My husband and I slept in separate beds for more than three years. #trueconfessions
Don’t feel bad for me though (or for him—our couch is amazing!). Our arrangement was completely mutual. Every night we said goodnight with a kiss and “sweet dreams,” then I went to sleep in the queen-sized bed and he slept on the couch. During that time, separate beds helped give us the sleep we needed during a unique season in our marriage, while still keeping the spark alive (wink wink).
Sleeping apart also gave me a unique perspective on our marriage and taught me a few valuable lessons as well.
1. Clarify your needs.
When I was around 20 weeks pregnant with Silas, I could not get comfortable in our shared queen bed. My back and hips ached, and I was constantly tossing and turning. One night, I’d had enough, so I went to sleep in our spare room. The mattress on our spare bed is about 20 years old and deliciously saggy and soft—just what my achy body needed.
This also gave me the space that my growing body craved. I could sleep with as many pillows as I wanted without crowding my husband out of the bed. Eventually, we moved the guest bed into our bedroom so we could still share a room.
I’m not gonna lie: I loved this arrangement. I’ve always been picky about sleeping with other people; I can’t fall asleep with anyone touching me, even my babies. Having separate beds gave me the freedom I craved.
2. Ditch ‘normal’ if it doesn’t work for your marriage.
After Silas was born, my husband moved to the couch in the living room because newborn life and his 5:30 wake-up did not mix. Through Silas’s whole babyhood, he was a touchy sleeper. My husband didn’t want to wake him (or me) when he rose early for work, and we were waiting until Silas slept through the night to move him to his own room.
Well, that child didn’t sleep through the night until he was 1 ½ (God love him!). By that time, I was pregnant with our son (see? separate beds didn’t hurt us at all) and was piling pillows in the bed again.
As the months of sleeping apart marched on, I kept thinking, Are we normal? But getting all the sleep was pretty much No. 1 on our priority list during those years, so the separate sleeping arrangements stayed. Normal or not, it’s what worked for us.
3. Check in.
I found myself Googling “Couples who sleep apart” because I just couldn’t shake the feeling that our marriage was slipping into the weird or even unhealthy zone. I found all sorts of scary articles about how couples who sleep in separate beds have, at best, have fallen into the roommates zone, or at worst, have one foot in divorce court.
“Are we OK?” I asked my husband. “Are we still OK with this sleeping separately thing?”
“Do you want me to come back and sleep in the room?”
“Uh, not really.” After all, we had a newborn again. “Do you?”
“Well, honestly, I don’t want to wake up every time Eli cries. And I don’t want to wake either of you up when my alarm goes off. So, no.”
We had checked in. We’d talked about it and decided that, yeah, we were good with the arrangement. We still snuggled on the couch every night and had long conversations about our goals and dreams, our kids, and our issues. We were not in the roommate zone (four kids later). We weren’t sleeping in the same bed, but we were fine—more than fine. We were strong. Online articles be damned.
4. No season lasts forever.
We kept checking in and realized how much we missed the pillow talk, the comfort of sleeping near the one you love, and the normalcy of sharing a bed when you’re married. So right after Eli’s 1st birthday we moved him to his own room.
I had shared a room with two other “men” for the last three years. My husband and I were both ready to kick the couch to the curb (figuratively) and reunite for good.
5. Getting to the place you want requires sacrifice.
We were both used to having our own space by this time, so we decided to upgrade to a king-sized bed. Ahh! True bliss–especially for me. The new mattress, bed frame, and sheets cost us nearly $1,000, but it was a financial sacrifice that we were more that willing to make. We were excited when our “separation” came to a conclusion at the end of January when we “moved in” with each other again.
Sleeping apart, as strange as it sounds, made our marriage stronger because we kept checking in with each other about what we both wanted and needed. During those months and years of pregnancy and babyhood, what we needed most was space and sleep.
Was sleeping apart “normal”? Eh, probably not. But I’ve learned that “normal” doesn’t really matter. As long as we are honoring our marriage vows, constantly communicating, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make our marriage work, “normal” is whatever we need it to be.
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