day in a mostly productive fashion.

When my SO came along, he let me know that sleeping with the tv on was definitely not okay. Over the years and with the advent of new technologies I have "invented" some hacks that address both of our needs. For a while I would play shows on the portable dvd player, and fall sleep with headphones on. Now I play shows on my phone on Netflix, and again fall asleep with my headphones on. (Once I fall asleep I can generally stay asleep, without any more noise).

My SO still doesn't like those habits, but tolerates them because his needs are being addressed as well. I handle my end and get my household chores done earlier in the evening. "Business Time" also takes place earlier in the evening or another time of day if it's our day off, when neither of us is too exhausted anyway. I make a point of sleeping in the bed now, so once I head in there, it's with the understanding that I am decidely going to try to go to sleep.

It sounds like your SO needs to address his issues around sleep, whatever they are. As part of a good relationship he should endeavor to address your concerns to your mutual satisfaction as well.
posted by vignettist at 7:22 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rousing your sleeping SO from their sofa slumbers with a "hey, sleepyhead--it's time to walk the dog/do the dishes/come to bed."

It's not mothering them. They're part of a team. Shit needs to get done.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:40 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't know that this is fair, but this would push my very specific "act like a grownup" buttons so hard. Adults put themselves to bed at an appropriate time to get enough sleep, wake themselves up, and take care of nighttime duties.

But people who are poorly rested tend to have the introspective skills of a bag of rocks, so I think you may have to make an open declaration that the sleeping arrangements are bothering/worrying you and does he intend to make any changes ever or is this how he expects to function? If his plan is to live like that, you'll need to manage your expectations regarding your future, particularly child-rearing if that was the plan.

Decide when the TV is going to go off at night, as a couple. Don't watch long stuff or agree you're going to watch half of something. Stop for the night before he collapses.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2013

My husband is a couch-sleeper, although he's often falling asleep more like 2-3am. I go to sleep around 11, as I know I need my sleep and I'm protective of the effort it takes to get it. He's still drinking caffeine at 10pm and having lots of screentime in the wee hours. He knows it's not great for him, but he's a grown person. At this point I've given up our going to bed at the same time. I feel like if I had someone trying to get me to go to bed at 10 when I wanted to stay up a little alter, it would be annoying too. He also has expressed to me how much it throws him off when I wake him up when he's sleeping already, so I don't bother.

I've started my own ritual of listening to podcasts before bed, which is something he wouldn't be a fan of if he were there. The other thing to do is deal with the other factors that are related to sleep. The dogs need to go out for the night at a set point, and that's before couch time. Any fooling around is initiated during the afternoon or weekends vs. being an automatic part of the evening routine. He thankfully uses his phone as his alarm, so that's with him in the living room to wake him up. He doesn't set his regular clock alarm in the bedroom unless he comes in to the bedroom to sleep, so that it doesn't wake me up (earlier than my alarm) without his being in there.

In short, I think part of being a grownup is getting to decide how you want to sleep vs. sleeping where and when someone else tells you to, although couples certainly should talk about things and try to reach some agreement. The little things that bother you outside of the sleeping might be dealt with in alternative ways.
posted by bizzyb at 7:56 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm gonna go against the grain here: telling him when and how to go to sleep is too much, and you shouldn't do that. I mean, if it's that important to you, go ahead and do it but you're never going to find a partner who doesn't annoy you in some ways and this seems like something you can learn to live with. My girlfriend's father, who is nearly 60, and a perfectly responsible adult who is happily married and appears to get enough sleep, does this. It's just how some people like to fall asleep.

The chores issue is something you should address, though. I would say something like this: "Seeing as you fall asleep on the couch every night I'm left doing abcd, please do a and b before 10pm. Also, we're not going to start watching movies that late because you always fall asleep during them." And leave it at that.

Also, unless you are noticing that he appears tired all the time (which you don't say), he is getting enough sleep if he falls asleep on the couch at 11 or so and wakes up at 6:30. Sleep on the couch counts as sleep.
posted by breakin' the law at 8:06 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have this problem, largely because I wake up at 5a to get to work at a reasonable hour (long commute). I fall asleep on the couch by 9:30p or earlier, sometimes.

