To­gether but sep­a­rate

Ab­sence makes the heart grow fonder and may also be the se­cret to a happy mar­riage

Richmond Hill Post - - Dr. Jess On Sex -

What’s the se­cret to a last­ing mar­riage? Ac­cord­ing to many hap­pily mar­ried cou­ples, it’s sim­ple: if you want to stay to­gether, spend more time apart.

It may seem coun­ter­in­tu­itive to sug­gest that sep­a­ra­tion is key to to­geth­er­ness, but science seems to sup­port the the­ory and Toron­to­ni­ans are catch­ing on. Sleep­ing in sep­a­rate beds, tak­ing in­di­vid­ual va­ca­tions and liv­ing in dif­fer­ent res­i­dences are just some ways cou­ples are repaving their paths to hap­pily ever af­ter.

Kelly and An­dres have al­ways slept in sep­a­rate rooms.

“Kelly is a very light sleeper, and I snore,” ex­plains 37-year-old An­dres. “We’ve been to­gether for 12 years and still have sex five nights a week. I be­lieve that sleep­ing sep­a­rately has en­abled us to have a very healthy and highly sex­ual re­la­tion­ship be­cause she is well rested and in a good mood when she wakes up.”

Sleep ex­perts at Ry­er­son Univer­sity re­port that be­tween 30 and 40 per cent of cou­ples sleep apart and sug­gest that this so-called sleep di­vorce may stave off mar­i­tal di­vorce by en­sur­ing a good night’s rest. Cou­ples may be­lieve that they sleep bet­ter to­gether, but brain scans re­veal oth­er­wise and since sleep de­pri­va­tion can lead to ir­ri­tabil­ity, stress and con­flict, it’s no sur­prise that sep­a­rate beds make for house­hold har­mony.

Even those who don’t snore, fid­get or hog the com­forter find that time apart serves their mar­riages well.

Lilly and Matt have been mar­ried for seven years, and they spend at least 12 nights apart per year.

“We like to travel to­gether, but I swear that our solo trips are just as im­por­tant,” says Lilly. “He plans at least two guys’ get­aways in the sum­mer, and I leave for a week with my friends in the spring. The time apart re­minds me what it feels like to miss him, and I for­get about all of his an­noy­ing habits.”

Toronto-based psy­chol­o­gist Dr. Gina Di Gi­ulio agrees that sep­a­rate va­ca­tions that com­ple­ment joint trips can strengthen re­la­tion­ships. “As long as the va­ca­tions are fairly sim­i­lar in terms of fre­quency and du­ra­tion, they al­low cou­ples to pur­sue their own in­ter­ests, con­tinue to nur­ture other healthy re­la­tion­ships — such as with friends or fam­ily — and miss one another.”

Some cou­ples also opt to live in­de­pen­dently. He­lena, who is di­vorced with two adult sons, be­lieves that main­tain­ing two homes is well worth the fi­nan­cial cost. She has been dat­ing her part­ner for four years and laughs at the idea of re­mar­ry­ing. “Been there, done that. I love Keith dearly, but you won’t catch me shack­ing up again.” says He­lena. “Why ruin a good thing?”

For He­lena and a grow­ing num­ber of di­vorced peo­ple in their 50s and 60s, mov­ing in to­gether is an op­tion, not a re­quire­ment.

Ab­sence not only makes the heart grow fonder, but it stokes the flames of de­sire. Nights out with friends, sep­a­rate get­aways and in­di­vid­ual hob­bies make for more in­ter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tions upon re­unit­ing, and twinges of jeal­ousy in re­sponse to the new and un­known of­fer a re­minder that you need to in­vest in your love life to reap the re­wards.

Many cou­ples are sleep­ing in sep­a­rate beds and tak­ing sep­a­rate va­ca­tions

DR. JESS Jess O’Reilly is a sought-af­ter speaker, au­thor and sexologist (www.SexWithDrJ­ess.com).

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