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Sleeping Single

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"Great news, honey! Our nightstand is expecting!"

"I don't mind telling you, we pushed our beds together that night! And that was no mean feat; her room, as you know, is across the hall."
Niles Crane, Frasier

Once upon a time, back in The '30s and The '40s, The Hays Code foisted very harsh censorship rules upon American filmmakers by the Moral Guardians. (The Hays Office was actually created by the studios themselves, in part, because they feared that actual government censorship would be the result of failing to rein things in.) One of the "do nots" that weren't to be shown in films under any circumstances was "Any licentious or suggestive nudity." Further down, in what was described as the "be careful" section, was "Man and woman in bed together."

The result was this trope: couples of any type were never shown in the same bed together, even if the work in question featured them as married and having children. If couples were shown in a bedroom at all, they were consigned to a pair of twin beds, usually with a nightstand in between so you didn't imagine them ever pushing the beds together when we weren't watching. Exactly where all those onscreen kids came from was not a question you were supposed to ask. In less censored media from the same era, twin beds were generally used to imply Sexless Marriages, and couples whose marriages were not believed to be lawful might find their sleeping accommodations unhappily altered.

A curious variation appeared where the couple in question was actually shown as owning a bed big enough for two people. In such cases, they would never be lying down in the bed on-screen at the same time. The most "risqué" thing usually seen on-screen was one of them lying down and the other sitting on the edge of the bed. It can be gleaned from this that, in the eyes of the censors at the time, the unwritten rule was apparently that the line between a perfectly innocent talk in the bedroom and a prelude to steamy sexual activity was whether or not someone kept at least one foot off the bed and firmly on the ground at all times.

Although (as noted above) it wasn't strictly forbidden to show men and women in bed together, it almost never happened in practice after 1934. This trope carried over to television in the 1950s and remained in effect until censorship standards loosened and The Hays Code became a dead letter in the 1960s, replaced by the MPAA ratings system for films and FCC censorship for television. The first live-action TV couple to share a bed on television, who were not already married in real life, were Darrin and Samantha Stephens on Bewitched. By the early '70s, the trope had been discarded entirely on such series as The Brady Bunch and The Bob Newhart Show.

While mostly a Dead Horse Trope now, it might crop up from time to time in parody. It might also be used as a shorthand indicator that a married couple's relationship is in trouble. Nowadays, if a couple is depicted as doing this, it represents that they have a very distant or antagonistic relationship. Or they may have other reasons for not sharing a bed like incompatible sleep, though having a different room is just as common for this. A reversal of this trope occurs when the characters aren't in a romantic relationship but There Is Only One Bed. Not related to Exiled to the Couch.


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  • The couple in this Sleep Number commercial.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Broken Blade: King Hodr and Queen Sigyn do not even sleep in the same room. Sigyn barely even sleeps in her own room, sometimes falling asleep while working. The reason is that Sigyn, despite that Hodr clearly loves her, does not have any romantic interest in her husband. They don't have any children.
  • Rare modern (2009) example: In CLANNAD After Story, Nagisa and Tomoya sleep on different futons. After getting married. Because placing two futons together is really hard to do. Though maybe this isn't as surprising considering they have a literal No Hugging, No Kissing Chaste Relationship, where they never go beyond holding hands at least onscreen, anyway. Obviously, they go farther than that since Nagisa eventually gets pregnant. In fact, it's outright mentioned in conversation that they've slept together. But other than that Nagisa and Tomoya's relationship is distinctly portrayed as physically chaste. The VN, on the other hand, does have them sharing a futon after marriage (though any physical intimacy between them is still not shown on screen).
  • In Emma: A Victorian Romance, the aristocratic couples the maids serve usually have separate bedrooms. Truth In Manga, sleeping together every night was not considered proper behavior for a well-bred couple in that era, even if they were Happily Married.
  • Fight! Iczer-One, an anime from the late 1980s, provides an extremely unusual example. Nagase's parents seem to have separate beds. This is a pretty hardcore yuri anime we are talking about.
  • In Futari Ecchi, a neighboring couple to Yuna and Makoto were stuck in a Sexless Marriage. They were shown to be sleeping in separate twin beds, which was lampshaded as being something that would make initiating sex a little more difficult.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, one of the girls that Onizuka helps is upset that her family has become distant since acquiring money. She compares the distance to the wall that exists between her two parents rooms (and beds). Onizuka takes the literal approach at solving the problem and puts a gigantic hole in said wall with a hammer.
  • Seen in the epilogue of CLAMP's Man of Many Faces, in spite of some previous knot-tying. This is likely related to the manga's "All Ages" rating (in the US).
  • Serial Experiments Lain: While we never see them sleeping, Lain's parents have separate beds. This comes off as rather strange given how oddly physical they seem together around the house. It serves as one of the first clues that something is wrong with Lain's family structure.
  • Yor and Loid Forger of SPY×FAMILY have a Sexless Marriage of Convenience where they sleep in different bedrooms. When they have to convince Yor's brother they're a regular married couple, they rearrange things to have a single, large bed complete with "Yes/No" pillows.

