5 Lessons I learned about Marriage from sleeping apart for 3 years

My husband and I slept in separate beds for over 3 years. #trueconfessions

Don’t feel bad for us though (or for him! Our couch is amazing!). Our arrangement was completely mutual. Every night we said goodnight with a kiss and “sweet dreams,” then I went to sleep in the queen sized bed and he slept on the couch.

Over those three years, separate beds helped give us sleep we needed during a unique season in our marriage, while still keeping the spark alive (wink wink!).

Sleeping apart also gave me a unique perspective on our marriage and taught me a few valuable lessons as well.

MarriageBed1. Clarify your needs

When I was around 20 weeks pregnant with Silas (now 3), I could not get comfortable in our shared queen bed. My back and hips ached and I was constantly tossing and turning. One night, I had enough and I went to sleep in our spare room. The mattress on our spare bed is about 20 years old and deliciously saggy and soft–just what my achy body needed.

I also had the “space” that my growing body craved, and I could sleep with as many pillows as I wanted without crowding my husband out of the bed.

Eventually, we moved the guest bed into our bedroom so we could still share a room.

I’m not gonna lie: I loved this arrangement. I’ve always been picky about sleeping with other people (I can’t fall asleep with anyone touching me, even my babies) and I loved the freedom of the separate beds.

2. Ditch “normal” if it doesn’t work for your marriage

After Silas was born, Aaron moved onto the couch in the living room because newborn life and his 5:30 alarm did not mix.

Through Silas’ whole babyhood, he was a touchy sleeper. Aaron didn’t want to wake Silas (or me) up when he went to work early and we were waiting until Silas slept through the night to move him to his own room.

Well, that child didn’t sleep through the night until he was one and half (God love him!). By that time, I was pregnant with Eli (see? separate beds didn’t hurt us at all! wink wink!) and was starting to pile pillows into the bed again.

As the months of sleeping apart marched on, I kept thinking, “Are we normal?”

But “Getting all the sleep” was pretty much #1 on our priority list during those years so the separate sleeping arrangements stayed. Normal or not, it’s what worked for us.

3. Check in

I found myself googling “Couples that sleep apart” because I just couldn’t shake the feeling that our marriage was slipping into “weird” or even “unhealthy.”

I found all sorts of scary articles about how couples who sleep in separate beds have, at best, have fallen into the “Roommates Zone,” or, at worst, have one foot in divorce court.

“Are we ok?” I asked my husband. “Are we still ok with this sleeping separately thing?”
“Do you want me to come back and sleep in the room?”
“Uh, not really.” After all, we had a newborn again. “Do you?”
“Well, honestly, I don’t want to wake up every time Eli cries. And I don’t want to wake either of you up when my alarm goes off. So, no.”

We checked in. We talked about it and decided, “Yeah, we’re good.”
We still snuggled on the couch every night.
We still  had long conversations about our goals and dreams, our kids, and our issues.
We were NOT in the roommate zone (wink, wink)
We weren’t sleeping in the same bed but we were fine…more than fine.
We were strong.
Online articles be damned.

4. No season lasts forever (if you let it)

We kept talking and realized how much we missed the pillow talk, the comfort of sleeping near the one you love, and the normalcy of sharing a bed when you’re married.

So right after Eli’s first birthday we moved him to his own room.

I had shared a room with two other “men” for the last 3 years. Aaron and I were both ready to kick the couch to the curb (metaphorically! It’s a great couch!) and be reunited for good!

5. Getting to the place you want requires sacrifice

We were both used to having our own space by this time so we decided to upgrade to a king sized bed. Ahh! True bliss–especially for me!

The new mattress, bed frame, and sheets cost us nearly $1000 but it was a financial sacrifice that we were more that willing to make.

So we were excited  when our “separation” came to a conclusion at the end of January when we “moved in” again with each other.

Sleeping apart, as strange as it sounds, made our marriage stronger because we kept checking in with each other about what we both wanted and needed. During those months and years of pregnancy and babyhood, what we needed most was space and sleep.

Was sleeping apart “normal”? Eh…probably not. But I’ve learned that “normal” doesn’t really matter.

As long as we are honoring our marriage vows,  constantly communicating, and being willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make our marriage work, “normal” is whatever we need it to be.

What does “normal” look like in your marriage?
What do you do to keep your marriage strong in your unique situation or season of life?

PS. The #1 thing we fight about in our marriage

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2 Comments

  1. bellabooksandbaking

    If my husband wasn’t the sort who could probably sleep through an air raid in the middle of a tornado, an earthquake, and a yodeling contest, we probably would’ve had to resort to a separate bed situation similar to yours because we have a queen sized bed and I’ve always been a terrible, terrible sleeper. I toss and turn and have more than once kicked and punched my poor husband (bless him, he didn’t even know).

    I know that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a hideous cliche, but it does have some truth in it. We were apart for a year before we got married when I lived abroad, and we video chatted almost every single day and grew a whole lot closer through being forced to do nothing but talk. I know our marriage is better for it.

    “Normal” though? I doubt it. Normal sounds boring.

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