26 March 2012

The silence of the sheets

I have written about many of the overt and obvious behaviours that create problems in bed. There are the in-between-the-sheets problems, such as snoring and bed cover stealing, and the problems that are created 'around' sleeping, such as differing bed times and temperature requirements.

But there is also a silent sleeping issue that instills fear into a loved-one's hearts, or that fuels the fires of an angry interchange between bed-sharing partners.

Allan Pease would be a more informed writer on the topic - it's the non-verbals of not getting along.

We all know that non-verbals are as equal, if not more powerful, than verbals when it comes to how people 'talk' to each other. I have such strong memories of heading to bed with a partner after a fierce showdown and dreading having to lie next to him. The urge to punch and/or suffocate said partner was often strongly resisted, balanced equally with the desperately sought desire to sleep.

Similarly, I was often the person in the partnership racked with guilt about bad behaviour, but unable to climb over a high wall of pride to admit my wrong doings.

Either scenario, however, probably looked a little something like this.......

I'm neither a pyschologist, nor relationship counsellor, but I don't think that any of these images scream "I'm getting a great night's sleep!!". (Mind you, the men in pictures 1 and 3 do look particularly peaceful - I won't even go there)

Taking a stressful situation to bed with you is not an ideal environment in which to sleep. The non-verbals associated with an argument can become a physical presence in a bed with a couple. It's the other 'person' who comes to have a threesome, that you really didn't want or invite.

Turned backs, stiff bodies, seriously loud and exaggerated sighing, dramatic turns in the bed, and innocent pillows punched, can all add up to lying for hours staring at the clock, the ceiling, or the inside of your eyelids.

The double whammy comes in the morning when you both awake to try to sort out the problem. You've got a foggy head and are unable to reason through the issues, because you have barely slept and are genuinely incapable of good logic.

How about this for a suggestion? You and your partner have a disagreement/argument/
stoush/whammy of a fight; you say what you can to smooth some waters over before bed time (or not); you then agree that some time apart might give you space and the chance to think things through.

Logically, what I am working towards is separate beds - be it for a night or longer. I can hear thousands, nay millions screaming that you need to go to bed with your estranged partner to keep the intimacy there in times of crisis and how can you have 'great make up sex' if you're not lying next to each other?

Sorry. I just don't agree.

I think there are many times where time apart can give you physical, emotional and mental space to work through problems and come to resolution faster than sticking it out in that small shared space.

And honestly, it's a personal thing. If my husband and I cannot resolve a fight before we go to sleep (and he is best at trying to get it resolved) we will still make sure we say 'I love you' and agree to sort the problem out the next day (or the day after). We realise that a tired head and heart aren't always the best tools to solve a breakdown in our relationship.

So we fight like any other couple, but don't need to get in to bed together to sort out the problem. Make up sex still happens, but it's not dependent on getting into a shared bed.

When we do disagree though, neither of us have to lie next to a stiffened board, or a flailing animal in death throes, huffing and puffing, as they work through their anger. We still make our way to our own rooms, taking care of each other's emotions and enjoying the gentle and welcoming silence of our own sheets.

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