Warning: Please do not judge my marriage by what you are about to read.
If you, like me, enjoy watching BBC adaptations of great British literature, you may have noticed that back in the olden days, if you lived in a nice big house with a servant or two, you and your spouse might have had separate bedrooms. I remember (before I got married) thinking this was absolutely bizarre; I could not wrap my mind around it. Why?
Fast forward. I was visiting some friends a few years ago, and during a quick tour of the house, there was a casual mention of the fact that one bedroom was the wife's and a different bedroom was the husband's. I remember thinking, "I had no idea their marriage was in such bad shape! They seem so happy..."
It is now December 2010. We have moved every stick of furniture down to the basement in order to get our hardwood floors refinished. Our king-sized bed won't fit in our cramped quarters unless it is on its side, so Dan and I, who do not love sharing anything smaller than a king, end up sleeping in separate beds (and rooms) for about a month, until we get the house put back together. As we prepare to move back upstairs, one of us mentions, so tentatively, that he has gotten significantly better rest since we moved to the basement, and wonders if it is because we've been in different rooms. That person adds, in a very gentle and kind way, that his spouse may be a bit of a snorer, and this snoring may wake him up throughout the night, and this past month may have been the first time in many moons that he has been able to get a solid night's sleep. (The snoring person would like to state for the record that, although she knew about the snoring, she did not realize it was actually awakening her spouse). I would like to add, as a side note, that we are not a couple that likes to snuggle while we are sleeping. We, in fact, like to have a nice piece of free space between us in order to fall asleep, hence, the king-sized bed.
I have been thinking for some time about having a space of my own--an office, perhaps, where I can study now that I am back in school. We have also both just read a great book called Mating In Captivity (Esther Perel) which recommends, among other things, that a certain amount of separateness between spouses can have a positive affect on their love life, making "things" more exciting and more like the days before marriage changed everything. And I do mean everything.
I then remember the friends with separate bedrooms, and the 19th century rich married couples as portrayed by the BBC, and I think to myself, having separate bedrooms might not be such a crazy idea after all.
Since it is mutually appealing (and I would not recommend trying this if it was not), when we move upstairs, I move into the former office and Dan keeps the former master bedroom. My first clue that this might be a good idea are the feelings I have as my new room comes into being. I feel giddy. I feel like it is Christmas. I feel an inordinate amount of happiness and goodwill toward all. Dan is feeling the same way. I do some calculations and realize that, after having my own room for the first 18 years of my life, I have now been sharing a room for about 17 years, first as an undergrad at BYU, then as a missionary in the Philippines, and finally as a married person. It never occurred to me in all this time what a difference having a private space of one's own could make.
It has been about three months since this experiment began. I find it heavenly, and I think Dan does, too.
Stay tuned for my analysis of why this new arrangement is working so well for us, and how these principles could apply to you.