Masking Marital Problems?
At times, however, a problem like snoring is a convenient excuse to bail out of the bedroom. "It's not always as simple as a deviated septum or differences in circadian patterns," says David Schnarch, MD, a Colorado psychologist, certified sex therapist for over 30 years, and author of Passionate Marriage: Sex, Love, and Intimacy in Committed Relationships.
"The issue is, is the couple paying attention to what's happening in the relationship," Schnarch tells WebMD. "The truth is, for a lot of people, having a good reason to sleep separately -- like snoring -- allows them to ignore what they don't want to pay attention to. It's not a loss for them to sleep separately. The sex may be so mediocre that sleeping apart is not a loss. It may not be a sexual issue per se -- but the couple has become so emotionally alienated that snoring is the ticket out."
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."