While many people would consider couples who sleep in different beds to be speeding towards a breakup, that’s not always the case. I moved into the spare room of our house while my husband stayed put in ours and we kept the arrangement for over a year. To be honest, it saved our relationship.
We desperately needed the sleep. For one, we were new parents. The hospital stressed the importance of waking our baby to feed even if she was sleeping through the night. In hindsight, this feels semi-ridiculous, since newborns generally don’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time anyway, so why did I set an alarm to wake her? In any case, I figured one of us should be sleeping as much as they could at night, so I camped out in the spare room with the baby throughout maternity leave and I stayed there for a long time after.
He had to work in the morning while I got to stay home. While we really should have traded off night shifts in the interest of equality, it ended up being solely my domain. Why? My breastfed daughter wasn’t going to get what she wanted from my non-lactating spouse. Plus, I was lucky enough to stay home with her for a year. My husband still had to work and to keep him from dozing off at the wheel or in the middle of a big meeting, I took the hit.
To be honest, cuddling is overrated. Cuddling is nice for a minute, then you realize you’re not really all that comfortable but you don’t want to move and disturb your partner. Then you wonder, why shouldn’t you move? Your comfort matters just as much as theirs! You do move… and then you wake him. Now he’s grumpy and he can’t get back to bed. Great.
When he can’t sleep, neither can I. He tosses and turns and grumbles and accidentally hits the headboard or pushes me over when he’s in the throes of insomnia and I want nothing to do with it. Not being able to sleep is frustrating, I get it, but guess who’s not sleeping either? Moving to another bed in another room totally solved this issue.
Sometimes we’re just mad at each other. They say you shouldn’t let the sun go down on your anger, but sometimes it takes a few days to get over a bad fight. It’s no fun sleeping next to a grouch—trust me, I know from experience. I’ll accidentally touch his foot or something and he’ll pull away like I’ve physically burned him, which will piss me off even more. Dramatic, much?
We’ve always kept different schedules. Even before kids, I was definitely the night owl in the relationship. My guy thinks going to bed at 9 p.m. is really super late and should only be saved for special occasions. I’d stay up watching TV or putzing around the house cleaning up until midnight. Sometimes I’d end up falling asleep in our comfy chair in the den and not even know it. Now there’s no waking him up if I decide to go to bed later—I can go by my own schedule.
You don’t need to sleep together to sleep together. While it’s definitely convenient to do the deed and then turn over to catch some zzzs, you can have a thriving sex life even if you don’t share a bed. We made it a priority to create opportunities for some sexy times no matter what our sleeping arrangements were. Maybe it was while the baby was napping, or first thing in the morning when my guy came in to say hi. Either way, we got it done and it was just as good if not better than if we’d been sleeping in the same bed.
Snoring was no longer an issue. There are a couple months every fall when my allergies are intolerable. I get nasal congestion to the nth degree and since I still have to breathe, it’s done through my mouth. I’ve been told that during this time, I snore like a foghorn. Apparently, I start snoring even before I think I’m asleep. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I’ll head to the other room on particularly bad nights—or send him there because I deserve to sleep in the big bed, dammit!
There are other ways to bond. We hold hands. We run errands together. We go on date nights and we’re each other’s BFF. I text him and he never texts back. OK, so we’re working on that one. But sleeping in the same bed doesn’t have to be held up as some gold standard to a healthy relationship. Are you communicating well? Do you share the same goals? Do you have each other’s back? I’d say these things are way more important.
Life is full of stages and this was just one of them. When we started dating, we couldn’t get enough of bedtime snuggles. When we first moved in together, our tiny apartment made sleeping apart an impossibility anyway. When we went through a rough patch (in a bigger house), I’d take the fold-out couch. When we got a new mattress, we loved luxuriating in it. When I was a million months pregnant, I wasn’t sleeping anyway. And now that our daughter’s two and sleeping on her own, we love spending some couple time together in bed at the end of the day. In other words? Sleeping apart can be just a phase. Don’t sweat it.
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