IS it desirable for husband and wife to sleep together according to the old-fashioned custom, or should they occupy separate beds? The answer to this question will naturally vary in different cases. In many instances the bodily contact and close association involved in sleeping in the same bed arouses the passions unduly and naturally tends to lead to excess. Where such is the case there is but one alternative, and that is separate beds.
This plan would no doubt be more especially desirable in the early period of married life. It is then that most care is necessary to avoid over-stimulated sexuality. As Bernard Shaw very aptly expressed it in one of his cynical moments, “marriage is popular because it combines the maximum of temptation with the maximum of opportunity.” Unquestionably there is a great deal of truth in this remark. If it is found in a given case that the plan of sleeping together means continual temptation, it will undoubtedly be better to occupy separate beds; then it will be more likely that only the normal instincts of the husband and wife will bring them together at the proper times. Under such conditions the marital relationship is less likely to degenerate into a mere “habit,” but will continue to be a true _expression of love.
It must be remembered that if sexual excitement is to be avoided, those caresses that lead up to the sexual intimacies should be avoided. The lover’s kiss, for instance, is not permissible if you do not desire to arouse passion.
We must recognize that sexual excitement is to a large extent brought about by mental processes. It depends greatly upon the woman and the man concerned. Each is influenced greatly by his or her mental attitude. However, it must be admitted that the woman in the case is the real con-trolling factor. The answer to the question under consideration will depend largely upon her power of control.
In the plan of occupying separate beds there is some advantage in the fact that there is less likely to be any overheating of the body. One is usually able to rest better sleeping alone, and to en-joy a better nervous condition. This, however, is a matter that depends somewhat upon the individual.
In some instances even the plan of separate rooms may be an advantage. The forced intimacy of sleeping together may detract from the mutual attractiveness of a married pair. A little distance lends a certain charm to the source of attraction. Familiarity may not “breed contempt,” as the old saying puts it, but when a thing becomes too common it inevitably becomes less enticing. When a thing is too easy of attainment and requires no pursuit and no courting, it is sometimes neither desired nor appreciated. The use of separate rooms by a married couple would, no doubt, help greatly in maintaining the attitude that existed during courtship, before marriage. Where there is a strong tendency to-ward excess, separate rooms may be useful, but under the normal conditions of a happy marriage they would not be tolerated.
Remember that where there is no excess, no satiety, there will be infinitely more zest in the marriage relation. And there is no doubt that the plan of separate beds, in some instances, will favor the policy of “courting” by the husband when he desires the privilege of expressing his love in this way. Satiety brings its own punishment. As already said, this relationship cannot be enjoyed to any great extent when it is too frequently indulged in, and especially when it is permitted during periods when the female cannot desire it or participate in it. When one’s sexual nature leads to excesses or abuses, separate beds are always to be advised.
But unquestionably in instances where there is a very strong and very intense love between a man and woman, and when the wife has learned the importance of holding passion in abeyance except during the physiological periods when its _expression is normal, there may be no occasion for separate beds. In fact, when a man and woman can occupy the same bed and can exchange caresses that do not arouse the passions, I would certainly say that they are benefited thereby. A man and his wife should be able to caress each other in the ordinary way with the same simple feeling of pleasure that comes to children when they express affection for each other. A man should never show passion until the woman intentionally arouses it.
Therefore, under absolutely normal conditions we might say that separate beds are not necessary. We must however, admit that we are not living in an age in which normality is usual. It might really be termed the exception. Accordingly, in most cases we would say that separate beds are to be recommended. There is much less liability to excess. The intimate relations of the sexes, when they do take place, are far more satisfactory. They are not so likely to be enervating and devitalizing in their influence, and the strong affection existing between husband and wife can be maintained for a longer period.
By all means, occupy separate beds if you find it necessary. But if you can control the intimate relations of marriage without so doing, you will undoubtedly find more satisfaction and benefit from occupying one bed.