I've asked my wife to wake me and tell me to go up to bed if (read: when) this happens. Ideally I should go to bed when I'm tired, but I feel guilty about not "spending time with" her and so I try to at least eat dinner and watch TV with her every night. What often happens is I'll get woken up with her saying "time to go to bed" around 11:30 or 12, and at that point I'll walk the dogs and lock up, and going to bed.

When I have interrupted sleep like that -- fall asleep on the couch at 9:30, wake up at 11:30 and go to bed at 11:45 -- even that 15 minute interruption makes me wake up more tired and groggy than if I had just gone to bed at 9:30. In these cases I'll often grow addicted to the snooze button, wake up late, and get to work late (not a problem as I have a flexible schedule -- but working 8h a day means I then leave later and get home later and the cycle repeats itself). Similarly, if one of the dogs wakes me up at 2 or 3 in the morning to go out (doesn't happen often, but it happens) -- I have the same issue. So, I'd prefer to just go to bed. Sometimes, though, I think I'm still in my early 20s instead of approaching my mid 30s and I attempt to stay up, the guilt about not spending time with my wife being a driving factor for that.

That all said... he is a grown man and responsible for himself; you're neither his mother nor his wife (and even in the latter case, he is still responsible for himself). If he's late for his job and gets fired, that's his problem -- except that since you live together, it might financially affect you.

I'm going to therefore second the comment immediately above this one. Tell him simply that you want the chores done earlier because he falls asleep, and don't start movies late. If he falls asleep by 10, do what you can so that you both go to sleep by 10. I do most of the chores in my house, have a long commute, and a full-time job, so I understand that going to sleep at a reasonable hour and getting enough sleep is often impossible. But I find that when I make it a priority, both I and my wife are happier. It's hard to tell myself "the dishes can wait until tomorrow" or something like that because I am bothered by dishes in the sink and dirty laundry on the bedroom floor, but sometimes I just have to let it go.
posted by tckma at 8:43 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would separate the couch-sleeping from the slacking on chores and person grooming and interaction.
posted by radioamy at 10:07 AM on September 13, 2013

My ex-wife typically did not fall asleep on the couch, but eventually got to the point where she stayed up far later than I did, coming to bed long after I was asleep. This also generated lots of morning stress, because she was exhausted and "couldn't get up on time".

I know exactly what you mean about losing that sense of closeness. It was one of several factors that eventually led me to ask for a divorce after 20 years together.

In hindsight, I see now that it was a symptom of much larger problems, as opposed to a root cause.
posted by The Blue Olly at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think that if you both just accept this, it'll be a lot better.

I live with someone who falls asleep in the weirdest places in the apartment. We know that this is just what he does. The benefits of accepting this as reality is:

- he knows this is inevitably going to happen, so he brushes his teeth shortly after dinner. No worries about the dental hygiene issue, then.
- he always has his weekday alarm set on his cellphone. Then, when he falls asleep on the balcony (I know, right?), there is no worry about the morning, because the alarm will go off in his pocket, if need be.
- again, knowing this is a thing means he does the nightly chores right after dinner. I accept that I will probably have to deal with the pets, so I leave him the pots and pans. If he forgets something, I leave it to him to do in the morning, while making coffee. If he hates having to do it in the the AM, he'll be sure to not forget after dinner. I don't feel compelled to take on his chores (though I will when I want to do something nice), because he is an adult, and will do them shortly.
- I get the intimacy and snuggling thing, and it's nice if he tries to join you at bedtime from time to time, but also, this can seriously be a non-issue if you both remember two words: afternoon sex.

Maybe? I think accepting this, as opposed to struggling against it, can really be better (and more realistic) in the long run.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 10:23 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

What we do in our house is go to 'bed' when the earlier sleeper wants to and hang out there. So, when he says 'ok, bedtime' we tidy up, brush teeth etc and go cuddle in the bed. We snuggle, watch a movie if we want to, whatever. And then when he says he's ready for sleep, I either am ready too by then, or I am not. So I go back out into the living room, read, play on the Internet, whatever, and then I come back to bed when I get tired.

