Marriage Books You’ll Love: How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed

by Alisa on December 3, 2010

Okay friends: this is a divorce book. I originally picked it up because I knew that a few of my readers were going in that direction. They’d asked me for advice. Divorce is not something from my experience. So I decided to read up. I wanted a book I could recommend to others when they asked, “Do you have any advice for people going through a divorce?”

How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed is that book. But this book is an important read for people who are fighting to hold their marriages together, too. Here’s why. Many times in life, when we are struggling with a given situation, we create a fairy tale image of a different situation that we imagine would be much better for us.

For instance, single folks who are lonely generally have a fairy tale image of marriage. They imagine that meeting and marrying the right person will solve all of their problems.

Conversely, unhappily married folks generally have a fairy tale image of the single life. Or maybe that’s just me. When my marriage was bad, I thought being single would be freeing, fun, exciting, and just what I needed.

That’s why it’s important to read memoirs like How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed (as well as Can’t Think Straight, which is next up in this series). Such books shatter these myths.

How to Sleep Alone shatters the myth by painting a realistic picture of divorce. You travel side by side with Theo Pauline Nestor as she makes the decision to end her marriage. Folks: I don’t want to give too much away here because the beginning of the book is artfully written and contains a twist. For that reason, I’m not going to tell you why Theo needed to get out of her marriage. I’m just going to ask you to trust me. Theo was in one of the few types of marriages that most people would declare terminally broken.

Theo Pauline Nestor

So she ended it. What follows is how she grieved the loss of that marriage. You travel with her through shock, denial, anger, frustration, exhaustion, loneliness, yearning, guilt, shame, and sadness. After many years of marriage, you get a first hand glimpse of what it feels like to cleave yourself from another person. You read about the dinners she eats alone when the kids are with dad. You can commiserate with how hard it must be for her to ask her ex to help her start the mower (because she’s not strong enough to do it herself) or help her with rodent control.

If your marriage is ending, reading this book will be like talking to a friend who has already done it—that friend who listens and realistically tells you that you will be okay but that this is gonna be dang hard. (Note: if your marriage is ending, I recommend you connect with Theo personally on her Facebook page). If your marriage is struggling, reading this book will feel like Theo has wrapped her hands over your shoulders and is shaking you and saying: Singlehood is not the walk in the park that you imagine!

Theo ended up working on her stuff and becoming a stronger person outside of marriage. You might end up working on your stuff and becoming a stronger person inside your marriage.

Either way, if you want to get to happy, you’re going to have to work on your stuff.

Next up in Marriage Books You’ll Love: Can’t Think Straight.

A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Sleepless in a king December 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

The title of the book applies to me but I am married. My wife ignores me and avoids me by staying up to the wee hours. I toss and turn around a king size bed wondering why she is not attractive to me. I loose allot of sleep. When she does eventually comes to bed she barricades off her side. I remain awake as my wife slowly snoozes away.

Sleepless in a King

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Sabrina December 3, 2010 at 10:03 am

I just bought this on my kindle, and even though I am doing SO much better with my situation, I think it will make me feel like i am not going through this alone.

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Kathy December 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

After both of my divorces I found I was oh so much happier. And it’s really easy to sleep alone in a king-sized bed – just stretch out and take up all the space.

Both marriages were unsalvageable. Now I’m in my 3rd marriage and it’s much better. But mostly because I’m much better. This blog has helped a lot. As did individual counseling to help shed me of my issues. It’s not a perfect marriage. But we don’t want to leave and we’ve learn to let the other person be themselves.

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sarah henry December 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

I am going to head on over to my local indie bookstore and pick up a copy of this book, which I hadn’t heard about until I read about it here. Thanks, Alisa.

And I love the comment above: “it’s really easy to sleep alone in a king-sized bed — just stretch out and take up all the space.” I like that woman’s sass!

