Your Room or Mine?
This can’t possibly bode well for our sex lives — or can it?
It depends on how you look at it. Separate beds have the potential for killing a couple’s sex life — or doubling the places for lovemaking. “It’s not about the geography,” says Toronto family therapist Dr. Sandy Shiner. “It’s about the sentiment behind it.”
True enough. Sleeping beside someone does not necessarily mean you’re sleeping with them anyway, and vice versa. And sometimes separate bedrooms are the only solution when you’re not getting enough — sleep, that is. Perhaps one partner snores, tosses and turns or gets up frequently in the night. One person’s shift work, pre-dawn jogs or seasonal allergies can interfere with the other partner’s shut-eye. There may also be conflict over what constitutes a comfortable nighttime environment. Window open or closed? Heat turned up or down? Mattress firm or soft? Top sheet tucked or loose? Lloyd Robertson blaring or TV switched off? Fido banished to the kitchen or drooling contentedly on the duvet?
Often the first sign of relationship troubles is that a couple stops sleeping together. But it doesn’t automatically follow that couples who opt for dual master bedrooms (or should that be master and mistress bedrooms?) are having relationship problems. While sleeping separately is not what happy couples should strive for, marriage-repair specialist Shiner says if that’s the only independent time they have, it can work, provided they continue to stay connected in other ways. “In my couples counselling, I always ask people what space they have separately and what space they have together,” says Shiner. “In people’s busy lives it’s very important to learn how to connect — and how to disconnect.”
Still, for many people, the concept of separate spaces is a big leap backward to Victorian times, when a room of one’s own was a sign of wealth, privilege and prudery. But there can also be the potential for added spice, says one 42-year-old solo sleeper who enjoys a “date night” with her husband once or twice a week. “When he comes into my room — quietly so he doesn’t wake the kids — it reminds me of when we were much younger, sneaking around so as not to wake my parents.”
The biggest objectors may be those people, mostly men, who have a high need for physical touch and comforting routines. Shiner recalls that when her own six children started moving out, she offered to fix up one of the kids’ bedrooms for her husband, who never had more than a shelf to call his own. “I thought I was making a loving, grand gesture,” she says, “but he was not happy. He never did use it.”
If one of you wants a separate bedroom and one doesn’t, Shiner has a solution: “Have the marital bed and then an extra bed in another room.”