DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, I stayed my first full night at my girlfriend's place. While I expected a peaceful night, I found I couldn't sleep because of her snoring! I realized she snores when she'd fall asleep for a little while at my place, but this snoring is so loud, I'm concerned for her health. She snores so loudly, it sounds like she chokes herself and then begins to cough. She does all of this while sleeping, but I feel like there is no way she's lived 26 years without someone telling her she snores! Needless to say, I got no sleep that night, and I don't know if this will be a deal breaker in our relationship. We can't move in together if she refuses to try to fix her snoring problem. -- Up All Night, Detroit
DEAR UP ALL NIGHT: You are getting way ahead of yourself. Sure, it could be uncomfortable to bring up the snoring issue with your girlfriend, but don't jump all the way to you not being able to live with her because she refuses to address the situation. You will not know how she is going to react until you bring it up.
Do some research on the topic. There are any number of medical concerns that have snoring as a side effect -- from allergies to sleep apnea. Some have simple solutions, and others are more dramatic. Read up so you can share your research with your girlfriend if and when it's needed.
Start your conversation with her by asking her if she knows that she snores. Do not speak in an accusatory tone. Just ask. Then tell her what you experienced and how disturbing it was. Tell her that you are concerned for her health and want her to get it checked out. Share the research that you have done. Encourage her to go to the doctor to see if anything is wrong. If, over time, she does not follow up and you experience the snoring repeatedly, tell her that you won't be able to sleep with her until she figures out how to modify her breathing. I hate ultimatums, but sometimes they get well-meaning but slow-moving people to take action.