I’ve been married for over 10 years, and my husband and I have been together for over 13 years. Only until recently, though, did I realize that for most of our relationship, we have been divorced.
Sleep divorced, that is.
Possibly even more surprising, I think this is actually a good thing.
Our separate sleeping arrangement was born out of necessity when we had completely opposite work and sleep schedules. After surviving three newborn phases, the occasional TDY, and now an hour+ long commute in one of the country’s heaviest traffic areas, what we have today is decidedly a sleep divorce by choice.
Like co-sleeping with my toddler, my marital sleep arrangement isn’t something I am apt to share with just anyone. But as the pandemic made quality time with your partner less quality and more quantity most days, it seems like a conscious uncoupling of the unconscious variety is on the upswing.
Sleep experts say that the best sleep you can have is when you are alone.
Maybe you are married to a snorer, or maybe you snore. The person who sleeps the best is not the one lying in bed staring at the celling. Unequal sleep between partners breeds resentment, frustration, and can cause marital strife. Getting a good night’s sleep does just the opposite.
As a self-diagnosed light sleeper, I have always needed quiet, darkness, and ideally white noise. I don’t like to have my sheets untucked or wake up in a giant ball of blankets. I pretty much don’t move all night when I am getting optimal z’s.
Enter the love of my life. The ying to my sleep yang. Due to his height, the man sleeps diagonally. He has no interest in a perfectly made bed, and he can fall asleep anywhere at the drop of a hat. I love him, but I loathe his sleep habits.
Luckily, we have always had a spare bed and a spare room. Even luckier, he understands that just because I don’t want to be the little spoon all night, does not mean that I don’t love him.
As in all things marriage, communication between partners in a sleep divorce is key. Many people think that not sharing a bed leads to a loss of connection with your loved one. In our case, I think trading off sleeping with a toddler so the other person gets a quality night of sleep is emblematic of a good marriage. And before you go thinking that I am a truly cold fish, I will admit that most weekends we don’t just share a bed with each other, but also with at least one of our kiddos.
So if you’d rather listen to the hum of your baby’s white noise machine or stay up late reading, you’re not the only one. Believe me.