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Sleeping Apart - Does Separate Beds Mean Separation? Relationship Advice

Updated on July 15, 2010

Dear Veronica,

My wife and I have been married for ten years. As far as I'm concerned we only have one problem, and that's the sleeping arrangements. She has a normal schedule, usually ready for bed by about midnight and up by 6 - 7 am. I freelance and don't go into my office until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, so my schedule is different. I don't usually fall asleep until around 4 or 5 am, up around 11 am. The schedule actually works out fine for us when we're awake. She gets out of work around 4 and she shops, cleans, gets her nails done, takes a hottub soak, sees her friends for a drink at happy hour sometimes, whatever she does. I know she enjoys her time at the end of her day. I get home around 7, she's usually already home, and we have dinner together most nights and take a walk or go out for a coffee. We may watch a movie together. We talk or listen to music. We enjoy our time together. We have sex probably 3 - 5 times a week which I believe is comfortable for both of us. Then she goes off to sleep and I am up for 4 or more hours by myself. I get work done, sometimes I work out or watch tv or read. I throw a couple loads of laundry through too. I like having that little bit of time to myself. We have no kids by choice so there really isn't any upset to this schedule. But here's the issue. When I'm ready to fall asleep it's 4 or 5 in the morning, and she has to get up at 6 or 7. I don't like to crawl into the bed and disturb her last couple hours of sleep. Plus if I do get into the bed and go to sleep her alarm is going off in only a couple hours and she hits snooze a few times, so it wakes me up and ruins my night's sleep. To avoid the hassle of this, I just stopped going into the bedroom to sleep. I crash out on the couch or I go into the spare room. I love sleeping with my wife. When we are on vacation or on a weekend when she's sleeping in or I'm tired early, it's really nice to cuddle up. But in our regular weekday schedules it doesn't work out and it's not about sleeping together, it's about waking each other up for no reason. This was our routine for the past couple years and it's worked out fine. However, recently my wife saw some stupid talk show where the doctor said it isn't healthy for married people to sleep apart. Now she is upset if I don't go into the bedroom to sleep. I've explained all this, but she is worried about what the doctor said. We have such a nice life together and we spend alot of time together and the sex is great. I love her and I am sure she loves me. I just don't get what the big deal is that we have schedules that are a little off and it's just easier to not sleep in the same bed. You seem to give really sound advice. Am I missing something here? Can you help us out?


Dear Jim,

First I want to applaud you. It really sounds like you and your wife have created a nice life. Childless by choice, enjoying your time together, and enjoying your private time as well. It's very important that you said you both have found your private time enjoyable. Whether you're out doing something or just watching TV, it is important to be able to enjoy your alone time. It's very healthy, and will surely lend to the strength of your relationship for years and years to come.

It sounds like you guys have really nice evenings together, doing different things and relaxing together. You spend a good deal of time together. The different activities you described from grabbing a coffee to having sex, involve different aspects of a healthy relationship. Sharing intimacy, affection, friendship, being able to talk and also being able to be quiet together are all important parts of the partnership.

From what you've explained about your schedules it sounds dreamy to me. You both have some private time, and you share a good deal of time together. I really don't see what the problem is with sleeping in different beds. The proof is in the pudding. You said you were fine sleeping separately for years before a Television doctor that doesn't personally know you made a few comments that scared your wife. 

Try explaining to your wife that somehow she must have taken what the doctor on TV said out of context. Maybe he was referring to a specific situation, like when kids disturb the marital bed, and was explaining that it's very unhealthy for the marriage when one parent is always sleeping with the kids. Or maybe the doctor was speaking broadly about a subject that has way too many specifics. Just like saying all bugs are scary. Butterflies and ladybugs are generally not scary. That broad statement just isn't fair, and neither is this one about sleeping in separate beds. I'm sure it is a red-flag of trouble for many people and situations but that doesn't mean you guys have anything to worry about. I'm not saying the television doctor was wrong. I'm saying, it was very general broad-stroke advice that applies to some situations, but not to all situations.

Although you've explained your life very well, maybe you should just cover the bases with her just in case.

