I am Sleep Divorced From My Husband: Is Our Marriage Doomed?

I am Sleep Divorced. What does that mean? You know those adorable stories about couples going to bed at the same time every night and other cute bedtime routines? They are such sweet anecdotes, especially during the month when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and all things love.

Well, this isn’t one of those stories. Instead, I’m sharing with you what I felt for a long time was my “dirty little secret.” Ready?

For years my husband and I didn’t sleep in the same bed. CUE THE GASPS. And no, we weren’t just in separate beds in the same room like was shown on many tv shows. We slept in separate rooms, sometimes on different floors of the house.

Sleep DivorcedIt wasn’t due to some scandalous event or major fight or not loving each other. We both just really needed sleep.

A little back story – when my husband and I were dating and moved in together, we had opposite work/sleep schedules. He was going to bed as I was getting up for work. Going to bed at the same time – or even at similar times – was never the norm for us. So as surprised/horrified as some of you might be about our sleeping situation, I was equally shocked to learn many couples actually go to bed AT THE SAME TIME! EVERY NIGHT! See, I’m screaming – it still gets me.

I realized a few years ago my dirty little secret wasn’t that uncommon and even had a name… “sleep divorced.”

Getting Sleep Divorced
The sleep divorce started after our first daughter was born. She was a terrible sleeper and would wake up multiple times a night until she was around three years old. It was exhausting. So, in an attempt for at least one of us to get a good night’s sleep, we started taking turns with the monitor and getting up with her overnight. And if one of us was actually going to get sleep, it wasn’t going to happen with the monitor in the same room. So, a norm was born out of desperation; I slept in our bed, and he slept in the guest room.

Once she was around age three, we started getting back into the habit of sleeping in the same bed. But that was short-lived because I got pregnant with twins…and was hot ALL THE TIME, and uncomfortable most of the time. On top of that, we still had very different schedules and I would get frustrated when he would come to bed at 3 a.m. {not quietly, I might add}. I would wake up and not be able to get back to sleep…or if I did, I wouldn’t be able to sleep because of his snoring. And yes, he has a sleep apnea machine – but he doesn’t use it…that’s a blog for another time. This is where he will interject that he’s not the only snorer in the house…but I maintain that I do not snore, I sleep with a delightful rhythm.

The point is – there can be a lot of reasons that a sleep divorce makes sense for a couple, and those reasons may change over time. It doesn’t mean the marriage is doomed. It might actually be the reason a marriage gets better; everyone is happier when they are well rested. And I would much rather go be sleep divorced, than actually divorced.

Because one of our twins was similar to our oldest daughter and woke up several times overnight, we quickly resumed taking turns with the monitor so one of us would get a good night’s sleep. Our sleep divorce was further complicated when we turned our guest bedroom into an office during the pandemic. Now, not only did we not sleep in the same room, but we were sleeping on separate floors. I always wondered what our nanny thought when she would arrive, and my husband would come up from the basement – where his office was complete with a couch – so he would often just sleep down there. When our oldest was around three, she would call the guest bedroom “daddy’s bedroom” and our twins still refer to the basement as “daddy’s basement”. I’m sure their teachers have some questions. Oh well.

Sleep Divorced No More!
Last May, my husband and I took a trip to Italy where we slept in the same bed the entire trip. Yes, you are picking up a hint of pride and surprise in that statement. We decided it was a practice we needed to continue once we got home – and we did. There were lots of times over the last few years when one of us would say ‘we really needed to start sleeping in the same bed’ but didn’t follow through with it.

Looking back, I don’t regret the years we slept apart, but I do think there were times we both felt a lack of intimacy. And I think that’s important to be aware of. Do what’s best for your family, your marriage, and your situation. Don’t worry about how it looks to other people…or sounds when your kids go to school and refer to “daddy’s bedroom”. You know what is happening and why you’re making the decisions you are.

But also, if you’re feeling disconnected, be intentional about finding time to connect and have some intimacy. And I’m not just talking about sexy time – I’m talking about a good conversation, a longer-than-usual hug, or just uninterrupted time together {and everyone laughs because as parents, that is hard to find.}

So, there you have it. Don’t be ashamed if you’re sleep divorced, or any other seemingly weird thing that works for your marriage/family. It’s more normal than you think!

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Hi, I’m Jodie! I live in Williamston with my husband Chris and three girls: Francesca, and twins, Amelia and Annabelle. Since graduating from Central Michigan University (Fire Up, Chips!), I have worked full-time in the world of corporate communications, for 15 years. I also serve on the Galactosemia Foundation board, where I advocate for my two daughters living with the rare metabolic disease. I love Jesus, but I cuss a little and I drink coffee until wine is acceptable. When I can find a minute, I blog about my crazy, blessed life – often the hard stuff, but always with humor (and often a little sarcasm) at JustJoders.blogspot.com. I can’t wait to start sharing my life and learnings with the Mid-Michigan Moms community!