The latest comes from a reader in Alabama who asked me to share her story as not only a caution to others, but also as a reassurance of hope.
Our reader, whom we will call Thea, wrote in to describe the effect that snoring had on her family. She and her husband started out happy enough, with a great marriage, common interests, desire for family, etc.
They had a little house in a suburb outside of Mobile and he had a great job that offered her the chance to live her dream, which was to be a mom in the home for their two children.
After the usual sleep issues that happen to all parents when the kids are small resolved themselves, they sort of got into a good, healthy groove with their sleeping as Thea and her husband were great about keeping a schedule, eating right, getting enough water and all that.
But as time wore on, and as Thea and her husband started to approach 40, they started to gain a little bit of weight, started to show some signs of anxiety (especially as the economy worsened), and started to wander away from their healthy lifestyle.
She blamed the trend on going back to work part time, coupled with the myriad of activities the kids were in along with the travel and time consumption of other daily activities and they started relying heavily on convenience foods and takeout.
She explains that it was about this time that she started snoring and he started the tossing, kicking, and twitching of restless leg syndrome.
Every time she would start sawing logs, he’d wake and nudge her. Every time he would roll over in bed, she’d wake because he’d elbowed her or scratched her on the leg with a toenail.
They were both beginning to suffer the ravages of sleep deprivation, dosing off during the day and getting really snippy with each other and the kids.
So they decided that in order to at least try and get them both some better sleep that they would take turns sleeping in the spare bedroom. Up to this point they hadn’t spent a night apart in 16 years of marriage.
Sleep seemed to be easier to come by with this arrangement, but it was kind of sad for them, she explains. They still loved one another, and still had a good time on vacations, going on dates together or on outings with the kids and still went to church every Saturday evening like clockwork.
She was kind of vague explaining what happened next. “Christian,” she said, “I just don’t know what happened next. It was like someone had been coming in at night and had been stealing parts of our marriage a little bit at a time.”
Before I could even wonder what that meant, she went on to explain it. “We used to be so close, but even after we started sleeping better it seemed like we were a thousand miles away from each other.”
She described that even though on the outside it looked like everything was okay, they both had been harboring some grouchy sentiment toward one another because they could no longer share a bed.
This took the predictable toll on their sex life, which added even more anxiety. She said, “Two kids, 4 sports, school, church, volunteer activities, work…we never had any opportunities to be alone in a bed together.”
And so the distance progressed, worsened, and stole away more and more of what they had spent 16 years building.
So after about 3 years of this, she discovered he had been having an email relationship with a colleague at work…that wasn’t of a working nature.
To this other woman, he had apparently been lamenting the demise of his physical relationship and seeking solace in this woman’s online companionship.
Once discovered, Thea immediately threatened to file for divorce, but instead got them both into counseling. This turned out to be the changing point of the whole toxic dynamic that had been playing itself out over the past couple of years.
It took a therapist to tell them what they already knew…that they still loved each other and had a lot of wonderful years left in their marriage. They just needed to regularly spend time alone in an intimate setting, which, for most people means a bed.
Even if there wasn’t to be any sex, they knew they had to find a way to sleep together again and start giving each other the critical marital elements of affection, closeness, touch and trust.
But to do this, two very critical issues needed to be corrected- her snoring and his RLS.
They have just started the work required to overcome these sleep problems, but are apparently at least sleeping in the same room again.
So the answer to the question at the beginning is no…snoring doesn’t cause divorce. People cause it. But it can be a catalyst to the unraveling of a relationship if left untreated.