Separate bedrooms for couples a rising trend

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA -- Remember the first time you saw Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in separate beds?  Old fashioned, right?  Well, what was once a black and white example of outdated thinking is now one of the hottest concepts in modern homes, as one builder tells Fox 4.

"We have a home under construction. and it's really one of our trend-setting designs with two master suites," says home builder Gary Aubuchon. 

That's right...Lucy and Ricky at least shared the same room. But many of today's new homes feature separate bedrooms.  "About 15-20% of our buyers are interested in dual master concept."

In fact for years, the National Association of Home Builders has been predicting nearly 60% of future custom houses will eventually have dual master bedrooms.  And we're not just talking two separate sleeping areas, and two separate bathroom areas...some even have individual balconies.

So most of us don't have quite the budget for separate riverfront balconies, but there's no doubt a significant number of couples are sleeping apart; up to 40% according to one study.

And if you're among them, what does this say about your relationship? To get you some answers, we asked someone with plenty of experience with this topic.

Sex Therapist Alicia Allen with Spectrum Recovery Solutions says sleeping separately doesn't always mean what a lot people presume.  "There's this stigma that if you sleep apart, it's code for the relationship is on the rocks. And you guys aren't having sex. That's not necessarily isn't true."

In fact, she says the common explanations she hears aren't emotional.  "I see couples sleeping apart for health reasons; mainly acid reflux, sleep apnea...snoring is a big one."

Aubchon says he knows that from years of dealing with clients who actually build their homes around that very challenge.  "You have a couple married a long time, maybe the husband snores, the wife has had a decade of sleepless nights, you're restoring that restful sleep again."

Of course, not everyone can afford a custom home solution to the challenges of sleeping apart.  But Allen says the big picture solution is free...just talk!  "I recommend having a very solid authentic conversation with your partner with a lot of reassurance. It's not about the relationship. It's about needing a solid night's sleep."

And whether you're side by side like Lucy and Ricky, or on opposite sides of a home in your own suite, where you said 'good night' could mean much less than how you say 'good morning.'

"Then that creates opportunity to come back together and talk about how do we maintain intimacy in our relationship, if that part of our relationship is being spent separate. That doesn't mean intimacy goes out the window. It's falling asleep, not falling apart," says Allen.

So when is sleeping apart a possible sign of trouble in a relationship?  Allen says it can be a problem if separate beds leads to separate lives- from vacations to down time. 

She says if sleeping apart leads to less intimacy in the relationship overall, you may want to re-visit what your relationship means to each of you. 

She also offers advice on how to talk to young children about mommy and daddy sleeping apart. 

"You can make it very clear," she says that you love each other.

"Something like, 'mommy and daddy aren't sharing the same sleeping space every night, but we still love each other very much.'" says Allen. 

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