Ask Dad: Are Separate Beds a Dream or Nightmare?

Andrew Dalton

You've all got tips and help when it comes to your days of work and kids, but who's around at night when it gets dark and quiet to help you make the best of your tough circumstances? Ask Dad, that's who. And I've got some mental massage oil right here. What are your needs?

My husband and I are having trouble in bed. Not with sex -- with the actual sleeping together. He's a snoring, gassy cover-hogging mess and I'm a sensitive sleeper. I think we'd both prefer just to have separate beds but it seems so cold and drastic. Is two beds a marriage killer?

As the lightest of sleepers myself, let me tell you this sounds fabulous! When I hear the old Rod Stewart line "Don't be here in the morning when I wake up," I say a little "Right on!" to myself. Not because I'm an early-70s womanizer, but because I have a hard enough time sleeping alone. Another person makes it near-impossible.

I love a nice cuddle as much as anyone -- hell, when I'm not called Ask Dad I'm called Professor Snuggle, at least on my business cards. But there comes a time every night when I say okay, time to turn my back on you dear, I'm not mad, I just can't sleep when another human is so much as thinking too loud near me.

Now replace a delicate, quiet lady with a big, writhing hunk of man, and I can't imagine what it would be like. You ladies are all saints as far as I'm concerned. Just be glad you don't have a man with night terrors. You can end up quite literally bruised and bloodied.

I know of couples who have done fine for years sleeping not just in separate beds in separate rooms. I don't even think the sex would suffer. The best sessions don't originate from shared bed time anyway, they pop up on couches and in kitchens, or walking out of the bathroom into the bedroom, or in the garage. It might even add some spice -- suddenly being in bed together will have meaning other than 'let's both crash after our sucky days.'

Plus there's a great tradition of split beds. Lucy and Ricky had them for God's sake, and that was the perfect marriage, right? (Somehow shortly after it was okay to have Fred and Wilma Flintstone in bed together on prime-time TV, though. Twin beds just weren't enough for Fred's bronto-sized needs.)

But wait, before you get in the car and drive to IKEA, I have to say I can't go all the way with you on this. I don't think you should do it. Maybe try it as an experiment, but In the end I think you need to stick it out in the king-sized -- and if you don't have a king-sized bed, a California king even, get one now.

The older you and your husband grow, and the more kids you choose to have, and the further along you are in your careers, the more you're going to lose quiet, intimate time together, be it sexual or just friendly. That 20 minutes of evening whispering after the lights or out, or the stolen spooning minutes that come after the snooze button is pushed are essential fuel for keeping things alive. 

The big parents' bed can also at its best function as the key part of a house. It's where the laundry gets dumped and the kids jump, and where the family can gather. Some of my happiest non-Star Wars memories as a child are of hanging out in the evenings around my parents' bed with my brothers and sisters.

So get ear plugs, nose plugs, sleep masks, separate comforters and Ambien if need be.

And remember, without sharing a bed, how will you express the grudges you're holding? How will he know you're pissed about something he said about his hot workmate (and vice-versa of course) if you can't turn your back and scoot to the far side of the bed?


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