Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera did not have the most stable marriage ever. Though their mutual passion and intense admiration for each other was undeniable, both of them betrayed each other in a string of affairs, with Diego even sleeping around with Frida’s sister early on in their marriage. SCANDAL!
Though Frida and Diego’s lifelong alliance was hardly picture-perfect, I believe they got one thing right: living inseparate house-studios connected by a bridge. As a married couple, they still had their own work space, sleeping space and living space. I wonder a lot if there would be more happier marriages if more couples did that.
Granted, not all of us are filthy rich enough to commission an architect to design our own dream two-houses-connected-by-a-bridge space for ourselves and our romantic partners. But we can do the next best thing: live together, but have separate bedrooms.
Once considered the living arrangement of estranged couples who have fallen out of love, more and more newly married couples and long-term unmarried couples are opting for the separate bedroom arrangement right from the start. According to a New York Times article from 2007, there is an increased demand for dual master bedrooms and architects predict that by 2015, more than 60 percent of houses will have dual master bedrooms instead of the conventional one master bedroom. In the meantime, couples are making do with putting up a wall in the master bedroom, or one half of the couple moving into a spare bedroom or den for his or her separate sleeping space.
Though more couples are opting for the separate-but-equal sleeping arrangement, the majority of couples who set up their living space this way are not eager to publicize it, as the social stigma of couples sleeping in separate bedrooms still exists.
Sleeping separately makes so much more sense to me than being forced to share a bed, seven nights a week, with another human being who probably has very different sleeping habits and sleeping styles from you. Snuggling and spooning is awesome–until the blanket-hogging, snoring, sleep-talking, kicking and tossing-turning sets in. Nothing kills couple tranquility like a night of restless sleep the morning after.
What I like about the separate bedroom arrangement is that it never eliminates the option of sleeping in the same bed with your spouse or significant other. Yes, you can have your couple cuddling and late-night intimate what-have-yous. (“My space or your space?”) You can ALSO have the luxury of your own bedroom and your own bed when you want to check in early and wake up early. Or party until the wee hours and crash under the blankets without disturbing a hubby who wants to work out at 5:30AM the next morning.
Here are a few compelling reasons to opt for the separate-bedroom model if you are moving in with your spouse or significant other:
– You will both get better sleep. Two well-rested people make for a much happier union.
– Both of you will still have your respective private spaces. Married or not married, we all need a private space to retreat to when we need to chill out, be introverted, and have some quality alone-time with ourselves. Having that space should not go out the window just because you’re living with your partner.
– Sharing a bed and cuddling together won’t get old as fast. Sleeping separately but having those occasional cuddle nights is a great way to keep the relationship spice going.
– No compromises with bedroom decor. You can still have your crazy rainbow bedspread, paper lanterns and faux leopard floor rug with Christmas lights. Or whatever suits your fancy.
What will modern marriage look like if more and more couples opted for separate bedrooms under the same roof? Or separate living spaces within one apartment building? Though these new living models aren’t for everybody, creating new and flexible definitions of what a happy cohabitation looks like is always an exciting development worth celebrating.