Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Love You, But I Think We Should See Other Beds


I remember moons ago, when a friend of mine -- in speaking of her 8 year partnership with a man whom she referred to as a gem -- told me that sometimes she wished she could sleep in their bed alone. I wondered if her boyfriend felt the same way: it seemed that they hadn't had the conversation. At the time I couldn't relate to what she was moaning about, but eventually I got it.

Initially I had resisted her words and thought of them as hurtful and detached. When I entered my next relationship, I realized that her words truly had no bearing on her relationship with her gem.

I'm a light sleeper--I'm also a snorer so, I was grateful that my boyfriend was a hard sleeper. He rarely woke up in the middle of the night, and when did he fell back asleep almost instantly. He literally fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow. He wouldn't wake when I'd change sleeping positions but I always feared that he would. That became a strain. Sleeping wasn't supposed to be stressful.

My boyfriend was also a snorer. It was a fact that was miniscule at the beginning of the relationship; it became harder to deal with as time went on. Falling asleep was never a quick process for me. On average it takes between one to two hours for me to settle in. My boyfriend's snoring left me no peace.

I was never a night-time cuddler. He was. I'm well aware that there are many women who are desperate for that kind of affection. Holding and being held is extremely important to me but I reserve that for daylight hours.

At night my boyfriend would outstretch his arm so that my head could rest inside of it. I could only imagine how the weight of my head would become too uncomfortable before long, and result in a sleepy arm: tingled and restricted. I also needed the room to wiggle from my back, to my stomach, to one side, to the other.

I loved that he wanted to hold me after intimate romps and I know he loved it when I spooned him. He told me that when we would take the occasional day nap, he didn't like when we weren't facing each other. Facing him was optimal but sometimes I needed to turn the other way.

I'm reminded of an episode of hit sitcom, Friends, where Ross teaches Chandler a maneuver which he called the hug and roll.

Ross illustrated on a couch cushion. As he held the cushion which was meant to resemble a woman, he instructed, hug for her, roll for you. Wait until she falls asleep and then hug her to essentially turn her and then roll out of the way to rightfully claim your side of the bed.

It is silly and strange, to think that sleeping preferences is now a conversation to be had in relationships, but it makes good sense. 

To be honest, separate beds sounds like a wonderful idea. Sleep together when you want to, and sleep apart when you want to. I imagine there will be some hurt feelings along the way. You don't want to sleep with me tonight? You did yesterday; have I annoyed you today? 

The Good Men Project contributor, Chuck Ross, wrote a great piece this month, entitled, Why We Sleep Together. Ross tells us how his honesty has been received.

I don’t think this is a very controversial topic, though I have received hostile looks and tsks when mentioning in the past that I’m not fond of sleeping next to another person whose body is putting off heat, whom I have to engage in an unconscious struggle for cover, and whose bodily movements jar me out of REM. It’s impossible to ignore that bed comfort is important in our society. We are concerned with the efficient use of time and sleep. We want eight hours of sleep—the more solid the better.

He details some of the interests and barriers of sufficient sleep.

There are the struggles for territory and comfort. The desire to achieve comfort while also not wanting your comfort to come at the expense of the comfort of the one next to you. This limited system requires these two moving parts to be in sync with each other—not only in terms of the sleep cycles but also their “comfort quirks”: their desired temperature, and other environmental factors like background noise or lighting.

Separate beds sounds like a great idea: in fact, separate bedrooms sounds even better. It is possible to be completely devoted and in love, while recognizing that sleeping together isn't always comfortable or necessary. Figure out your own rules.

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