Imagine you’ve been married a long time, living together longer, and you and your husband have developed a bedtime dance that you both kind of hate. It goes something like this:
Your husband has to wake up at an ungodly hour, and goes to bed far earlier than you (the hoot-iest of night owls) ever would. He gets a few hours in by the time you finally become sleepy enough to go to bed, and then inevitably wake him with your crashes in the dark, or your cell phone flashlight spotlighting his face, or by stepping on the cat, or some such disaster. You feel bad, he’s perturbed, it’s a pretty dumb routine.
After awhile, your husband suggests that you go to bed at the same time to minimize these disruptive wake-ups. This seems to you a fair request, but requires one condition. Though it takes him a mere twenty seconds to fall asleep, your mind before bed is a battle zone of ideas, worries, memes, headlines, jokes, fantasized Oscar speeches, scenes from old movies, and song lyrics that loop on repeat. All of which you have to push, settle, squash or otherwise wrestle away from before you can remotely inch toward sleep.
You decide that if you are forced to come to bed before you are sleepy, you get to read in bed instead of on the couch like you usually do. Your husband agrees, and you both congratulate yourselves on how great you are at compromising. This new habit works for approximately three nights before your husband decides that having a light on and hearing you giggle/sigh/cry/fume at a story is actually more disruptive than tripping over the laundry basket in the dark as you crawled into bed had been.
Yet in those mere three nights, you have come to covet this reading time in bed. You used to have to read on your dumb couch with it’s whole not-being-your-bed thing, taking the cold steps from the living room to your room when you grew tired. This way, you are already comfy and cozy and not tripping over anything.
Except for the huffing and occasional “seriously, you’re still up?” that your husband throws at you as he tumbles to get comfortable with the reading light pointed directly in his eye, it would be an ideal situation.
You take to turning off the light long before you’re sleepy just to be a kind bedfellow, yet you now lay awake huffing and tumbling yourself, passive-aggresively pulling at the blankets to make sure he knows just how annoyed you are that he can’t handle a reading light. He pulls back to make sure you know how annoyed he is that you can’t appreciate he needs to be awake in five hours.
Things go on like this for too long.
You develop the habit of turning to your phone, skimming and scrolling endlessly before bed just for something to do in the dark. This keeps you up far later than you should be and sets your mind churning at a rate that prevents sleep far more often than aids. Your husband is more rested, you are far less so.
Eventually, you both realize this nighttime routine is working for exactly no one and breeding more resentment than is remotely necessary for two tired parents who love each other and just want to unwind and rest.
Cue your savior: the Kindle Paperwhite.
You throw it on your Christmas list at the last minute because even though you have resisted an e-reader for years now due to the love of a heavy book in your hands, you figure maybe it could be as great as everyone says. Your husband gets it for you with the desperate hope that you’ll actually use it.
You power this thing up, unsure how you’ll feel about it, and download your first book. It’s love. You sail through five books in three weeks. You, who loves reading but struggled to find the time to fit it in, are once again a reading machine.
The bedtime dance finds a rhythm. Your husband gets to turn off the light. You get to lay in bed and read as long as you want. Your husband snores beside you, getting the sleep he needs. You read, IN THE DARK, getting the downtime you need. You are happily cocooned in your cozy bed, curled against his sleeping body, and using his shoulder to prop the Kindle up because it’s so light he doesn’t even notice.
Your eyes grow heavy, naturally, easily. You fall asleep without even realizing you’re falling asleep every single night. You wake up the next morning with the Kindle still dutifully resting between you two, and you reverently move it to the nightstand. A tiny object that holds both a full library and your happier, well-rested marriage in its lightweight, backlit grasp.
*In case you couldn’t tell, I really f-cking love my new Kindle.
Photo Credit: Pexels user Leah Kelley