I’m going where no other etiquette expert has dared to venture: the bedroom! I’m going under the covers to talk about how to share a bed with your loved one—an important thing to know as you embark on your new life as a married couple.
When I asked my wife about writing this article, she said, “Go ahead. I’m a good sharer.” And therein lies the beginning of this debate. Everyone thinks that when he can’t sleep, it’s the fault of the person next to him, which is not always the case—though I will admit that more often than not, my sleep ADD brings me from my side of the bed to hers, then to the floor, and everywhere in between. In addition, our thirty-pound beagle, Camden, is convinced that the middle of the bed is his territory. But sharing a bed is a team effort, with its own set of rules.
So hop in the sack with me and check out my top tips for how to properly share a bed:
Tip #1 Mind The Gap!
Everyone has his or her own side of the bed. For example, whether we stay in a hotel or even at our house, my wife wants the side farthest from the door. Why, you ask? Well, she says that in case a burglar comes in, he will get me first. Not that I could fight off said burglar, just that it will give her more time to run. Great! Glad to know where I stand. So very early on in our relationship, we identified our sides of the bed. She has her pillows, I have mine. And, yes, we have a large comforter we share, but I don’t like a sheet under it and she does. So in the middle of the night, we take our sides, leaving the gap between us in case we roll over. Which, I will admit, is generally me. Okay, always me.
When sharing a bed, it’s perfectly okay to indicate which area is for each of you. It allows you to snooze more comfortably, knowing you won’t disrupt the sleep of your partner. If you have to keep waking up to push the person to her side or untangle a hanging arm over your face, you’ll spend less time catching your Zs and more thinking of how to kick the other person out of bed. I recommend allowing a small gap to stay untouched between the two of you when you are ready for bed. This spot is where the loose hand can easily fall or the side of a pillow can properly land during the night, without waking your partner.
Making sure everyone has enough room is the only polite thing to do, and minding your partner’s space will allow you and her to wake up on the right side of the bed in the morning.
Tip #2 Man’s Best Friend
When my wife and I first got our dog seven years ago, we promised one another that he would sleep in his crate at night. However, he cried and cried and on the second night, we finally brought him into the bed, where he fell fast asleep in my arms. It was so cute. But that’s when he was eight pounds; now he’s thirty and snores like a four-hundred-pound dude with a deviated septum. As well, he likes to sleep Superman-style with his front legs in front of him and his hind legs stretched out behind, like he’s flying. Needless to say, Camden is now a fuzzy barricade who has taken over our bed, rather than the sweet little pup I once knew. Furthermore, he insists on sleeping under the covers, and will wait at the top of our pillows until you move the blanket to allow him under. Diva!
However uncomfortable it is when he kicks and growls in his sleep every night, it’s totally our fault for bringing him into the bed. Now our sleeping arrangement is even more unmanageable since we have to find comfort around him. To help with this, I asked my good friend Jolanta Benal, author of The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet. She said:
“Unless you’re willing to sleep scrunched up, Sprawling Dog needs his own bed. He likes yours because it’s cushy and he has company, so spring for a luxury model, park it close to you, and encourage him to sleep there. Hint: many dogs like a bolster or pillow for their head.”
As Jolanta recommends, if you can manage to find your furry friend a more comfortable bed, you and your partner won’t have to navigate around a snoring beast all night long.
Tip #3 Too Much Baggage
I don’t get bed decorations. How many pillows does a bed need? Maybe it’s okay at a hotel, but not at home. I get that it looks nice, but having too many pillows on your bed is highly impolite, since they take away from your sleep partner’s comfort. Look, I get decorations, really I do, but when it comes to piling more than what is needed into the bed, it gets way out of control. With the extreme weather changes in Baltimore, for example, it can be thirty-five degrees one day and the next, I could be washing my car in shorts. So, when it comes to keeping unnecessary materials in the bed, I say keep what is comfortable and don’t worry about aesthetics.
If you see your bedroom looking more like that of a hoarder, I recommend gradually removing items, little by little, so as not to shock the system. Sharing a bed is about equal parts for all parties, so having miscellaneous decorations at bedtime is like moving into a studio apartment with all the items from your single-family home. After you realize that you can, in fact, survive comfortably with just a few pillows, don’t let the trend stop. Keep the bed as comfortable and open as possible and do away with any unnecessary items. In the end, you and your partner will wake up happy and energized. Even when you have to walk the dog every morning at five a.m.