Jacqueline Halima and Abdi Hassan are a typical couple; they love each other, spend as much time as they can together and their marriage can be described as a happy one.
What makes this couple stand out is the fact that they do not have a matrimonial bed– they sleep in separate bedrooms out of choice.
Although in the past this would not have been a cause for concern, western culture has taught us the sanctity of the matrimonial bed and the importance of a couple spending the night together.
But Halima and Hassan have slept in separate rooms nearly their entire six- year’s marriage. Not because that they are no longer in love, but they saw it as a rational option a few months after their wedding.
“We decided to be sleeping in separate rooms because we have opposite sleeping and waking up times. I have a late night job and he leaves early in the morning. This means that many times I come home he is already asleep,” says Jacqueline.
However, this hasn’t affected their sex life and relationship because they have a schedule, which ensures that they have enough time together, but when it is time to sleep he goes to his room.
She says after their wedding they used to sleep together, but four months later they realised that they were not getting enough sleep. This is because the husband is a light sleeper and whenever she got into the room he would wake up, making it impossible for him to sleep well.
“The worst thing is that I used to wake up early in the morning to prepare breakfast for the family, meaning I never had an opportunity to sleep well. After the struggle I decided to open up to him and he was okay with my idea and for sure our relationship is stronger than before,” she says.
However, John Mailu, who has been sleeping in separate bedrooms with his wife for a year, decided to move out of their matrimonial bed because his wife used to fart uncontrollably at night, which used to make him feel uncomfortable. “The worst part of it is that I am one of those persons who believe in covering the whole body when sleeping and you can imagine what I used to go through. But she is such an understanding woman and she was easy to convince,” says Muli.
Though this has worked well for Muli’s family because both of them are able to get quality sleep, he says that he doesn’t feel 100 per cent comfortable sleeping away from his wife who sometimes keeps complaining about how this is affecting their relationship.
According to John Wagatua, a relationship expert, there is big stigma around the meaning of the marital bed and society tends to think that couples should sleep together. It is because of this societal pressure that often keeps many couples from getting an otherwise solid night’s rest, especially when issues like snoring and sleep disorders arise. Apart from that, people still want to be independent even after they are married, thus making it difficult for them to adjust and sleeping with another person becomes difficult. On top of that, there are those who don’t want to be too attached to their partner and this forces them to sleep in a separate bed.
“Of late, we have seen so many people going back to the old culture where men used to have a different room from the rest of the family and this is also another main contributor,” says Wagatua.
However, he reveals that sleeping apart says nothing about your sex life, your intimacy or your relationship since all those things are better for us when we’re not at each other’s throats because we haven’t slept all week.
“Getting good quality sleep is important for relationships whether bed-sharing or not. It’s a personal decision, not necessarily a sign of marital problems,” Wagatua adds.