True Story: My husband and I have separate bedrooms

Are you married with separate bedrooms? Do you WISH you had separate bedrooms? Click through for one woman's story and tips for how to get your own damn room!

When we get move in with a partner, sharing a bed and a bedroom seems like a forgone conclusion.

Even if our partner is messy, snores, or goes to bed at a different time, we soldier on.

Jamie and her husband tried something different.

Tell us a bit about yourself! 

My name is Jamie. I’m 33, and I currently live in North Carolina. I’m a network engineer at a MSP, and when I’m not building racks of routers and switches, I enjoy biking, hiking, and reading. I like to scribble, with the intention of never showing anyone my novels, and I love to paint too. My husband, Tom, is also my best friend.

What’s your husband like? 
So, Tom and I met on Livejournal. (Yeah, this was back when LJ was the big thing.) We met around 2005, and began chatting about a shared hobby: reenacting. We started dating in 2006. We got married 5 years later.
Tom is hilariously anal-retentive about some stuff and a total slob about others. He’s the kind of guy who will organize our pantry by food type, but leaves his half-finished sewing projects on the floor of the den, then realizes he can’t find a particular piece three days later. I love him to pieces, but he’s the first person to tell you he’s awful at organizing his own stuff.
He’s a costumer and a tailor, so our only spare room is crammed floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric, costumes on racks, sewing machines, and tons of books. We have a private library of about four thousand books, which he’s getting ready to organize by the Dewy Decimal system.
What lead to you and your husband having separate bedrooms?
Technically, we have my bedroom and the most comfy futon alive. Tom has some back issues as well as severe snoring problems, not to mention extreme insomnia (both due to his time doing two tours of Iraq), so he prefers to sleep on his side with something up against his back.
It sounds weird, but the futon we have is not your average metal frame and flat mattress. We found it by accident on Craigslist, and the owner only wanted seventy five bucks for it!
It’s custom made from rosewood, with pop out magazine holders and carved legs. We looked it up, and its estimated worth is about 1500 dollars. It was a TOTAL steal.
At what point did you guys say “Okay, maybe we should just have separate bedrooms”? 
We both suffered for YEARS before we admitted we needed separate bedrooms. He snores and I have what’s looking to be probably sleep apnea. I need to get tested, but I’ve woken several times in the night before because I stopped breathing.
The lack of sleep led to some awful fighting, and there was also some social pressure. We didn’t want to be one of those couples who eventually stop being affectionate or sexual because we’re not sleeping together. It’s a completely unrealistic fear, but I’d argue its’ definitively real.
When we moved to our current city, he slept on the couch and I slept in our bedroom. When we bought the futon, he was so thrilled because of how comfy it was, but we keep it in the living room, because the other bedroom is crammed full of all his costuming gear!
What are each of your bedrooms like? 
Our living room (aka his bedroom) is a hallmark of Victorian furniture, books everywhere, and gorgeous Edwardian fashion plates on the walls. We also have pictures of beautiful temple ruins from Italy in there, as well as vintage WWI photos.
It’s an eclectic hodgepodge of eras and styles, and it’s also where Tom does a lot of his hand sewing. We watch movies together in there and I work on my laptop, but when it’s bedtime, I get out so he can unwind. He has severe insomnia, so it can take him a while.
My bedroom has a 1940s bedframe and a lot of dark, woodsy furniture. There’s also a 7-foot amoire in there for reenacting gear. I keep some personal paintings on the wall, as well as the painting I commissioned for my birthday. There’s a wooden trunk for blankets and a spot for me to lift weights and do yoga.
How do you guys navigate sex since you don’t share a bed?
Honestly, sex turned out to not be a problem. We just use my bedroom. If anything, having separate rooms makes me more, um, affectionate, and I am totally guilty of sneaking downstairs and snuggling him in his sleep. He growls at me, but he’s pretty good about accepting secret midnight rendezvous!
Do the people in your life know you have separate bedrooms? 
So, joking, I asked my husband that question. He said straight up: “Any of my guy friends who would have asked me that question also have either slept next to me at a reenacting event, or were with me in Iraq. I’m a REALLY bad snorer. If you have to sleep next to me, you want to be the one who falls asleep first.”
Since we’ve been together for almost 12 years, I have to agree. He’s loud enough to wake the dead.
To be fair, most of my friends have unconventional relationships themselves, and not sharing a bedroom is the least of it. They’re very laissez-faire about the whole thing.
If the snoring/sleep apnea issues were resolved, do you think you’d go back to sharing a bedroom?
Honestly? No. I like having the freedom of my own room. When we buy a house, he’s already talking about having his own study and space, and  I think it’s so nice to have the freedom and privacy of your own room.
What have you learned from this that ANY of us could apply to our lives? 
I think the social fear that had me in our earlier years is very real, but it can be overcome when you realize how little other people are going to care. It’s not their marriage, it’s yours. Ours is fairly unconventional anyway, so when I stopped being worried about other people, I started thinking of what would make us happiest.
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jamie! Do any of you have non-traditional sleeping arrangements with your partner?
Photo by Cheryl Winn-Boujnida on Unsplash