If I waited to come to bed until I was tired, I would miss out on all that together time. So I just treat the 'bed' time and the 'sleep' time as separate activities. Bed time is for cuddling and being intimate together, and sleep time is for sleeping. If they occur consecutively, great, but if not, that is okay too. I can treat bedtime as an activity in the evening, not as going to sleep.

I do return to the bed for sleeping though, unless somebody is sick and going to keep the other one up all night with the coughing...
posted by JoannaC at 10:37 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also: why does it matter if you see the end of the movie, but he doesn't? If you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it, right? Would you be mad if he fell asleep in a movie theater?

Why not tell him how it ended in morning? It can give you something silly to talk about while drinking coffee. Or, you can tell him that the ending was awesome and amazing, with a totally surprising twist when the...oops, gotta go to work, bye!

I'm not quite sure why this is a problem; this is a great opportunity to have some fun and tease him a little, honestly.
posted by sock puppet of mystery! at 11:04 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also: why does it matter if you see the end of the movie, but he doesn't? If you enjoyed it, you enjoyed it, right?

It does get lonely. Part of the fun is watching it with your SO, not just with your SO drooling contentedly on your shoulder.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:36 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am surprised at the feedback you're getting telling you it's no big deal about the movie or the bedtime/place or whatever. Shared experiences, shared routines & rituals, physical closeness, and the intimacy of a shared bed are all pretty fundamental to a healthy relationship. It's not about the movie.

Good advice upthread about separating out the issues though - intimacy vs. chores vs. personal hygiene vs. sleep hygiene etc.
posted by headnsouth at 11:44 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

I find doing all the chores and then stewing about it much more 'mothering' than giving him a poke and saying, 'hey, time for bed.' That being said, I'd probably schedule chores, dog walking, setting stuff up for the morning and other 'together time' earlier - then if he wants to fall asleep watching a movie it's no hardship to wake him up and move to the bedroom.
posted by Space Kitty at 11:50 AM on September 13, 2013

Clearly he knows that he is falling asleep on the couch and sometimes even waking up on the couch in the morning and this is not normal or good for him.

This is not necessarily true. My ex did not realize he did this even though, at one point, it was so consistent that our sons thought he just slept on the couch every night. (He was military, so they went to bed before he moved from couch to bedroom and he left for work before they woke up.) This came to my attention very suddenly when he had minor surgery and I made a big announcement that daddy would be sleeping downstairs on the couch because he could not take the stairs for a few days. My kids gave me the deer in the headlights look, not quite sure how to react to this bizarre announcement that (from their perspective) "daddy is going to do what he normally does every single night but mom is going to act like it is New and Anomalous Behavior." (They breathed a visible sigh of relief when I told them his toothbrush would be in the downstairs bathroom, then fled before I could say anything else "crazy".)

I used to frequently say to him "If you were that tired, you could have watched tv in bed." He routinely replied "I did not think I was that tired." He also had poor ability to tell when he was hungry, so I really think he was telling the truth about this. He slept on the couch very, very consistently for two years and never noticed this was a pattern. My sister on the opposite coast, a continent away, knew he did this but he honest to god had no idea.

However, he also would shush me when we were watching a Law & Order episode for the fifth time and I was saying "And he's going to say blah. And she's going to say yadda." because I had it half memorized by then but he could not remember who the murderer was and did not want me to spoil it for him. So his brain and mine simply did not work the same.

My ex is an extremely intelligent man who was very good at his job. I had enormous trouble accepting that someone so smart could simultaneously be so oblivious to things that everyone around him saw as blatantly obvious. But he apparently really and truly was that oblivious to certain things. Where he slept was one of those things.

