"The family bed destroys married life" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 159 Old 05-15-2008, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You've probably heard something that goes like this: "Sure, co-sleeping might be great for the baby, but it takes a toll on your marriage (or partnership)." Sometimes it's not stated but you get the same vibes -- as though you MUST CHOOSE between a fulfilling marriage (and sex life) and a happy baby.

(I do not mean to be judgemental. I know wonderful people with medical and other good reasons for not co-sleeping, so I am more directing this query at our culture in general than at any one family's sleeping arrangements.)

I suspect the assumed choice between baby and marriage is one of the biggest factors in families choosing not to co-sleep. I have friends who weren't even allowed into their parent's room during the day because of the perceived need to protect the sacredness of their parent's marriages. While that is more extreme than not allowing your child into your room at night, it's still an extension of the same idea.

I am fearful of the consequences for a child who grows up believing that his needs are in direct competition with his parent's marriage. Often, the continuation of the parents' relationship is part of the child's own sense of security, so wouldn't a child who believes her very existence threatens her parents' union feel some pressure not to express all her needs, or to learn how express them in manipulative ways?

We have been presented with a terrible (and I believe false) choice. Our marriage or the baby. One must be sacrificed every night.

It's a false choice because it's based on the idea that our lives can be neatly (with medical precision) divided into different personas which must be addressed in turn. While we all have many different roles, and obviously switch between them, I feel the idea of 'protecting the marriage bed' goes farther than asking us to switch between roles. It asks us to switch between personas. It requires us to stop being a mother in order to be a wife -- but I feel being a wife and mother are two different and important roles acted out by the SAME person.

In every relationship, there is a balance between separateness and oneness, between individuality and community. But I do not believe that I have to pretend not to be married in order to achieve that balance in my relationship with my spouse. When we hide the baby in another room, are we are pretending not to have a child?

I believe we can balance these roles without viewing them as competing personas. I go out alone with girlfriends when I need a break, we get a sitter for our little one when my husband and I need a date, we set aside adult time in the evening to be together elsewhere in the house while the baby sleeps in our bed. I'm one person with many roles and I don't have to sacrifice anything.

In addition, how much healthier is it for our children to see us model a balanced lifestyle, meeting our own needs and theirs, without creating a scenario in which people must compete with each other for a limited amount of affection and attention?

In conclusion, if your marriage can't survive a baby in your bed at night, it probably can't survive a baby in your life during the day. One hundred percent of what goes on between us and our spouses that builds or detracts from the happiness of our marriages happens during our waking hours, not when we're sleeping soundly at night. But that is not true of our young children, many of whom need us close at night and need us to learn, for their sakes, how to balance our different roles without sacrificing a part of ouselves.
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#2 of 159 Old 05-15-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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One hundred percent of what goes on between us and our spouses that builds or detracts from the happiness of our marriages happens during our waking hours, not when we're sleeping soundly at night. But that is not true of our young children, many of whom need us close at night and need us to learn, for their sakes, how to balance our different roles without sacrificing a part of ouselves.
I agree with most of your post but that last bit was not quite on target for me. My husband is away most of the day. Much of our evening hours are consumed with kid oriented activities & I need to be asleep early enough to allow for dawn wake up calls. So, no, 100 of our marriage nurturing does not happen during the day.

I think you do have to sacrifice a bit in order to co-sleep. Is it a marriage destroying amount, no, not in a healty marriage. When my kids were in bed with me our sex life required a bit more creativity. There were times when, yeah sex sounded good but not good enough to go thru the process of extricating myself from bed at 2 am and moving to another room, etc...

Now that DH & I have our bed to ourselves again, sex is more spontaneous. It often happens in the middle of the night, after Ive slept enough to have the energy for it. I wake to delicious sensations and it progresses from there - fluidly. That just isnt possible with a baby, much less a preschooler, in bed. I do in fact look forward to when my children have vacated our room at night, not just our bed.