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Katherine December 3, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I have not gone through div orce, but I can so relate to the few things you have posted here. My husband died 3 years ago, and I was suddenly sleep in my Queen (not king, but still) all alone. The first time I tried to start our rider mower a neighbour came over to give me a helping hand (as he had noticed that I was sitting there motionless for an awfully long time). I struggled with how many potatoes to buy, if any (as he was the big potato fan in our family). I even lived with a burnt out light bulb at my back door for several weeks, as it was too high for me to reach, even with standing on a chair. Eventually a much taller friend was over and I gave in and asked him for help. It killed me though to have to ask for help to change a light bulb! A stinking light bulb. It isn’t easy, so if you are thinking on divorce, think long and hard.

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Joanne December 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm

These books are all so timely for me. It is almost hard to comment and I would be to embarrassed to explain which ones and why they were affecting me right now. By 52 you are supposed to “know yourself” and know what you desire, are capable of, and where your boundaries lie. None of that is true though for me.
Alisa; your comment “Either way, if you want to get to happy, you’re going to have to work on your stuff.” is so freakin true and it is somewhat daunting.

Another thought in the staying married with heavy compromise or living alone but true to yourself is : The grass may look greener on the other side but it will need mowing too.

I have choices to make: some may hurt some people I love and disappoint them and I hesitate to do that. Some would be irreversible so they need to be made very carefully and with conviction and courage but none need to be made immediately so I will continue to sit on them and wait for the correct time to come.

I have already read many of the books you have suggested I will kindle this one too.

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Kathy December 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm

@Joanne,
I’ve decided we’re not done growing up until the day we die. We are learning new things and getting different insight, etc. How could we possibly be done and know ourself? I just don’t think it’s possible.

@Sarah,
I so needed your comment today – “I like that woman’s sass”. I wish my friends in real life appreciated my sass as much as the people I interact with on the internet.

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Aquasana Shower Filter December 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Divorce is not something I have experience with directly, but like most people, I have loved ones that have. You’ve grabbed my interest with this review. I look forward to checking the book out.

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Joanne December 3, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Another good book on divorce is Erica Manfred’s He’s History: You’re Not Surviving divorce after 50. After reading chapter 11 I followed her advice got a good marriage counselor to try again to fix my marriage. It hasn’t improved so far but now it has nothing to do with my husband and everything to do with where I am at right now.

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Mrs. Levine December 3, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I keep staring at that doggone gorgeous book cover.

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Alexandra December 3, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Thanks for recommending this book, as I was wondering what to recommend to friends who might be considering this choice. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to get a divorce. It is so much harder than one might think to “un-cleave.”

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Jennifer Margulis December 4, 2010 at 12:14 am

My agent once sent me a book about helping children deal with death and divorce. I opened the package and did a double take. It was the LAST book in the world I wanted to read. I didn’t have death or divorce to help my kids deal with! But then I opened the book (it’s called HEALING THE HURT, RESTORING THE HOPE), read every word, and learned so much. It’s an excellent book.

I actually just ordered this book from my local bookstore (despite my guilt about killing trees, details here: http://mothering.com/jennifermargulis/social-change/15-ways-to-save-a-tree-or-part-of-one-anyway). I have read amazing reviews of it and am eager to read it.

I do NOT want to get divorced (or die, for that matter) but, as you mention in this post, sometimes reading about these things can actually be empowering and clarifying.

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Brewgasm December 4, 2010 at 9:30 am

Thanks for this, Lise.

I was just thinking the other day that I could write something similar–though mine would be sleeping alone on a futon on the floor!

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Zoe December 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Joanne said “I have choices to make: some may hurt some people I love and disappoint them and I hesitate to do that. Some would be irreversible so they need to be made very carefully and with conviction and courage but none need to be made immediately so I will continue to sit on them and wait for the correct time to come.”

This brought tears to my eyes. That is where I am. The ‘conviction and courage’ part really got me. I need to be absolutely certain because so many people will be affected. So I keep my mouth shut. If I would even tell hubby I am thinking about the big D word, I think he would make my life hell. He would immediately decide that is what we should so and he would hold a big grudge because how dare I even think that! He is a guy that believes the world is out to get him so he better get them first. I need to be sure and I need to have a plan.

I wish I could tell him that I am thinking about that so he would know how serious our marriage problems are, and so he would work on them with me. But I can’t. I can’t say that out loud until I am ready for everything to change.

