It was yesterday that I stumbled onto an Instagram post by a cousin and close friend saying that separate bedrooms for a married couple or partners who choose to live together is a relationship bending route that shatters taboos and ‘works wonders for intimacy and sanity’. I am mixed in my views about this growing trend. The post speaks about how it also allows for hobbies, privacy and space. My first reaction on reading this is that the entire day most couples engage in own thing anyway and that bonding is oftentimes only at night. Intimate time together in a ‘cocoon’ like space cut off from the rest of the universe to grow your relationship is time bond in the busy schedules a couple normally keep. So you have the entire rest of your time to pursue a hobby or a preoccupation in a den or an office in the time away from each other.
On further reflection I begin to realize that not all individuals are the same and couples can begin to get onto each other’s nerves after the initial romance. Maybe some individuals are better with each other in small doses? I have seen older married couples being rather off-hand with each other to the point of riding rough shod on each other’s opinions and conversation. Would some distance help the kind of relationship which has begun to see the ravage of long term taking for granted?
As I spoke to couples I began to see that different body thermostats also could become a serious issue in a marriage. I know of a childhood friend whose marriage fell apart because he wanted the room chilled with the air-conditioner and his wife couldn’t bear the cold, which had led to bitter battles. Differing body clocks is also a big issue with a husband wanting to see the match late into the night or the wife addicted to her sitcom. But does all this mean that couples lose the ability to adapt and grow together into a unit that morphs and adapts ‘into one’. Is it archaic of me to expect love to conquer all and be the uniting force.
Time was that families lived together and now you hardly come across joint families. You see nuclear families and especially in the big cities an old lady stumbling along alone is a common sight. No family member to help her or be with her. An old man carrying groceries with none offering a helping hand. Will this further extend to couples fragmenting and marriage becoming an institution about two independent minded adults asserting rights and brandishing pre-nups at the drop of a pin? Changed values have diminished joint families and married couples often communicate in short notes matter-of-factly and many even place careers over having a child. Or worse singledom over marriage. Not because they wish to but because it's more 'convenient'. So how far will this convenience thing go? Will it finally arrive at separate homes? There is no end to the convenience lure.
In my book- with relationships- the best is the old fashioned way of making things work with love, meeting halfway and adjusting timings, temperatures, hobby timings and enjoying the journey savouring time together or the wedge grows bigger and wider with excuses and self-centred desires. The gap can gape bigger and wider with time until nothing is left. And yet the National Association of Homebuilders in the USA predicted that dual master bedrooms could become the new norm in custom-built homes.
Does this paint a rather pessimistic picture, reinforced by a changing psychology that's more about "me”, 'e-mail' and 'myself"? Somewhere in all this "advance" we seem to be defeating the joys of existence. Personal contact, warmth of unscheduled interactions, touch- the human feel! We don't need a psychiatrist to tell us that people, at least in cities, are often painfully lonely. They want caring, sharing people around.
It’s a paradox. I think while we want loving, caring, sharing relationships, yet maybe we are not prepared to extend these qualities ourselves in this ‘me myself and I’ trend that is taking over the world. The answer lies of course in realising that it is not only about sex and intimacy but about the warmth and caring that grows with sleeping together, hugs, caresses, adapting and sharing a space.