Creating a great morning habit sounds so ideal! But what some of you might have realized by now is that changing habits can greatly affect your family members, and that brings up a few important issues:

One member wrote about his situation with his partner:

“I wonder how to build up a sort of monastic habit like this one when you are living with a partner. The time before, during, and after sleep is the best quality time my partner and I spend together. I can only read, meditate etc. in bed when I’m not at home. And when I get up early and exercise, my friend gets up too and fixes breakfast for me. He goes back to bed after I go to work. He is an artist and usually works during the afternoon and evening, so I do most of the things I do alone in the evenings after work. I can switch off all screens at 10pm, or earlier if we are having dinner together, but again, the best part of the day begins then. We don’t have children, but for all you family people, this must be even more of a problem.”

Such a tough question! And to be honest, there are no easy answers. Any of us with family or partners in the house know that such questions are messy, full of compromises, often fraught with difficult feelings. Nothing is simple when we merge our lives!

With that said, I’m going to offer a few recommendations you might consider:

  1. Have a conversation. This one is obvious, but you should talk to your partner, or other family members, and tell them what your hopes are around this habit change. Why is it important to you? Share also your fears of impacting your relationship, which is obviously really important to you, and losing something important with your partner. Ask if he or she has any ideas for ways that this could work, including doing something else together (maybe shutting off screens and taking walks and talking), or doing this habit change together (see next item).
  2. Consider doing the habit together. Don’t fix yourself on this possible outcome, because you might be inviting frustration and disappointment … but do bring it up. Invite them to join you, in a non-pressuring, welcoming kind of way. It’s not a big deal if they don’t, but it could be fun.
  3. Change slowly. Even if they’re OK with the change, just do it a little at a time. Just 10 minutes earlier in the morning won’t impact your relationship much, and won’t feel “monastic.” It will also give you both time to adjust to this change, and to consider ways to adapt your lives to it.
  4. Be flexible. Problems come when we fix our minds on one outcome — we want to do this habit and want them on board with it, and nothing else will satisfy us. In truth, that outcome is only one possibility, and we’ll be happier if we can be open to others. For example, maybe you don’t do this habit change this month … even if you’ve started, you can change to something else. Maybe now isn’t the time, but you do it later. Or maybe you do it, but make it up to them in some other way. Or maybe you do it but they aren’t happy, and you accept that. Not that I’m recommending that path, but I’m showing that there are other possible paths.
  5. See things from their side. When we talk to family members, we have to realize they have their own frustrations, fears, priorities, and so on. It’s not all about us! So try to see things from their perspective, and try to understand when they’re not totally cool with what we want. How can we help them with these frustrations? How can we be compassionate with them?

These aren’t the simple answers you might want, because this isn’t a simple problem. But, with patience, compassion and an open, flexible approach, we might be able to find a path.