    Comic Books 
  • Parodied in one MAD article about how old-fashioned movies used this trope. As a married couple lies in separate beds, the wife tells her husband that their end table is pregnant.
    • Also parodied in a much older issue (contemporaneous with the actual use of the trope) in a story on the differences between films and the books they adapted. In the book, the trope was averted, with the husband complaining how his wife was always stealing the covers. In the movie, the trope was played straight... with the husband still complaining about his wife stealing the covers.

    Comic Strips 
  • Famously averted by Blondie and Dagwood Bumstead in a rather daring move at the time (1933) that was anyway supported by religious figures.

    Fairy Tales 
  • This is implied in "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" — how else could Papa Bear's bed be too hard, but Mama Bear's too soft? (Of course, nowadays there are beds with adjustable hardnesses on each side, but still.) Also justified, as the fact that they need different mattress firmnesses is probably why they have separate beds.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Examined and parodied in Alien Trespass, where one couple does have separate beds, but share one for a romantic interlude.
  • Used to contrast the protagonist's two marriages in The Captains Paradise.
  • A Christmas Story shows Ralphie's parents with the twin bed setup as he cleverly hides the BB gun advert in his mother's magazine.
  • This was never mandatory in French cinema, so in The Earrings of Madame de... it obviously emphasizes that while Andre and Louise remain friendly, their marriage is now completely sexless and passionless.
  • Gregory and Paula from Gaslight are newlyweds however sleep in separate rooms, which is unusual even by Victorian standards. Considering Gregory's ulterior measures it makes more sense he'd keep her distant.
  • A strange example in Giant. Bick and Leslie do this later in their marriage, even though they started by sleeping in the same bed and are still Happily Married.
  • A Guide For The Married Man depicted married couples in twin beds while husbands and their girlfriends used double beds.
  • In H.M. Pulham, Esq. poor Harry is doing this on his honeymoon. While this is an Enforced Trope, of course, it helps reinforce how Harry has chosen safe, rather dull Kay over his exciting girlfriend Marvin.
  • Played for laughs in Little Shop of Horrors where it crops up in Audrey's sitcom-inspired fantasies about married life.
  • Single beds silliness from the 1952 film, The Marrying Kind.
  • In Modesta Modesta sleeps by herself in a double bed, while her husband sleeps in a hammock. Potentially justified in that she is visibly pregnant.
  • The father Lalit and his wife start Monsoon Wedding like this, but eventually they wind up curled up together in one of the twin beds just holding one another.
  • The movie Pleasantville, largely set inside the world of a fictional '50s sitcom, makes explicit reference to this trope. One of the signs that the show's world is changing is that larger beds are for sale.
    • And later, beds being restricted to a maximum width to try protecting the Status Quo.
  • In The Prowler (1951), John and Susan have two single beds in their bedroom. However, is as much to do with the state of their marriage as it is the Hays code.
  • While not shown, it's mentioned by Gretchen Weiners in Mean Girls that Regina George's parents are having marital problems to the point of sleeping in separate beds.
  • Soundly averted in My Reputation with Ginna and Cary.
  • The couple in Seconds is having single beds which underpins their loveless marriage.
  • The Thin Man, which is from the '30s, though they imply a lot in dialogue anyway. And there was that time on the train.
  • Classic 1955 Alfred Hitchcock movie The Trouble with Harry included a then-racy comment that a couple would need a double bed, which caused the heroine (played by Shirley MacLaine) to have a major blush-attack.
  • Mark and Fran of Disney's The Ugly Dachsund sleep in separate beds despite being married. Possibly for the best since Fran lets their dachshunds sleep on the bed with her.
  • In Wild Orchids, a 1929 silent film made before the Sleeping Single trope was enforced, this is a plot point. John Sterling is aghast when presented with a double bed, and is relieved to find out that he and his wife will be sleeping in separate rooms. This underscores the lack of any sex in the Sterling marriage, which is driving his wife into the arms of another man.
  • The Winning Team: Played with. In the scene where Grover wakes up at night and realizes that his double vision has gone, it's clear that he and Aimee are in the same bed, but the film is carefully shot so that we can't see them in the same bed. As Grover is looking out the window at the moon, the shot is blocked so that his body obscures Aimee's. As he gets up, the camera sweeps across so fast that we can barely see Doris Day. Only after he's gone from the room does the camera show Aimee on the other side of the bed.

