Monica Bielanko
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Turns Out, We're Both Assholes

Remember when I asked you to weigh in on our "fan issue"? How Serge loves to sleep with a fan blowing at high speed so he can drown out every noise in existence even though we live in the country where the only sound he's liable to hear are his own farts?

It truly is bizarre that a fan, a sonuvabitching FAN, is the biggest issue in our marriage but there you go. Human beings are stupid selfish fuckers, to be sure, and Serge and I are the valedictorians of Being Selfish. As a result, that post and your suggestions did nothing for us. He continued with his fan and I continued seething with rage until I just packed up and went to the guest room.

I actually like the guest room a lot. The way this old farmhouse is situated, the guest room is right between Henry and Violet's rooms so I can basically hear Henry's eyes open at three in the morning and am standing there with a full bottle before he opens his mouth to cry. If I were in the room with Serge and The Fan, I wouldn't hear Henry until he was fully awake, standing in his crib wailing. It's much harder to get a kid back to sleep after he's been awake bawling for five minutes.

So, yeah. I'm sleeping in the guest room. Which I actually enjoy because Serge doesn't like to sleep with the TV on and I do. Each night I pop a DVD of Roseanne or Seinfeld or Friends, or some other sitcom that has long since gone off the air, into my mini DVD player and fall asleep. I love it.

And then we started the bedroom makeover. The night after the floor was finished and we moved all the furniture back to the bedroom I waited. I was hoping for a fresh start. I was hoping he'd turn his fan on low, maybe, and I'd sleep in our purdy new bedroom again. What fun is a bedroom makeover if I don't even sleep in there? Also, he and his fan get to enjoy the flat screen TV I got him for our seventh anniversary a few months ago and I'm stuck with a mini DVD player? Bullshit times a thousand, right? I like to watch the programs where the wives kill the husbands in HD, dammit! Snapped just isn't the same otherwise.

That night I climbed into bed and waited. Serge was in the bathroom doing whatever he does in there and then he strolled into the bedroom, flipped the fan on high and climbed into----.

I don't know what he did next because I had already left the room to sleep in the guest room. I found that so upsetting. I was so pissed that he just doesn't care whether or not I'm comfortable in the bedroom. Hell, he apparently doesn't care whether or not I'm in the bedroom.

That was about a month ago and I've slept in the guest room ever since. And it really works out because I have the night shift with the kids and then he's on morning duty while I sleep an extra hour and then start writing. But yesterday we had a chat. I told Serge how upset I was about his unwillingness to compromise and put the fan on low. In an astounding turnaround, he readily agreed to shut off the fan for good. I'm still waiting for him to demand sex five times a day or something, so suspicious am I of this 180 degree maneuver from his original hardass stance on The Fan.

And so it was that I climbed into the bed last night and watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta with Serge. The show ended, Serge was already asleep (See! He can fall asleep without the fan) so I turned off the TV and went to sleep. Except I didn't go to sleep. I lay there staring at the ceiling, listening to Serge snore.

I couldn't sleep.

After an hour of laying there, my brain analyzing every stressful incident in my life, I crept out of bed, tiptoed to the guest room, climbed into bed, pressed play on my little DVD player and was asleep before the Roseanne theme song was over.

Turns out, I need the TV as much as he needs the fan.

Well this is certainly a pickle, isn't it? Back to square one. What is your sleeping arrangement? Anything considered not "normal"? Is it normal to expect two people to deny thirty years of sleeping solo to blissfully share sleeping quarters? What would you do? Suck it up and sleep together in a TV-less, fan-less room? Have kickass sex and then retreat to your separate quarters? WHAT?

By the way, have you read Serge's opinion on turning 40 and the four things he only ever thinks about? He may need his little bitch girlfriend, The Fan, to sleep, but dude can write like a motherfucker, yo.

Reader Comments (20)

Dude. Mr. Man and I totally go through this. He hasta fall asleep with the TV on and I cant. So I just wait til he falls asleep and turn the tv off. Then I sleep. Hate that so much. But I need a fan to fall asleep too...but Mr.Man had to get over it.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterimperfectmomma

I may have already posted these examples before... But I know a few couples who sleep in separate bedrooms. One couple sleeps apart by choice due to snoring and differences in wake up times. The other couple sleeps apart because of insomnia issues. The person with insomnia has it managed, but requires a dead quiet, still room (in addition to a sleeping aid, eye mask, and ear plugs). These couples are happily married, so if sleeping in the other room helps you to sleep, go for it.

As for staying in the same bedroom, I'm glad Serge decided to turn off the fan! As for compromises, maybe you use the little portable DVD player on your bedside stand with earbuds? Or Serge could try ear plugs if the sound bothers him or an eye mask if it's the light. I never thought I would get into eye masks and ear plugs, but seriously, they are awesome. (I live in a college town with lots of train tracks, ugh.)

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

Earplugs may not be a great solution in the short term, because the kids are so young. But once they're older and will come and wake you up if they need you, earplugs. I sleep with them EVERY night. My husband is a loud breather, so even if he's not snoring, I have trouble sometimes. He's only a real snorer when he's sick and if it's bad enough when he's sick, one of us goes to the guest room. Just be careful with the earplugs you choose -- some of them hardly block out any sound. Others block out enough to prevent the snoring from keeping you awake, but you won't sleep through a fire alarm, or something along those lines. GOOD LUCK!