Ask her if she feels there is a problem, if she feels for whatever reason that the dreamy schedule you share is just not satisfying to her anymore. Separating out the different beds comment that a random made, ask her if the life you're leading together is still satisfying, or if she feels something needs to change.

Also, ask her if she already has some kind of alternate idea in mind. Is she baiting the situation so you'll come to the same conclusion she has about something? I actually doubt she is, but just in case, make sure you are receptive and approachable, and ask her if there is a problem, or a change she's looking to make.

My guess is she will say everything is fine, and it's just that this doctor scared her. I get a lot of that type of email. A person has made some life choices or things have gone a certain way in their journey, and everything is fine until their friends or family step in with alot of unsolicited and judging advice. I get emails from people who've been happily living together who are suddenly pulled apart by the subject of getting married before they are ready, because their families decided to inflict that judgment on them.

It is one thing to realize you have an issue you'd like to work on, and to seek out some advice and some help. It's entirely something else when people push opinions and judgments at you for no reason. Technically, that is what this TV doctor did. Your wife wasn't seeking out some advice on a situation that was making her unhappy. She was most likely just watching a little boob-tube and this happened to come on. I don't know why otherwise happy and content people feel the need to listen to unsolicited advice, or the opinions of others when it isn't asked of them.

It happens to me to some extent here on Hubpages. I'm offering advice, but I'm offering it to people who've asked me for it, or have googled the subject matter because they are seeking some input. And like this television doctor, some people happen upon the information who really didn't need to hear it. Or, people try to apply it to their lives when it just isn't about them. People need to trust themselves enough to know when to say this advice wasn't meant for me, I'm doing just fine.

Your wife probably needs to work on some boundaries. What I mean is that she needs to realize that she is a viable and valuable person who has made wonderful decisions, and has a great marriage to show for it. She should empower herself with the ability not to listen to people that aren't invited in. A good friend once told me not to let anyone live in your head rent free. It was meant for me because I tend to be really hurt and affected when someone is mean or negative, like in a comment. I'm passing it along to you for your wife. Tell her not to let the words of a stranger live in her head when they really aren't appropriate.

Best to you and your wife and your wonderful life, Jim. I hope you are able to calm your wife's nervousness about a problem you aren't having. ;)


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  • Veronica profile image

    Veronica 7 years ago from NY


    I'm so glad everything is back on schedule for you two. It really sounds like such an exemplary relationship. I'm sorry you're figuring out here that your wife has some boundary issues like I discussed. Being aware of it will be the first big step. With your support I am confident she will be fine. Best to you both.

  • profile image

    jim 7 years ago

    Veronica, This is exactly why I wrote to you, you really listen and cover all the bases, and give such sound no nonsense advice. I've all ready talked to my wife exactly as you said, and exactly as you said there really was nothing wrong, she was just very affected by that tv doc. We had a great conversation and discussed exactly what you said about her boundaries. She has some issues with what her sister says about things too, but all that advice is work related as they are in the same field. We will continue our routine, which works fine for us, and she was fine last night and this morning with it. Thanks again for listening.

  • getting there profile image

    getting there 7 years ago

    Good posting. I might add that the key thing is to have a conversation with your wife. It sounds to me that you have a very good thing going on here with the exception of a few minor inconveniences. Even minor inconveniences, if not properly dealt with, can become major obstacles in a relationship later on. There is obviously some level of irritation for each of you regarding the issues you revealed. Were there not, we would not be discussing it right now.

    You mentioned that you don't like disturbing her when you crawl into bed. Does she feel disturbed, or are you just afraid that you might be disturbing her? If her sleep is interrupted when you crawl into bed, would she prefer that over sleeping alone? Would it make more or less sense to alter your sleeping schedules to be more in sync with each other? Is she aware that hitting the snooze button irritates you? Can she agree to set the alarm for the time she needs to be up, and get right out of bed when it goes off, instead of hitting snooze? If not, can you be understanding that it may be a very difficult thing to ask of her, and be willing to accept it or work out other arrangements? Could you get your wife a less irritating alarm clock?

    My point is, ask questions, have a conversation, and seek solutions that are right for you.