05 September 2011

The Rules!

Sleeping separately from your partner is not all fun, freedom, and rolling around a queen-sized bed with gay abandon. Contrary to popular belief - it's not all beer and skittles!

Sleeping apart requires discipline and moral fibre - moral fibre being defined as 'the inner strength to do what you believe to be right in difficult situations'. 

Sleeping apart from the man or woman you love can actually be a difficult decision. I'm yet to find one couple who doesn't have a level of angst about their decision to sleep separately. I think this is why people are so reluctant to talk about it - the feelings of unrest probably makes them feel there must be something wrong with them. 

As mentioned in my previous post, a friend of mind has just returned to sleeping with her husband after 9.5 years apart and I can't wait to talk to her about what has changed for them and how they feel about sharing the space together again.

When my husband and I decided to sleep apart I cried. I felt a heavy sense of loss and a fear that the relationship would be harmed due to the absence of the intimacy experienced through sharing a bed each night. And in all honesty, I wanted to sleep with my husband - to cuddle him at night and in the morning, to lie next to him at night and in the morning and chat, and to just enjoy the presence of him next to me each night. 

But 'alas and alack', it was just not to be.

When we realised we were destined for different geographical coordinates each night, we clung on to each other before sleep and immediately upon waking, and this is how our rules for separate rooms developed.

Rule 1
The last person up at night (normally me) has to go through to the person in bed and spend a little time with them. Depending on the circumstances, there can be lying in bed with them for a cuddle and a chat, but as a minimum, there is a kiss goodnight.

Rule 2
The first person up in the morning (normally my husband) must go through to the other person's room for a good morning kiss. If it is a weekend, then there is the added expectation that they will slip in to bed for a longer cuddle and maybe some more snoozing.

Rule 3
There is an interest taken in the other person's bedroom. This might manifest itself in helping to pick new furniture, helping the other person make their bed, or thoughtful gestures such as turning the other person's electric blanket on (mainly my husband doing that for me) when they are out in the evening.  

Rule 4
The sex rule. Conjugal visits should take into consideration freshly washed sheets!

We are fairly strict with each other when it comes to the rules. They are vital to us to ensure we make the effort to maintain the physical contact that couples who share a bed may indeed take for granted.

Our rules connect us to each other around the daily event of sleeping - just the same as when we sit at the table with each other to have dinner.

Funnily enough my co-author Sue has a similar set of rules with her husband. Their rules and rituals were established a long time ago also, but we did laugh when we discovered how similarly we treated this aspect of our relationships. I do wonder how other couples who sleep separately address the gap left by sleeping apart when it comes to taking care of their relationship.

So we will keep 'playing by the rules'...... it's kept us in the game so far.

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