Why My Husband and I Sleep in Separate Beds
My husband and I didn't always sleep in separate beds. Early on in our relationship, we slept with our arms entwined. Like a lot of new couples, we were enraptured with the sound of each other's breathing.
Flash-forward seven months to our first apartment together. Engaged and wild about each other, we would now be sharing a bed every night! My snoring was still adorable to him. His blanket-hogging was precious and a small price to pay for true love. If he wasn't next to me, it would be almost impossible to sleep. But everything changed when we had our first child.
Why we don't share a bed
When our son was born, I had no idea how sleep deprived a human could be. I spent many nights in the rocking chair with a direct view down the hallway to my husband sleeping in our big beautiful bed. As I rocked our baby, I stared at this oasis down the hall. Was it a mirage? Would I ever sleep in our bed again? Would I ever sleep in any bed again?
When our son began sleeping through the night, I reclaimed my rightful place beside my husband. But a few years later, things began to change again. He'd work a closing shift at his job and fall asleep on the couch while trying to wind down. Not wanting to disturb me, he'd just sleep the night in the living room. I'd be sad in the morning when I'd see him out there. It wasn't our norm. I'd worry something was wrong—but nothing was wrong. He was simply exhausted, and so was I. Sleep became more of a bodily necessity than a romantic notion.
These days, my husband likes to fall asleep to superhero movies. I don't understand how he can drift off with all those loud, jarring sounds. He doesn't understand how I can fall asleep to news. I like to bust out the hidden box of Raisinets to enjoy in peace at the end of the day. And I don't really want to share—with my children or my husband. According to him, I snore loudly. He also snores loudly, yet even when provided with audiotape evidence, he denies it. I have entered the wonderful world of peri-menopause. My nightly superpower is now excessive sweating followed by chills.
There are also the almost nightly visits from our young daughter. Our queen size bed can't contain all those flailing arms and legs, so someone gets relegated to the couch. And you know what? It's OK. We all wake up rested somewhere within the confines of our apartment. It doesn't mean there's trouble in our relationship. It simply means we're tired—and we need to sleep, wherever it works for us.
How to sleep in separate beds without wrecking your relationship
“There are many couples who share a bed for sleep who also have very poor relationship intimacy," points out Nadene van der Linden, clinical psychologist in Perth, Australia. "So it's a myth to think not sharing a bed will be the death knell for your relationship." She adds, "If both partners are sleeping better, they will generally have better emotional wellbeing, which will help with their relationship functioning over all. Crankiness and irritability from poor sleep are not great for relationship health and satisfaction."
It's important to talk honestly with your partner about different sleep arrangements to prevent resentment or unfounded paranoia. As sleeping separately (at least some of the time) becomes more common, couples need to be mindful about staying connected during the day. “Intimacy in long-term relationships is about appreciating your partner, doing small things each day for them to show that you love them and making your partner a priority in your life," says Van der Linden. "If you pay attention to those things, your relationship intimacy will be good whether you share a bed for sleep or not."
For my husband and me, it's become almost a joke. Where will we wake up in the morning? We still text each other silly things from adjacent rooms. We never leave home without kissing and saying goodbye.
Do I wish we had a king-sized bed? Do I wish neither of us snored? Or sweat? Or watched dumb movies?
Do I wish we still could cuddle without interruption?
The answer is "yes" to all of the above...but the answer is also "no." All relationships evolve, including the one we have with sleep. As long as our arrangement works for us—and we take the time to communicate and show our appreciation for each other—I know we'll be OK.
Here are some more expert tips for being a better sleep partner.