Friday, May 20, 2016

When an Early Bird marries a Night Owl

On the HUGE deck of our Summer House, view over Gunt
There are so many things I want to tell you all, but time just keeps zipping by. I take Mongolian lessons twice a week, Zumba another night, and then often spend time with friends at least one night a week. And lately, I've been spending my weekends going out to our summer house, located 20 kilometers north of UB in an area called Gunt. Zorig is working feverishly to get the house completed so that we can have a joint Marriage Celebration/House Warming party in June before some of my friends head home for the summer. It will be a great place to have a cookout--to eat and drink with friends and kick off the beautiful summer! Each weekend I've enjoyed hiking up the mountain directly behind our home, and into the woods on the other side. It's a beautiful view and one feels very much outside the city and IN nature. Also....when you lay down to sleep at night.....there is truly SILENCE all around you. No sirens. No music or loudspeakers. No children playing in the park at midnight. Just peace and quiet. Serenity.

Zorig and I have settled into a comfort and rhythm with one another. We had a few hiccups in the beginning (I always called them disconnects), but as time has moved forward, our miscommunications or misunderstandings become less often and farther apart. I guess you could say we've quickly learned how and why the other reacts the way they do and how to either avoid a miscommunication, or how to move through and past it more swiftly when it does happen. Most people would do a lot of that in the dating phase of a relationship. We were still doing that AFTER we were married since things moved along briskly after I arrived. 

All that said, I would say the most challenging aspect of our partnership is the fact that I am an early bird and he is a night owl. Part of this is cultural. In America, most people get up early in the morning and are off to work--many of them starting at 8 am. Here in Mongolia, things get going a bit later for many sectors. It is not uncommon for me to hear small children playing in the park behind our apartment building at midnight. Now before your freak out--you should know that MOST Mongolian public schools have kids going in shifts. Older students go to school the first half of the day and younger kids go to school during the second half (arriving after lunch time). I have NO idea how many "student contact" hours they have--but I'm guessing NOT as much as we require in the U.S. Mongolian schools start on September 1st and finish by June 1st. They do only take a week off around the New Year, but still have a fall break, spring break, and time off around Tsagaan Sar. 

Sunrise from our kitchen window. 
Beyond the cultural difference, I also believe that we are simply wired differently. According to some initial research online, this could be true. This article talks about how our "personal biological clocks" are wound from birth. While I like the thought of staying up late and sleeping late, I struggle to stay in bed once the sun is up and shining. I'm sure it doesn't help that our window coverings allow a good bit of diffused light into the room (maybe I should look into blackout shades of some sort?). But even if I had a dark room, there is a big part of me that enjoys, no loves, being up in the quiet of morning while much of the world is yet snoozing. When I get up at 7 on Saturday, pull on my running shoes and hit the pavement (currently this ONLY happens on the weekend)--I love the chilled air and the early rays of sunshine. I love the emptiness of the streets. On a weekday, I love sitting down with a fresh cup of black coffee and journaling. These are the things that make me happy and satisfied.

Zorig, on the other hand, has no interest in getting up with the sun. To him, it's about doing email, cruising Facebook, and most of all--watching news, TV shows, or movies (in Russian) into the wee hours of the morning. It is a struggle or chore for him to come to bed before 1 am, and sometimes he doesn't join me until 3 or 4 (though that's fairly rare). He falls asleep immediately and has NO problem sleeping until 9 or 10 AM. With the sun rising around 6 am, that is many hours of shut-eye AFTER the sun is up. This is normal for him AND what he prefers and enjoys.

I cannot lie. It sometimes drives me batty that he stays up so late and doesn't come to bed at a similar time. However, he does not have a 7:25 bus to catch and he certainly does not shirk working. We work in different fields. I do not NEED him beside me to sleep, but rather I like the feeling of sleeping next to my husband. Hearing him breathe, feeling his hand on my hip, watching his peaceful sleeping face. Also--while I do like getting up early for myself, there is a desire to stay in bed with him--to curl back up under the covers and be lazy. I can't do that, of course, but some days I want to. 

There is no shortage of research, information, and advice for this type of personality/biological difference between us--the night owl and the early bird. This curious article discusses the differences between the two. An initial read through makes me agree for the most part:

  • I am not a perfectionist, but he IS a go-getter
  • Yes, I do wake up smiling and stretching. He doesn't exactly frown, but it's a MUCH slower waking cycle.
  • I would say I am proactive--always anticipating and planning. We are both smart--in different ways. :)
  • I prefer coffee and ONLY in the morning (nothing after noon or it messes with my sleep). 
  • As for creativity.....hmmm, I don't know about this. 
  • Z and me are basically the same age. It will be interesting to see how our clocks shift as we age together. 
  • This one is ABSOLUTELY TRUE.  I Love Breakfast. He just as easily skips it--but will then have two or three rounds of dinner....sometimes eating at 2 am just before sleeping. Oh......I can't imagine it. 

I'm not sure what to do with this difference between us. I suppose there is nothing to really DO. I cannot make him an early bird any easier than he can make me a night owl. Thankfully, once summer break begins, I will not have a bus to catch in the morning and can shift my schedule some. However, in two months I will be back to work and back to my dictated routine. So--as it should be in many aspects of a true and loving relationship, I work to accept this reality about my partner, and love him--no matter what. We all know how pointless it is when trying to change another person. Unconditional Love=Complete Acceptance. So, I work to let go of my frustration when he is watching Russian documentaries while I (try to) sleep; and I accept the fact that he will snooze on for hours while I drink coffee and journal. When it comes right down to it--I love him and I wouldn't want anyone other than him--so I will accept this difference between us. In every other way, we fit together perfectly. 

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