In recent months, multiple major national news organizations have reported on a trend that many married couples have embraced. Specifically, journalists have begun highlighting how some people in long-term marriages no longer spend the night together. People have dubbed the concept of spouses having their own spaces a “sleep divorce.”
The sleep divorce is not necessarily a new idea. Historically, many spouses slept in separate beds or in separate rooms depending on the culture in which they lived. In recent generations, at least in the United States, the expectation during marriage is that spouses will usually share a bed and a bedroom. However, doing so can put a lot of strain on the marital relationship.
A sleep divorce involves spouses having their own beds and most often separate bedrooms. Is a sleep divorce a solution for marital struggles or merely a way of delaying the inevitable?
Sleep divorces work for some couples
There are many reasons why sleep arrangements could put a lot of pressure on a marital relationship. Perhaps one spouse is a very light sleeper, while the other rules over frequently or snores. Maybe one spouse recently received a diagnosis of sleep apnea and will now require large and noisy machinery at night. It’s also possible that spouses simply maintain different schedules because of their work obligations or exercise habits.
A lack of sleep can affect someone’s mood and even their health. If sleep disruptions are the primary source of stress between spouses, then a sleep divorce could potentially help them preserve the marital relationship.
Legal protection is a good reinforcement
For some couples, deciding to sleep in separate bedrooms may take the pressure off of their marriage and make staying together a more realistic decision. Sometimes, sleep issues are just one symptom of a struggling marriage. Those who recognize that there are other complicating factors affecting their marriages may want to consider drafting a postnuptial agreement at the same time that they start sleeping separately. While their relationship is still positive, they can establish terms that would lead to an amicable divorce if the new arrangements don’t resolve their issues.
Particularly when spouses have very different schedules, a sleep divorce might be a way to prevent more drastic actions that one spouse currently views as necessary. Considering both practical solutions and legal protections may benefit those going through a rough time in their marriages.