Help me return to the marital bed
May 12, 2015 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Lately, I have been having trouble sharing the bed with my husband. I want to be able to return there...

The longer version: I used to be quite clingy about sleeping together and would miss him terribly if one of us was sick and had to sleep elsewhere. Then, about February-ish, he was sick for about two weeks. The coughing kept me awake and I slept in the spare room.

Since then, I have had a lot of trouble going back. I was off work for two weeks due to a seasonal break and my sleep schedule got messed up. Then I was sick. Then the change of the seasons gave us both allergy problems and he was snoring for awhile...

I really want to get back into the bed! I truly believe that my failure is not an emotional or relationship thing. I am just such a light sleeper! He wakes me up and I can't get back to sleep. It is not a manifestation of my love, I really believe that.

I have tried using a white noise app and I have had a few good nights with it. I can tune out the snoring now. But when he fidgets or moves, I am still really sensitive.

Husband thinks it is all in my head, that I am psyching myself out by worrying so much about it. He also said he does not care where I sleep and is not bothered by it. We have our cuddle time before we go to sleep. If I leave later he is asleep anyway and does not notice.

But for some reason, I don't quite believe it and am wracked by guilt. Every night, I challenge myself that I will stay in the bed, then slink off in shame when I just can't hack it. How do I get back in the bedtime groove?
posted by JoannaC to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do not describe yourself as slinking. You have to get your rest, but you want what you want. Make a plan, get talking.
posted by Oyéah at 9:47 AM on May 12, 2015

If you can throw money at the problem, I was constantly bothered by being in a bed with my spouse (like, for over a decade) and then a few years ago we got a king size memory foam mattress. OH EM GEE it is night and day. Big enough that we're not constantly running into each other, and the memory foam does not translate movement AT ALL so we can move around and fidget as much as we want and the other person does not even notice.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

I wish you could rid yourself of the "guilt" and "shame" about this. Your husband says he's not bothered by your sleeping elsewhere. You're still getting together-time. Sleep is really, really, really important. If sleeping apart is what you need to do so that you both get the sleep you need, there should be no guilt or shame in that. Think of it as self-care, not as a way you're failing your husband or your marriage.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:49 AM on May 12, 2015 [14 favorites]

You have all of our permission and blessing to let go of the guilt and shame. Sleep is a fundamentally separate thing from your relationship with your husband, which frankly, sounds healthy and awesome. Sleep wherever you need to sleep in order to get your rest, and feel good about it.
posted by jbickers at 9:52 AM on May 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

There's nothing shameful about getting the sleep you need. It's not a "manifestation of love" to suffer all night. Being sleep-deprived, cranky, physically unwell, mentally sluggish - that stuff is bad for a marriage. You're asleep, it's not quality time.

Good couples take care of themselves, in part so they can be their best for each other, and in part to try not to die early, which long-term sleep deprivation can contribute to.

It may be that this is seasonal, or once you get a couple months of good sleep under your belt you'll regain the ability to fall and stay asleep in the room with him. You may eventually discover the fan, temperature, pillow, white noise machine, or sleep meditation that solves this problem. Or you may just find that nighty-night snuggle/chat and off to separate rooms is what works best.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:00 AM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Its not a failure to sleep in separate beds, at all.

Start small: Take naps together. Then, try to sleep together on a low-pressure weekend night, where you know that you can sleep in the next day. Work up from there.
posted by Fig at 10:25 AM on May 12, 2015

You are entitled to get enough sleep every night. Your husband even says he does not mind!

