Alone…but not lonely

This is not my bed but it looks like a very comfortable one to me!

When Jack and I had been married about 2 years, he  came down with a whopper of a cold. He coughed for 3 days straight, 24/7…then I got it.  Two days into my coughing fit, I suggested that we sleep in separated bedrooms so at least he could get a good night’s sleep. After about a week, we both had to admit that we were sleeping better in our own beds…own rooms. Since I was a little girl, I have had my own bedroom and always liked sleeping alone. I don’t even like sleeping with the cats, except Noah because that boy is like a rock…8 pm until 5 am, he doesn’t move (or snore) and he only takes up about a square foot of space!

I know that some people do not feel this way and I am not suggesting anything for anyone else. As a matter of fact, if you like sleeping with someone I would think that it must be good for your health too. But there is a belief that if you have separate bedrooms,  you also have separate lives and a poor relationship, so most people who have them, hide it.  Well, I am “outing” us. We have our own bedrooms (for sleeping), and we like it… (we still like each other quite a bit too!)

“The modern tradition of the marital bed only began with the industrial revolution, when people moving to overcrowded towns and cities found themselves short of living space. Before the Victorian era it was not uncommon for married couples to sleep apart“. (from an article by Dr. Mercola, Sharing your bed may be bad for your health Feb. 13, 2001)


31 thoughts on “Alone…but not lonely

  1. I’m with you! My husband and I have had separate rooms for the last 10 years. It took the first five for him to become comfortable enough to let others in on our secret. I never cared if anyone knew, as I figured it was really not their business to speculate on our private life ( and if they did, they must have way to much free time on their hands, LOL). We are both very light sleepers and found if we slept together we just took turns wakeing each other up.

    I also remember as a child visiting my grandmothers farmhouse and being very confused when my grandparents went to bed in separate rooms. Go figure…

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this! I slept with my husband for 30 years and felt quite guilty for awhile after deciding to sleep in my own room. I am a very light sleeper and he snores. For over 10 years now, we have had separate rooms and I can’t imagine sleeping with anyone again. We have a great relationship and enjoy each other and our children and grandchildren. Having my own space to sleep is essential for me and we are quite comfortable with that. There doesn’t have to be a lack of snuggle time just because there are separate bedrooms.

  3. My husband and I since we had our fire last December, decided on our own rooms. This way each one gets a proper sleep and doesn’t disturb the other. My hubby goes to bed earlier and gets up very early when he is called on his part time cross walk job, like around 6 a.m. and myself I am usually up around 8 or 8:30. This situation doesn’t change our relationship in anyway, we have been married 20 years. I asked my hubby about this and he is fine with it too. His nephew teased us about it when he realized when he was helping us move some furniture to our place, that we had separate rooms and he said “Really” and he just shook his head, cute.

  4. I love the title, alone…but not lonely. I love alone time, and agree I always want to sleep by myself-to read without a headlamp or to worry about disturbing someone else. It is liberating to have your own room,
    When touring the beautiful mansions in Newport, R.I. I envied the rich for their own big, beautiful, personal, bedroom space. Unfortunately, My little cottage only has one bedroom.

    • Thank you Joy….I loved those bedrooms too …and the idea of “personal space” is so soothing to me…this entire post (and reading the comments) has been a freeing undertaking for me!

  5. After my late husband had a heart attack and two surgeries, and I was of the age when I have to get up once a night, we found we were waking each other at least three times a night. We also decided on separate bed rooms for a restful night’s sleep.

    Now that I only share my queen-sized bed with my cat, I’m not sure that I would want to give up this me-space.Although, for a small cat she can take up and huge amount of space some nights 🙂

  6. Yes, yes, YES!!! When I was a young married, my husband and I slept in a king-sized bed and I, in my thoughts, used to sort of make fun of my parents for sleeping in twin beds. I felt superior, in that I thought MY relationship was more loving, giving and close. I mean, if you love your spouse, why would you ever NOT want to be in the same bed?

    So time went on and, like you Mary, there was the flu, and we separated into different rooms for the duration. We DID end up back in the same bed eventually, but I had become totally spoiled in those few days of solitude. When the hubby eventually decided to share his life with his secretary, inheriting my very own room and bed was a prize among the thorns of pain. Goes to show you how everything yields something good.

