Thanks, Pythagoras: How A Simple Foam Triangle Saved My Marriage
Great news! I am not getting a divorce.
You didn’t know I’ve been considering it?
I had no choice.
It’s not that I no longer love my husband. I do. Utterly and completely, in fact. But for months, the love of my life has been tormenting me. Torturing me, really. Like a stealthy prowler, he waits until it’s dark outside, when the house is quiet and the kids are asleep. As for me, I’m in bed, very often wrestling with sleep. (Sleeping is not my strong point. Sometimes I can do it. Other times, I fail miserably.)
My hubby crawls in next to me. He fluffs his pillows, arranges the covers, smooths the sheets and turns off his light.
And then he starts.
Sawing wood. Blowing Zs. Cuttin’ logs. Calling hogs. Grinding gravel. Tearing up the pillow. Sounding off the bugle. Rattling his tonsils.
Some nights it’s a whisper, a little “click” in my husband’s throat as the breath passes in and out through his sweet open mouth (which I want to punch). Other nights it’s a gentle snort, the sound of his inhale getting stuck somewhere between his uvula and his nasal passages (which I want to rip out). Lately, the sound is exactly like that of fully grown man fake snoring as loudly and violently as he can, as if to entertain a toddler (a toddler we never would have had together if this behavior had started earlier in our marriage).
A three-year-old might find this cacophony funny.
I do not.
You know what else I don’t find funny? When my husband insists he doesn’t snore because he’s never heard it. (Thankfully, there’s an app for that. SnoreLab records the reverberations and then rates them on a scale from mild to epic. Bonus feature: In the morning, you can play back the dulcet sounds of your snores like your own collection of greatest hits.)
Denials aside, my husband is a kind and sensitive soul. He’s been willing to try all sorts of things to quiet his nocturnal noise making. (Snoring, by the way, is the number one reason married couples sleep in separate beds. If I had an extra bed, believe me, one of us would be in it.) In addition to the industrial-strength foam or wax plugs I stuff into my eardrums each night, we have experimented with:
1. Extra pillows
2. Nasal strips
3. Mouth guards (both over-the-counter and dentist-prescribed, in various shapes and sizes)
4. A chin strap, à la the “zyppah” (notorious for one of the most annoying ad campaigns ever)
When it comes to bedroom apparatus, Fifty Shades of Grey has nothing on us.
(As I’m sure you can imagine, when your bedtime routine involves stuffing your ear canals with warm wax, attaching an adhesive strip to the bridge of your nose, popping in a plastic mouth guard and wrapping your head with a tight elastic chin strap, sparks really fly.)
But no matter how deeply I love someone, when that person is rattling the windows as I desperately try to nod off, I’ve found my natural instinct is to hurt him. I’ve managed to resist the urge — just.
So, divorce. Admittedly, it’s an expensive, complicated process, and there’s no good way to tell the kids. But for a while there, it felt like a perfectly rational, totally reasonable option for me to finally get some sleep.
And then — Praise be! — we discovered The Wedge. A simple triangular piece of foam that somehow supports my husband’s head, neck and shoulders at a magical angle no Pythagorean pyramid of pillows has ever achieved.
I don’t know if this brilliant invention keeps everyone from boiling cabbage at 3 a.m. or if it just halts my husband’s honking and hooting. Frankly, I don’t care. Somehow, this wedge has muted his midnight murmurings and restored peace and harmony to our marital bed.
Most importantly, the wondrous wedge lets me enjoy the one sound that dreams really are made of: sweet, sweet silence.
Willow Older is a nationally and internationally published writer and a professional editor. She lives in Northern California where she runs her own editorial services business and publishes a weekly newsletter called Newsy!.