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Is It A Bad Thing If A Married Couple Is Headed For A 'Sleep Divorce'?

What if sleeping with your spouse is damn near unbearable?

Marriage

Is it just me or does it seem like society is constantly looking for ways to redefine something? I don't know about y'all but when I was taught about marriage, a part of what came with it was sharing a life — and home — with your partner until life parts you (at least, that's what most vows say). These days, it's like folks are on a constant quest to be married while remaining as close to being single as they possibly can. Yeah, that's not really how marriage works. Anyway, in walks the concept known as a sleep divorce.


If you've never heard of one before and you're curious, that's what we're gonna unpack today. What exactly is a sleep divorce? What are the pros and cons of getting one? And finally, why you should think long and hard about before actually considering signing up for one in the first place.

What Exactly Is a Sleep Divorce?

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Although most of us know what a divorce is, have you ever looked up the actual definition of the word before? A divorce is "a judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part, especially one that releases the marriage partners from all matrimonial obligations". Honestly, this is probably a really good place to start with the whole sleep divorce term because it's all about making the decision not to sleep (literally sleep) with your partner. The reasons why, I'll get into in the next section. For now, though, I think the first thing that should be explored is if you consider sharing a marriage bed an "obligation" (a binding promise, contract, sense of duty, etc.) or not within your relationship.

I mean, if you look at things from a biblical perspective, it's interesting that Hebrews 13:4 says that the marriage bed is undefiled. I also like a Scripture in Song of Solomon that simply says, "our bed is green" (Song of Solomon 1:6). Seems to me that sharing a bed with your beloved is a part of what comes with being married.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that the phenomenon of a sleep divorce is becoming more and more popular. In fact, some studies say that as much as 25 percent of couples are now opting for a sleep divorce. A survey of 3,000 Americans revealed that even more (31 percent) are down to give it a shot. And why are couples deciding that this is the route to go? Good question.

What Are the Pros of Having a Sleep Divorce?

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It probably comes as no secret to you that sleep deprivation is a huge epidemic in this country. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as much as 70 percent of us have reported having trouble falling or staying asleep at least one night per month. 11 percent say that this is an every evening occurrence. While things like stress, anxiety, eating late, health-related issues, mood swings, kids ('cause, let's be real), addiction to electronic devices and not putting oneself on a sleep schedule can all play a direct role in why we're not getting good quality rest, so can things like a snoring partner, someone wanting a room at a different temperature or one person being a night owl (even in bed) while the other is an early riser. For people who fall into the latter category, when a compromise isn't found, oftentimes it's decided that they should go through a sleep divorce — either they and their partner should sleep in separate beds in the same room or even sleep in different rooms entirely.

And just what are the main benefits of taking this approach? While I'm pretty sure that you can already tell that I'm not the biggest fan of sleep divorces, I do get what would cause someone to get to this point. Matter of fact, I once dated someone who was a pretty loud snorer and it drove me absolutely mad. To tell you the truth, as I was going through the reasons for why I didn't think the relationship wasn't going to work or last, long-term, I'd be lying if I said that his snoring wasn't somewhere on the list. So yeah, considering the fact that sleep deprivation is directly tied into things like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, mental health-related issues, inflammation and even shortened longevity, of course, getting a good night's rest, as much as possible, is paramount.

And that is the main reason why those who are in full support of sleep divorces say that it's such a good idea; especially if it's getting to the point and place where their lack of quality sleep has them so pissed off that they're literally on the verge of going from a potential sleep divorce to an actual divorce because they have trouble concentrating at work, keeping their moods in check or not being hypersensitive due to them being utterly exhausted all of the time. So I get it — if a sleep divorce means getting some zzz's and not standing before a judge, I can see the benefits that come with having one.

Still, I'm not so sure that couples who are down for a sleep divorce are also considering the potential cons that come with making this kind of decision as well. And there are more than a few.

Just What Are the Cons of Getting a Sleep Divorce?

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OK, so your spouse has you to the point where if you don't get out of the room with them, you might literally lose your mind. While on the surface it might seem like, "No problem. I'll just sleep in the guest room", there are some things that should be pondered, long and hard, first.

Some couples only get real quality time during pillow talk at night. Between hectic schedules and/or kids, sometimes the only time that couples are able to be alone is when they are in bed together. If you're never sharing/sleeping in the same room, are you sure you're going to be proactive about making (re)connecting a priority?

