Why do two people who love each other—and have a normal, healthy relationship otherwise—sleep apart? There are a number of reasons, but our big theme is respect: We both respect each other and know how important sleep is to our lives. It is irrational to think that two professionals in their 40s would have identical schedules. We have reached a point that we are grateful that neither of us feels rejected if we don't sleep together.
My partner and I had both been married prior to our relationship, and so I believe we have different expectations and less insecurities than we had or most people have in a first marriage. We are able to sleep together comfortably (and we do on vacations and weekends), but on your average weeknight, we sleep in different beds.
Now in our 40s, he and I have known each other for 30 years. Romantic notions about sleeping peacefully intertwined don't exist, at least not for us. Instead, we're lucky to have a nice guest/spare room with a queen-sized bed that works well for my partner. He is still always welcome in our master bedroom and bed. Before we go to sleep at night, we watch television or a movie together, and even sometimes fall asleep. But inevitably, he will be gone if I wake up during the night, and always when I get up in the morning.
I am a writer by trade, mostly freelance. I write for others while also working on my own projects. I'm what you call a "creative type." My work, my schedule, and my brain don't work in a 9 to 5 world. I sometimes get an idea and write late or in the middle of the night. I can imagine this would be really annoying if you needed to get up at 5 a.m. to do consulting work in DC. He works in a Brooks Brothers suit. I work in sweats — on a dressy day.
We also both have children from our first marriages. Mine are older and very independent. They both drive, work, and have traveled without me or their father. My partner has young children who need help with their homework and still have a bedtime. His youngest still gets up in the middle of the night, and our guest room is next to his room. It is very convenient for my partner to lie in bed with his son until he falls back to sleep.
The last big reason (that my kind better half would never mention) is the elephant in the room: I snore. And not a cute little snore, but a snore you would image coming out of an 80-year-old man. I have allergies, and even with a septum repair following a nose broken during a lacrosse game, I still snore. Loudly. We went on vacation to London, and I suddenly had no need for my allergy medication. The snoring stopped, and I slept better than I had in years. I value sleep enough that I would move to England now if I could.
Those who know that we sleep in different beds (our kids mostly) would originally ask if we had an argument. We assured them that this wasn't the case, and depending on that particular day, we would tell them the truth, that one of us was up late working, and the other needed to get up early. It also allows up to spend time with our respective kids and watch a late night movie and hang out.
Years into our relationship, it is still special when we spend the night in the same bed. We don't take for granted how nice it is to roll over, reach out, and touch your partner!
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