Rowan Pelling's sex advice column: I'm losing sleep over his move to the spare room
00:05 GMT, 5 November 2012
Question: I shared a bed with my husband for the first 12 years of our marriage, but earlier this year he said he was having trouble sleeping and moved to the spare room. It’s true he’s a restless, light sleeper and that I occasionally snore, but I hate sleeping apart. I worry he doesn’t desire me any more — it’s difficult to make love spontaneously if you’re not snuggled up together. Help!
Answer: I’ve a sneaky feeling the majority of women, myself included, would rate spooning in bed as one of life’s top pleasures. But if your fellow spoon is in a distant cutlery drawer, the long winter nights can seem bleak. So I feel for you.
However, there’s no doubt that people’s sleeping habits can change over the years, and if there’s one thing worse than not snuggling up to your spouse, it’s not being able to sleep.
What do you do when your long-term partner moves into the spare room
When a couple are first together, their passion-fuelled frequent love-making often helps them sleep soundly. And new lovers welcome a bit of sleep disruption, as it affords another excuse to have sex or just gaze rapturously at each other. They also tend to be more forgiving about letting their beloved wrap around them like an octopus or steal the duvet.
After 12 years together, however, you’re less likely to suffer a night’s discomfort gladly. The passion of the early days will almost certainly have settled into something more comfortable and secure. Your husband is a light sleeper, so it’s likely your bouts of snoring drive him to distraction. Once you start sleeping badly, any form of disturbance can be a form of torture.
There are plenty of happy marriages where husbands and wives sleep separately without it signalling anything other than incompatible slumber habits.
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In fact, separate beds reflect the trend for bigger houses and smaller families, meaning there’s a spare room available for respite. My parents and grandparents didn’t have the option to crawl to another room.
What the separate bedroom brigade do say, however, is that you have to be extra vigilant about maintaining intimacy. Many couples claim there can be benefits, as you’re keeping your least attractive traits (flannel pyjamas and morning breath, for example) behind a closed door. When you do invite your spouse into your bedchamber, you can ensure you’re spruced up.
One woman I know stages Seduction Saturdays where she dons silk lingerie and invites her husband under her duvet for a long night of intense passion. Her sex life is far better since she sent her snoring husband over the corridor. ‘I was too tired and cross to make any effort before,’ she says.
Other couples indulge in more spontaneous love-making during the day. Showering together or having sex on the sofa can be excellent substitutes for night-time fumbles. Sex becomes a treat rather than a habit.
So don’t panic. If your husband is still keen to have sex, even if it’s not as frequently as before, it’s clear he’s moved bed to get a good night’s sleep. It’s only if he stops responding to your advances that I’d worry.
Why not compromise Ask him to share your bed on Fridays, Saturdays and bank holidays, when a good sleep isn’t crucial for work — then buy the poor man earplugs.