I got married back in November, after knowing my husband for 7 years. He is my best friend, my soul partner, my rock, my clown, all of those good things. And we often don’t sleep together.
“Gasp! What?! You don’t sleep together?! Doomed for sure…” I can imagine some people thinking.
But I am writing to dispel the myth that cosleeping leads to a sexless relationship, as well as the notion that couples have to sleep in the same bed in order to have a happy sex life.
A common sentiment expressed when the topic of cosleeping comes up is that it must destroy marriages, and that “poor dad” must be kicked out of the bed so mother and child can use it. But that is not true for most cosleeping families; many bed-sharers sleep all together, with both parents and however many children they might have. And even in my situation, where my spouse and I do sleep separately most of the time, it’s not because he’s kicked out of the bed or playing second fiddle. It’s because it works for us, all three of us equally.
”Doesn’t it ruin intimacy?” people ask. ”When/where do you have sex?!” they want to know.
Do you really want to know? If so, read on.
We have sex multiple times on weekends, and sporadically throughout the week in the evening, as that is what his work schedule allows. We mostly have quickies on weekdays, and long, slow sex on the weekends. We sneak away to “nap” and “give each other massages” as often as we can. We have sex on the couch, on the other couch, on the living room floor, in the kitchen, on the kitchen floor (the kitchen sees a lot of action; I guess I look good cookin’), on the chair in my painting studio, on the chair in the dining room, in the guest bed, outside in the yard, in the van… Yoga mats, piles of blankets, and tons of coconut oil helps.
The idea that cosleeping can somehow ruin a relationship implies that all or most sex must take place in a bed. Clearly that is not the case, and I’d argue that it makes it more fun and interesting. It also makes using a bed somewhat of a luxury; a big playground
This has been an easy arrangement for my family, because when my husband and I got more serious in our relationship, I had been a single parent and my son and I had already been cosleeping, just the two of us, for four years. I knew the benefits of cosleeping when my son was born, and we’ve done it since birth. We had our rhythm, our preferences, and both of us are light sleepers. My husband gets up for work at 5am to the sound of NPR on his alarm, and I would inevitably wake up every morning at that time if we were bed-mates, and I don’t want to. We love to take (actual) naps together and have an excuse to sleep together, like staying in a hotel. But for day-to-day living, it works better for our son and myself to cosleep, and my husband to have his own sleep space. We are going to practice sleeping together more often when our new baby comes in April so we can all be closer together. But for now we are happy and it works.
And we still manage to have an active, passionate, loving, healthy sex life. Sleeping in the same bed, and sleeping without a child in the mix, can be a benefit to promoting intimacy, but it is not essential. There are so many other ways.
I read a quote once about women, but I think it applies to any gender; something to the effect of: “A woman is like a crockpot. You have to turn her on in the morning for her to be ready by dinner time.” This rings true for me in the sense that I want my day to be charged with love and closeness. My partner and I make sure to touch each other daily. He leaves me a love note every morning. We have a long hug when he gets home from work. We stop what we’re doing to embrace often. We hold hands when we talk and give each other quick massages when time allows. Both of our Love Languages are physical touch, followed by quality time and words of affirmation, so we act on those as often as possible. We let each other know how desired we are; I tell him how good he looks to me, and he tells me the same. We try to make life easier by sharing household and parenting duties evenly, working together happily to make our life comfortable, healthy, and simple.
We thank each other a lot. I thank him for working so hard for our family, for being open to our unique relationship, for doing the dishes after I cook, for “being the train” every night to carry our son up to bed, for his emotional intelligence, for talking things through, for fixing stuff and shoveling and mowing the lawn. He thanks me for being a gentle mother, for embracing who he is, for cooking yummy healthy food, for “taking such good care” of him, for doing the dishes on the rare occasion that I get to them first, for the helpful reminders, for being a good partner.
Showing appreciation and love fosters more closeness and intimacy for us than snoring next to each other without a kid in the bed ever could. This is what works for us.
I was going to say that cosleeping doesn’t affect my relationship, but it does– positively. It helps our boy sleep peacefully and prevents bedtime battles. Cosleeping helped me tremendously as a single parent, allowing me to breastfeed successfully, sleep often, and feel bonded with my baby while figuring out motherhood alone. And it continues to be a beautiful blessing in my family.
Kristen Tea is the owner of MotherWise, a parenting organization focused on wisdom in all aspects of life: parenting, wellness, social justice, and humanity. With a revolutionary view on motherhood, homeschooling, attachment parenting, political activism, and more, MotherWise is an advocate for mothers everywhere.
Kristen Tea is a health coach, birth educator, author, artist, mother of two boys, former single parent, and happily married to her best friend.