I do think it's interesting that you mention the stability of the marriage affecting the child since Ive often seen comments here stating that a partner refusing to cosleep or share a room is something of a deal breaker....
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#3 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:24 AM
 
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well, i can't figure out how to quote...but the part about the child competing with the marriage is well said. and, as a child of divorce (because of mental illness) i can say from experience, it makes a lot of sense.
i guess i'm just lucky. of the other couples that we know that co-sleep, the dads hate it but the mamas are adament. the dads are good friends of dh and gave him an earful. so, he was open to it from the start (because he knows how much i research) but i was braced for the time when he got tired of it. the opposite has happened, dd went from sleeping between me and the wall to between the two of us, and we're both very happy.
that being said, yes, it's a bit of a compromise. we find other places to have sex. but we also don't fall asleep talking anymore and i thought that was really special.
i guess i just feel like the years the kids are in our bed are still such a small percentage of our parenting and our marriage yet can do SO much good. it's totatlly worth it to us.

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#4 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 09:18 AM
 
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i guess i just feel like the years the kids are in our bed are still such a small percentage of our parenting and our marriage yet can do SO much good. it's totatlly worth it to us.
i totally agree... contrary to popular belief they are not going to co sleep for ever lol and those few years they do are nothing compared to a whole lifetime really.
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#5 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 09:27 AM
 
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Is it a marriage destroying amount, no, not in a healty marriage.
: So true!

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#6 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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I always find the cosleeping and sex argument so bizarre. I don't know who these people are who only have sex in a bed.

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#7 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 09:54 AM
 
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right, because mom getting up 6 times in the middle of the night to feed the baby doesn't affect her ability (or desire) to stay awake for sex you know.

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#8 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 09:57 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annmartina View Post
In conclusion, if your marriage can't survive a baby in your bed at night, it probably can't survive a baby in your life during the day. One hundred percent of what goes on between us and our spouses that builds or detracts from the happiness of our marriages happens during our waking hours, not when we're sleeping soundly at night. But that is not true of our young children, many of whom need us close at night and need us to learn, for their sakes, how to balance our different roles without sacrificing a part of ouselves.
Well said!

And on a lighter note...why does most of America believe that sex has to take place in the bed? Really, folks, let's get a little more creative - there are other rooms in the house!

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#9 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 10:29 AM
 
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I think it makes our marriage more exciting because we *have* to find somewhere else to have sex Before it was always just bed, bed, boring bed

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#10 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 10:33 AM
 
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Exactly! Um, there are other places to have sex! In fact, we have added so much spice to our married life by finding creative spots all over the place! I find it way more fun than just the ol' roll over and go at it, LOL! I'm sorry, but once I'm in bed I'm sleeping, lol!!!
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#11 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 10:51 AM
 
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I always find the cosleeping and sex argument so bizarre. I don't know who these people are who only have sex in a bed.

I hear this sentiment a lot around here. I am one of those people

I am a person who gets more "into" it when I am in a safe, comfortable place. The brain is the biggest sex organ, after all, and mine works best in my personal bedroom.

We've been cosleeping for 7+ years. And, yes, it has taken a toll on our intimacy. Our marriage has survived, but we are very much looking forward to the days when both of our dc are sleeping in their own beds!
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#12 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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I always find the cosleeping and sex argument so bizarre. I don't know who these people are who only have sex in a bed.
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I think it makes our marriage more exciting because we *have* to find somewhere else to have sex Before it was always just bed, bed, boring bed
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Exactly! Um, there are other places to have sex! In fact, we have added so much spice to our married life by finding creative spots all over the place! I find it way more fun than just the ol' roll over and go at it, LOL! I'm sorry, but once I'm in bed I'm sleeping, lol!!!
Not just location, but what about *time*? Who are these people who take all night to make love? Maybe we're just lame, but for me and DH, our night is like 1/2-hour of sex, with eight of just cuddling/sleeping/etc. (Sorry, babe, I mean, "an hour". ) Although we don't have a baby yet, I don't see why-- assuming we both even *want* to DTD, which I understand could not even be the case-- how hard could it be to put Baby somewhere else for that short time, and bring her back for the rest of the night?