  • In A Brother's Price this is normal ... mainly because it would get very crowded with ten to thirty wives per husband. The women take turns visiting their husband.
  • In Dragon Bones, this is standard for noble families. The queen and king have an arranged marriage, and may not even have consummated the marriage, as king Jakoven prefers young men. He encourages other men to start affairs with queen Tehedrato ... only to then assassinate the nice young men, and leave the queen heartbroken. He's ... not a nice person.
  • Fire & Blood: King Viserys I and Queen Allicent Hightower not only slept in separate bedrooms, but her bedroom was on an entirely separate floor from his. Says a lot about their marriage... and maybe his very sudden death. Then again, Viserys was overweight and in seriously bad health. Not the sort of person you'd want to share a bed with (or possibly be able to share a bed with).
  • In the Imager Portfolio series by L.E. Modesitt Jr, all married imagers are required to have separate quarters from their spouses. This is because Imagers sometimes Image in their sleep, which could be dangerous for anyone else in the room. This rule only applies to the literal act of sleeping, as several married Imagers (including the main characters in both subseries) are shown to have children.
  • The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov takes place on Solaria, a planet with a population so small that every individual gets their own estate of several hundred to thousand square miles. They communicate only through holographic communicators and see physical presence as disgusting. Even spouses rarely come into physical contact with one another, each having their own half of a huge mansion. This is quite common with Spacers, humans that don't live on Earth, as the Spacer buildings near New York City in The Caves of Steel are expansive domes that house small buildings inside in contrast to the City domes that Earth has.
  • Spenser's Friend on the Force Quirk once tells Spenser that once their kids left the house, he and his wife started sleeping in separate rooms. Everyone thinks the marriage is in trouble, but it's just for comfort's sake, and "it makes the time together more special". Author Robert B. Parker actually did this with his wife Joan in Real Life, though to a greater extent - actually building a two-part house where they could live separately, but visit whenever they wished. He once said, "I never want to sleep with my wife again, but I hope to continue making love to her forever."
  • In A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Christine and Elgin Taylor as a married couple both have their own beds to sleep in since they're renting out a hotel room to live in together. They try to combine them into a double bed, but Christine ends up falling between the beds and struggling to get herself out without accidentally waking up Elgin. Eventually she decides to leave the beds single as Elgin would end up coming home later than usual, a sign of her husband's infidelity that would show up as the marriage progressed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. When Jemma is stranded on an alien planet and meets an American astronaut who had been there a while, they work together for several weeks before falling in love, and we get a Sexy Discretion Shot of them making out before the commercial break. After the break, we see their two cots pushed together, clearly implying that they had sex.
  • Arrested Development. Tobias and Lindsey are shown sleeping in two different beds in season 4 after getting a new, oversized house. The trope is used here to show their failed marriage.
  • Blake's 7. In "City At The Edge Of The World", an Action Girl takes a fancy to Vila, takes off her gunbelt and puts her arms around him. Next time we see them, they're lying on separate beds fully clothed, bathing in the afterglow.
  • On Citizen Khan, Mr. and Mrs. Khan sleep in separate beds. Mr. Khan reacts in shock when he sees Mrs. Khan pushing their beds together in the middle of the day and shrinks back in fear when she insists he fulfill his "husbandly duties". Turns out she just wanted him to fix the plumbing in their room and moving the beds provided easier access to the pipes.
  • Criminal Minds: Downplayed in one episode, where Hotchner and Rossi note that a couple shared a queen-sized bed but had separate mattresses (which Rossi calls "less intimate"). It's one of the first signs that the relationship was strained before the wife killed her husband seemingly out of the blue.
  • In perhaps a parody of this trope, Bree and Orson are shown in a hotel room with twin beds in one episode of Desperate Housewives, despite the fact that they're there on their honeymoon.
