Video: More married couples sleeping apart?
Transcript of: More married couples sleeping apart?
ANN CURRY, co-host: This morning on TODAY'S RELATIONSHIPS , couples that sleep in separate beds. It may sound like something your grandparents did, but the truth about modern married life might just surprise you. Natalie 's joining us now with details on this. Hey, Natalie .
NATALIE MORALES, anchor: Hey, Ann , once again. Well, whether it's because of snoring, working different shifts or the kids, more and more happily married couples are saying goodnight and then going their separate ways .
MORALES: Lucy and Ricky had separate beds. Now, if that feels outdated to you, guess again. According to the National Sleep Foundation , nearly one in four American couples sleep in separate bedrooms or beds. And the National Association of Home Builders says it expects 60 percent of custom homes to have dual master bedrooms by 2015 .
Unidentified Woman #1: My husband has to sleep on the couch for half the night and then come to bed so he won't bother me so much.
Unidentified Woman #2: I'm probably old-fashioned because I feel more safe and secure having my husband next to me in bed.
Unidentified Man #1: Those bedroom sets cost a lot of money, so we better sleep in them.
Unidentified Woman #3: Yeah, exactly.
MORALES: Allyson Cohen is a marriage and family therapist who believes that choosing separate beds can lead to healthier individuals and greater intimacy between partners.
Dr. ALLYSON COHEN: Sleep issues stemming from restless leg syndrome to getting up to use the restroom in the middle of the night , snoozing in the morning, being on different wake/ sleep schedules, all of these things sort of impact the night sleep . When you're more well-rested, you are more productive at work, you bring home that positive energy and it impacts your relationship . You have more energy to communicate. You have more energy to spend time together. You have more energy to have sex.
Unidentified Woman #4: I think the benefits of sleeping separately, especially when one person's not sleeping well, outweigh the negatives because I'm just generally happier during the day, I'm nicer to him if I'm well-rested. Like, it makes our relationship better, I think.
Unidentified Man #2: As much as I hate when she leaves, when she leaves I sprawl out.
MORALES: But if there's no pillow talk , like on " The Brady Bunch "...
MORALES: ...is your relationship doomed to fail?
Dr. COHEN: People don't like to talk about sleeping in separate beds because there's a stigma that there must be something dysfunctional in their relationship . But for those people that really put sort of the -- a tremendous value on a good night 's sleep , which I think most of us do and are sometimes afraid to say, it can be an incredibly creative solution that really's effective for the relationship .
MORALES: Well, apparently even Hollywood is catching on. According to InTouch Weekly , Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers and his wife sleep separately because of his snoring, Ann.
CURRY: OK, that's a lot of information.
MORALES: I'm sure he'd want us to share that.
CURRY: I know. Natalie , thank you so much .
CURRY: We've got Bruce Feiler , he's a columnist with The New York Times , and he first wrote about separate bedrooms in Sunday's paper. He's also the author of a book called " Council of Dads ," which is a lovely book. And also we've got Argie Allen . She's a relationship therapist. Thank you for joining us, both of you, this morning.
Mr. BRUCE FEILER (New York Times Writer): Good morning.
Ms. ARGIE ALLEN (Relationship Therapist): Good morning.
CURRY: OK, so I guess, you know, the big question is...
Mr. FEILER: Yeah.
CURRY: ...sort of how did you come into this? Because, you know, you were first thinking about writing this article because of your own experience in your own family. I'm not talking about you, but I'm talking about your...
Mr. FEILER: Well, first of all, my grandparents slept...
Mr. FEILER: ...separately, and I kind of thought it had been outmoded. And then I began to see these numbers. We heard in the taped piece, about a quarter of Americans doing it. By the way, it's doubled in the last decade. But also I would say, Ann , you and I've talked before, in my own writing, I try to bring people together. " The Council of Dads ," as you just mentioned, is about bringing friends together for your kids. And really, we live in a world where families, couples , they no longer eat together, pray together, work together. Sleeping together, it's almost the last bastion of togetherness in a relationship .
CURRY: So what are you saying, it's a bad thing or a good thing? What are you saying about that?