What will sleeping apart do to your sex life? Lawd. Already where it stands, 15-20 percent of couples are in a sexless marriage (random point, did you know that the best times of year to have sex are fall and winter?). Anyway, although a lot of people are team morning sex, let's not act like sex at night isn't super convenient. Let's also not act like a lot of us tend to fall asleep right after a good session goes down. So yes, while it's feasible that you could have sex and then go into another room afterwards or get up from your slumber to go have sex elsewhere, what actually is the probability that sex will happen much that way? In other words, is your sleep divorce going to cause your sex life to suffer? And if so, can you and your relationship afford for that to happen? Here's a hint: probably not.

Sleeping together reduces stress levels. I've brought up oxytocin up quite a bit in my articles on this platform. That's because, one of its proven benefits is it's a natural hormone that helps you to feel closer to your partner. Wanna know when it elevates? When you're doing things like kissing, cuddling and having sex? As a bona fide bonus, not only does it make you want to be more intimate with them, it also reduces your cortisol (stress hormone) levels too. This is another reason why sharing a bed with your spouse is so important. It is literally good for your health.

Learning how to sleep with your partner teaches compromise. I'm a marriage life coach. I share that often. What I don't say, nearly as much, is my emphasis is on reconciling/restoring divorced couples. There is a line in the movie It's Complicated (Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep) where Alec's character says to his ex-wife (paraphrased), "More divorced couples should get back together after 10 years of being apart. They know each other really well and there was time to grow so that they'll be a better fit." You'd be surprised how much truth there is to that. While definitely not in all instances, I have to say that in many, if couples were just open to not quitting so quickly, to finding common ground and to looking for ways to compromise, their relationship could remain intact.

The reality is that a lot of marriages don't work because a lot of people are too selfish for that kind of relationship; it's more about getting what they can from someone else than what they can bring to the union. And if there's one area that compromise presents itself, believe it or not, it's in the marriage bed.

Figuring out how to decorate the bedroom space. Determining if there should be electronic devices in there or not (heads up, there really shouldn't be). Figuring out how much sex should go down (as far as consistency goes). Deciding if you should go to bed at the same time or not (it's healthier when you do, by the way). And yes, working through each other's sleeping patterns as you share such an intimate space.

Yeah Shellie, I hear you. But his snoring is about to make me catch a case. For real, for real.

How to Make Snoring More Tolerable in a Marriage

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Let me just say that when it comes to considering a sleep divorce, I make the same recommendation for it that I do for an actual divorce — if nothing is getting better, be open to seeing a reputable therapist/counselor/relationship life coach. They may be able to offer up some tips to keep you and yours in the literal same sleeping and sexing space. As far as being married to a snorer goes, I've got a few hacks that just might help. As soon as tonight, even.

Eat non-inflammatory foods. I know. You've heard that you should have a glass of milk before turning in, all of your life. Here's the thing, though. Dairy often triggers inflammation in our system and when that happens, it can put unnecessary stress on your throat which can lead to snoring (so, at the very least, do a milk alternative like almond or oat milk). So can eating too late at night because sometimes, when that happens and you go to lie down, your chest can feel additional stress during the digestive process which can make it difficult to breathe. So, in the evening, try and avoid consuming a lot of dairy, sugar, gluten or fatty foods. Go with berries, broccoli, grapes, dark chocolate or green tea instead.

Reduce alcohol intake. Did you know that weak tongue and throat muscles can also cause snoring (there are helpful exercises that you can try here)? Well, believe it or not, alcohol actually relaxes your throat muscles. And if you drink it a couple of hours before bedtime, that can trigger you to snore more too. So, if a glass of wine before bedtime is your man's thing and yet he's snoring you out of the bed at night, he might need to swap it out for grape or tart cherry juice (an awesome sleep agent) instead.

Invest in a humidifier. A humidifier is a device that adds moisture into the air. The benefits that come from having one in your bedroom is it can help to reduce virus-related particles that may be in the air (that could give you the flu), keep your hair and skin from drying out and definitely decrease the amount that you or your partner snores. Dry air is what prevents our throats to be as lubricated as they should. When that happens, it tends to make us snore more (or louder). A humidifier can nip a lot of this in the bud.

Keep water by the bed. Did you know that when you're dehydrated, your system creates more mucus and that could also cause you to snore (or snore more often or louder)? That's why remaining hydrated throughout the day and even keeping a bottle of water on your nightstand could prove to be an ultimate non-snoring hack.

Do some spooning. Long story short, sleeping on your back causes your tongue to put pressure on your airways, making it harder to breathe, which definitely ups the chances of a snore-fest. Sleeping on your side can reduce a lot of that — and what better way to get into that position than by spooning, right?

Listen, there's absolutely no way that one article alone can prevent a sleep divorce from happening. All I'm saying is if you're teetering on getting on, try some of these things out first. A perk to being married shouldn't just be to share a life. There is real intimacy that comes from sharing a bed...too.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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