12 Comments

fakefrenchgirl

I don’t think this is weird at all… and I’m married. My husband and I have different work schedules and according to him, I snore (lies!) so sometimes we sleep in different rooms. Plus I am the one who wakes up with the baby, because of breastfeeding and there really is no point for us both to be awake in the middle of the night when we don’t have to be. Whatever works right? I think this is more common than people think.

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Heidi

My grandmother (now 91) and grandfather had separate bedrooms for most of their marriage of 55+ years.

I also know my own parents slept separately much of their marriage due to different sleep schedules. Because they had the one bedroom, I felt it was kind of sad when they slept apart as though they “didn’t like each other”.

Ultimately, I’ve tried it both ways with boyfriends: same bedroom and separate bedrooms. I prefer having my own bedroom! That way, we each have our own space. Sex wasn’t a problem either.

So happy to read this post!

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Erin

My husband and I also have separate rooms originally due to snoring. I would encourage anyone who might have severe snoring or known sleep apnea to see if a cpap machine could be a health improvement aid. My husband’s sleep apnea was severely affecting his health. He had previously been led to believe he didn’t even have it by a misinformed gen MD. So now he wears the mask and doesn’t snore but I found life with no pets in the bedroom and no husband either mean I get better sleep. Better sleep = happier marriage.

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Helena

I second that encouragement! I know someone who was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and got a C-PAP. The change in her is remarkable – she has so much more energy and focus now that she gets good sleep. It’s really worth getting the diagnosis!

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Summer

My husband and I have “our” bedroom, but if our work schedules are totally different, he will sleep in our guest room. I used to tell him to hide his things, because I thought people would think we were having troubles in our marriage if they saw his stuff in the guest room, but it turns out we know tons of other couples who do this as well. Everyone just wants to get good sleep!

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BW

My spouse and I have separate bedrooms, and we have a great relationship! We’ve been together for 13 years, and we’ve never been closer. When people ask what our secret is, I tell them it’s because we have our own space when we need it, and we both sleep well every night.

It’s funny that people would worry that their sex life would suffer if they didn’t share a bed. It’s okay to put a little effort in and walk a few feet to another room!

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Stephanie

This is my exact arrangement with my husband, with him sleeping on the couch and all! I cannot believe someone else lives like this. He needs the TV on to sleep (something to do with distraction and his anxiety) and I have to have a cold quiet room. I always thought there was something “wrong” with us but honestly, I think not sharing a bed has made us a lot better at respecting each other’s space and ‘quiet’ time. THANK YOU for writing this!

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Debbie Keough

Same here! For 27 years we slept together and I suffered through the snoring, the sound of the tv, blue light from his gadgets, not to mention, he is disorganized. So I decided to take care of my health since I was experiencing fatigue and also didn’t want to clean up after him anymore since really, it’s the Odd Couple syndrome. So he keeps his Mancave like a dorm and I finally have my Queen’s Room. I never had a room like this since I married at 17 so we are both happier now. He is an insomniac and works weekend only and I work during the week so clearly, we had to adjust and let go of the sentimentalities. At first we didn’t like it and felt a disconnect but the older I get, I need my rest and sanity. Plus, I love my white room! 🙂

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Tasha | Unjunkiefied

My husband and I have separate bedrooms too. I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way now. True, we have 2 little ones (2 and 4). We do co-sleep, the baby- I mean my 2 yr old and I need darkness and dead quiet to fall to sleep. My 4 yr old and daddy need the tv on to fall to sleep. So each of us sleeps in a different room with each kid and each cat. Then every night, my 4 yr old sneaks into my bed bc daddy is snoring too loud. It’s what works for us and we are happier for it. As for the sex life. As I said, we have a 2 and 4 yr old and NO doors on any room in our rental home but the bathroom so, sex isn’t happening with or without sleeping in the same room. When we can, we do but no one is upset about it. And it certainly has NOTHING to do with our sleeping arrangements.

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Helena

Thank you for this! I know a couple who sleep separately for similar issues to the interviewee, but I never really thought about doing it by choice. I’ve never lived with a partner, but I can’t imagine sharing my bed and being cramped. I’m also messy, keep odd sleeping hours, and can’t imagine someone wanting to live with that. This gave me some hope that I could make living with a partner livable!

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