Don't Give Up Sleeping in the Same Bed, Dr. Bonnie Advises

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More people are sleeping in separate bedrooms, saying that it helps to spice up their marriage. An article in the Huffington Post takes a closer look at this phenomenon with couples saying that the "absence" when each person spends the night in separate bedrooms makes the heart grow fonder. (http://huff.to/IIFFI7) Sex and relationship therapist, Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil disagrees with this premise and instead believes couples can create the sizzle, novelty, and excitement in other ways, with what she calls a "brush with death."

More people are sleeping in separate bedrooms, saying that it helps to spice up their marriage. An article in the Huffington Post takes a closer look at this phenomenon with couples saying that the "absence" when each person spends the night in separate bedrooms makes the heart grow fonder. (http://huff.to/IIFFI7)

Sex and relationship therapist, Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil disagrees with this premise and instead believes couples can create the sizzle, novelty, and excitement in other ways, with what she calls a "brush with death." She says: "It's natural to look for independence and space in a long-term relationship, but sleeping in separate bedrooms sends the wrong message." Sleeping in separate bedrooms undermines intimacy and is an artificial way to give couples the space they need. It's a cop-out to intimacy and closeness, she says, a way to not have to deal with any relationship debris and grudges people are avoiding dealing with. Instead, couples should take time to themselves in healthy ways. Dr. Bonnie teaches skills couples can learn to deal with these issues and grudges instead of resorting to separate bedrooms.

The National Association of Homebuilders even speak to this separate bedroom trend, saying that they expect by 2015 60 percent of homes to be built with separate bedrooms for husbands and wives (http://nyti.ms/IIFXPf). Dr. Bonnie wants couples to know that this seemingly small choice can be detrimental to a relationship.

Instead of creating this false sense of independence - which is really just undermining intimacy - Dr. Bonnie encourages couples to do a "mini brush with death." She suggests that at least once a month, each person in the relationship takes some time to indulge their own hobbies or social needs - taking one overnight trip away from their partner. "Go out with the guys or gals, spend time with a favorite hobby, take a class," she advises. There are ways around expressing the need for independence by sacrificing intimacy. This "brush with death" - whether it be a night away by yourself or a night off from child care or a night off from cooking duty - helps the other person value and appreciate their partner more by missing them.

Additionally, sleeping in the same bed can be an adventure, says Dr. Bonnie. To say that it's boring is to take the lazy way out. "Promote sizzle and magic with weekly adventures with your partner," suggests Dr. Bonnie. Novelty, sizzle and romance are possible with the mini brush with death - let absence make the heart grow fonder as opposed to resorting to separate bedrooms. People need to know how to navigate their dual needs for space and closeness - if done right, it can be magical to share the bed with the same person. If people need to sleep away from their partner (under the same roof) to appreciate them then they're doing something wrong cautions Dr. Bonnie. She suggests using verbal aphrodisiacs - one partner should spend 30 seconds whispering positive things about the other partner in their ear in the morning when the couple is still in bed, and before they go to sleep.

"Couples are underestimating the positive affect of sleeping in the same bed," points out Dr. Bonnie. They're losing out on the oxytocin - the cuddle hormone - that they would get if they were together before falling asleep or when they wake up. "If couples are not sleeping in the same bedroom they're not going to look forward to the oxytocin they get from cuddling and kissing or dopamine (love drug) they get from hugging," Dr. Bonnie points out. These hormones give people the feeling of safety and bonding which they only can get from sleeping in the same bed, with the rituals in the night and morning."

People don't have to sleep away from their partners to capture that spark if couples are starting and ending their day with positive verbal aphrodisiacs. Dr. Bonnie emphasizes that couples need to feel safe and bonded to one another, and they won't get that from spending the night in separate beds. They might get a feeling of novelty and excitement, but they won't get the feeling of closeness that comes from being bonded to one another.

Dr. Bonnie also encourages couples that have opposite schedules to still make sleeping in the same bed a priority. She advises people to "kiss the other person, even if they're sleeping, when you get into bed or before you leave."

Dr. Bonnie talks about these and other techniques for bringing the sizzle back to a relationship, including the mini brush with death, in Make Up Don't Break Up and the accompanying DVD, Falling in Love and Staying in Love. You can learn more about her work here: http://youtu.be/BjrqJoWX3K4, see her talk about sleep here: http://youtu.be/A2ZmcpuP1j0 or see her talk about how to fall back in love: http://youtu.be/MtdykGxY708

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