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On Sex and Cosleeping

On Sex and Cosleeping

From our wedding, by Owl Heart

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.

On Sex and Cosleeping


Comments (9)

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What a wonderful article. I was perplexed when warned that co-sleeping would compromise my intimacy and marriage. What does sleeping have to do with sex?! Nothing, in our house. At first people's input about the "dangers" of co-sleeping made us wonder if we were making a mistake-- until we realized that we all get a great night's sleep every night. Who can argue with that?
Sounds like a beautiful relationship.
We bought a futon couch that turns into a bed. We call it our 'love nest' and drag the futon mattress where ever we want.
Co-sleeping keeps it interesting!
My husband and i stopped sleeping together when we had our first baby and we still don't sleep together even though the kids have moved to their own beds. We all sleep alone.  I miss my kids but not my husband.  We just don't sleep well together. But, we have amazing sex quite a bit and we did even when the kids were in my bed. 
We have been cosleeping for years and both my husband and I sleep in the bed with our little ones. So we tend to be more day time getting it on people- that and it works better with my husbands work schedule. We will go to the bedroom when the little ones are napping somewhere else. Or we will do it when all the kids are playing together (we have older ones to keep an eye on the little ones, and our youngest is 3 now). We "organize our closet" quite often :) lol
Well stated, Kristen. I fully relate to this article. We've (mom, dad and 2 kids) have shared a king sized bed for 8.5 years. In the last 6 months, we've slept in every combination since the girls have gotten too big for us to fit and actually sleep well. If they are uncertain or sick, they want one or both of us and we sleep in at least two beds. If they are feeling well and confident, they want some independence and sleep alone. It is the transition for them from dependence to interdependence and we expect it to take time. We are confident that they will do so in due time and they will be strong and well adjusted when it is all said and done. As for sex life, I find it interesting that culturally we see young, single people as adventurous sexually having fun in every position and every corner of the house. Yet, marrieds with children are instantly "locked" into bed for all and everything the minute a child is born. As Kristen illustrates, there is much variety and room for creativity with co-sleeping children taking up the bed. I've often thought that I don't get bored after 11 years of marriage despite repeatedly hearing that boredom is a problem with marital sex. I hadn't considered that our sleeping arrangements were the source of our experiences until I read this article.
Thank you, what a wonderful inspiring article. As a single parent I feel hope for future relationships having read this! My son, now six, and I have co-slept since he was six months old - when I finally gave up on trying to get any sleep with him in a Moses basket - and his dad quickly became very resentful about the co-sleeping, claiming he was driven out of bed as it disturbed his sleep. Our relationship gradually broke down, and he made no effort to have sex in more creative ways although I suggested it and tried to initiate it. We split when my son was nearly two - still co-sleeping - and this was one of the main factors - we just grew further and further apart. This article made me realise that it is largely attitude and willingness rather than the fact of co-sleeping, that can spell the death of a sex life and a relationship. My son now starts the night in his bed and comes into mine at some point of the night, and I often feel worried about future partners - it has been an issue with a couple of partners I've had since his dad - but I feel more confident in my situation now as it's what works for us. Also loved all the points about creating love between you throughout the day, and about all the appreciation flowing between you as partners - that is so key. Resentment and lack of appreciation were definitely key factors in my relationship NOT surviving parenthood! Thank you.
When my son (now 7) was born, we didn't intend to co-sleep, but it just kind of happened. My husband is a very light sleeper, though, and my son snores, so that didn't work out well. For the longest time, I was a "bed hopper;" I'd get my son to bed in his room (in a full-size bed), spend some time with the husband, go to bed with him, and then move to my son's bed when he'd yell in the middle of the night. When were expecting my daughter (8mo), I knew better than to think it would work with her in bed with my husband and me, so we moved the futon to her room and got a better mattress for it; that's where she and I sleep, while my husband is in "our" bed. It's also like you mentioned: he gets up early for work, and I don't want to wake up that early. My daughter and I are happy. On the occasional weekend, both kids and I will sleep in "Dad's bed" while he sleeps elsewhere. And we still manage to have sex in the evenings when the kids are in bed, or on weekends during the baby's nap, while my son is playing, and we go to "snuggle a few minutes." It works for us.
I like my bed for just my husband and I, but my 5 month usually gets to come in bed at least once during the night to nurse and sleep. He sleeps right by our bed, but I'm hoping to soon have him in his brother's room! I don't like to share my bed with kids that move around as I will never get any sleep! It's all preference though, I find it so cool that some of you can just find creative snuggle ways with your hubby and co-sleep!
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