Why is married life restless

Marriage and partnership : Good reasons for separate beds

Recently at a dinner with friends. The question “Do you still sleep in a bed?” Came up roughly as if you had asked about their last one-night stand. “What do you think!” Was the answer. And do you know people who sleep separately ?! However, they said, the 14-year-old daughter had come home in the last week rather confused. She had found out that her best friend Emily's parents sleep in two separate rooms instead of comfortably in a bed. In any case, the Emily's are no longer considered particularly happy.

The bedroom question seems to tell something about our understanding of love and relationships; as if sleeping habits were something like a mirror of the relationship. According to the motto: Only those who spend the night cuddled up close together - every night - can be especially fond of each other. The modern bedroom has been ventilated again and again in the last few decades, but even the tidying up of the 60s and 70s did not necessarily contribute to emotional relaxation. As a gauge of the perceived relationship status, the shared mattress is still a romantic ideal - until death do you part. For many, separate bedrooms will soon be followed by a safe divorce, or at least the emergency anchor couple therapy.

Now the nocturnal intimacy knows many nuances. It starts with everyday things like deciding for or against pajamas. Or the question of bedding. The big blanket under which the couple slips together, heartbeat to heartbeat, has by no means caught on everywhere in the world. Germans seem as reluctant to share their feather beds as they are their pillows. Everyone prefers to sleep like a cocoon like a little caterpillar alone under the warm blanket. The beds themselves are about more than just design. How intimate would you like it to be? The so-called twin beds can be moved apart as you like, depending on your mood and bedroom design. Or would you prefer the large, meaningful double bed?

Honoré de Balzac, who in his “Physiology of Marriage” lovingly and acutely plays through all the variants of marital bedding habits, could not imagine anything more romantic than the world-famous French “Grand lit”. For technical reasons alone, he advised couples in the first 20 years of marriage to have a crack-free double bed. The two separate single beds were nothing more than love killers for him: "Shame and curse of the inventor."

On the other side of the Atlantic, twin beds even became a matter of state a good century later. The US Family Department blamed the single beds, which became all the rage in the 1950s, for the rising divorce rates. Single beds, it said indignantly at the ministry, were a trick of the advertising industry - invented to double the cash for bedroom furniture.

A position was also taken in Germany. The chaperone of the Adenauer era, Erica Pappritz, advised with a raised index finger that the single beds should be kept a good distance apart, and not only in the case of flu infections and whooping cough, but always - in healthy and sick times. For us children it was also the most natural thing in the world: The snoring grandfather didn't just sleep a little way away from the grandmother, but had set up camp next door in the refurnished guest room. The grandmother used the free side of the bed as a clothes rack. Later the empty mattress became the place to sit and keep her company.

There are countless reasons for going your own way at night, such as work-related sleeping and getting up habits. A lot of tolerance is required when your loved one has set their alarm clock for four in the morning. What you register in the first love frenzy becomes noticeable at some point: Fidgety restlessness, creaking doors, roaring snores, night hikes and annoying return to the sheets are difficult to turn off. One insists on being able to sleep only with the window open, the other can only close his eyes when the shutters are closed. Not to mention the grotesque loss of attraction due to sleeping masks, sticky ear plugs and short-circuit-prone heating mats. Some people flee from it every night: into the guest room or on the folding couch in the living room.

If you believe various statistics, over 90 percent of all couples in Germany still stick to the common bed. However, according to private polls and the latest gossip columns, that number seems to be pretty high. Sleeping alone is said to have become mainstream-compatible. In America, of all places, where weddings cannot actually be overloaded enough to be taken seriously as a symbolic token of love.

According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation published in 2005, one in four US couples is already sleeping in separate beds. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are also said to be among the new enlightened bedrooms. However, the real estate crisis will possibly slow the trend somewhat: The model of separate bedrooms has always depended on the financial cushion and the available square meters. Until the middle of the 19th century, having a bed meant something like a roof over your head for most people. For a long time it was impossible to think of having a bedroom. Often you even had to share the bed with several people.

Even where the means for comfort were available, the bedroom lacked today's privacy. Royal rulers held court from their beds. Only with the bourgeoisie and the love marriage did bedrooms become private and the idea natural that lovers spend the night huddled together.

That was, so to speak, the birth of the modern bedroom. To this day, evidence of harmonious kinship is staged there - such as the small mirror-like bedside tables and bedside lamps, the warming bed runners, one on each side of the bed, and the pair of photos of the little ones in silver frames.

As a symbol of marital happiness and decency, bedrooms have long been something like intimate no-go zones, which guests have always found a little embarrassing to enter. Only in Hollywood has one never given up on staging the love nests in the old royal tradition with gigantic backdrops as public stages.

Scarlett O’Hara lolled in the middle, draped like a small sex praline on her giant mattress. The production designer Cedric Gibbons, who designed many expansive erotic bed sets for Hollywood, is said to have "always only talked" about his own sex, at least in the divorce petition his wife Dolores del Rio, who later escaped with Orson Welles. Gibbons has at least set a touching memorial to his strange marriage: He had a seduction scene constructed in his villa in Santa Monica in which the couple's bedrooms were connected by a stepladder, which, as in the bad chivalric novel, could only be folded down by Mrs. Dolores.

Most modern single sleepers are less concerned with mimicking royal generosity than with private freedoms. With the concession to your own privacy, which the bedroom embodies like no other room, love and affection are not immediately stifled in everyday occurrences and shared pillows.

However, the isolation of interests also seems to play an important role: “How do I get my best, healthiest sleeping environment?” Has meanwhile become the decisive question. “How do I get fit for the next working day?” Many people succeed in this - even if they would prefer to stay together - apparently better alone than as a couple. As the scientific team led by the Viennese behavioral biologist John Dittami demonstrated a few years ago, sleeping alone is often healthier and more relaxing, especially for women, as they are evolutionary-psychologically more alert and more sensitive to noise as the guardians of the family. While men, on the other hand, usually spend their nights more calmly and relaxed next to their partners.

However, there is now a separate study for each behavior. Paul Rosenblatt from the University of Minnesota thinks that constant adaptation to changing living conditions such as children, snoring and sleep rhythms should be viewed positively. Rosenblatt interviewed 42 couples for his book "Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing". The lived intimacy of sleeping together, according to the professor, is a civilizational achievement - it keeps you warm, promotes sexual life and can even be life-saving in emergencies such as diabetes shock or heart attack.

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