  • While technically holding to this trope, Rob and Laura Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show were arguably the first TV couple to be shown having an obviously dynamic and energetic romantic relationship, due to the fantastic chemistry between stars Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
    • This also goes for Gomez and Morticia Addams of The Addams Family ("Tish! That's French!"), who subverted the trope constantly.
    • Likewise Herman and Lilly of The Munsters, who were actually shown in bed together a few weeks after the Bewitched episode mentioned in the page intro. This may or may not have been handwaved by them being 'weird'.
    • However, this trope was completely averted by the very first American sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny, which aired from 1947 to 1950. It showed the featured couple sharing a bed, and even depicted Mary Kay's real-life pregnancy. It should be noted that the stars were real-life married couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Rory and Amy in early series 6, as after the TARDIS shenanigans result in their bedroom being deleted, they tell the Doctor that when he has the TARDIS create a new one, leave out the bunk bed.
      The Doctor: But bunk beds are cool! It's a bed with a ladder!
    • They may have just been using one of the beds together and wanted a single large bed for greater comfort. After all, Amy and Rory still managed to conceive a child while in the TARDIS. (When fans asked how and when, Steven Moffat and Neil Gaiman both tweeted — accidentally at the same time, and completely by coincidence — "on the ladder".)
  • Averted by Lord and Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey. As British aristocrats of their day and master and mistress of a great house, they would be expected to not only sleep in separate beds but in separate rooms. And technically, they do have separate rooms with separate beds—it’s just that Lord Grantham only uses his bedroom to change and then goes to Lady Grantham’s room to sleep in their common bed, the Granthams having had the great fortune to fall in love with each other about a year into their marriage. The only time his bed gets any use is when she exiles him from hers (or on one occasion, he feels he has shamed himself and exiles himself), or when Lady Grantham is ill. His daughter gives him cheek about it in Series 1:
    Lady Mary: I hope you know that really smart people sleep in separate rooms.
    Lord Grantham: I always keep the dressing room bed made up so I at least pretend we sleep in separate rooms. Isn't that enough?
    Lady Mary: No. Never mind.
    • (Lady Mary, when she did marry years later, never did sleep separate from her husband.)
  • Played with on Father Ted — Ted and Dougal have twin beds in the same room, Justified due to them not being a couple, meaning it would be very wierd (even by the show's standards) if they shared a bed.
  • On Fawlty Towers, Basil and Sybil are seen doing this in "The Wedding Party", although by then they could have easily shared a bed. They just hate each other. In the same episode, Basil refuses to let an unmarried young couple have a double bed, saying it's against the law of England, and nothing to do with him.
  • As referenced in the page quote, Niles and Maris on Frasier have a terrible marriage and sleep in separate rooms.
    Frasier: She's been missing for three days and you're just panic-stricken now?
    Niles: I only just realized it. The last two nights, I knocked on Maris's bedroom door to wish her goodnight and I was greeted with a chilly silence, so naturally I assumed everything was status quo!
  • On Game of Thrones, King Robert and Queen Cersei have separate bedchambers due to their loveless marriage.
  • The Howells slept single on Gilligan's Island.
  • Zig-zagged in Green Acres – The Douglases had no furniture when they first moved into Green Acres and for a short time temporarily rented Mr. Haney's single cots. A little later, Lisa brings over their lavish double bed.
  • In the Chained Heat episode of Hey Dude!, the handcuffed Ted and Brad spend an uncomfortable night in bunk beds when you would think a double-bed would be the best choice. The best choice anywhere but TV land.
  • Francis and Elizabeth Urquhart in the House of Cards (UK) trilogy. They seemed to have a very open marriage.
  • Frank and Claire Underwood in the American version of House of Cards (US) are like this too.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall and Lily tried this - not because they're sexually estranged (Marshall and Lily have a lot of sex) but simply to try and get a better night's sleep. It actually works for a while, but both decide that they're more comfortable sharing a bed.
  • I Love Lucy:
    • The series is infamous for this, although the twin beds were actually pushed together throughout the entire first season. After Ricky and Lucy had a child, the network had a nightstand put between them to "diminish the impact of the suggested sexual history".
