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‘Til Snoring Do Us Part

I received an email from one of my readers earlier this week asking if it was socially acceptable for her and her husband to have separate bedrooms. Apparently they have been married for 6 glorious years but his snoring is driving her to drink. Literally. And so I dug out one of my columns from a few years back when I was a (highly irreverent but very funny) Agony Aunty - I do hope my "suggestions" help those of you that are married to the equivalent of a chainsaw! Oh, and #4 is my personal favourite!

Dear Aunty Shelli,

I have been married to a really wonderful man for the past fifteen years. But his snoring is going to be the death of me. He snores for at least the first two hours of every night, and actually gets offended when I hit him on the head and tell him to shut up. He also falls asleep every single bloody night in front of the TV whenever there is an ad break. I am actually beginning to think he suffers from narcolepsy.

Other than killing him, is there anything I can do to save my marriage?

Thanks so much,

I.N.V. Singlewomen



I had a brief moment of sheer and utter terror when I read that your husband may suffer from narcolepsy. But now that I have googled it, I am feeling much better. (I thought you meant “necrophilia’, and was about to write a WHOLE other response about why your man feels the need to have sex with dead bodies. Thank goodness I checked).

Firstly, I have to commend you on the fact that you have been married to this monster for so long. There is not a judge in the land that would send you to jail for bludgeoning your husband to death with a meat mallet – in fact, you would probably be sentenced to 15 years at Mangwanani Spa with no possibility of an early parole. I can only think that you are an incredibly strong and selfless woman, and I hope that this brings you some comfort in your hour of need. (To be fair, you could also be completely spineless and insipid – but you know me, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt).

The good news is that there ARE a few things you can do to minimise the snoring. There are also sleep clinics your husband can attend, not to mention various pieces of equipment that he can wear at night to help keep his airways open.

1. My mother-in-law swears by the “tennis ball” method, whereby you sew a tennis ball to the back of your husband’s pyjamas. The thinking is that this will prevent him from turning over onto his back at night, which is when most of the snoring occurs. This is only effective if your husband actually WEARS pyjamas otherwise you might have to shove the ball down his throat and jab the sewing needle into his thigh.

2. Another popular treatment involves increasing the flow of oxygen while sleeping. This entails wearing something similar to a gas mask for the whole night. Once he has stopped complaining and you have managed to contain your shrieks of hysterical laughter, you will find that you both get a fantastic night’s sleep. There are a few side effects that have been reported, including one poor woman that got up in the middle of the night to go to the loo, saw her husband all dressed up in his gas mask, and promptly wet herself and the bed. Waterproof sheets are now recommended.

3. Most pharmacies sell a product that is similar to a throat spray – called “Snore-No-More” or something similar. Basically, the ingredients of the spray should help to keep your husband’s air passages open so that he doesn’t snore. Please note though that the back of the bottle clearly states that “this product contains no arsenic”, so it might not be as effective long term.

4. There is also the “negative-reinforcement” option that comprises placing a sensor around your husband’s hand. Every time he snores, the sensor activates an electrical current that “shocks” him and eventually trains him to lie in a position that doesn’t promote snoring. Research indicates that this is usually the foetal position and some wives have reported that the constant rocking and sobbing can get annoying after a while. It might also be cheaper just to by a Stun Gun.

While all this is VERY helpful, I am sure – it doesn’t solve the problem of sleeping in front of the TV. And this is actually a challenging issue to handle. You see, when men doze off in front of the TV, they somehow manage to keep one ear open, and the minute you change the channel to something … say, with a plot, perhaps … you are met with a “Hey, I was watching that!” followed by a click back to their favourite channel, a few shifts on the couch while they get comfortable, and even more snores. (It is interesting to note, that this one-ear-open is oblivious to requests for help, the sound of children crying, screaming, or killing each other, or any comments made by their mother-in-law. It is a fascinating phenomenon and I am surprised that no-one has published a book on the matter.)

I can only suggest that you PVR all “your” TV shows and climb into bed with a book. Heaven knows WHEN you will watch them though, but at least you will not be missing them altogether. You can also buy a second TV so that you can watch TV in peace and quiet, but men are funny creatures and your husband will probably come looking for you before long so that you can keep him company while he sleeps. Most men think this represents QTT (Quality Time Together).

Another option is to sit him down and explain that this is a BIG issue for you and that it is causing a great deal of stress and resentment in your marriage. And that you are going to start fining him. For every 15 minutes that he snores, he will be fined R100 that you get to spend on yourself. So instead of lying there feeling frustrated that you can’t sleep with the sound of a chain-saw in your ear, you will be looking at the clock with glee and thinking: “That’s another R400 – yippee!”

It may even get to the point where his snoring will put an enormous smile on your face and a spring in your step! It could just save your marriage!

Trust me!


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