Shortly after our daughter was born nearly seven years ago, my husband and I realized that bed-sharing with a nursing infant would be safer and more comfortable if we all had more space. So, one fateful Saturday, we went to the furniture store where we bought our bedroom set, hoping that we could snag a king-size bed that matched our existing furniture and sell our current queen-size bed on Craigslist.
We found the bed frame, thanked our lucky starts that our set was still in stock, and moved to the mattress showroom, my least favorite place in the universe. Not only is it gross to think about all the people who’ve sprawled on that mattress before you and weird to lie down with your partner while a salesperson keeps watch, it’s tedious to keep testing bed, after bed, after bed. Especially when you and your bedmate have different ideas of what’s comfortable.
I loved my current firm but fluffy mattress, but my husband kept falling onto the kind of pillow-top marshmallows that were dangerous for nursing babies and for my old lady back. He said he’d spent the past 2 years since we built our house (and promptly filled it with so many children we lost our guest room, which is where he used to sleep while I nursed) being uncomfortable on a hard slab of a mattress, and we went back and forth like that until the mattress salesman shot dollar signs out of his eyes and led us over to the sleep number beds.
As we awkwardly clambered on and started pushing buttons, a lightning bolt hit me. “Wait!” I cried.
My husband looked at me, alarmed.
“How long is the wall where our windows are?” He looked confused but rattled off a number, having measured the room on our way to the store because he is nothing if not practical and good at solid geometry.
“Great!” I said. I turned to the salesman, who looked wary. “What are the dimensions of a queen-sized bed?”
Ma’am?” he said. “You’re looking at king-sized beds.”
“That’s right!” I told him. “How big are queens?”
“We have a queen,” my husband said patiently. “And we are here to get a bigger bed.”
“No but for serious,” I said, not losing enthusiasm for my incredible idea. “What are the dimensions of a queen?”
“Sixty by eighty,” the man said, and I did some quick math in my head.
“Our room is over 12 feet!” I cried. “The beds are 10 feet! THERE’S ROOM FOR A NIGHTSTAND!”
“Who the what now?” my husband asked.
“Don’t you see?” I demanded, rolling over to his droopy, squashy side of the sleep number bed. “We can each have our own queen-sized bed! You can get the softest, most spongy mattress you want! And no one will ever kick off my covers again!”
I watched the mattress guy calculate the amount of sale he was losing and my husband contemplate my idea.
“We will have to clean out the front closet,” he said.
I tilted my head and started at him, taken aback by the non sequitur.
“When people come over,” he explained. “We can’t just throw coats on our beds because how will we even explain that to someone we just met? So we’ll have to clean out the closet to make sure we can hang up coats. You know, until we get to know them better.” He was quiet for a few beats. “Ok,” he said. “It’s a little weird, but I’m in.”
And that was it.
The best thing my husband of almost 15 years and I have ever bought each other is separate beds. No, for serious.
Our bedroom looks like a 1950’s sitcom set with his and hers beds and a nightstand chastely in the middle. It looks like a hotel room, actually, and one I am happy to sleep in every night. He has a queen bed with a soft fluffy mattress. I have a queen bed with a super firm mattress, and neither of us deals with someone else tossing, turning, snoring, or breathing nasty overnight breath in our faces. It’s incredible.
And you know what? We don’t even worry about where to throw the coats anymore because everyone who sees our unorthodox arrangement starts doing room dimension math in their heads. So, spice up your marriage…with separate beds.