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Sleeping Arrangements

It doesn’t have to be a problem. It shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s a problem.

Spouse has been seeing this girl a few months now. The young one who used to date the Techie. Let’s call her Polly Pocket: she is adorable and just about pocket-sized.

We’re all going to a play party tomorrow night. We’re going to be out late–some parties I’ve barely hit the front door by dawn–and it doesn’t make sense to drive her all the way home and then turn around and go back to our place.

There are two logical options. (1) We can all take one car, Polly Pocket can come home with us, she and Spouse can share the bed and I can sleep in the living room. (2) We can take two cars, Spouse can go back to Polly Pocket’s place and spend the night, and I can come home and have the whole bed to myself.

Spouse wants to invent options 3-7 and get upset at me for not liking them. Option 3: we all three share a bed. Hell no. We tried it when she crashed here after the Techie debacle. I got up and moved to the couch. Too crowded, and I’m not a cuddler, and there was unfamiliar movement and breathing…ugh. There are very few people with whom I can share a bed and not be miserable. All of them are either partners/former partners or my sister. Option 4: Polly Pocket and I share the bed, Spouse takes the couch. This is ridiculous. They are both snuggly types, I am not. He is in a relationship with her, I am not. I don’t want to share personal space that closely with someone I’m not in a relationship with. Option 5: make Polly Pocket take the couch. I guess we could, but again with the snuggle compatibility and I don’t want to make her feel exiled. Option 6: I get the bed, they inflate the air mattress and sleep on the living room floor. This makes sense if I am an evil and insane person who will make Spouse and his partner sleep on a glorified pool raft that is likely to be punctured by bad cats in the night. Since I’m not, and it isn’t cat-proof, and loud to set up, and also this idea is crazy…no. Option 7: “I just can’t date anyone else this is too complicated.” *facepalm*

Spouse keeps saying it doesn’t seem fair to kick me out of the bed. He isn’t kicking me out, he’s not listening when I say I don’t want to be there. And yeah, this would’ve been more navigable if we still had a two-bedroom apartment, but we don’t. Sometimes I’m going to have to move over a little to make room for other people in Spouse’s life. It shouldn’t be a problem.

So why is it a problem?

  1. Ewen McNeill
    January 25, 2014 at 2:42 am

    As a random observation I think what’s causing option 1 to be eliminated is possibly a feeling that “you’re just saying that, you don’t really mean it”. I’ve often thought that communication would be a lot clearer if there were some unambiguous “I really mean it”. In this case to communicate “I’m not just ‘willing to go along with it’, this is my preferred solution”. Ironically the simplest phrase to mean that is “I really mean it” but that’s often too diluted by subtext… And really any agreed upon phrase will do so long as it’s never used to mean anything else between the two using it as “code”.


    PS: as someone who doesn’t like having room to himself in bed, I empathise. Options 3 and 4 are clearly silly. Options 5 and 6 are less silly, but Send Messages which it’s clear you don’t want to send. Option 7… is a “not a sleeping arrangements” discussion.

    • January 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      The odd thing is, Spouse knows there are times I can’t even sleep with him in the bed, and we’ve shared one for ten years. Some nights I still drag blankets into the closet or migrate to the couch because I want complete stillness and silence. Option 1 isn’t a concession for me, it’s an “oh thank God I have an excuse to sleep alone without leaving you feeling sad and unloved.” I know for him sleeping in the same bed=love; he was very upset the few times I stayed the night at the Techie’s house under the theory that it proved I liked the Techie better. So I’m trying to come at this from this symbolic perspective, but to me sleeping arrangements are just ways to ensure a biological need gets met; once you’re sleeping, it’s not like there’s any connection or communication going on.

      Option 7 is not a sleeping arrangement discussion, no. This is Spouse’s first romantic partner other than me in over a decade (he’s had casual sex partners, but not relationships), so I do understand that it’s scary. I also am prone to completely irrational anxiety from sometimes unpredictable stimuli. I do appreciate that he’s being careful and trying to anticipate sources of stress. In this case, though, it seems like overworry is increasing stress for both of us.

      Solution still not decided. I told him she needed to be included in the discussion of where she’s going to sleep, which apparently hadn’t occurred to him. Bah.

      • Ewen McNeill
        January 26, 2014 at 1:22 am

        For clarity I notice I managed to include too many negatives in my “PS” – – I was trying to say I like having plenty of room to myself in bed (but apparently changed my mind between “doesn’t like snuggling while sleeping” and “having room to himself” half way through without re-editing it properly!)

        Including the third person who is also (hopefully) going to be able to sleep in the discussion seems like a good start :-) At minimum it might eliminate some of the options immediately.

        As you say it does sound like a lot of the complexity of this discussion is coming from things other than “biological need to not be awake all the time”. It also sounds like there’s some “bed=love” projection — it can take some emotional distance from a problem to realise that different people have different things that make them feel loved. (Highly recommended book, BTW, Harville Hendrix “Receiving Love” — about exactly that point, that what one person needs to feel loved may not be the thing that another offers to show their love, and how to negotiate that gap.)


      • January 27, 2014 at 11:59 pm

        She and Spouse snuggled, I got the couch, all was right with the world.

        We can negotiate that gap pretty well, usually. The problem is often that he knows many of the things that give him a sense of intimacy don’t do the same for me, and knowing that kinda ruins it for him. Intellectually, we can handle this, but emotional distance doesn’t exactly help with feeling loved. I don’t have an answer to that except to remember that it’s a sometimes problem. All we can do is acknowledge there’s some incompatibility and focus on the things that work better.

  2. Ewen McNeill
    January 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I’m glad y’all arrived at a solution that worked.

    As books like the five love languages point out, different people value different things more/less as indications of love. One of the key things about “Receiving Love” (the book I mentioned before) is that it shows the value in knowing how your partner demonstrates love/likes love to be shown to them. It’s then possible to consciously recognise things as being done as acts of love even if they’re not “your thing” and to deliberately choose to do things you know make your partner feel loved, as gifts of love (again even if they’re not “your thing”, just doing it because you know it’s your partner’s thing and because you love them).

    I think it also helps that the author is both a counsellor of others _and_ was going through the same “not feeling loved” with his partner before they wrote the book — so it’s both practical and theoretical. (I actually randomly found “Receiving Love” in a second hand book store in a weird “why am I even here” city. Best random second hand book purchase. Ever. And I buy lots of second hand books…)

    Also reframing: someone doing something for you, that they know you really value even though it’s not their thing — a genuine gift of love. (Ie, you can choose to look at it as an amazing gift, rather than “ruined” because it doesn’t mean exactly the same to both people.)


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