Someone once told me that if I ever made the decision to get a divorce to wait one year before acting on it. The hope of course is that you could work things out. But if not, you have the entire year to make a plan, save money, etc.

Love this site where I can say things I can say no where else. Thanks :)

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Ron December 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

As I write this my wife is packing. She plans to leave today. We’ve been struggling for a year and a half. She had an affair and says she is in love. We’ve been together for 25 years (since age 19) – this all seem so unreal. : (

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Joanne December 6, 2010 at 10:29 am

Ron: I am sure all our hearts go out to you, this is going to be tough. Hang in there and feel free to talk to us if you need to.

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Dobbes December 6, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Joanne said “I have choices to make: some may hurt some people I love and disappoint them and I hesitate to do that. Some would be irreversible so they need to be made very carefully and with conviction and courage but none need to be made immediately so I will continue to sit on them and wait for the correct time to come.”

I’ve recently finished a book that I believe can really help those who are on the fence. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship. This book like this can really help one cut through the fog of emotions in determining staying or leaving.

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Sabrina December 7, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I am reading this book now, and at first, it was difficult for me to continue. I could understand what she was going through, but my marriage wasnt nearly as long as her, even though a child is involved. But I got to the part where she realized she is in love, and i can definitely relate because I am there as well (dont want to give anything away), so now I cant wait to see how the rest of her story turns out.

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Drummer Guy December 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

After being on both sides of the issue (married, Divorced now remarried lol) neither side is easy. I am like Kathy though the sleeping alone has it’s advantages. Nobody kicks you in the middle of the night for something she DREAMED you did..lol (My first wife actually did that once & was really pissed that I cheated in her dream…lol) But I love streaching out & enjoying having the bed to myself.

On the post divorce side it really is tough out there as the author probably discovered but the other side is being married to somebody who is poisonus. While that’s not true of my ex I have known quite a few people over the years who should NEVER marry anybody.

A former co-worker (I have mentioned on here before) was on her 3rd or 4th marriage (I forget) & was HORRIBLE to her husband. I personally think she had a very serious personality disorder. Nobody can be that mean without it. But she was fussing with another girl at work about the way she treated people. This woman actually had the backbone to tell her “Some people should just never marry & YOUR one of them”. She replied “What I don’t have the right to be happy”. Her response was classic & one I’ll never forget…..”Of course you do, the problem is you NEVER will be & you will make it your life’s mission to make everybody in your life as miserable as you are”. Did it change her… NOT ONE BIT! It is true though, some people should just never marry. Can we put signs on those?…LOL

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Bern January 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm

This sounds like a good book as it focuses on the aftermath – must get it thru Amazon and have a read. I think you cover some good points in your blog Alisa – many marriages fail because one or both partners go in with unrealistic expectations of a ‘fairytale’ situation, and find the reality is somewhat different, then keep moving on making the same mistakes looking for the unattainable utopia the movies and some books portray. I see a few of the contributors have touched upon this issue (and I agree), that rather than trying to change our partners, to find true happiness we need to work on OURSELVES.

On that note I read with interest Dobbes comments about the book “Too good to leave, etc” – my former wife got this book when she was planning to go, and used it to compile a list of all my faults and how I hadn’t met her expectations, etc, etc (she kindly wrote her list and my faults down and gave it to me – I still have it somewhere, so must have a read!), and when I skimmed through the book I was left with the impression that it focussed on the other person, rather than on ourselves, as as we know, focussing on your partners perceived faults is NOT a recipe for lasting happiness in ourselves!

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Contemporary Curtains May 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

I’ve been married now for many years and divorce is not something that ever comes to mind when we are having a fight. Many of my friends have gotten divorced and have been married more than once. They usually ask me how do I do it and what’s the secret but now I can sure direct them to check out this book. Thanks for the great review.

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Aquasana Shower filter May 2, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Unlike the comment above I have been divorced and remarried a few times. I hope this time it works out as this person is very important to me. I have been doing a lot of growing internally myself for the past few years. I got my fingers crossed

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