I had always believed the adage, "Birds of a feather flock together." But when my husband and I married and combined our two opposite body clocks, I ignored this saying. After all, many marriages had worked with greater differences than we had.
According to the latest marriage surveys, our 18-year-old marriage can't possibly be working. Marriages where one person likes to stay up late and the other retires early and gets up early, are just not compatible this study said. This report also stated that in these marriages there wasn't enough time for private conversation, the communication that should take place in a marriage was stilted, and the two different body clocks created inharmonious rhythms.
I don't like to dispute the experts, but let's be realistic. Can a "morning lark" really be happily married to a "night owl"? Oh, I know so! Let me give you an example of how our body clocks find harmony.
How the "lark" begins her day
It is 5 a.m. My eyes pop wide open without the assistance of an alarm. After all, it is another gorgeous day offering so much to do. I hear my husband breathing deeply as he sleeps next to me, and I quietly tiptoe out of the bedroom. The birds chirping at daybreak add a cheerful sound as I pour my hot, early morning coffee. Then I celebrate; it's my time. Two hours . . . I have two wonderful hours to read, pray, write, and think clearly before anyone else awakens. You see, the early hours are the time spend alone with God. As I unload the dishwasher, make school lunches, dust a table or two, and fold last night's laundry, I am constantly thinking of ideas, stopping to make a list or two, and asking Cod to give direction to the day.
As delightful as this time is, all good things sadly come to an end. About 3:00 p.m. my body slowly, but surely, begins to tire. My mind becomes a bit foggy, and the creative ideas are less frequent. I put all big projects on hold for the day and begin to focus on family duties: kids home from school, carpools to run, a last-minute errand, dinner to cook, dishes to clean, and homework to monitor.
How the "owl" begins his day
Now, let's turn back the clock to see how Bob, the "night owl," approaches the day.
The alarm rings for three long minutes at 7 a.m. before my sleepy husband finally turns it off. It seems the middle of the night to this devoted night owl, but the daylight pouring in his window lets him know it is a reality. Bob stumbles out of bed, bumps into a wall or two, and finally turns on the shower to help signal his body to wake up.
Family members are greeted with a soft, "Good morning, Deb," and, "Can you turn the radios down, kids?" Breakfast is eaten while reading the paper, not too much conversation yet. A quick kiss and his blurry eyes guide him to the car. Another day has begun.
Bob spends his early mornings at the office in study, then begins to see parishioners after 9:30 a.m., once his body has realized the owner really did wake it up.
Here is where our differences begin. By 9:30 a.m., I have already edited several manuscripts, written an outline or two for articles, vacuumed the bedrooms, wiped down the bathrooms, and started early dinner preparations. Oh, where did my day go, I wonder as I pause for a refreshing glass of iced tea.
By 9:30 a.m., my husband has settled into his office and has started to open his mail from the previous day. My day is just beginning, he thinks, as he pours his first cup of coffee.
By 3:00 p.m. I am almost through my day. But Bob has just finished a luncheon meeting and is starting his afternoon schedule.
At 7:30 p.m. Bob and I pause to be together—alone. As the children work in their moms, we sit in the den and talk about our respective days. My mind is through being creative, so I can think about his needs and his dreams. His mind has not fully clicked into the creative mode, so he can think about my needs and dreams.
We talk about children, family, bills, and vacation. We argue about politics, current events, teen curfews, and the neighbor's barking dog. We hug and kiss and smile and laugh. We joke and cry and pray and sit in solitude. Yes, we are compatible.
It is 9:30 p.m. The children have all been tucked in. Their lights are all out. I am ready for bed mentally and physically. My mind is tired, my body aches, and the cool covers look so inviting. As I turn off my light by the bed, my husband kisses me goodnight and tiptoes back into the den.
Let the good times roll, Bob thinks. This is his time. He thinks and creates. He plans and reads. He makes prayer lists, job lists, and visitation lists. He tinkers with a new program on the computer, throws in a load of wash, watches the news, and listens to the new C.D. on the player. He quietly plays the piano in the distant living room, hums the verse to a new hymn, and prays aloud. He is alive, vibrant, creative, and yes, very awake.
The mantle clock strikes midnight, and Bob reminds his body that it has to be tired. Finally, his day is done as he turns back the covers on the bed and crawls in.
Benefits of different body clocks
Perhaps it is our strong independence that keeps our marriage together. If we had the same body clock, we might not have those times for aloneness and creative thinking. But more than that, people who are different in some ways can fill voids in each other's lives. My cheerfulness during the morning hours gets the family off the ground and moving. Bob's energy at night helps complete our busy day when the family's needs change.
Despite any study modern science makes, I still claim the Scripture "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt, 18:20). His love is the basis for our relationship.
Yes, our marriage is living proof that the "morning lark" and the "night owl" can flock together, even if these two old birds do differ in some ways. We have found that with a common belief in Jesus Christ, along with some open communication, planning of daily schedules, and allowing each spouse to find personal time, our marriage can be sound and fulfilling.