Ever since Lucy and Desi (and my grandparents), I have not seen a married couple with separate beds, let alone his and her bedrooms. The notion of being married but sleeping in separate bedrooms never occurred to me, but if it had, I'd have worried what people would think.
So I was amazed to read that some couples believe separate rooms can save their marriages. In fact, there are married couples who have separate homes, "living apart together."
A national survey revealed 24 per cent of married Americans slept alone, nearly double from a similar 2001 survey.
And the Homebuilder's Association predicts that by 2015, 60% of new homes will be designed with two master bedrooms.
So, will separate bedrooms save or destroy your marriage?
How can sleeping together destroy a marriage? Let me count the ways
(This exhaustive—and exhausting—list is from About.com.)
- Temperature of the room
- To cuddle or not to cuddle
- Tossing and turning
- Sound: quiet, white noise, alarms
- Getting up in the night
- Bed: size, firmness, type of sheets, number of blankets, preferred side
- Snoring, teeth grinding
- Window open or closed
- Sleeping with children or pets
- Different bedtimes
- Insomnia, sleepwalking
Experts disagree whether sleeping apart is a boon or a bust for a marriage
Dr. Willard Harley, author of Love Busters: Overcoming the Habits that Destroy Romantic Love, says "My feeling is that sleeping together is a very, very important part of being integrated with each other."
But Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage: A History, says sleeping in separate beds in order to get a good night's rest is reasonable.
To be successful with separate bedrooms, therapists note that it's important to be conscientious about maintaining intimacy, both physical and otherwise. They acknowledge that getting a good night of sleep helps couples enjoy their relationships.
Many experts suggest couples do what works best for them. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sleep.
Some couples find it helps to get a bigger bed or one with memory foam that allows one partner to flail around without disturbing the other.
Couples speak out about separate bedrooms
One couple praises their separate rooms. He no longer jabs her in the night and her snoring no longer wakes him up. They have dates for sex and say it enhances the romance.
Previously, the wife says, one or the other of us sometimes sleepwalked through sex. I'm a better wife, a better mom, because I'm well-rested.
Other couples fear that sleeping apart would take the spontaneity out of sex. Sex aside, consider pre-sleep togetherness, such as this one from Shine:
YES! The time before we fall asleep, when we talk in bed or make love, is the MOST precious time of my whole entire day. I wouldn't change it for the world!
After a long day when both of us have to go to work, then come home and take care of the house, do homework, and exercise, sometimes those 30 minutes are the only time we are in the same room and not doing other stuff for the entire day. It's when we can talk about things that we cannot discuss with other people around, time when we are just the two of us.
If only everyone felt that way about bed-sharing. One woman solved her husband's snoring problem by stabbing him.
On a lighter note, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, like most upper class couples of their time, had separate bedrooms. When Victoria wanted Albert to visit, she would leave a bowl of oranges outside her bedroom door. It's said she did so nearly every night.
- Do you ever wish you had a separate bedroom from your partner?
- Have you or other couples you know ever had separate bedrooms?
- With what results?
See my bio for links to all my relationship posts, healthy recipes, organization articles, and more as well as to my blog Confessions of a Worrywart and to my new memoir, Confessions of a Worrywart: Husbands, Lovers, Mothers, and Others.