Why I Stopped Sleeping With the Love of My Life


If you want to get way better rest (and maybe even have better sex), all you have to do is kick your partner out of bed.


I like my wife very much, and I operate under the assumption that she likes me, but our past few months have been made immeasurably better by the manner in which, come nightfall, she and I have nothing to do with each other. At bedtime she retreats to our home’s master bedroom, a cozy sky-blue sanctuary replete with scented candles and a queen bed, while I take my nightcap and shuffle off to the former guest bedroom, now my own quarters, an island-green space that contains a second queen bed and even more scented candles, because as an adult married man I am deadly serious about my calming aromas.


We haven’t always slept apart. For years I would lie awake beside my wife and seethe at her perpetual pillow-shuffling, the icy light of her Words with Friends game, and, most significantly, her alarm clock, which announced itself every morning at 5:45 A.M. and was followed by her hammering the snooze button with such vigor that I began to suspect it wasn’t a snooze button at all but a switch that summoned waffles and back rubs from some other, better husband. She, meanwhile, suffered through a partner—i.e., me—who apparently snores like an elephant giving birth inside a Dumpster.


Our nightly war fueled a mutual resentment that welled up like water in a dam. Then, one morning, everything burst. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” she said, staring into the first of her multiple coffees, “but I can’t sleep with you.”


Don’t take this the wrong way,” she said, “but I can’t sleep with you.”


What defense did I have? Speaking as someone who routinely wakes himself up snoring, I can barely sleep with me. This was threat-level-red, save-the-relationship stuff. That evening we returned to the table, poured two glasses of wine, and made a decision: Under no circumstances would we sleep together again.


The next morning she came downstairs glowing, her Fitbit announcing “You slept 7.5 hours,” and I’d never seen her so joyful on a day when she hadn’t produced a baby. This was a marked improvement over her previous morning approach, which was glaring at me while brutalizing the bathroom cabinet doors. For my part, I felt no urge to holler, “IF YOU’RE GOING TO HIT SNOOZE SIX TIMES, JUST TURN THE SONOFABITCH OFF!”


A week into the new routine, we couldn’t understand why we’d ever slept in the same bed. Nor could we explain how the profoundly insane idea of joint sleeping got to be the societal norm. Plausible explanations include financial pressures (as one bed is cheaper than two) and fear of the dark (which contains thieves and werewolves), but as best I can figure, most people sleep together for the same reason they become Chicago Bears fans or get back into vinyl: the pull of tradition.


That’s hardly grounds to continue. In fact, one study says that 40 percent of adult couples have already sleep-divorced. And while cuddly newlyweds may enjoy the primal comfort of an adjacent body, we (after 16 years of marriage) are not such people. Our unsentimental arrangement has radically improved our moods, empathy centers, and circadian rhythms, and thus our marriage. Sleeping in separate beds has actually made us more intimate.

That’s because sleeping and sex are two very different things. Young lovers, here is some free advice: Maybe don’t always do it in the bedroom, or as the absolute last activity at the end of an exhausting day. Use your imagination and separate beds can fuel spontaneity, which everyone knows is the key to keeping things hot after you’ve reached the point in a relationship where sex vs. Netflix is a very real question.


At this stage, we’ve been together long enough to know that a little time apart is healthy. It’s good to miss someone. Finally free of sleep-deprived crankiness, we now have the energy to try new restaurants and vanish for no-kids weekends. We end our days walking or sitting or lying together, and then we retire to our rooms, text good-nights with idiotic bitmojis, sleep like infants, wake up 7.5 uninterrupted hours later, and stumble back to each other again.


This story originally appeared in the September 2017 issue with the title “Why I Stopped Sleeping With the Love of My Life.”
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