When we began the divorce process and moved the main TV to the master suite as part of turning that room into a studio apartment for him, he continued to fall asleep in front of the TV but it no longer impacted the rest of the family. Two decades of getting up early for his military career did not cure him of his sleep issues. Years of me trying to send him to bed did not work. Some people simply have intractable sleep issues.

This may not be the case here but I am inclined to assume there is some element of that or the OP likely would have solved this already without having to get feedback from a bunch of strangers on the Internet. Most people are not trying to be difficult. They are usually coping as best they can. If they cannot get it together, there is usually some unrecognized underlying problem. Recognizing it and then addressing and/or accommodating it usually gets one further than acting like they just need to grow up and behave like afults.
posted by Michele in California at 12:42 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]

Doing what needs to be done before you go to sleep is a reasonable expectation for any adult, no matter where they sleep.

If he falls asleep at roughly the same time every night (no matter where it is), then he needs to get stuff done before that. This really shouldn't be an issue.

Same really goes for getting up in the morning. If he needs an alarm, it's his job to set it before sleeping.

I'm not sure why it's important for the both of you to go to bed/be in bed at the same time.
If he's falling asleep at 10:45, that seems to leave plenty of time for hanging around on the couch and spending some time together.
Then you go to bed as you normally do, he falls asleep and comes to bed later. Unless he's waking you up, what does it matter?

As far as sex, well, it doesn't always have to happen at night, in the bed, right before sleeping. There's plenty of hours in the day, weekends, whenever.
posted by madajb at 12:59 PM on September 13, 2013

Have you tried just talking to him? Apologies if that is a "duh" but I didn't get that from your question. Because it's one thing if you've said "hey man, it kind of sucks when you fall asleep on me during a movie and that we're not getting so much *quality* time lately, ya know?" or "dear heart, before we sit down to what will inevitably be a snoozefest for you, do you mind walking the dog and helping me clean up?"

and he just ignores that. It's a different thing if he doesn't even know it's bothering you and is just stuck in a shitty routine.
posted by sm1tten at 1:47 PM on September 13, 2013

I fall asleep on the couch most nights. My husband wakes me up. Very rarely, I am too tired to even move, and I stay on the couch until whenever - usually, I get up and go to bed. It doesn't feel like he's "mothering" ("fathering"?) me, he just wants me to come to bed. It works just fine.

If he's not putting in his share of help around the house, maybe the clean-up needs to happen earlier in the evening.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2013

For whatever it's worth, this would bug the shit out of me too. Your guy is a full grown adult who is doing something that is detrimental to his work life (late), makes him unpleasant to be around (dental hygiene, crabby in the morning), leaves you unilaterally in charge of end-of-the-day house tasks, and decimates your sex life to boot.

Maybe he's got sleep issues, maybe it's just really not on his radar that his sleep pattern is having these detrimental impacts, whatever. But to your question, I'll say yeah, you are totally within your rights to be irritated by this, to bring them to his attention (at least the parts that impact you directly--his work performance is his alone to own) and to say that this isn't working for you.
posted by Sublimity at 3:20 PM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]

Many wonderful answers! Y'all are so thoughtful. Just a few additions:

- I used to try to wake him up off the couch, but he's very hard to wake up and brushes me off in his sleep. I literally have to jump on him and yell things and shake him to get him to come to bed sometimes and it's a ton of effort — and then of course he's grumpy at me for doing so. So, I stopped trying.

- I have not had a big talk with him yet because I wanted to hear some constructive suggestions here first. I didn't want to dump a bunch of frustrations on him before I'm sure that a) I'm being reasonable and b) I have an idea of what I want to make things better.

So this is all really helpful, thank you!
posted by amoeba at 3:49 PM on September 13, 2013

A lot of these responses have me saying, "What?? What??" and Ruthless Bunny's sounds more familiar to me.

In my current (very happy!) relationship, I am "the responsible one" and just accept it. Granted, I have my own place and only stay with my boyfriend 3-5 nights a week, so we don't have an absolute schedule/routine, but he does fall asleep on the couch a couple times a month. (And need to be reminded about other things... a lot.)