I guess what I'm wondering is, how many couple's pre-baby "marriage bed" is just all sex, all night long? 'Cause ours is like Sexy Bed for a little bit, but Cuddly Bed Where a Baby Could Fit Right In like 95% of the time... (And I think we're not so different than the norm as far as that goes!)

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#13 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 10:57 AM
 
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And on a lighter note...why does most of America believe that sex has to take place in the bed? Really, folks, let's get a little more creative - there are other rooms in the house
I think the reality is that for most couples, one or more person works all day away from the home, often late into the evening. When that person comes home, the "bedtime machine" usually starts for one or more kids and by the time all that is done it's bedtime and really the only time most couples get together is when they go to bed at night so bed makes the most logical sense because that's where you are.
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#14 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:14 AM
 
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how hard could it be to put Baby somewhere else for that short time, and bring her back for the rest of the night?
This wasn't possible for either of my babies. They didn't transfer easily. Rule #1 in our house--don't mess with a sleeping baby!
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#15 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:18 AM
 
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I always find the cosleeping and sex argument so bizarre. I don't know who these people are who only have sex in a bed.
That's what I was thinking. Plus, Hello? That's what a guest bed, or some blankets next to the fireplace are for.LOL Cosleeping actually helped our intimate relationship by getting us OUT of the bed, or at least out of sleep mode and into fun mode when we had to go make a place just for intimacy.

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#16 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:35 AM
 
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Of course you can have sex in other places. We did for nearly 4 years. But there is something special about being woken or waking your partner in the middle of the night, getting all heated up, and the letting it happen where you are. Without having to stop and think about it.

When DS was still in our bed I would feel DH initiate and I couldnt just go with it - I had to put my sensuality on hold long enough to manouver myself away from DS without him waking, sometimes requiring several attempts, and then get out of our warm bed and into another room. Sometimes it could take 5-10 minutes. By that time my arousal had faded a bit. And sometimes I wasnt horny enough to make it worth the effort. And then as we DTD I couldnt stop myself from keeping an ear out to hear if DS had noticed I was gone.

Now, if DH initiates, it happens very smoothly and I enjoy it more. No thinking, just feeling. So yeah, we still had a good sex life while Co-Sleeping. But sex without any planning involved is amazing - for me anyway.
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#17 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:39 AM
 
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We have A LOT of sex without planning involved too, just not during sleep time hours. In fact, it is rare for us to be in bed, want to have sex and then move. Once I go to bed, I want to sleep. It is mostly in the evenings after the kids go to bed. Now that the kids are older, we can manage day time stuff too. Even before kids, we didn't always have sex in bed, and we almost never had sex during sleep time hours too.

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#18 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:42 AM
 
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Of course you can have sex in other places. We did for nearly 4 years. But there is something special about being woken or waking your partner in the middle of the night, getting all heated up, and the letting it happen where you are. Without having to stop and think about it.
Not to get to far OT, but REALLY? If DF ever tried that with me, he'd be sleeping on the sofa for a month. I can't even imagine. Sex before sleep is okay, but why on earth would you WAKE SOMEONE UP????? Am I missing something? I don't like being woke up for anything... waking me up for sex is .. :


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#19 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:44 AM
 
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I always love those people that find out we co-sleep and actually have all three children in our bed by morning and are still shock that we have 3 kids under 5.
It doesn't take a bed to have sex- it takes a happily married committed couple to have sex. NO bed needed- And actually sometime we like the idea that we leave them all safe and sound in the bed- and go someplace else (in the house) and have sex.
Just my 2 cents
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#20 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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wow, maybe it is just us. I love middle of the night sex, its my favorite. In the evenings Im just so wipes all i want to do is sleep! But once Ive had 4-5 hrs of sleep I have rested enough to be up for it, and Im all drowsy, relaxed, not thinking about household stuff. I love it. leisurely lovemaking sessions were rare when DS was still in our bed.
That said, we still use some of our old fave spots from our cosleeping days, places we probably wouldnt have thought of otherwise, so that was a fringe benefit of having DS in bed with us.
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#21 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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I have to agree with the pp. If my dh *ever* woke me up to initiate sex I would not be amused. At all. Sleep is a precious commodity around here! When I'm in bed, I am sleeping. Period. Even before children. But before bedtime, during the day, whenever? No problem. My dh is fine with that, because A: He wants to sleep at night too, and B: I'm so accomodating the rest of the time as far as our "us" time. LOL!
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#22 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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Sleeping in a bed with my child no more affects my marriage than sleeping in a bed with my husband affects my personal identity.
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#23 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 12:55 PM
 