    • It was actually averted a couple of times. In one strange instance, Fred says that Ethel woke him by not being there "because there was no one poking him in the ribs and telling him to roll over" which pretty much means they needed to be in the same bed. While shortly afterwards in the same episode they are shown sleeping in twin beds.
    • In another episode, both Fred and Ethel and Lucy and Ricky are briefly depicted as sharing a double bed in a motel that they stop at on their way to Hollywood. However, neither couple actually gets to sleep because a train keeps going by and moving the bed across the floor.
  • One episode of Keeping Up Appearances had Hyacinth get a flat in a former big country house as a holiday home. Although they slept in the same bed at home, in the flat they had twin beds; Hyacinth implied they're now too old to be getting up to anything which would require a double.
  • For a single episode of The King of Queens the couple sleep in separate twin beds. A delivery mistake brought them twin beds instead of a new king-size and they are told it will take time to fix and ship out the replacement bed. They grow to like the separate beds (she can read late and he can eat in bed without their disturbing each other) and consider keeping them while their friends and family become increasingly worried that their marriage is in trouble. In the end, they decide they miss sleeping in the same bed and send for the replacement bed.
  • In a Married... with Children episode Al makes separate beds because he hates sharing the bed with Peg.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Midge Maisel's parents Abe and Rose Weissman sleep in twin beds. This makes sense because they are Jewish couple probably born around 1900-1910; Jewish law requires men not to touch any menstruating woman, not even his wife, so for observant Jews of that generation (and even Orthodox Jews today), the obvious solution is separate beds (the alternative being one spouse or the other being Exiled to the Couch for a week to ten days a month). This does not mean a lack of intimacy; Midge gets a lot of mileage in her comedy act from her realization at the age of 26 that the scraping sounds she thought were a ghost as a child were actually her parents moving their beds together/apart.
  • Averted on The Morecambe And Wise Show where the two protagonists, for no reason which was ever explained other than Rule of Funny, shared a bed. Ernie Wise took inspiration from Laurel and Hardy in their short Early to Bed.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In "The Man With the Power", Dean Radcliffe and his wife Emily sleep in separate beds.
  • Ned and Chuck from Pushing Daisies have to sleep in twin beds, as Chuck would die by touching Ned, but it also helps with the general retro feel of the show. Later on, they put the beds together separated by a plastic sheet, with an inserted arm-glove for hugging.
  • Reba: After teenagers Cheyenne and Van have a Shotgun Wedding, Reba sets up Cheyenne's room to accommodate Van by adding a second twin bed. Upon returning from their honeymoon, they promptly push the beds together.
  • Lampooned in the Roseanne episode "The Fifties Show", which satirizes various old sitcoms.
    Dan: What do you say tonight we push our twin beds together and...?
    Roseanne: Stop, the kids will hear you!
  • Saturday Night Live: Invoked by Bea in "Dream Home Cousins" (April 9, 2022). It was her idea to replace the king bed with three single beds for her son and his wife when designing the house.
  • Done as a throwaway gag on Scrubs. Eliot's WASP-ish emotionally distant father comes to visit, and says that her mother is having the bedroom redecorated... but he's keeping his the same.
  • On Seinfeld, Frank and Estelle Costanza have separate beds. But as Frank explains, it's because Estelle has the "jimmy arms" and this was the only way either of them would get any sleep.
  • Stranger Things: Jonathan and Nancy sleep in a motel room on their way out to visit Murray Bauman. They take a double with twin beds, due to their denial of their increasing feelings towards each other.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
  • WandaVision: "Don't Touch That Dial", a Genre Throwback to '60s sitcoms, opens with Wanda and Vision sleeping in single beds. Wanda pulls them together with her magic after they get scared by a loud banging noise from outside. They quickly decide they prefer it this way and pull the covers over their heads. This seems to be playing on the transition from the fifties I Love Lucy-like setting of the first episode into a fairly direct pastiche of Bewitched (as noted above, one the earliest sitcoms to defy the trope).
  • Yo Gabba Gabba!: In "Sleep", it is shown the gang sleeps in their own realms in their beds, but in "Doctor," Toodee sleeps in Muno's.


