Sleeping Single in a Double Bed
If snoring or disruptive sleep is the problem, sleeping apart could save your marriage.
Masking Marital Problems? continued...
Too often, Schnarch tells WebMD, "people misunderstand the normal, healthy -- but difficult -- processes of emotionally committed relationships."
One common issue: At some point in any relationship, one or both partners will experience a need to establish their individuality -- their separateness from couplehood, he explains. "Each person will feel this need at a different point. It could happen at three weeks, three years, or 15 years into their relationship. It's the inevitable path of a normal healthy marriage. But it's during those times that sex and intimacy are not at an all-time high. That's when couples start thinking about sleeping separately. It's not that anything has really gone wrong. But the couple very often doesn't understand what's happening."
If two partners are honest with each other -- and with their own feelings -- moving apart can be a constructive move, he adds. "I know a number of women who have moved into the other room. From that position, they are able to work on issues in the relationship. It's not a separation. It's taking a new position in the relationship. Those couples very often work to get back into one bedroom. It's not always the beginning of the end -- if you're honest about what you're doing."
The Truth About Snoring
It's true -- when a couple moves apart, when they decide it's time to see a therapist, it's a signal of trouble in the relationship, says Pepper Schwartz, PhD, a professor of sociology, psychiatry, and behavioral medicine at the University of Washington In Seattle. She is also on the Health Advisory Board at WebMD.
"It's either that one is exercising a kind of power or it's an expression of anger they haven't acknowledged -- or it's about issues of sexuality they are dealing with," she tells WebMD. "When a troubled couple is moving apart, it is both symbolic and real evidence of issues that need to be dealt with."
But when it comes to snoring, that's a different matter, Schwartz says. "If you've ever met someone with serious sleep apnea who is literally rattling the windows -- or someone who is a light sleeper and is up and down all night -- that is extremely disruptive to the other person's sleep. I once interviewed a lot of couples with snoring problems, and those are very real disruptive problems."
The crux of the issue: "Let's look at the real motor here, what's causing the problem, whether it's a medical or sleep-style problem or something more," she advises. "Let's also look at the relationship -- are you cuddling, are you making love, do you have a happy relationship? If you are, if you do, then the sleeping and snoring issue is just that. If sleeping apart reflects other issues in the relationship, then we need to look at the whole picture."