Question: I have been married for 40 years. My husband and I recently retired and remodeled part of our home. Upon my husband’s request we now have two bedrooms – one for me and one for him. He says that at our age (I’m 65 and he’s 68), sleeping apart is normal. Is it?

Answer: It is difficult to determine what is normal. What we do know is that the topic you raise is popular. It has been written about, blogged and discussed among couples, builders, architects and interior designers. Here is some evidence of its popularity as cited in a March 2007 New York Times article:

At a condominium project in Seattle, a quarter of the 270 units have double master bedrooms. In St. Louis, an architect said that three or four years ago her company began “doing a lot of little rooms off the master bedroom where the snorer would go.” An architect in Seattle said that about one-third of her empty-nester clients asked for separate bedrooms.

The New York Times also reported that architects and designers believe clients feel there is still a stigma to sleeping separately. It is considered a “delicate issue.” Couples often refer to the other bedroom as a “flex suite” for when the children or parents visit, a sleeping nook or his-her wing.

Charles Brandt, an interior designer in St. Louis, told the New York Times, “The builder knows, the architect knows, the cabinetmaker knows, abut it is not something they like to advertise because people will think something is wrong” with their marriage. Builders and architects remarked that not since the Victorian age of “starched sheets and starchy manners” have there been so many requests for separate bedrooms.

The reasons are many. Sociologists comment that often it has little or nothing to do with sex. Most often it has to do with snoring. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 75 percent of adults snore or wake up frequently during the night.

For younger couples, it has to do with children who are up in the middle of the night. Others have separate bedrooms because one mate needs to get to the gym at 5 a.m. or is sending e-mail messages at midnight. Both can be disturbing to the bedmate. Illness, restlessness and the need for frequent bathroom visits were other reasons.

In a survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders, architects and builders predict that in 2015, more than 60 percent of custom-built homes will have two master bedrooms. The sleep-alone syndrome is not only for those who can afford expensive homes. Those in the middle-income demographic also report moving into a spare bedroom, the recreation room or the den.

Many architects and builders are tuning into the preferences of the growing number of female homeowners. Some are sensitive to the terms “master bedroom” and “master suite.” The emerging alternative is “owner’s suite.”

Paul C. Rosenblatt, a professor in the Department of Family and Social Science at the University of Minnesota, interviewed 42 bed-sharing couples for his book “Two in a Bed: The Social System of Bed Sharing” (SUNY Press, 2006). In his opinion, a major reason for having separate bedrooms has to do with aging. Many who participated in his survey slept in separate bedrooms when their children grew up, because the space became available.

He also found that some couples had separate sleeping and together spaces. They would do their cuddling in one bedroom and then go separate ways. He did find that occasionally the desire for separate bedrooms did have to do with sex. One of the women he interviewed stated, “I’ve paid my dues. I am old enough that I don’t want to have sex at 1 a.m.” Another indicated that: separate bedrooms added spice to their relationship. “It’s more exciting when you can say, “Your room or mine?”

It sounds as though the decision for separate bedrooms might not be mutual. This might be a clue for you to have a discussion with your mate.  Regardless of national trends toward separate bedrooms, and the situation being normal for many, what’s most important is that you and your mate are satisfied with the arrangement. Consider seeing a counselor if the arrangement is adversely affecting your relationship.

Thank you for your good question and sleep well.

© Helen Dennis 2010, all rights reserved.

Question: I have been married for 40 years. My husband and I recently retired and remodeled part of our home. Upon my husband’s request we now have two bedrooms – one for me and one for him. He says that at our age (I’m 65 and he’s 68), sleeping apart is normal. Is it?

Answer: It is difficult to determine what is normal. What we do know is that the topic you raise is popular. It has been written about, blogged and discussed among couples, builders, architects and interior designers. Here is some evidence of its popularity as cited in a March 2007 New York Times article:

At a condominium project in Seattle, a quarter of the 270 units have double master bedrooms. In St. Louis, an architect said that three or four years ago her company began “doing a lot of little rooms off the master bedroom where the snorer would go.” An architect in Seattle said that about one-third of her empty-nester clients asked for separate bedrooms.

The New York Times also reported that architects and designers believe clients feel there is still a stigma to sleeping separately. It is considered a “delicate issue.” Couples often refer to the other bedroom as a “flex suite” for when the children or parents visit, a sleeping nook or his-her wing.

Charles Brandt, an interior designer in St. Louis, told the New York Times, “The builder knows, the architect knows, the cabinetmaker knows, abut it is not something they like to advertise because people will think something is wrong” with their marriage. Builders and architects remarked that not since the Victorian age of “starched sheets and starchy manners” have there been so many requests for separate bedrooms.

The reasons are many. Sociologists comment that often it has little or nothing to do with sex. Most often it has to do with snoring. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 75 percent of adults snore or wake up frequently during the night.

For younger couples, it has to do with children who are up in the middle of the night. Others have separate bedrooms because one mate needs to get to the gym at 5 a.m. or is sending e-mail messages at midnight. Both can be disturbing to the bedmate. Illness, restlessness and the need for frequent bathroom visits were other reasons.

In a survey conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders, architects and builders predict that in 2015, more than 60 percent of custom-built homes will have two master bedrooms. The sleep-alone syndrome is not only for those who can afford expensive homes. Those in the middle-income demographic also report moving into a spare bedroom, the recreation room or the den.

Many architects and builders are tuning into the preferences of the growing number of female homeowners. Some are sensitive to the terms “master bedroom” and “master suite.” The emerging alternative is “owner’s suite.”

Paul C. Rosenblatt, a professor in the Department of Family and Social Science at the University of Minnesota, interviewed 42 bed-sharing couples for his book “Two in a Bed: The Social System of Bed Sharing” (SUNY Press, 2006). In his opinion, a major reason for having separate bedrooms has to do with aging. Many who participated in his survey slept in separate bedrooms when their children grew up, because the space became available.

He also found that some couples had separate sleeping and together spaces. They would do their cuddling in one bedroom and then go separate ways. He did find that occasionally the desire for separate bedrooms did have to do with sex. One of the women he interviewed stated, “I’ve paid my dues. I am old enough that I don’t want to have sex at 1 a.m.” Another indicated that: separate bedrooms added spice to their relationship. “It’s more exciting when you can say, “Your room or mine?”

It sounds as though the decision for separate bedrooms might not be mutual. This might be a clue for you to have a discussion with your mate.  Regardless of national trends toward separate bedrooms, and the situation being normal for many, what’s most important is that you and your mate are satisfied with the arrangement. Consider seeing a counselor if the arrangement is adversely affecting your relationship.

Thank you for your good question and sleep well.

© Helen Dennis 2010, all rights reserved.