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Sleeping separately didn't end my marriage, it strengthened it

Brittany is the queen of her castle in her houseful of men.  Her husband keeps her laughing daily as they parent their 4 sons (including identical twins!) together. When she isn't grading papers from her online University students, she i...

My husband sleeping on the couch was the best thing for our marriage

My husband and I slept in separate beds for over three years. Don't feel bad for us though — or for him! Our couch is amazing. Our arrangement was completely mutual. Every night we said goodnight with a kiss and "sweet dreams," then I went to sleep in the queen sized bed and he slept on the couch.

Over those three years, separate beds helped give us sleep we needed during a unique season in our marriage. Sleeping apart also gave me a unique perspective on our marriage and taught me a few valuable lessons as well. Here are some of the lessons we learned during that time.

1. Clarify your needs

When I was around 20 weeks pregnant with Silas (now 3), I could not get comfortable in our shared queen bed. My back and hips ached and I was constantly tossing and turning. One night, I had enough and I went to sleep in our spare room. The mattress on our spare bed is about 20 years old and deliciously saggy and soft — just what my achy body needed. I also had the "space" that my growing body craved, and I could sleep with as many pillows as I wanted without crowding my husband out of the bed.

Eventually we moved the guest bed into our bedroom so we could still share a room. I'm not gonna lie: I loved this arrangement. I've always been picky about sleeping with other people (I can't fall asleep with anyone touching me, even my babies) and I loved the freedom of the separate beds.

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2. Ditch "normal" if it doesn't work for your marriage

After Silas was born, Aaron moved onto the couch in the living room because newborn life and his 5:30 a.m. alarm did not mix.

Through Silas' whole babyhood, he was a touchy sleeper. Aaron didn't want to wake Silas (or me) up when he went to work early and we were waiting until Silas slept through the night to move him to his own room.

Well, that child didn't sleep through the night until he was one and half. By that time, I was pregnant with Eli (see? separate beds didn't hurt us at all! wink wink!) and was starting to pile pillows into the bed again.

As the months of sleeping apart marched on, I kept thinking, "Are we normal?"

But "getting all the sleep" was pretty much #1 on our priority list during those years so the separate sleeping arrangements stayed. Normal or not, it's what worked for us.

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3. Check in with each other

I found myself Googling "couples that sleep apart" because I just couldn't shake the feeling that our marriage was slipping into "weird" or even "unhealthy."

I found all sorts of scary articles about how couples who sleep in separate beds have, at best, have fallen into the "Roommates Zone," or, at worst, have one foot in divorce court.

"Are we ok?" I asked my husband. "Are we still ok with this sleeping separately thing?"

"Do you want me to come back and sleep in the room?" he asked.

"Uh, not really," I said. After all, we had a newborn again. "Do you?"

"Well, honestly, I don't want to wake up every time Eli cries. And I don't want to wake either of you up when my alarm goes off. So, no."

We checked in. We talked about it and decided, "Yeah, we're good." We still snuggled on the couch every night. We still had long conversations about our goals and dreams, our kids, and our issues. We were NOT in the roommate zone. We weren't sleeping in the same bed but we were fine...more than fine. We were strong — online articles be damned.

4. No season lasts forever

We kept talking and realized how much we missed the pillow talk, the comfort of sleeping near the one you love, and the normalcy of sharing a bed when you're married. So right after Eli's first birthday we moved him to his own room. I had shared a room with two other "men" for the last 3 years. Aaron and I were both ready to kick the couch to the curb (metaphorically! It's a great couch!) and be reunited for good.

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5. Getting to the place you want requires sacrifice

We were both used to having our own space by this time so we decided to upgrade to a king sized bed. Ahh! True bliss — especially for me!

The new mattress, bed frame, and sheets cost us nearly $1,000, but it was a financial sacrifice that we were more that willing to make. We were excited when our "separation" came to a conclusion at the end of January when we "moved in" again with each other.

Sleeping apart, as strange as it sounds, made our marriage stronger because we kept checking in with each other about what we both wanted and needed. During those months and years of pregnancy and babyhood, what we needed most was space and sleep.

Was sleeping apart "normal"? Probably not. But I've learned that "normal" doesn't really matter.

As long as we are honoring our marriage vows,  constantly communicating and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make our marriage work, "normal" is whatever we need it to be.

This post was originally published on BlogHer.

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My husband sleeping on the couch was the best thing for our marriage
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