Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Couples Sleeping In Separate Bedrooms: Sound Crazy?

Recently I heard about a new trend in high-end residential building development in which His and Hers Master Suites are the new status symbol. I must first say that though this may be a new trend, I don't imagine it is very widespread. I can't see it catching on like wildfire as I think many people would be uncomfortable if others knew they had a separate bedroom from their spouse. Would people talk? Would people think their relationship is a bad one or somehow fraudulent?

The idea behind this trend is that each member of a couple often has a different sleep schedule or pattern. Some like to read for an hour, while others may like to watch television. The idea of His and Hers Master Suites seems to make sense in some ways.

Imagine if you were single, had a fairly spacious house, and a had your best friend move in. Would you share a bed? Most likely, you would not. When you think about it this way, why would you necessarily share a bed with your spouse? I think this question underscores how many of the things we do simply because, as Carly Simon sang in the 1970's, 'That's the Way I Always Heard It Should Be.'

This is important because one of the most consistent patterns I see in couples who seek out therapy is codependence- wanting to be close but ultimately feeling claustrophobic in the relationship. People feel claustrophobic in a relationship because they feel there are unwritten rules that betray what each wants himself or herself. In other words, people feel they often have to go along with things to keep the peace even though they do not necessarily want to do so.

Ask yourself how you would feel if you had separate bedrooms from your spouse. Could you still feel emotionally close with this separation, or do you need to have the person with you in the bed? If so, be sure to ask yourself why. Remember that true intimacy in a relationship should allow for a certain healthy separateness.


Christian said...

Dr. Seth, I find it so interesting and reaffirming that you blogged on this topic. My partner and I sleep in the same bed on most nights. However, we do have very different sleeping patterns. He prefers to go to bed early and get up early, while I prefer the opposite.
During the evening I like to watch TV before going to bed, but he needs complete silence to sleep. The way it has worked out for us is we sleep in the same bed on weeknights when we both need to be up early the next morning for work. On weekends, I usually watch television until late and then go to sleep in the guest room, so I don't disturb my partner, who most likely has been sound asleep then for some time.
At first it felt a little strange sleeping in separate rooms, but only because I felt like we "should" be sleeping together.
However, the pattern which has emerged enables him to get a good night's sleep, while I stay up later to watch television.
We're both happy being able to do what we want and getting our needs met.

Amanda said...

All I can say is, sign me up for high-end His and Hers Master Suites! Ideally sleeping next to your partner is suppposed to be comforting. But what if you are a light sleeper and your partner's every toss and turn drives you crazy? Sleeping arrangements should foster closeness and intimacy in the relationship, not anger and resentment. Couples shouldn't have to conform to the tyrannical mainstream and the one bedroom rule. Also, additonal bedrooms suggest additional closets :)And I'm really all for that!