A bed of roses or a bed of thorns? Negotiating the couple relationship through sleep
The convention in Western societies of partners sharing a bed is symbolic of their status as a couple, their commitment to the relationship, and their desire for shared intimacy. Yet for many couples, incompatibility as sleeping partners may threaten to undermine romantic notions of the double bed. This paper draws on in-depth interview and audio diary data from research into sleep in couples aged 20-59 (N=40) to examine how couples negotiate the spatial, temporal and relational dimensions of the sleeping environment. The paper contends that the management of tensions inherent in the sleeping relationship plays a key role in framing the couple identity over time, as well as reinforcing the gendered roles, power relationships and inequalities which underpin everyday life. © Sociological Research Online.