    Video Games 
  • Bugsnax: Although Snorpy Fizzlebean and Chandlo Funkbun are in love, they sleep in separate beds in the upstairs of their hut.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: Dialogue in Act IV can reveal that Lord Linder Kemm has grown distant from his wife and sleeps separately from her. It's revealed to be because he's joined forces with the Greater-Scope Villain and now uses a Human Disguise to hide that he's become undead.
  • Mars' grandparents in Shining Wisdom sleep in separate beds, more importantly however is that they sleep in the kitchen to allow Mars the whole upstairs as his bedroom.
  • Strangely enough, this shows up in a few Story of Seasons games. Almost all the games require you to get a "Big Bed" to get married. For you and your spouse, right? No — for your spouse and your child. You still sleep in your own tiny bed. While it's pressed close the others, it's still separate. Where does the kid come from, then? (Other games avert this, however.) In at least one, you need a new bed which is a crib for the child, and you and your wife just share the single bed you start with. Guess you're both pretty sedate sleepers.
  • Possible in The Sims, and mandatory if the relationship between Sims isn't high enough or, obviously, being children.
  • Judging by the houses in the Ruins and New Home in Undertale, it seems as if Toriel and Asgore not only slept in separate beds, but also separate bedrooms. One of the videos in the True Lab features them talking at night, with the implication that Toriel came into Asgore’s bedroom to film his reactions to her puns, as he tells her to "Go back to bed" at first, then she says "I'm going back to bed" after he makes a pun himself.
  • In X-Men Legends, Cyclops and Jean Grey have separate bedrooms in the mansion, though in the standalone universe of the Marvel RPG's, it's unknown how long they've been a couple.
  • Both Nate's and Katie's parents sleep in separate beds in Yo-Kai Watch.

