If You & Your Partner Have These 9 Nighttime Habits, It Could Damage Your Relationship
While it may not seem like a big deal, what you and your partner do at night can have a pretty big impact on your relationship as a whole. This includes your nightly rituals, what you do before bed, and how you reconnect (or don't reconnect) after a long day apart. And this is, of course, particularly true if you happen to live together.
"Any consistent time together is a good time to bond with your partner," Dr. Catherine Jackson, licensed psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist, tells Bustle. "However, traditionally nighttime and weekends are the best times because that's when most couples are both available after work and/or when other duties have concluded for the day."
In order to keep your relationship healthy, consider how you spend this time together. For example, "making a habit of engaging in activities that cut into bonding time can make your partner feel ignored or alienated and lead to resentment," Dr. Jackson says, "all of which [can be] damaging to your relationship."
Of course, it's fine if one or both of you is busy, has other things going on, or needs to spend some time alone. "But putting work and other things first on a regular basis is likely to be viewed as a significant problem," she says. And it can have some damaging effects over time.
Read on below for some mistakes to avoid, according to experts, as well as what you can do instead.
1. Bringing Your Phone To Bed
Depending on your relationship, bringing your phone to bed might not be that big of a deal. But if the evening happens to be one of the only times you and your partner get to reconnect, this habit can start to take a toll.
The moments before you go to sleep can be a great time to unwind and cuddle up with each other, sex therapist and couples counselor Diana Sadat, MCP, RCC, tells Bustle, which is why you'll want to take this time seriously, and make it all about your relationship.
Instead of letting the phone get in the way, you can catch up on your day, cuddle, read next to each other, or do whatever else helps you feel close, before going to bed.
2. Going To Sleep At Different Times
When you go to bed at different times, it may start to impact how connected you feel. So even if you have mismatched work schedules, or different times when you like to sleep, pay attention to how your nighttime rituals are making you feel. Are you OK with the current bedtime routine? Or is one of you lonely?
At the very least, "try to meet in bed at least a few times a week," relationship expert Margaux Cassuto, tells Bustle, "to indulge in that togetherness and quality time." You can also send a sweet text, or create other rituals at different times of the week to make up for it, such as spending lots of time together in the mornings or on weekends.
3. Waking Each Other Up At Night
That said, if you and your partner are cool with going to bed at different times, don't make the mistake of waking each other up, or disrespecting your schedules.
For example, "if your partner goes to sleep earlier than you, don't blast the TV or have a bright light on," relationship expert Bonnie Winston, tells Bustle. "[Instead,] use a bluetooth headset for volume and a small light attached to your book."
These are easy and respectful ways to show you care about each other's needs, which can help prevent arguments the following morning — as well a potentially relationship-ruining sense of resentment.
4. Staying Out Late
"We all only get 168 hours per week and how you spend that time tells your partner what your priorities are," Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle. And if one of you stays out late every night — whether it's for work, to see friends, etc. — it can start to impact the relationship.
Of course, things come up and schedules get busy. But that's all the more reason to make an extra effort to be together and maintain a healthy work/life balance, as a way of showing how much you care.
5. Forgetting To Reconnect Before Sex
While every couple is different in terms of when they like to have sex, and what needs to occur in the lead up, "if you haven’t made an effort to connect outside the bedroom, it can lead to disappointment once you’re there," Doares says.
And if this happens on a regular basis, Doares says it can create a sense of resentment, that can take a toll on the relationship over time.
In order to prevent bad feelings from creeping into your relationship, it can help to talk about what you both need before sex. If you prefer to catch up, have dinner, and talk about your day before the physical stuff happens, make a point to do that more often.
6. Not Kissing Each Other Goodnight
"Over time, partners tend to disconnect and the first things to go are the little kisses here and there," Sadat says. And that's why, if you can, you'll want to make a point of bringing this little ritual back into your lives.
It's not so much about the kiss itself — you could also hug, tuck each other in, read next to each other, etc. — but instead the act of being loving at the end of the day, that helps keep your relationship strong.
Without these intimate moments, you may notice that you start to feel disconnected. And things can go downhill from there.
7. Having Heavy Discussions Right Before Bed
"Weighted discussions should be held during times when both partners have both the time and opportunity to sort out and express their feelings," Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford, PhD, MFT,CRS, CMFSW, tells Bustle. And generally, that's not while one of you is nestling into bed for the night.
If you find this habit is tearing you two apart, let each other know that the evening hours aren't the best time to bring up arguments, vent, etc. And find a time when you can talk, listen, and be more receptive.
8. Failing To Talk About Your Day
"By sharing the events of your day, partners have the ability to understand some of the challenges, triumphs, and stressors that [their] partner is experiencing during their work day," Dr. Bates-Duford says. "Sharing information improves communication and provides validation of lived experiences."
Without these moments, you might start to misunderstand each other and even drift apart, which won't do your relationship any favors. So if you don't already, you and your partner might want to find some time each evening to catch up — like during dinner — so you can both be on the same page.
9. Bringing Work Home With You
Sometimes you need to bring extra work home, and that's OK. But do keep in mind how this a habit can cut into the time you spend with your partner, and the effect that can have on the relationship.
"Continuing work at home leaves little to no time for couples to communicate and bond," Dr. Jackson says. "Therefore, it can leave your partner wondering if they are a priority in your life."
Again, busy schedules happen. But it can help to set good boundaries, and leave work at work whenever possible. "Doing this will cause little to no problems in your relationship," Dr. Jackson says, "and help strengthen and maintain your bond with your partner."
And that is, after all, one of the best parts of spending your evenings together, as well as why you won't want to let bad habits like these get in the way, or tear you apart.