I was about eight years old when I discovered that one of our neighbours who had taken me under her wings, had her own bedroom while her husband had his own. Every couple I knew shared one bedroom, so this was my first introduction to the concept of separate bedrooms, and I found it very strange. Unfortunately, theirs was an abusive marriage, and so separate bedrooms came to be associated in my young mind, with dysfunctional relationships. Consequently, a few years later when my parents were building our house and my dad mentioned “mummy’s room”, I kicked against it with every fibre of my pre-teen body.
Fast-forward nearly two decades later, I’ve done a complete 180 degrees; it now seems to me that one of the best things that can happen to a marriage is being able to afford a separate bedroom for the wife.
Society still tends to see sleeping separately as a sign of trouble in a marriage. Science still recommends sleeping together because of the oxytocin released by physical touch, which aids bonding (we even use ‘sleeping together’ as a euphemism for sex!) and reduces inflammation. I still understand the reasons why many (especially Nigerian Christian) counselors advocate having one bedroom, but allow me to briefly make a case for separate bedrooms.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started snoring. My poor husband could hardly get any sleep, and like most snorers I wasn’t even aware of my snoring. Sometimes I would look at his eyes in the morning and feel so sorry for him that I would offer to sleep in the guest room for just one night so that at least he could have one good night’s rest, but he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. When I had the baby, the snoring refused to go away, and I finally prevailed on him to allow me use the guest room from time to time, especially when he looked stressed. I’m lucky to have found a way to manage this somewhat. Many couples actually have serious disharmony problems because of snoring, as bed partners of snorers get significantly less sleep than they would otherwise. And we know how sleep deprivation makes people unproductive, cranky, unsexy and even ill.
Then there’s the tidiness issue. As an undergraduate I needed someone to share accommodation with, and I wanted it to be my dear friend, Diana. She was older, kind, intelligent, amazing, and I adored her taste in books and music. However, when I asked her, she reminded me of her meticulous nature; she had a place for everything, and kept everything in its place. While I appreciated order, I was not a perfectionist like she was. She begged me, for the sake of our friendship, to consider living with someone else.
You would think that someone like this would end up with an equally super-tidy husband (like mine!). For where? She fell in love with this great guy…who leaves clothes and socks on the floor and doors ajar. As another friend says, “marriage worketh patience”, so she has learnt to deal with it around the house, but for the sake of her sanity she has her own room- and it stays just the way she likes it. Without this, I can categorically tell you that they would have been separated or divorced long ago. I am not joking.
Even without snoring or less-than-tidy partners, there are many who need their own space to stay sane. Practicality is also part of it. For instance, the closet in the master bedroom can’t even take all of my husband’s clothes, not to speak of my own. Right now the closet in my baby’s room is where I have all my stuff, and I find myself shuttling between both rooms morning and evening. The master bedroom feels more like my hubby’s than mine, and I’m sure he enjoys having all his stuff in one place.
Even if we had enough closet space for both, there is still something about a woman having her own boudoir. There are certain aspects of femininity that should be kept out of a man’s face. For me, it is an important part of preserving mystery.
I am looking forward to having mine. He will certainly sleep better (there will be no snoring, and he will find everything where he left it), I will fall asleep with my easy listening playlist soothing me and not worry about disturbing anyone, or have the music in my ears to avoid this, and my alarm clock won’t wake him up come morning. I also think it would be nice to have him invite me to his room to play Whot, and do the walk of joy to my room in the morning. I’m loving the idea already!