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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – My husband has something in common with ex governor Jim McGreevey. Not only is he, too, from New Jersey but he recently came out of the closet. In fact, it happened just this week.
After a 23 year marriage followed by 23 blissful years as a gay divorcee, I had no interest in committing to another relationship – and certainly not marriage. There were countless reasons I felt this way but high on my list was the fact that there are few pleasures I enjoy more than sleeping alone – sprawled out in my king size bed, without bumping into or being disturbed by another human. I love falling asleep on cool sheets that haven’t been warmed by someone else’s body heat.
That joy is only surpassed by the pleasure of waking up alone. I do not want to talk or hear sounds of any kind, including radio, TV and music, for at least half an hour after I’m out of bed. It’s during that period that people make the mistake of assuming that just because my body is in motion, I’m awake. I’m not. Although I may be exhibiting signs of life, my mind doesn’t kick in for at least another thirty minutes. I don’t want to be subjected to someone else’s idea of what mornings should be like. I need quiet; total and absolute.
When I accepted Mighty Marc’s marriage proposal I was deeply concerned about how we would work out sleeping arrangements. I was certain he would not agree to separate beds, separate rooms or, what I really preferred – separate houses, but because he was so easy to talk to, I felt sure we would work things out.
So, he moved into my king size bed and agreed to sleep as far from me as possible, unless touching was something we both wanted.
It didn’t work. He discovered that I squirm, flail my arms, bounce, twist from side to back to stomach, punch my pillow, monopolize the quilt, want the ceiling fan blowing in my face, get up to pee six times a night, and need the sheets loose so I can hang one foot over the edge at all times. Sleeping, for him, was impossible.
I learned that the deafening sound emanating from his face could only be compared to that of an incessant, thundering, jackhammer. So, after months of sleepless nights, exhaustion, baggy eyes and irritability, we tossed the king size mattress and replaced it with two twins. And I bought ear plugs.
Still no relief.
My thrashing still kept him awake, and I awoke with a killer headache from jamming earplugs deep into my brain in a futile attempt to block out his shattering racket.
He moved to the couch.
In the midst of our current major house renovation, four family members came to visit from California. Mighty Marc gave up his couch. But, where would he sleep?
The renovation included a new, large, walk-in closet; the only space available. So, he dragged a twin sized mattresses into the closet, shut the door and slept in utter blackness. He emerged fully rested, saying it was the best sleep he’d had in months, which proved that he needed and will have his own bedroom.
There are those who argue that sleeping separately is a sign of a troubled marriage. I suppose that if a marriage is shaky, or if one party is already insecure in the relationship, sleeping separately could contribute to that marriage’s demise. But, if a marriage is strong and consists of daily embracing, intimacy, kissing and words of love, sleeping separately will not endanger the relationship. In fact, if both parties are given the space and the rest they need, sleeping separately can actually enhance the relationship, which is why in a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, builders and architects predicted that more than 60 percent of custom houses will have dual master bedrooms by 2015.
Hey, if it’s good enough for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, it’s good enough for us.