When guests overnight away from your own home same sex couples often face a dilemma that is unique. This is especially true when staying with family members, particularly parents. Where do you sleep? In separate beds in separate rooms? What about if you live together while you’re at home and being a dutiful child and visiting a childhood home? Does the partner who’s parents own the home ask if you both can sleep in the same bed? Or do you take the “easy” route and stay in a nearby hotel?
This question may sound trivial and silly to some but it can be a relationship-breaker to a same gender couple who are both trying not to offend or alienate the family of one or the “in-laws” of the other. The problem is compounded by the fact that most extended families don’t have experience in this type of situation and many have no one to look to for their advice. The resources that are available for most man/woman couples simply don’t exist for gay couples and their extended families.
Aaron (my husband) and I were fortunate in that we both have supportive parents who made it clear, beforehand, that when (not if, but when) we visited exactly what the sleeping arrangements would be. Aaron and I met in 2010 at a social nudity event. When he went with me to Greece that August to see my parents, we knew in advance that we’d be sleeping apart. As my father explained to us in an email, we’d only recently met and weren’t even living together, so we’d have separate bedrooms while in Greece. Their logic being you do what you want in your own space but once you’re under our roof, our will be done. Period. We agreed.
That same year, for Thanksgiving, we traveled to Roanoke, Virginia, to stay with Aaron’s parents. He’d only “come-out” to his parents after he met me and so this family visit was somewhat tense (understatement). He’d told his folks about meeting mine and about our sleeping accommodations while there and his parents felt the same. As that was settled before we even left Arlington, our stay in Roanoke was relatively stress free.
We didn’t move in together until the Spring, 2012. Once that happened, whenever we went to see my family, we were allowed to sleep together as long as my nieces and nephews weren’t staying with my parents. If they were there, then it was back to sleeping apart. With his family, we weren’t allowed to sleep in the same bed even though they knew that we were living together.
On October 6, 2014, marriage equality came to Virginia. Aaron’s parents immediately began a relentless campaign for our getting married. They even called my parents and enlisted their support for us legalizing our relationship. Unbeknownst to either of them, we’d already agreed to wed in 2015. We both wanted a summer wedding as neither of us appreciate cold weather.
Aaron and I were married on Saturday, August 15, 2015. After that day, when we visit my family in Greece, whether my nieces and nephews are staying with my parents or not, we share the same bed. When we visit Aaron’s parents, we now sleep in the same bed in his old room.
I realize that different circumstances apply to each same gender couple and that each situation is both special and unique depending on the family. Just as no two individuals are alike, neither are their family dynamics. Marriage equality is a recent phenomenon and isn’t universally recognized. Homophobia still exists throughout the world and even in the most progressive of societies. Their are religious beliefs and cultural taboos that some parents and even contemporaries can’t seem to move beyond.
Unfortunately, while although most of our families honestly love us, many don’t really understand us. Without causing a familial crisis, most of my gay friends who are in relationships just keep their comments to themselves and do whatever is needed to maintain harmony on the home front. That is by no means an ideal solution but it is sometimes the only option available to us.
Most of us don’t want to add any extra stress into our already hectic lives. Family drama, specifically over a situation where we have no control, is something we can all live without. There is no benefit to being an unwelcome guest in the household of another. Nothing good will come out of that predicament.
I offered the examples above of how Aaron’s family and mine responded to our sleeping together both before and after our marriage. Other families will offer different levels of acceptance based on moral values, religious beliefs and individual attitudes. There is no right or wrong carved into stone regarding this situation. Each couple and their family will have to decide for themselves what they can and cannot live with.
It goes without saying that sleeping bare is the choice of each couple. When sleeping nude in the home of another, just be mindful of the “enthusiasm” of children when guests are around. While visiting my parents when one of my nephews was there, Aaron and I were awakened before dawn one morning with my five-year old nephew crawling into bed with us and taking off his pyjamas. Since we were asleep clothes-free, he wanted the same. While there is nothing wrong with our nudity, we should remain sensitive to the tendency of children to emulate their elders and to the wishes of their parents.
And children aren’t the only ones to be concerned about. Sometimes, the adult homeowners are just as lax in respecting privacy. If your family isn’t aware of the visiting couple’s naturist/nudist habits, re-thinking those sleeping habits might be advisable.