They’re a regular feature in local papers: the frail, but smiling couple celebrating a near-impossibly large wedding anniversary. The reporter will ask them the secret to their relationship’s longevity and they’ll often say something about give and take. The husband - if he’s a bit of a wag - will joke that it’s all down to his swift realisation that his wife was right about everything all along.
We think we know the real secret, however. Whatever your own relationship status - married, civil partnered, co-habiting or ‘it’s complicated’ - what makes it all work is night-time compatibility.
If you curl up cosy together every night and slumber peacefully till the dawn, then I salute you. Chances are, that’s probably not the case. Compatibility is about understanding your partner’s sleep foibles, acknowledging your own and working out a strategy without working up a fuss.
Whether your partner is a flailer, an encroacher, a snorer or a duvet stealer, moaning at them during daylight hours won’t solve a thing. They can’t help or control their nocturnal crimes and you’ll both just end up resentful. You need to think smarter.
Sleeping with an encroacher or a flailer? This is all about reclaiming your territory. Adopt the starfish position when you first get into bed: take up as much space as you possibly can, as close to the centre of the bed as you can get away with. Establish your exclusion zone and give yourself some breathing space.
Got a duvet stealer? Simply treat yourselves to a bigger, more luxe duvet. There’s no law that says double beds can only have double duvets. Sleep like a king, under a king and feel the difference that extra width can bring.
Snorer or talker? A sharp elbow-prod and headmistress-style telling-off only works for a very limited time. My own strategy is to have a place of refuge on standby: it might be music and earbuds, a different room, or even a different town. Sleeping in separate beds now and then doesn’t mean the end of your relationship. Both partners waking up refreshed and happy usually means quite the opposite.