I cut my husband's toenails while he was sleeping one night. They were poking me. He woke up with a start, wondering why his feet hurt. I had cut them too deeply. He slept fitfully for the rest of the night because of the pain. Today, we sleep apart but not because he fears me.
Like many couples, we learned early that the bed was ruining our marriage. I'm a light sleeper that awakens to the sound of someone else worrying while he can sleep through an earthquake, but apparently not bleeding digits. He likes a freezing cold room while I like it warm and tropical. He likes to stay awake long hours into the night responding to e-mails and winding down while watching reruns of The Daily Show while I like to pop melatonin like candy and start my sleep rituals as soon as the sun sets in a futile attempt to stave off insomnia. When it comes to sleep, we are incompatible in the bedroom. For years, I fought the impulse to move him out. I thought it was an admission of failure. My mother told me that she managed to survive my father's snoring and so could I.
Today, his bedroom is in the basement with the heat turned off, which is no mean feat in Saskatchewan's winters. I sleep upstairs in our toasty warm former bedroom with my iPhone plugged into speakers, blasting my fan app at full volume to drown out chirping birds, barking dogs and bickering teenagers. My device is in sleep mode so incoming texts and e-mails don't ping. The kids know that all papers and homework checks have to be done the night before because they are not allowed to awaken me unless there is some life-threatening emergency, and even then, their sister has a driver's license and knows the way to the emergency room.
This was a difficult thing for my mother to sort out. She wondered if we were having trouble in our marriage. In many cultures, when there's matrimonial disharmony, husbands and wives sleep apart. When I tell people about our arrangement, I know what goes through their minds and the answer is yes, the elephant is the room is still having sex. We just schedule it (regularly) so as not to disturb our sleep patterns. It doesn't sound romantic but it takes the guesswork out of the equation and come hell or dried up hormones, no one is going to be disappointed that night. I bought an electric heated mattress pad with dual controls so that I could "warm" the bed on our conjugal visits. On really cold prairie nights I just have to flip around like a pancake to warm up and he does the rest.
And then I discovered an extra bonus a few years ago. He has a walk-in closet in the basement, so I moved all his clothes down there. Now my bedroom is 100 per cent my own. I can decorate it as I please. Something I haven't been able to do since I was a teenager in my parents' house. Our decorating sensibilities, like our sleep patterns, are radically different. I favour an eclectic touch with colourful knick knacks and rich Indian tapestries, while he favours a post apocalyptic style strewn with old computer equipment, dangling extension cords and every cell phone charger invented in the last fifteen years. The décor helps with sexual fantasies too. During our romantic interludes, I like to imagine I'm a character from The Walking Dead (a living one).
However, there is one thing that my husband won't tolerate in his bedroom -- a nail cutter.
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