Separate Rooms

Lately I have been stumbling upon a number of articles relating to couples who have decided to sleep in separate beds and separate rooms. This morning I even read one about couples who keep separate houses – his, hers and theirs. I think that one might relate more to the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” though. I did have to wonder why now, all of a sudden, this seems to be trending.

Back when I was a kid, I had a friend whose parents had separate bedrooms. This seemed very weird to me. I thought there must have been something really wrong with her parents, some terrible reason that they did not want to be in the same bed, much less the same room. Up until then – I, and everybody else I knew – had parents who slept together. I surmised that her parents must have been very unhappy, or that they must not have liked each other very much. Although I didn’t really know much about them at all (aside from the fact they were both professionals who worked a lot), in my pre-adolescent mind I assumed that they most likely were going to get Divorced. However, my suppositions ended up being disproved…..her parents who slept in different rooms did not get divorced. My parents who shared a bed did. So much for that theory.

Sharing a bed with a partner had always been a given, not even questioned. You get into a marriage or a relationship with someone, you share a bed, end of story. I always loved being the “little spoon”, cozy and secure. So it has been a surprise in many ways that many years down the road and many years into a relationship, I eventually found myself having my own room. It was such a slowly evolving situation that I barely realized it was happening until it did.


Not unlike many couples who share a bed, there were a number of sleep-disturbing habits my partner had that I was tolerating. It never occurred to me that I didn’t have to, figuring that just comes with the territory. The supposed social stigma of not sharing a bedroom was such a show-stopper that I never even considered there were even such options, or at least healthy ones. So I put up with (or complained about) the fact he would sleep with the television on all night long – a constant, disturbing strobe that permeates even your closed eyelids and infiltrates your dreams. And his snoring. And that he would trash the bed by rolling up in the blankets like a burrito and steal all the covers. Our sleep times were not in sync either – he falls asleep earlier, then gets up in the middle of the night.

Meanwhile, he was not getting a good night’s sleep either. He was less than thrilled with my nightly hot/cold Hell Dance of Menopause, aka “covers flung off – covers pulled back on – covers flung off again”. That, and having to endure the little fan I insisted on blowing on me all night. It is very difficult to spoon with someone who is rapidly hot-flashing, and if you are the one hot-flashing, it becomes impossible to cuddle up next to someone for very long without suddenly roasting. There were other issues too; I like to sleep with a top sheet and he would rather not. I like lots of pillows on the bed (another subject for another post!). He doesn’t like the dog getting up on the bed and I don’t mind it. He also hated when I was on-call for my job (which was almost all the time) and my pager or phone would go off and wake him up. All that, plus I kept insisting the TV be turned off, because I couldn’t stand it.

So eventually he would get up in the middle of the night, go downstairs, fix himself a bowl of cereal and watch TV while sitting on the couch. That is where I would later find him, asleep in an upright position with his head tilted at a very uncomfortable angle, the remote still grasped tightly in his hand, which I would then gently try to slip out from his death-like grip; an image in my mind like sliding a syringe out of the arm of a passed out junkie. Then I would lead him back to bed. This was not a satisfactory arrangement. So we made him a “man cave” in the extra bedroom, put a daybed and a television in it. This way, at least when he got up to watch TV he could lie down more comfortably. But he did not find the daybed very comfortable at all. So we put another, larger bed in there, making it both a man cave and a guest room. He did not find that very comfortable either.

a cave for him

Many years ago I wrote about my experience of guys suddenly going on a mission to procure a bed (see Soporific). True to form, one day he unilaterally went out and bought himself a fancy remote control queen-size bed for the man cave – a bed that can go into an upright sitting position like a giant chair fit for a TV-watching king. The bottom end of it adjusts too, so it can bend beneath your knees. Then he went out and got a giant TV screen and surround speakers and mounted them to the wall. So once he woke up from our mutual bed and went into the man cave to watch TV, he was perfectly, comfortably situated…. and stayed there the rest of the night.

At first I felt a strange twinge of “wrongness” about this. It wasn’t quite a feeling of abandonment, but I kept thinking that this wasn’t “supposed to” happen, that it meant something was not right if you are not sleeping in the same bed as your significant other. What did it portend? And what would people think? There was (or apparently used to be, until recently it seems) a social stigma attached to couples who didn’t sleep in the same bed. But the strange thing about it was, I had to admit I was actually liking the bliss of being able to sleep soundly without the relentless flashing TV lights, without the snoring, with the fan on, not worrying that he would get annoyed when I once again flipped off the covers during a hot-flash. That I wasn’t having to fight for blankets all night or rolling over his plethora of remotes. That I could turn on the light and read as long as I wanted without bothering anyone, or even to make a phone call while comfortably sitting in bed, if I felt like it. I started keeping things I enjoyed around me in my room and it began to feel more and more like a cozy nest.

a nest for her

He was still coming into my space in the morning to get things out of his drawers and get dressed though. One day I just decided to drag his dresser and all his clothes into the man cave, so they were right there with his giant TV and fancy bed for his convenience. And that was that. By increments, the transition was complete. Yes, I am surprised. But I have to say, I am really enjoying it – and so is he.

We still visit back and forth regularly during the week. Sometimes I start out the night there, and even fall asleep in there for a little while. But I always wake up now and go back to my own space. He comes to visit me too, but then goes back to his space to sleep. It helps that there was an extra room in this house that made having one’s own room even possible. I think if it was necessary to go back to sharing a bed full time, it might be a bit difficult to adjust to again.

He sleeps in his messy bed with all his remotes.


And I sleep in my tidy bed with all my pillows and the dog.


It has been interesting that once I decided the hell with anyone else’s opinions, I started to discover that some other couples I know also have separate sleeping rooms but didn’t really talk about it. Most of the ones I know are seniors, but not all of them. Some of the single people I know also have stated that at this juncture in life, they would most likely find it difficult to share a bed full time with another person. Of the older couples I know that do share a bed, some of them have king size beds, which gives them adequate space. Some of those beds even have independent remotes for individual firmness and angle adjustments. A bed that large would never fit in any of the rooms here. And even then, there would still be the other issues. Of course, most of my friends and family still share a bed with their significant other and can’t ever imagine it any other way. I used to feel exactly that way too, but not any more. It seems you never know how things in life are going to evolve. At this point, my motto is “whatever works”.


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