    Now I no longer look awry at those who have laid claim to separate bedrooms. I have joined them in their wisdom and I applaud them for being smarter (and less smug) than I ever was. “Alone-time” ROCKS!

  7. I am a poor sleeper and started to spend nights in the “guest” room this summer. Neither one of us deals well with the heat and the space to sprawl was so much more comfortable. Now that the weather is cooling down at night and I tend to get cold quickly (obviously my thermostat is busted), I relish the warming cuddle time……but reserve the option to drift into the guest room when I start to wander in the night. I have picked out a new paint color to further claim this space. As for my husband, he appreciates the rest when it is hot and lovingly surrenders his heat when I need it ! It’s all good.

  8. Ladies, I could not agree more… sleeping alone is great. My man and I have seperate rooms too. I like to go to bed early and read, while he like’s to stay up and watch TV. He was constantly waking me up, I like a cool room and fine cotton sheets while he likes a warm room and flannel sheets year round! Seperate rooms make for a happy couple, I think we should form a club of evolved people who have found the answer to long happy relationships. If people could just try it, they wouldn’t go back to sleeping together I’m sure.

  9. Mary, in my brief time of reading the White Feather Farm blog, your choice of topics is not only varied but this one, completely unexpected and unusual. I’m wondering if the responses to your topic today will come from women over a ‘certain’ age; perhaps not. Nevertheless, I live in the same situation. My husband was an airline pilot and flew Transatlantic and long distances for most of his career. His circadian rhythm is turned upside down as most of his flying was done at night. Several years ago, because he is awake from 1 to 5 in the morning, he moved downstairs to our family room. We bought him a lovely new couch and he’s a happy camper. Me, I found it embarassing at first to explain that I sleep upstairs and he, downstairs to our B&B guests. Now, I’m so relieved to have the room to myself other than my two wonderful dogs, one of whom curls up at my back, the other, sleeps in her crate (still a puppy). They don’t snore, burp or make ‘other noises’ in the night. I sleep better; he sleeps better. It’s nice to know that I am in the company of other women whose experiences are similar to mine.

  10. How interesting! I think one of the reasons I never got into a long term relationship is I never liked sleeping with another person and still don’t want to give up my own bed! Growing up in the Dick Van Dike era where sleeping in separate beds was about foiling the tv censors or meant the husband was in disgrace and so banned from bed, not sleeping together was taught as shameful or embarrassing. Too bad it wasn’t more discussed so my generation of middle American women knew there was an option. Only time I ever heard of it in “real life” was a college professor and her husband who not only slept in separate rooms, had separate houses next door to each other. Considered cleverly eccentric as it was a second marriage for them both and they were artists and writers. My mother got that look when I told her about it, you know the tight lipped disapproving look. Not to mention the change in bed size over the years, my grandparents slept in a full size bed for 50+ years and they didn’t even like each other that much! Well if circumstance sends me a partner this late in life its going to be separate bedrooms for sleep right off the bat. Thanks for sharing some of the reality out there.

  11. Dearest Mary,

    Well, once again you have hit a nail squarely on its head! Thank you for more validation in my life!

    From Fran

  12. Honestly? I keep waking me up. I need a separate room for my 3-o’clock-in-the-morning self. I wish she’d leave me alone. She never has anything very useful to say. ;-}

  13. During my last two long relationships I loved sleeping apart and did so throughout their entirity. However, now I absolutely love sleeping with my new lover…maybe the newness? Either way, I say do what feels right and what gives you the best sleep. I love that you’re being open about this. I can’t tell you the number of people who responded with envy, when I told them about my sleeping apart in the past!

    • Yes!….the idea that I can change my mind, that I don’t have to cement ways of being into myself by “proclamations” (I never or I always) is so freeing to me…thank you for sharing your experience Kristin!

  14. I’ve been away for several days and just finished reading all the posts and responses. Wonderful to catch up! It’s interesting that there are so many of us here that have separate bedrooms. My husband and I, married 35 yrs, started sleeping in separate bdrms 5 years ago. We love the arrangement and would never go back, in fact its hard when we travel and have to share a room. My husband calls his room the “man room” and we joke about conjugal visits, “your place or mine” all the time. It is very freeing and I guess I’m just old enough, 57 last sat, that I don’t really care what anyone thinks of my sleeping arrangements! LOL

  15. My husband and I have been married 32 years, and have had separate rooms for about 17 years. I’m a light sleeper, and he snores and is a restless sleeper, so now I finally get a good nights sleep and am not so crabby in the morning. I still find myself being embarrased and trying to hide it, though. The new house we’re moving into only had one bedroom on the main level, so we’re converting the adjacent porch to another bedroom for him. When the neighbors asked why we were closing in the porch, I told them it was his “snoring room”!

