When my partner and I first discussed moving in together, he was shocked by one of my conditions. I requested that we maintain separate bedrooms. This was a deviation from any of the normalcies of his past relationship experiences. He was willing to go along with my request because for me it was non-negotiable.
We are now several years into cohabitation and maintaining separate sleeping quarters. My partner’s initial hesitation at the prospect of separate bedrooms has now turned into full-fledged advocacy. I will even catch him at parties preaching the benefits of separate bedrooms. He is very open and proud of our living arrangements.
What are the reasons for my partner’s dramatic change in perspective?
We are part of the happiest, healthiest, and most functional relationship both of us have ever experienced. We both attribute much of our success to separate bedrooms.
I’ve compiled six reasons why maintaining separate bedrooms has created a happier and healthier relationship
1. Sleep Above All Else
I have had many bouts of insomnia throughout my life and a very light sleeper. To say it politely, I have sleep issues. To add to the situation, my partner snores. In all fairness to him, a partner who breaths would wake me up, yet along someone who snores. I’ve tried to be flexible with earplugs and noise machines, but in all reality, they hurt my ears, and I can’t usually drown out the snoring noise. The lack of sleep not only affects me, it affects my relationship.
My sleeplessness, in the early stages of our relationship, affected my partner. It was hurtful to him when I didn’t want to stay the night. I didn’t want to stay the night because I couldn’t sleep. It had nothing to do with him. We even had arguments on vacation when we were forced to share a room. For him, it is hard for him to sleep next to a person who is constantly tossing and turning and waking him up to ask him to turn on his side. After a few days, the sleeplessness gets to both of us and our moods begin to deteriorate.
For this reason alone, separate bedrooms were non-negotiable. A rested self is priceless. Sleep creates better health, better moods, and that alone will create more positive interactions in a relationship.
2. Separate Corners
When the referee breaks up the boxing match, he sends the competitors to their separate corners.
Sometimes in relationships, an argument or disagreement is best served when spent reflecting in separate spaces. If you share a bedroom, sometimes there is no separate space to retreat to without storming out of the house.
When my partner and I get into a disagreement and hashing it out more is obviously pointless, retreat to our separate spaces has been beneficial. We don’t have to lay in awkward silence next to each other. No one has to spend the night on the couch in silent protest. We can go to our own spaces and re-join each other spaces in the morning. Things always have a way of seeming less explosive the next day.
3. My Own Space
My son goes in his room, plays with Legos, messes up his drawers, leaves things all over the floor, and creates a giant mess. It’s his mess. He has to clean it up and if I don’t want to see it, I just shut the door. My 9 year old son gets his own room. I’m 40 years old, I want my own room too.
I want my own space to create my own mess or to not create a mess. My clothes on my dresser bother no one. My partner’s laundry pile that never seems to get folded is not my problem. I don’t have to look at it or feel obligated to fold it.
No offense to men, but they all have a musk about them. I like that musk on the man, but I don’t like that musk in my room. My room smells like me.
My room is a space I created for me, where I can relax, read, write, and sleep.
4. Everyone’s Nighttime’s Habits Differ
We all have differing nighttime habits. When sharing a bedroom, these nighttime habits can be disruptive to a roommate. For instance, my partner likes to go to bed early and requires more sleep than I do. I like to stay up late reading or writing. I also get up a few times in the night to go to the bathroom.
My nighttime habits are not disruptive to my partner and because of it, some of my best writing happens at night. My partner wakes up restful and happy.
5. Access in Mixed Families
Like many modern families, my partner and I have come together with children from previous relationships. While my partner’s daughter is an adult, my son still lives at home. The ability for my son to have access to me, undisturbed by someone else in my room, has not only strengthened my relationship with my son, but has also alleviated some of the pressure from my partner. For instance, when my son has a stomach ache or when he can’t sleep, he wakes me up alone, not disturbing my partner.
My son can also crawl in bed with me to snuggle and it’s not awkward for him or my partner. My son is still at the age where he wants to snuggle with his mother and I intend on taking advantage of those moments as long as they last.
6. What About Sex
There is a misconception that if you don’t share a room, you won’t have sex.
It’s nothing but a myth. Just because you share a room doesn’t mean you are having sex. I have plenty of friends who share rooms with their partners and many of them report a lack of sex.
A healthy sexual partnership is not about sleeping in the same bed. It’s about setting time aside to share intimacy with another person. Intimacy doesn’t always have to include sex. Intimacy can be listening, touching, or talking. Intimacy is about connecting as a couple.
Sex can happen anywhere. It doesn’t have to be only in the bedroom. Actually, it can be quite exciting when taken out of the bedroom.
If you are on the fence about switching to separate bedrooms, I urge you to give it a try. I know there is stigma and shame that can be attached to separate sleeping quarters. Things are changing faster than you might think. Nearly one in four couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds, according to a 2005 survey by the National Sleep Foundation. A 2013 study from Toronto’s Ryerson University puts that number at 30-40 percent.