An interesting thing happened during my separation and eventual divorce over six years ago. After the ex informed me she wanted to split, during an argument over a credit card bill of all things, little could I have imagined how quickly things would change. Later in the evening after tempers cooled and we were getting ready for bed I was informed that it would be best if from now on I slept in the extra bedroom – that she believed it was no longer appropriate to sleep together like we had the night before. And who could blame her? If someone doesn’t want to be married to you chances are pretty good they don’t want to sleep with you either. She had flipped the switch and suddenly sleeping with me meant sleeping with the enemy.
Though married for six years I was extremely naive about the inner workings of other peoples’ relationships. So it was a surprise to learn that getting kicked to the in-law suite wasn’t something just soon-to-be divorced guys suffered. It would seem that married couples, even those not intent on strangling each other in a courtroom, frequently opted for the room mate plan. But looking back it seemed our living arrangement leading up to the divorce was clearly not the norm, because until the day she asked for the separation I can’t remember ever sleeping in separate bedrooms other than when one of us was sick.
My naivety came full circle after I entered the post divorce dating world. I met a woman who hadn’t sleep in the same bed with her husband for over a year before they divorced. The whole time they lived almost separate lives, she said, only coming together as a couple during formal family events or neighborhood functions. While this may admittedly be an extreme case it has become almost laughable regarding the number of people I meet who chose to sleep in separate bedrooms months before there was ever the first hint or a discussion about divorce. What’s even funnier is the excuse for this behavior change seems universal among everyone I’ve met – ‘he snored too loudly’. Notwithstanding years of sleeping together before, apparently his deviated septum began to cause such a deafening noise that sending him down the hall was the only course of action to get a good night’s sleep.
Is there another room in the home which provides for a more natural setting for a couple’s intimacy than their own bedroom and particularly their bed? Just walking into another person’s boudoir makes me uneasy, it’s their sanctuary and their holy of holies, and not for random strangers. The bedroom is where lives are made and secrets told. There are few other places where a couple can be so open with each other or where they can more freely enjoy each other’s affection and sensuality. It’s a place where couples can reconnect and where they can fall in love again and again. If the bedroom is love’s temple then the bed is it’s shrine.
It was also unsurprising that these same couples who slept in separate rooms had virtually no sex life to speak of . Without the ability for closeness with his wife, a husband will find other places for his passion such as his job while her desire gets stifled or redirected towards the children. If allowed to continue they soon can become so disconnected emotionally and spiritually they may as well be strangers and any impression they might give of being the happy couple is only by sheer luck or to intentionally throw others off the trail.
I’ve often wondered what these men thought as they moved into their guest bedroom with suitcase in hand, what was going through their mind? Did they offer to fix the problem? Did they ever attempt to even change her mind? Or were they too busy returning emails or catching up on the latest scores to even bother thinking about it, because ignoring seems much simpler than dealing with the real issues in the relationship? Or maybe he was just satisfied that doing so would shut her up for a while.
I’m convinced of few stronger signals that a relationship is in serious jeopardy than when couples stop sleeping in the same bed together. Once that line is crossed what’s sure to follow is a loss of intimacy, affection, and finally love for one another. History is pretty consistent, a couple that doesn’t sleep together usually doesn’t stay together.