  16. I have to say I’m surprised at the unanimity of the comments. My husband and I have been married for 53 years and for a big percentage of those years we have had twin beds, but right next to each other. That eliminates the problem of either one being accused of hogging the covers. I take offense at the notion that if you sleep together you’re not “evolved.” Occasionally I have thought about having a separate bedroom, but we are too steeped in the idea that separate bedrooms indicate an unhealthy relationship. Now that he needs me nearby as a caregiver, I wouldn’t dream of leaving him alone. It looks like I might have my own bedroom all too soon.

    • Jean, my husband was ill for many years. 8 years ago, we changed our king-sized mattress for “California-king” twins, so they would fit our king bed frame. I used king-sized sheets and blankets, but it was great to not disturb each other. As his illness progressed and Hospice brought in a hospital bed, the nurses who stayed with us were amazed that I had placed the hospital bed in our bedroom, right next to our bed – especially since we had so much room elsewhere. But I couldn’t imagine it anywhere else. His sleeping rhythm (much like a baby’s – every 4 hrs) became mine. I knew I would have more than enough time to sleep – later.

      After he died, I was alone AND lonely. Time has passed (7 years!), I’m still alone, but the “lonely” only appears now and then. But I still sleep on “my” side of the bed, rarely move around on the other side, and the few times there’s been someone else in my bed with me, they still comment on how “odd” the 2 mattresses are!

      Cherish the time you have together ~ even the difficult ones. Everything you’re doing now is absolutely, positively good enough.

    • Ah Jean, your last sentence just broke my heart in its poignancy. There is always a deeper side to any discussion and you have certainly provided it here from your life experience. I wish you peace and many blessings on this road that’s ahead of you.

  17. Thanks for sharing, Mary. We did the separate bedroom thing a few years ago and it’s great! Now if I could get my goofy dreams under control…

  18. Alone, … but not lonely, as you titled your post Mary. Anyone having any comments on the reversed? Lonely. . . but not alone? Guess I’m offering this late at night as I haven’t felt sure enough to write it earlier today. But lonely is really ok, – it is our core, our own Lone-ness.

    My husband traveled a lot years ago, and I always! loved the time alone, slept better, – and now, it would just be too late to try and tell him otherwise. So, good for you ladies and your partners, for just being honest, – and open.

    • Hi Susan…guess you and I are the late night show tonight! I understand lonely…but not alone. It’s how I felt in a first marriage many many years ago that thankfully did not last and it ended before any children. I was in my early 20’s, very naive, but it helped me to grow up, be comfortable with independence, and know what I did and didn’t want for my life. Not sure if that’s where you were going with this but that was my experience. On the other hand, I know that there is a place in my life for solitude. Even now that I am retired…perhaps even more so. I value my private time and my husband and I recognize that need in each other. All in moderation I guess…and balance…my husband is an introvert and enjoys solitude at times. I’m an extrovert and need solitude at times…so it all works! Sweet dreams!

  19. There were many things that I “judged” when I was younger, less wise, less experienced, more influenced. A married couple sleeping apart was one of them. But now that I am 60, married for 28 years, I know there are many healthy reasons to sleep in separate bedrooms. Bottom line though it’s whatever works best for that couple in that relationship. There is so much more to a strong, healthy, grounded, equal partnership than sharing or not sharing a bedroom at night…like what goes on during all those waking hours! Jean, you touched my heart, with your final comment…may you always be at each other’s side…

    • Yes, Kathye….your statement,”Bottom line though it’s whatever works best for that couple in that relationship,” is really the core of this post and can apply to much of our actions in life. You nailed it.

  20. Another great topic to drag out into the light of day! My hubby and I do share a bed (king sized) but I keep threatening separate beds because I’d love to have animals in bed with us and he doesn’t.

    Interestingly, my sister and I shared a bedroom until we were in high schools. As adults, when we travel we share a hotel room and find we both sleep much better then if we had separate rooms. Some things don’t change. . .

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