Why it's okay for happily married couples over time to sleep in separate bedrooms

Just as apartments and hotels provide two basins in bathrooms, maybe the concept of two bedrooms isn’t that far-fetched.

 |  4-minute read |   09-03-2017
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Many years ago, I was at the home of a prominent fashion designer in Delhi. We were covering her beautiful home for our decor magazine, and as we chatted, she showed me around from room to room.

When we reached the first floor, she showed me the master bedroom and then led me to another bedroom close by, which she introduced as her bedroom. Within a second, she added that she also slept in the other bedroom, but this was the room she used when she wanted her time alone or to design.

It struck me as a little odd then, but I figured she wanted to ensure there was no miscommunication and that it shouldn’t seem like she and her husband were sleeping in different bedrooms. In short, she was affirming that all was well in their marriage.

Now, she probably wouldn’t need to. If you haven’t noticed, there’s a quiet revolution brewing in bedrooms across the country.

Women have moved out of their bedrooms, or the men have, and sleeping in different rooms no longer matters or raises eyebrows. Several years ago, this step would have been seen as a rebellion, and women would not have had the guts to do it, even if space was not a constraint.

The marital bed was always considered sacred, and relinquishing it not an option.

body_030917010859.jpg What does this mean for relationships?

It did happen, but with much older couples — grandparents. Sometimes, one spouse was snoring too loudly and the lack of sleep was making the other one’s blood pressure soar; frequent trips to the bathroom were disturbing; loud murmurings or sleep talking was another reason.

But, no one in the family seemed to care. Beyond a certain age, couples morphed more into sibling-like roles and you didn’t expect any action behind closed doors anyway.

But, with changes in lifestyles and the pace of society, this is now happening to couples in their 30s and 40s and 50s.

Women multitask — they go to work and manage the home and babies. They need their sleep as much as the men do, and if his snoring is coming in the way, the woman no longer thinks twice before moving to another room.

For some, it’s the children. Gone are the days when kids just grew up.

Today couples have just two or many even one child, and spend a disproportionate amount of time ensuring the child is physically safe and emotionally stable. And if tucking the child into bed and sleeping with the kid gives the child security, so be it.

Many moms also travel for work and want to spend those precious moments with their kids when they’re home. Working late nights or frequent red-eye flights also means disturbing the partner and on those nights, a separate bedroom spells bliss.

What does this mean for relationships?

Considering pillow talk went out of the window years ago for most, and almost everyone I know uses a single duvet, it probably just means a better night.

With televisions and iPads and cell phones eroding personal space, just physically sleeping in the same bed means nothing, especially if you have to spend the entire night tossing and turning and grumbling.

It probably hampers intimacy anyway when one spouse wakes up — or hasn’t slept at all — in a foul mood.

So, just as modern apartments and hotels now provide two basins in bathrooms, maybe two bedrooms (one for each spouse) isn’t that far-fetched.

It would mean time apart to read, to think, to listen to music, to WhatsApp chat or to mindlessly watch Facebook videos — whatever your guilty pleasure may be — without having to stuff headphones into your ears. It could also be a great place to head to if you can sense you are getting into one of those destructive fights where the words keep getting more nasty and the context of the fight keeps fading into oblivion.

Taking a step back into your calming space, your retreat so to speak, can help to douse the fire. 

And if the worry is that it would make you more distant or mean less sex, worry not.

The more you stay married, the more the physical space benefits a marriage.

In fact, couples that give each other mental space too — to pursue their own passions — seem the most content and the happiest.

If one is addicted to marathons, and the other loves staying up late to watch chick flicks, or if one enjoys partying with her girlfriends while the other likes an early night, the more they do what they enjoy, the less grumpy and frustrated they are likely to be.

And you don’t need a guru to tell you that sex is best when you’re emotionally happy. Whichever bedroom it may be in.

In fact, two rooms could just help beat monotony too.

But remember, some rules still apply. Wet towels will still not be allowed on the bed — not in either of the two rooms!

Let’s not forget who’s in charge!

Also read: Why IIMs should be renamed Indian Institute of Marriage


Geetika Sasan Bhandari Geetika Sasan Bhandari @geetika_sb

The writer is a former deputy editor, India Today Digital.

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