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

I've been married 32 years and have slept in a different bedroom for all but a few vacations. My husband snores and I like the tv on. We have a wonderful love life and are best friends, so I don't see a problem with it :)

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKay

I completely relate to using familiar old shows and movies to fall asleep. (And I hate trying to sleep with a loud fan -- I guess I now have something new to thank my husband for...). I generally use headphones, though, so I can listen to what I want without worrying about whether my husband wants to listen to the same thing. My current technique is listening to foreign language lessons (see here). Works like a charm!

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterchanson

You can always do what I do. Set your timer on your tv right before you feel yourself falling asleep. I usually set mine for 40 minutes. Im like you I need the tv on to fall asleep, when its quiet all I do is think about nonsense.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercandace

Same as above - I use earplugs bc my husband snores. I fall asleep earlier, but he likes to continue watching TV. Cop shows or westerns will wake or keep me awake, so he also has headphones. We have a ceiling fan that we keep on low to circulate the air - 'cept in the winter it's off bc that gets cold! So - six of one/half dozen of the other. Do what works for you. Nothing wrong with sleeping in different rooms.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

i sleep in my bed with my daughter (age 2). he sleeps in another room. i don't know when we'll address this and whether we should worry about it or not. but it's how we all get a good night's sleep.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

Ahh, this is why I have a sound machine. I can't sleep in total silence. So now I have the sound of rain available to me whenever I want it.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetney

I would sleep with my husband.
Try and get rid of both the fan and the Tv and see what happens- best of luck

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershuga

Try headphones for him and a sleep timer for you. OR continue with separate rooms. You don't need to sleep in the same bed for a great sex life. You have the whole house to work on that!!

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrsK

I am a fan-sleeper, but I switched to a white noise machine. My SO was* a tv person. Eventually, we learned to compromise--I put my noise machine on, and he left the tv on. As soon as he was asleep (in about 5 minutes) I turned the tv off and left my noise machine on. He never knew the difference.

*Disclaimer--the "was" is because he died in April. Not because we broke up over the noise machine/tv debacle.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I think you should start calling the Guest Room Monica's Room. I don't think it's not normal to have separate bedrooms... it's a LUXURY! You're lucky you have the extra room.... now for Monica's Room Reno!

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I would try to give it a few nights...I'm in a long distance relationship but we spend summers together. I always get used to having the TV on which I need to sleep, once summer comes around it's almost impossible to sleep in the silence but after a week or so it gets easier for me. But I also don't see anything wrong with separate rooms if thats what you guys need in order to get a good nights sleep.

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterashley

I have friends who sleep in separate bedrooms, so I've actually been taking a poll on this very subject. My findings: surprisingly, many couples sleep in separate bedrooms. And many of those couples equate the positive health and well-being of their relationships directly to sleeping in separate bedrooms. That said, there seems to be a dividing line even in these divided sleepers. The groups seem to be separated into 1. people who start out in the same bed and then one of the partners moves to another room once they really need to get their sleep on. These couples understand that part of the benefit of sleeping together is that time before you actually go to sleep where you make small talk or pillow talk or whatever kind of talk keeps you bonded as a couple. The second group is comprised of folks who retire to their separate bedrooms at the outset. I don't think one group is better than the other, but there's an additional finding that goes along with that general one: the people who share the bed for a bit before separating report having satisfying sex lives. The folks in the second group, the ones who head to their respective corners at bedtime *have almost no sex.* For real. As in, one of my friends in the second group hasn't had sex with her boyfriend in multiple years. Take what you will from that. It's hardly a scientific study, and since you and Serge are lucky enough not to have the 9-5 grind keeping you from catching up with each other and engaging in all that pre-bedtime small talk, separate beds may be just the thing for the two of you.

So I say do whatever gets you to sleep at night. But if you're going to stay in the guest room, might as well remodel it to your exact liking. No reason not to, right?

December 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR

Married since 1993 and have slept in "our own rooms" since 1994. We were sleep deprived and miserable until we figured it out. The best thing is to make each room your own. Equally nice. So it doesn't seem like the other has the "real room". You need to create 2 master bedrooms. It's wonderful.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCassie

I would recommend something like R says: cuddle time, talk time, kissy time, no TV, just you two and your sacred (yes! SACRED!) relationship. Sex or no sex, whatever. Then, all tuckered out, sleep together or apart, whatever you need. But don't miss the time to lie down and stretch out next to each other. Hardly anybody gets to do that except couples who are married or might as well be. People who are divorced or widowed miss that most of all, I'm tellin' ya. Love to you both.

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

Heck yes! Husband has been a couch sleeper his whole adult life. When we first started dating I actually used to sleep ON THE COUCH WITH HIM. Which was a lot more appealing in the hazy stage of new love. I have a whole king size to myself and my husband sleeps happily away on the couch. I have the TV on all night and sleep stretched out like a star. Plenty of sexy times are had and we are happier and more well rested because of it!

December 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJosnns

My husband and I sleep in different rooms - I'm in the guest room just like you are, Monica. We love it! I don't know why we waited so long to do it. The guest room is lovely so I don't feel deprived at all. It works out better for him to be in our bedroom because that's where the master bath & closet are and he gets up for work much earlier than I get up.

Our issues are restless leg syndrome and snoring (him), insomnia (me). It's the best we've slept in our 17 year marriage and we are actually much happier than we were before. Often we engage in some connubial bliss right at bedtime and then I go off to my own room to sleep peacefully.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLola

Yikes! You need good sleep like you need water. If you're not falling asleep easily find out why. Change your diet, exercise, use a SAD light, whatever but figure it out. Good sleep is integral for good health.

And yes, I have a young child and know all about night wakings. You just have to get through those.

December 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

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