Woman sleeping on the far side of a bed with an empty pillow
Getty Images
Getty Images
Relationships

How A Sleep Divorce Saved My Marriage

And how it could save your marriage, too.

A few years ago, I was so frustrated with my husband of a decade that I called it quits and banished him to the basement.

I told him that we needed a sleep divorce immediately. It saved our marriage.

A whopping 12 percent of couples filed for a sleep divorce as of 2018, and 30 percent have discussed it. Forty-six percent secretly want a sleep-breakup, according to a recent study by Slumber Cloud.

A sleep divorce is when couples sleep in different beds or in different rooms.

Maybe it’s because one person snores. Maybe he’s a blanket hoarder or a light sleeper or needs space or *insert your own reason.*

“Many couples truly love each other, but cannot sleep in the same bed without serious health and well-being consequences,” says Christine Scott-Hudson, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Create Your Life Studio. “If you love your partner but also love how you feel rested after getting some shut-eye, a sleep divorce may be the right option for you.”

My husband began snoring like a freight train all of a sudden. I tried using a white machine combined with open windows while shoving my ears under two pillows. Nothing worked. I tried kicking him every few minutes, changing his position. It was impossible. Finally, I told him he’d have to move to the basement so I could sleep. It was bliss.

He stayed in my bed until I went to sleep, then headed to the basement.

The therapists I interviewed about sleep divorce were mostly positive about the concept — but they did warn about some potential issues.

Sometimes, couples deciding not to share a bed or a room are doing this because it’s an easier way to figure out what to fix in the relationship. It could be a way of moving from a marital arrangement with a shared room to more of a roommate situation, says Rachel Dubrow, a psychotherapist in Northfield, Illinois.

But in other cases, it’s simply an easy fix when someone has a sleep habit that’s keeping the other person up.

“While it may feel awkward or detached at first, it may end up being what’s needed for both partners to truly appreciate and feel connected to one another,” Dubrow says.

And it’s happening more often, says Corrin Voeller, couples’ counselor and owner of Prosper Therapy in Minnesota.

If couples have a conversation about the realities of their situation, detailing how they could make it work, then this may be a great solution, Voeller says.

“When I see it go badly is when one partner makes the decision and takes action without discussing it with the other person,” she says. “This often leads to hurt feelings and feeling a loss of connection.”

To have the conversation, she suggests sitting with your partner at a time when there are limited distractions. Explain how you feel about the current sleep situation, and how you think sleeping apart will solve the issue. Be open to compromise, such as sleeping together on the weekends or spending time laying together before going to sleep in separate areas, Voeller says.

In our case, after two years of sleeping separately happily, my husband finally agreed to see a doctor to figure out why he had suddenly acquired a snoring habit. Turns out, he had sleep apnea. After snagging a super chic (not so much) snoring mask, he returned to our bedroom.

Spoiler alert: I miss having the entire king bed to myself a little.

More From This Week

I no longer looked forward to the most wonderful time of year.
By Christine Burke
But then I did. And it was spectacular.
By Danielle Braff
Why I now choose Netflix and my couch over a night out.
By Randi Mazzella
The changes started slowly but my husband noticed everything.
I've mastered it. Here's how you can, too.
By Michele Harris

More From Relationships

Advertisement
Close Video Modal
Woman sleeping on the far side of a bed with an empty pillow
Getty Images