    Visual Novels 
  • CLANNAD: Tomoya and Nagisa. In 2009. However, it's due to living in a tiny apartment and poor as all hell, they're not going to spend money on a double futon that probably wont fit in the wardrobe. They probably just brought their old ones from home to save money.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Natsuhi and Krauss sleep in separate bedrooms, and it's heavily implied they have a Sexless Marriage.
    • George and Shannon slept in separate rooms during a date before the events of the series, to Jessica's disappointment. If they had slept in the same room, most of the series would most likely not have happened since Shannon/Sayo Yasuda's secret would have gotten out because George would have seen Shannon/Sayo's mutilated sexual organs (as well as the strong implication that Sayo was designated male at birth).

    Web Original 
  • Deconstructed in this article, which argues that couples who sleep separately tend to be happier, since they're less likely to disrupt each other's sleep.

    Western Animation 
  • The Critic: Jay's adoptive parents sleep this way. In one episode, when Franklin Sherman is feeling a bit frisky, his wife says, all right, as long as he goes to her. When the light kicks on, we see a no-man's-land with barbed wire and Doberman pinschers between the beds.
  • Disenchantment: Even though King Zog and Queen Oona are married and mentioned to have a sex life, he is shown to sleep in his own separate bed while she sleeps... in the ceiling upside down. But then again, they are also united in an Arranged Marriage, so that may be a reason why.
  • On Ed, Edd n Eddy, Edd's parents' bedroom ("please leave or I'll have to call an attorney!") is arranged like this. No wonder the kid's so uptight; his parents are as germophobic as he is.
  • The The Fairly OddParents! episode "Hassle in the Castle" shows that Cosmo and Wanda sleep in separate beds.
  • Family Guy: When Peter is lost at sea, and Brian marries Lois to keep the family together, they sleep in separate twin beds, despite Brian's nightly effort to convince Lois to have sex with him. (Keep in mind, Brian is the dog.)
    • In another episode, Peter and Lois start sleeping in separate beds (Peter calls them "Lucy and Ricky beds") after Peter rolls over and suffocates her one time too many. However, Peter asks Quagmire to sleep with him just so he wouldn't feel lonely, which is totally not gay by the way.
  • The Fantastic Four depicted Reed and Sue sleeping in separate beds in the episode "The Terrible Tribunal" in spite of them being married.
  • The Flintstones are generally acknowledged to be the first animated couple to share a bed, but earlier seasons did have Fred and Wilma in separate beds.
    • One episode has Fred and Barney sharing a double bed. Barney mentions that he is having trouble sleeping because he and Betty sleep in twin beds. A giant ax later splits the bed, making Barney much happier.
  • In one episode of Hey Arnold!, Arnold's grandparents are shown to have separate beds.
  • King of the Hill:
    • Dale and Nancy sleep in separate beds while she was having an affair.
    • Hank and Peggy's bed is actually two beds pushed together. Hank pulls his away in one episode because he can't stand the smell of Peggy's hair. Hank later explains to Bobby that they have it that way because Peggy likes her mattress firm and he likes his extra firm.
      Hank: I guess it's true, opposites attract.
  • One of the latest straight playings (in the puritan way) is the '90s Mickey Mouse cartoon Hansel and Gretel, where Mickey and Minnie don't sleep in the same bed, even though there's only one bed and this means Mickey must sleep in an armchair.
  • Moral Orel:
    • Not only do Orel's parents have separate beds, but there is a privacy screen between them.
    • Doughy's parents have separate rooms, though this is more because they're mentally still teenagers — Kim's bedroom, which we do see, is still decorated like a high school girl's. It should also be noted, this has no bearing on their sex lives, as they regularly bribe Doughy with money to leave the house so they can be alone.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Pinkie Pie's somewhat... old-fashioned parents are shown to sleep like this. The fact that they have four kids (and strongly suggest theirs was a Perfectly Arranged Marriage) means this can't have damaged their relationship any.
  • One of the first clues that Luann and Kirk Van Houten on The Simpsons might have a troubled marriage was Kirk's proposal to "push the twin beds together" after he procured a sex tonic. Later seasons saw them get divorced, though as of present they're back together.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Bottle Burglars" shows that Plankton and his computer wife sleep in separate beds.

