A woman has been criticized online for being upset over her partner’s suggestion that they sleep in separate beds.
In a post on the London-based discussion site Mumsnet, the woman explained her dilemma. “My partner has told me that he no longer wants to share a bedroom or bed with me,” she wrote, adding that she felt offended and upset about the decision. “He is in recovery of treatment for OCD [obsessive compulsive disorder], but this was never an issue before.
“I have asked him why he feels like this, all he has said that he wants his own bedroom and wants to sleep alone. Him saying this has made me feel worthless, disgusting and dirty,” she added.
OCD is a mental-health disorder characterized by recurrent intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images or urges that cause distress and often repetitive behaviors. People with OCD can experience intense anxiety and dress as a result of their obsessions. This can range from a fear of illness, worries about contamination, concerns about symmetry and other intrusive thoughts. To alleviate the anxiety caused by these thoughts, people with OCD engage in compulsions. These repetitive acts may include checking things repeatedly, counting, hand-washing, or arranging items in a particular way.
Dr. Marianne Trent, clinical psychologist, author and podcaster, told Newsweek: “It isn’t uncommon for people suffering with OCD to decide that they would prefer to sleep in a separate room or a separate bed. This is because it feels that they are better able to manage the variables which caused them distress by sleeping separately.”
While it won’t be the case for all sufferers, Trent added that, sometimes, symptoms can be worse during the night: “Like anything, we are more likely to experience heightened levels of suffering when we are tired, because our window of tolerance will be smaller at these times.”
Because of this, it is understandable that the man with OCD may feel better or more comfortable sleeping alone at night. But that doesn’t always make it easy for the other person.
“It’s understandable that, for a partner, this might feel like rejection—especially if they have previously enjoyed a close intimate relationship,” said Trent.
On Mumsnet, the woman wrote that the decision by her partner had impacted her feelings of self-worth: “I’m just really upset at the moment, I’m good enough for him to have sex with me, but not good enough for him to share a bed with me?”
“Where OCD is concerned, it’s important to remember that any changes such as this are likely to be an indication of the distress increasing, which means new routines, rules and regimes are drafted in,” said Trent. “Therefore, while it is incredibly difficult and impactful on a relationship when something like this happens, it’s important to separate the person from the OCD symptoms and to think about how they can be optimally supported while still maintaining your relationship.”
Indeed, in hundreds of comments on the Mumsnet post, users seemed to agree that the woman should respect her partner’s wishes and try sleeping apart. Some even said she was being unreasonable for being upset.
“Maybe give it a go? It’s only sleep,” wrote one user, while another posted: “I agree with this. I’ve been very happily married for 35 years. Have a very healthy sex life but have had separate rooms for 10 years. It’s heaven.”
“Honestly OP [original poster] I don’t think you should feel offended if he just wants to sleep separately,” read another reply.
Psychologist Dr. Shelby Harris previously told Newsweek that what she dubbed a “sleep divorce”—that is sleeping in a separate bed to your partner—could save a relationship.
A 2022 study revealed that more married couples are electing to sleep in different beds. A quarter (25 percent) of respondents to the National Sleep Foundation study reported that they would rather sleep apart.
For the couple, though, it is clear that the suggestion of sleeping apart was causing issues. Trent said the couple should work together to come to an amicable solution.
“It’s important to remember that both parties in a relationship need to feel that their needs are being met,” Trent added. “Therefore, if the OCD is having an impact on a couple’s relationship, it can be important to work through these issues together with a therapist.”
Newsweek was not able to verify the details of this case.
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