In your situation, I would say, "It makes me sad that you fall asleep on the couch every night. I want to try some things to change out bedtime habits and get more cuddle time with you."

My arsenal of tactics during the ensuing negotiation practice would inclue
- Asking global permission to pester him about coming to bed after an agreed-upon hour.
- Asking permission (say, after dinner) to pester him about coming to bed that particular night.
- Setting up a ritual of him "tucking me in" when I want to go to bed (then he can do whatever he wants after I get my 10 minutes)
- Getting him to agree to "No TV after X time for 1 week" (or something similar) as an experiment to see how it changes things
- Make an appointment for evening chores where all the things are checked and the teeth are brushed. I'd ask him to do specific things while I did other chores, then we'd brush our teeth together and spend the rest of the night however.

You don't have to accept being "the responsible one" and help him take care of himself/all the things, but my relationship is easy and happy enough that it's totally worth it for me.
posted by itesser at 5:03 PM on September 13, 2013

I am married to that guy! (Spoiler: it has turned out fine.)

At first, when we were dating, it would make me sad and creep me out, and I would think things like, "Couples go to bed TOGETHER! What is wrong with him???" This behavior triggered our first real fight and he was genuinely puzzled as to why I was so upset. On the grand scale of boyfriend problems, I came to realize that this one was pretty minor. He wasn't passing out on the couch, drunk. He wasn't making out with other women on the couch. He just really likes to let sleep overtake him where he is. He says he's too comfy to get up and go to bed.

He's slowly gotten better about it, because he knows it's important to me, and I just started to care less. In fact, now I think it's cute and I toss a blanket on him, so he's not cold. Moss mouth? On him. Late for work? Not my problem (and unlikely, since the children head straight for the living room). Wicked crick in his neck and up for the day at 3am because he fell off the couch? Natural consequences of sleeping on the couch, dude. He does help clean up right after dinner, and if he misses some part of the house-closing routine, he'll make it up later somehow, but we don't sweat it.
posted by marmot at 4:49 AM on September 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am also married to this same guy.....and it got better after I got over thinking it was about me and being rejected.....and made a list of the ways he babysits me after a friend happened to tell me how sweet he was to me. Turns out I have some of my own bad habits.
I do wake him up and tell him to come to bed,the housework is done before we sit down or it gets skipped...and the toothbrush thing?..... I think a lot of folks don't brush before bed.....and the sex thing....set the alarm earlier in the am much better when both are well rested..good luck.
posted by OhSusannah at 8:35 AM on September 14, 2013

I just really don't think this has to be a Big Talk. I think framing it that way (dumping a ton of frustrations on him and then following up with ways he can make it better) will likely make him feel defensive, guilty, and bad (because you feel bad), which I think is counterproductive to getting him to make/change habits that will enhance your closeness.

My SO and I are on totally different rhythms and he is much the same as yours (minus the brushing before bed and alarms - the man is scrupulous about it) but I just said to him a version of what I wrote in my first response, and that was that. Yes, he still falls asleep during the movie and I have to clear the kitchen. But I NEVER have to walk the dog and thankfully, he is really easy to wake up should the mood strike me.
posted by sm1tten at 2:33 PM on September 14, 2013

- I used to try to wake him up off the couch, but he's very hard to wake up and brushes me off in his sleep. I literally have to jump on him and yell things and shake him to get him to come to bed sometimes and it's a ton of effort — and then of course he's grumpy at me for doing so. So, I stopped trying.

When you talk to him about this, mention how he acts towards you when you've attempted to wake him.

I am a complete monster to anyone who tries to wake me up, I'm mean, I argue, the house basically has to be on fire before I am actually awake, but I actually don't remember doing any of that stuff, and I feel pretty bad about it. My partner and I actually record each other sometimes (he snores, I grind my teeth, we both talk, can be mean to each other) so we can laugh at what jerks we are to the other in our sleep.

You say you both didn't like the idea of a TV in the bedroom, but maybe that's an idea you want to revisit if it prevents him from falling asleep on the couch.
posted by inertia at 1:40 PM on September 16, 2013

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