    Real Life 
  • Averted in more old-fashioned and/or religious traditions in which the "marital bed" has a sacred significance.
  • In fact, through most of human history and prehistory, communal sleeping was the norm, meaning you'd either be sleeping in close proximity with most of the tribe or (say, in the medieval era) sharing a bed with strangers.
  • It's not unheard of for happily married couples to sleep in separate beds or even separate rooms if their sleep habits aren't compatible or if there are medical circumstances (back problems, allergies or breathing problems, for example). This doesn't mean they don't enjoy "together time" when the mood strikes.
  • Heck, in some places, the husband and the wife don't even share a room! (Most commonly with kings, who had to worry about things like assassination attempts. The Emperor of China eventually took to having his concubines stripped naked and wrapped up in a blanket to be delivered to his chambers for pleasure.) Many upper-class homes, given their large amount of space, do often have separate bedrooms for Him and for Her.
  • Also, studies show that those who have certain sleeping habits (like snoring) or health problems are better off sleeping in different beds, and this shows that accommodating those needs improve a relationship. These studies are usually the reason for married pairs to sleep in different beds; before, different beds were considered to be wholesome and chaste, and the idea of "snuggling" was considered to be vulgar.
  • This couple decided to live in separate houses while happily married due to already having two places that sufficiently contains all their stuff but they'd have to get a bigger, more expensive place if they didn't keep both homes. Appears to work pretty well for them, and the 2006 U.S. census data reports 3.8 million couples doing the same thing.
  • When they were a couple, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton had adjoining HOUSES.
  • Medical orthodoxy in the late 19th century was that sharing beds was unhygienic (because one lay in another person's sweat and exhaled water vapour), meaning it was highly probable that many happily married couples slept like this (of course many families couldn't afford more than one bed for the whole family, so it wasn't universal — which, in turn, made it aspirational to be sleeping single).
  • Certain Jewish traditions surrounding the Niddah, or a woman's menstrual cycle, stipulate that she sleep in a separate bed from her husband during and for several days after her cycle until she can be ritually cleansed in a bath called a mikvah. Many modern Orthodox couples set this up either this way or by giving her a separate bedroom (often a guest room) for this time, though others exile one of the couple (usually the husband) to the couch.
  • A downplayed example is a suggestion from sleep experts to sleep in the same bed but use separate covers. This prevents one partner from hogging the covers while also allowing each partner to choose how heavy or light their covers will be if each prefers a different sleeping temperature.
  • Robert B. Parker and his wife Joan realized that their lifestyles were too differentnote  to support traditional co-habitation so they lived separate livesnote  while remaining very much in love and committed to each other. When describing their arrangment, Parker said, "I want to make love to my wife for the rest of my life, but I never want to sleep with her again."
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt never slept in the same bed from the point after she caught him having an affair in 1918. While they were always a team and loved each other deeply, their relationship was never quite romantic after that point.
  • When the marriage of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Rutland hit a rough patch, they moved into separate towers of their 300-room castle and went about their lives.
  • William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, the parents of Mary Shelley, lived in separate apartments 20 doors down from each other for the entirety of their brief marriage (they married when Wollstonecraft became pregnant with Mary, and she died from an infection following childbirth). They were nonetheless happy in the relationship and often corresponded by letter.
  • P. G. Wodehouse and his wife Ethel Wayman appear to have had their own rooms throughout much of their marriage. Although Wodehouse may have been Asexual as well as sterile due to a case of mumps in his youth, they were Happily Married for sixty years until Wodehouse's death in 1975.