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When A Dream Marriage Has Separate Bedrooms

There was trouble in the relationship, and it was happening at night.

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A photo of a man and a woman sleeping in bed with their backs turned to one another. The photo has been torn in half, indicating their separate beds.
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Maya and Ken* were always suckers for interior design. The couple enjoyed watching all the design shows and reality TV home makeovers together, and when they needed something to fill a Sunday, there was nothing like visiting open houses and pretending to be interested buyers. Even during those destructive years when the kids were little, Maya and Ken managed to keep their home looking beautiful and current, always planning the next renovation or upgrade. Among the many things they had in common, designing and maintaining a fabulous family nest was first on the list.

When they weren’t fantasizing about real estate or waxing poetic about paint colors, Maya and Ken were busy with two boys and two full-time jobs. Saturdays were crammed with soccer and Little League games, and the weeknights were your typical exhaustive collapse into a haphazard family dinner with plenty of laughs sprinkled in among arguments over homework. They were happy, and the boys were good kids who somehow managed not to tear the house down despite the Nerf gun battles and muddy cleats.

But there was trouble in Maya and Ken’s marriage, and it was happening at night inside their contemporary décor-styled bedroom. The constant juggle of family life, the pressures of work and the insanity of maintaining that elusive balance were taking a toll on both of their stress levels, making it difficult to sleep at night. Maya would toss and turn, which kept Ken up all night. Ken was often too tired to exercise, and over the years he began to put on the pounds, which didn’t help his tendency to snore. The snoring woke up Maya, who would in turn fidget with the bed covers in search of sleep, which then woke Ken up from those precious few moments of REM sleep. Powerhouses by day, Maya and Ken were keeping each other from relaxing and recharging overnight.

One morning, Maya woke up to the sound of her alarm clock and discovered something she hadn’t felt for years. Maya was rested. She had slept a solid seven hours without waking up. Excited to share the news, Maya turned to Ken’s side of the bed and found it empty. She followed the sounds of snoring to their strategically lit living room and found Ken asleep on the new, contempo-modern, sectional sofa, deep in sleep and snoring away. It seemed that in a desperate attempt to catch some z’s, Ken had gone rogue.

It had been over 20 years since the couple had slept in separate beds, with the exception of the occasional business trip or the nights Maya spent in the hospital after the boys were born. But the next night, Ken again wandered out to the living room, and once again, both woke up refreshed. By night three, Maya asked Ken if he wanted to sleep on the couch, and after a few weeks it became habit. Sleeping in separate beds (or a bed and a sofa) didn’t get in the way of intimacy. Ken would often start out the evening in bed but move to the couch before sleep set in. Maya felt great during the day, and Ken used some of his newfound energy to rediscover the gym.

So it wasn’t surprising that when the couple finally went shopping for their dream home (for real this time), they looked for a house that featured two master bedrooms.

Maya remembers their real estate agent assuming they would want a four- or five-bedroom home, “So the boys can come home from college to their own rooms, plus a guest room or office if you ever need it.” But Maya and Ken were certain about how they wanted to set up their new house. “Every person in this family gets their own bedroom, married or not,” says Maya.

Today, Maya and Ken share a beautiful home on the East Coast with a view of the ocean. Each of their sons has a bedroom waiting for them when they come home from college for vacations or summers, and both Maya and Ken have the bedroom of their dreams. Maya has decorated hers in blues and grays, echoing the seawater she can see out her window. Ken, who always preferred rooms full of light, has kept everything as simple and white as possible. Not only are they each getting a great night’s sleep, but they also have been able to design their bedrooms to match their personal tastes, without input or argument from the other spouse.

“We’re together all the time,” says Maya. “Especially now that the boys are big. And trust me, we each spend plenty of time in the other one’s room. But when I’m ready for sleep, Ken and his snoring are banished … and he has no problem with that.”

Being so well rested has actually enhanced their sex life, since they have more energy for each other. They also enjoy having two rooms in which to be intimate. “It never gets boring,” Maya reports.

It might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect arrangement, but for these two interior-designing former insomniacs, a dream home is a place to dream, without interruption, in the privacy and comfort of your own sleeping space. Home Sleep Home.

*Names have been changed