To put things into perspective: my ex-husband was a snorer and I am a terribly light sleeper. I would go to the guest room or sofa if I had trouble sleeping, and he would actually get angry and demand I go back to the bed. Beside him. Where I couldn't sleep. Your husband is awesome.
posted by methroach at 10:51 AM on May 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

My husband travels a lot, and it takes me a few nights to get used to him not being there. I wake up frequently when my unconscious self realises something is different. Then when he comes home, I have another few nights of restless sleep while I readjust to having him back in the bed. I always figure it's a matter of getting used to all the movements and noises another person makes.
posted by tracicle at 10:59 AM on May 12, 2015

There are lots of people who sleep seperately due to sleep incompatibility. Maybe knowing you are not alone, and that plenty of people thrive in their relationships, can bring some comfort. Also, have you ever watched a period piece from days long gone? Rich people and kings and queens often had their own bedrooms! With their own fireplaces! That seems like heaven to me, honestly (because of my sleep preferences... I like my space and a cooler room than others do). The key question, I think, is whether or not you have time to connect in an emotional way outside of the bedroom.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:05 AM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll throw a few spaghetti strands against the wall and see if maybe one sticks for you:

1) Earplugs. My fiancee and I both wear them. She, for years. Me? It's a new thing but I'm the light sleeper between the two of us and it's helped ENORMOUSLY. It gets kinda comforting that all you can hear is the gentle beating of your own heart.
2) Memory foam mattress topper. This helps the light sleeper (me) adjust to the tossing and turning of someone else in my bed. You can have cuddle time, then go to your side of the bed and get your sleep on.
3) Separate sheets and blankets. She likes to be smothered, I like just light covering. This allows us each to have our favored covering, but also, when we toss and turn, we're not yanking the covers off our partner. It feels very abundant and decadent, but man, it works.
4) Don't got all or nothing. Maybe try one or two nights and then go back to the guest bedroom. Dip your toe into the water as opposed to jumping in and doing a cannonball.

Good luck and go for it!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:27 AM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

What about if you start out in the bed and your husband comes to bed once you're asleep? Not permanently, just until you readjust.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:03 PM on May 12, 2015

Get a less jiggly mattress or mattress topper.

Stop feeding husband after 8:00 in the evening. He will sleep deeper if he isn't digesting something.

Have sex with him before he goes to sleep. If done correctly, sex can trigger a comatose state for most men.

Place a body pillow or rolled up blanket between you so that his movements disturb you less.

If he continues to snore, attach a tennis ball to the back of his t-shirt to keep him on his side.
posted by myselfasme at 1:55 PM on May 12, 2015

I would just like to second everything that Major Matt Mason Dixon said. Earplugs were a total game changer for me, as was a king-sized bed. My phone's vibrate setting makes a very adequate alarm.

Aside from the unfortunate way he phrased it, your husband is partially right - you sound like you're anxious and anticipating disturbances because you don't want to "slink away in shame." Maybe try some melatonin or valerian tea for a few nights until you have confirmed for yourself that it is possible to sleep through the night with your partner in the same bed.

If absolutely nothing works, I advocate taking over the guest bedroom and declaring it your Boudoir. Act coquettishly scandalized any time your partner sees past the doorway, and start amassing a collection of vintage négligées in which you may swan about anytime after 5pm (and all weekend). But seriously, there's a lot of free-floating shame in culture nowadays about sharing a bed through the night, every night, being part of Marital Duties. Are you aware that some successfully married couples don't even share an address? Any choice you make that results in you getting good sleep is the right choice.
posted by katya.lysander at 8:51 PM on May 12, 2015

It took me a long time to reconcile sleeping separately with my partner. It was, unconsciously, something indelibly associated with bad relationships - a connection formed when I discovered my parents sleeping apart as a twelve year old, and then they divorced a month later.

Intellectually, I knew this was nonsense, but emotionally it took me a lot, lot longer to come around. It was genuinely distressing to the point of tears and fights. My partner couldn't understand it, she didn't have this connection.

A baby cured us ha ha, but really, it was sleeping apart and realising the relationship was fine, if not better. This realisation took months, but it's never left since. Good luck.
posted by smoke at 3:33 AM on May 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Things that are tough to sleep through:

Sleep Apnea Level snoring. He got tested after being caught sleeping at work & warned,and got a C-PAP within 2 hours of his sleep test.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Rolling into the other person
Flinging an arm on the other person
Hugging the other person when they are sleeping

My kids loved sleeping in the same bed when they were little, but they slept better and more soundly separately - and were happier. It's not about being married.
posted by childofTethys at 5:23 PM on May 13, 2015

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