If you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, you might remember that I wrote a blog post years ago railing against king size beds, claiming that they are to blame for couples’ lack of intimacy and suggesting that couples banish the king size bed.
I had some great reasons for my post and lots of reader reactions to it.
- King size beds can be a refuge, placing a huge gulf between you and your partner.
- They discourage connection and touch during the night
- It’s easier to go to bed angry with each other because you don’t have to touch
- If you have kids, it creates the opportunity to turn into the family bed which makes it much less sexy and alluring
Six years later, I realize now that this post was an emotional reaction to my own sexless marriage having since enjoyed several relationships in king size beds and feeling completely squashed sleeping in my queen size bed with six feet plus partners. However, I still believe the family bed is an intimacy barrier.
So a few weeks ago I did the unthinkable and upgraded my sleeping situation by trading in my queen size bed for a king size one. I figured..new life…new bed…I also had this fantasy that the new man I’m dating and I would have more intimacy and connection by falling asleep and waking up in each other’s arms.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Intimacy is unrelated to beds and sleeping. Yes a king size bed is awesome for rolling around, trying different positions, and not being worried about falling off the bed. It’s also great for cuddling up together and watching Netflix.
But when you have a sleep partner who falls asleep instantly, snores, and you’re a light sleeper who has a hard time falling asleep…sleeping together in any size bed is not the solution.
Unfortunately, it took me a few weeks to figure this out during which time I’ve had many sleepless nights. And quite frankly, I’m angry.
Not at my partner. After all, he just wants to feel connected to me and sleeping in the same bed is a way to connect. My anger is directed at me because I also see my own pattern of putting a partner’s needs in front of mine.
Had I really listened to my body, I would have realized that I was compromising my sleep and mental health for the sake of the relationship. I was also trying to change myself to meet his definition of “normal couple behavior”. Giving up my weighted blanket, feeling guilty about sleeping with my life size bear (who doesn’t snore or heat up during the night), and even buying a $350 anti-snoring device for him.
Here I was, once again, trying to take on and solve his problem, just like I did with my ex-husband for 26 years. Oh will we ever learn?
The good news is that I saw this pattern very quickly (which I consider a big win) and I immediately changed my behavior. Now we cuddle a lot before we go to sleep and when we wake up we have pillow talk, that intimate time when we get to share about our life, our relationship and everything else in between.
But we spend the night in separate beds, alone but still feeling the depth of our connection as we fall asleep. He no longer has to wear ear plugs to block out my white noise machine and I get to fall asleep in peace and quiet with the gentle sounds of steady rain lulling me to sleep.
We were able to get here through being vulnerable with each other, expressing our emotions, our needs, and our fears. Authentic communication allowed us to see the role we each played in our conflict and the way in which we were triggered from past relationships. Most importantly we were able to experience empathy for each other around the pain and discomfort we both felt.
At the end of the day what I learned is that intimacy is not about what size bed you sleep in but what size risk you’re willing to take to strengthen your connection and relationship.