Mr. FEILER: I think it's a good thing because the truth is we spend more time as couples sleeping together than doing anything else together.
CURRY: Uh-huh .
Mr. FEILER: And the thing about it is the bed has become incredibly chaotic.
CURRY: Uh-huh .
Mr. FEILER: You've got the TV , you've got the Twitter feed. you know, one in five young people are checking their Facebook overnight. And I think about my bed. It's like, `I'll get up early with the kids tomorrow, you move the car on Tuesday.' It's like my bed's more crowded than my kitchen and it needs its own Outlook calendar.
CURRY: So people are needing sanctuary. What do you think, Argie ?
Ms. ALLEN: Yeah.
CURRY: I mean, do you think -- I mean, we heard a person on the tape saying it's actually good maybe for a relationship . Is it?
Ms. ALLEN: Yeah, I think it's a yes or no. I mean...
CURRY: What do you mean?
Ms. ALLEN: ...for some couples it's a good thing, like in the taped piece where the woman said, `I'm happier when I'm coming home if I'm sleeping well at night.' For some couples , their using the connection as their synergy.
Ms. ALLEN: And so to make the decision not to be in the same bed doesn't work well for them.
Mr. FEILER: Hm.
Ms. ALLEN: So I say if it's a physical issue, fix it.
Mr. FEILER: Yes.
Ms. ALLEN: If it's emotional, work on it.
Ms. ALLEN: And if you're at that age when it doesn't really matter because you're retired and you're spending all this time at home and you're not worrying about connecting at night...
Mr. FEILER: Right. That's correct.
Ms. ALLEN: ...then it doesn't matter. Don't worry about it.
Ms. ALLEN: But whatever it is, you've got to talk about it.
CURRY: You don't...
Mr. FEILER: I'm with that. Because what the experts told me when I was doing this piece for the Times is that it's an accomplishment, right? And I think that's the thing. It's like that's why my whole riff in this piece is like brush up on your bed-iquette, right? And that is -- you know, and it's sort of like it's an accomplishment. I feel now when I -- I used to be a bad sleeper. Then I got sick, I actually spent a lot of time in bed, and I found it very healing, which may be unexpected for a man.
Ms. ALLEN: Yeah.
Mr. FEILER: But I feel like now is -- if it's exactly as Argie just said, if
it is a problem, the specialists say they can fix it: snoring, apnea, restless leg . If it's a lifestyle issue, we almost have to talk about it. We teach our kids about table manners. I think it's as adult we have to practice our mattress manners.
Ms. ALLEN: That's right .
CURRY: So really what you're talking about is not judging it, that each couple should come to this on their own.
Ms. ALLEN: That's right . That's right .
CURRY: And not be threatened by this idea.
Ms. ALLEN: That's right . And we've got to be transparent with ourselves in terms of the origin and the root of whatever is going on. And so if it's not a problem...
CURRY: Well, let me interrupt you because a lot of men might feel threatened by this idea.
Ms. ALLEN: Yeah. Yeah.
CURRY: You know, their wife doesn't want to sleep in the same bed with them. And I 'm just making an assumption here. I may be completely wrong.
Mr. FEILER: Well, no, it's true. I talked to a -- I talked to a professor who interviewed a lot of people who said, you know, men and women actually feel like they're going to get more sex if they -- if they...
CURRY: OK, let's bring up the word, OK?
Mr. FEILER: Talking about bed sleeping here and couples , right? But I, you know, I think that what I -- the main thing that I feel after doing this piece, and I don't know how Argie feels about this, is that, you know, is that it is something that I'm doing that is constructive.
Mr. FEILER: So it's like 7 AM in the morning, I've already done something to help my marriage by getting through the night.
Ms. ALLEN: Yeah. But you know what? You also said don't make assumptions. Don't assume that there's a problem when there's not.
Ms. ALLEN: Have the conversation and then move forward with whatever the situation is.
CURRY: OK. I better call my husband then a little bit later. Bruce Feiler and Argie Allen , thank you so much both of you this morning. And by the way, to read Bruce 's full article -- you may be interested in this, you may want to also read an excerpt of his book -- you can had to todayshow.com for that. And also coming up next, Al catches the acting bug -- hm -- after your local news.