Last week I talked about how we’ve been coping with colic (which turned out to be an un-diagnosed dairy allergy). And I mentioned that there was a second way we were dealing with the stress and chaos – one which I was hesitant to share. I’m talking about sleeping in separate beds, in separate bedrooms.
Why was I hesitant? Because I’m protective of my marriage.
I was chatting to a friend not so long ago, and we agreed that something changed for each of us when we each got engaged. Essentially, our relationships became sacred, and the subject of them – specifically any ‘issues’ we may have – was off-limits as a topic for discussion. We were fully in and on board – ergo we became intensely protective and private.
Bottom line: it was no longer acceptable to air our grievances and hold them up for scrutiny and analysis by friends and family.
Ultimately, if someone else thinks there’s something not right in my marriage, I don’t want to hear it. If we’re happy (we are) and what we’re doing works for us (it does) then that’s all that interests me. Nobody else’s opinion is of any consequence.
Of course, I’m not so lacking in self-awareness that I don’t see the paradox in that – if it’s truly inconsequential, then owning and sharing this (about-to-become-un)secret shouldn’t make me uncomfortable. Thing is, I anticipate certain opinions and I just can’t be bothered with having to defend our unusual setup.
Sleeping in Separate Beds
Yep – right now and pretty much since our second princess arrived and I’ve been breastfeeding her to sleep through the night, we’ve not shared a bedroom. Why? It goes hand in hand with what I wrote about last week and is a temporary arrangement to see us through a difficult period.
As I write, we’ve recently received a CMPA diagnosis which validates my extreme fatigue. It explains such a lot and I’m hopeful that my elimination diet will soon mean our baby girl is far more settled. For the time being and as things stand, Dan is helping me with the relentless pacing in the evenings when it’s required. He’s also taking Elfin for walks after dinner to allow me half an hour to unwind.
And then, come ten or eleven o’clock, he’s retreating downstairs and leaving us to it.
Does this sound unsupportive? It’s anything but. If Elfin gets too worked up, Dan will come back to help me – we’ve established a system which works for us at least half the time: after I’ve fed, he paces with her for a while and once she’s finally crashed out he’ll pass her to me to lay her down (my husband is afflicted with clumsiness and not trusted to attempt the manoeuvre).
Ultimately, as I spoke about last week, Dan needs his sleep in order to be of use to our family and to adequately fulfil his responsibility to provide for us while I’m at home with our girls.
Why Separate Bedrooms?
How did this situation come about? Funnily enough it was something we’d both thought about independently, but were afraid to voice to each other – him for fear of making me feel unsupported; me for fear of making him feel unwanted. His reasons for choosing to vacate the boudoir may be obvious, but mine? Because I’d inadvertently found myself co-sleeping (my only no-no, oops) and was terrified of squashing our tiny baby as I slept: the more space I had in our bed, the safer Elfin would be.
As and when things settle down with Elfin (it has to happen eventually, right?) we’ll reevaluate and I’ll welcome hubby back into the fold. But for now, our arrangement suits us both.
Reasons Couples May Choose to Sleep Separately
I did a bit of research for the purposes of this post and it turns out we’re not alone! Apparently, in 2017 25% of married couples slept separately. These are some of the reasons having separate bedrooms may be appealing:
- New baby/the hell of colic, as described above;
- …Or teeth grinding their teeth (Dan used to get so annoyed by this before I had a mouth guard!);
- Shift patterns;
- Light sleeper;
- Sleep Apnea;
- Temperature preferences;
- Mattress preferences;
- Lights-out preferences.
As you can see, this not exhaustive list gives some pretty compelling reasons to have your own space. But is it healthy?
Is It a Good Idea to Sleep Separately?
I’m going to link out to some research in a minute to give this article some credibility. But whatever the research says, my personal opinion is that every marriage is different, and you should just do what works. The end.
It’s pretty dire. So why would you not do whatever it takes to improve your and your spouse’s sleep health? It’s just good sense, right? Especially if it also offers a practical solution to marital problems too.
If it will benefit your quality of sleep and your marriage, it has to be worth a try.
Will Separate Bedrooms Affect Your Sex Life?
An understandable concern.
In a word: no.
It certainly doesn’t need to. As I update this post several years after our period of sleep divorce, I can hand on heart say that it made zero difference to us at the time. By which I mean, when you’re surviving on four or five hours sleep a night, sex is the last thing on your mind regardless of sleeping arrangements.
But for those who are not dealing with colic, it’s still not a dealbreaker for intimacy:
Pressure is removed, which means no more obligatory sex. And let’s face it, that’s not the best kind for anyone’s libido, or indeed their relationship. What this ultimately means is that you may find you rediscover passion and your sex life and your marriage might even improve.
Should You Try a Sleep Divorce?
Bottom line? If it feels good and benefits you personally and as a couple, there is literally no reason not to go for it. Nobody even has to know. (Unless you decide to write about it on a blog…)
Is this something you have or would consider, or do you think separate bedrooms spells the end of a marriage?