We didn’t mean for it to happen — but it did. My husband and I gave up sleeping together in the same bed, for nearly nine months.
Sure, the spooning snuggles are great before you drift of to dreamland, feeling all lovey-dovey as you fit perfectly into each other’s arms … but then? His arm is suddenly the weight of a 2 x 4 on your hip. Next, he’s hogging the covers or his sweaty leg touches yours. Not to mention, his body heat is like sleeping with a radiator set on high. And worst of all, now he’s SNORING.
Needless to say, I don’t often sleep well next to my husband — for all of the reasons noted above, plus the fact that I’m such a light sleeper. I need space after spending all day with four little loves, one with chubby toddler fingers clinging to my skirt leaving her mark.
But that’s not exactly what prompted our separate sleeping arrangements. Instead, it was a move to a new home. With our new master bedroom downstairs and our four children upstairs (including one suffering from high anxiety at the time), my husband was willing to sleep on a couch in his nearby man cave, just to ease the transition for a while. And me? Well, I didn’t want to give up my brand new master bedroom to sleep on a crusty old sofa!
And so, it happened. We began spending our nights apart, without giving it too much thought.
That is, until a few weeks and then months passed. Even after our daughter’s anxiety subsided, my husband still kept sleeping upstairs in his man cave, while I stayed downstairs in my plush and comfy bed. In all honesty, I think he just likes sleeping on that well-used couch for some manly reason. But before long, we both started to wonder if this would hurt or benefit our marriage.
Time would soon tell.
I’m not going to lie — initially, this newfound freedom at night was fantastic. I had the WHOLE bed to myself! No one to share covers with or to edge me off my side of the bed. No radiating heat that made me want to open the windows in the freezing cold dead of winter. If one of our children had a nightmare and needed extra snuggles, there was room. I went to bed when I wanted to, not feeling like I had to wait for him. And not once did I have to hide from the glow of the TV screen, forcing me to burrow down under pillows.
I kept thinking to myself that maybe people back in the day were on to something with those separate beds. After all, I felt more well-rested than ever, since I wasn’t being woken up throughout the night, which led to a much happier me over all.
Then again, sometimes freedom isn’t all it is cracked up to be. After about a month apart, my husband and I noticed the giant wall between us on an emotional level. We strive to keep our marriage strong, not just for our kids, but our own personal happiness, too. Yet not sleeping together was doing just the opposite over time — brick by brick, we were building up a wall between us, and it made us feel more disconnected than ever. Suddenly, we were bickering more, were less intimate, and we were choosing to spend less time together in general. We were becoming roommates, literally only sharing common areas.
Eventually, I peeked over that big giant wall between us and told my husband that if he wasn’t going to join me downstairs, I would forfeit my sleeping happiness and sleep on the couch beside him if it meant keeping our marriage happy.
So I did.
He made us a lovely double bed with extra cushions on our old crusty couch and ottoman and we were together again at last. Suddenly, I could fall asleep easily with the TV on and him playing XBox in the same room, simply because he was beside me. His closeness was comforting once again, not annoying. But eventually, the couch dips and cracks were causing too many backaches and with our kids now comfortable enough with their new surroundings, we both moved back downstairs.
I’ll admit we’ve still had some weeks of choosing to sleep apart since then — mostly due to the summer heat and a not-so-great air conditioning situation in our bedroom that sent my husband back upstairs to his (much cooler) man cave for a bit. But he’s since joined me back in our bed, and it was yet again a welcomed return. I missed his presence near me.
Maybe in the end I didn’t completely give up sleeping with my husband, but our nine-month stint of experimenting taught us something about ourselves I’m not sure we would have otherwise learned. Sometimes, we do need space to rejuvenate and get better sleep or independence; but coming back together is important, too. Just like with our children, space gives us time to refresh and treasure what we most love about them.
But mostly, we learned to value each other’s nearness, regardless of the small prices we have to pay for it — like slightly interrupted sleep or sharing the covers with a human heater.