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I think our marriage, at least the sexual aspect, has been "hit" more by plain old sleep deprivation than co-sleeping. I love co-sleeping, dh loves co-sleeping, the girls love co-sleeping. I've never felt like I couldn't have sex in my own bed just because my little ones are there too... ok, yes, we're not talking extreme acrobatic wild monkey love here of course (for that there is the couch, armchair, poang, floor, shower, garden, kitchen, etc). My kiddos are only 3yo and 11mo so I can't say how I'll feel in a few years... but for now it's not an issue in terms of killing desire or needing to get out of bed for a quick re-connect.

Now, sleep deprivation... that's a whole different story! And it would most certainly be worse if I had been getting out of bed every 3 hours, every night, for the last 3 years. So really co-sleeping has improved our chances of getting some intimate time together since it's one of the few times DH and I are in the same place, at the same time, without the need to check on the girls or even think about other stuff.

I guess in general I agree that a marriage that is strong enough to survive children is strong enough to survive co-sleeping. And my personal opinion is that children and co-sleeping both have the potential to make that marriage relationship stronger rather than weaker.

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#24 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:11 PM
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Honestly - DH and I have NO kids, and I'm a SAHW right now, but we still have to PLAN sex. I have fibromyalgia, and if I knock myself out running errands and mopping the floors, washing laundry (I have to climb two full flights of stairs to get to the laundry room in our building) - we aren't going to have sex. Period. I'm just too tired and sore. So DH will give me a little wink and nudge in the morning, and I know that, for today, I will not do laundry or mop the floors.

I can forsee that even if we weren't planning on co-sleeping or "rooming in" with our babies, we would have to "schedule" sex. Between feedings, diaper changes, rocking the baby to sleep, cleaning the apartment, running errands, cooking dinner, etc - I'm going to be TIRED when DH gets home - even if I didn't have FMS.
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#25 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:13 PM
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Well said!

And on a lighter note...why does most of America believe that sex has to take place in the bed? Really, folks, let's get a little more creative - there are other rooms in the house!
Some of us have health issues that make it the only place we can. Believe me, I've TRIED! But when you have a painful cluster of raw nerves across the back of your pelvis (so laying on anything hard is out) and bad knees (so kneeling is out), in bed is the only place that works.

Plus....that's where all my *stuff* is plugged in at....
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#26 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:15 PM
 
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You know before DD was born I had heard "horror" stories of baby sleeps with mom and dad, parents sex lives end and I totally bought it. I even said "well the baby won't sleep with us." Which was really against pretty much everything I truly believe in as a parent(but this was before I was a parent really). I had no idea what it was like to be a sleep deprived momma just wanting some rest, plus I had a c/s and that made us have to move a bed downstairs and so DD couldn't sleep in her crib, so she slept with us, and it just kept happening. We even bought a new bed because we were uncomfortable and worried about our cruddy old mattress. DD still sleeps with us every night and I really don't know when that will end, and you know what I don't really care.

I remember a friend saying that another couple I know wanted to have another baby, but they just could never DTD because their DD was in bed with them, I believed her at the time, now I scoff at that, you can't find another place? I have to agree with the PP's that the biggest thing that kills a sex life after a child is SLEEP DEPRIVATION, I can say that this has been a big factor for DH and me, we're both freaking tired. When 9pm hits all I want to do is go to bed and sleep. DH uses this time to have some alone time, that's just life.

My step-sis is one of those co-sleep *haters* she is always saying that DD will never leave the bed, she'll sleep with us forever. She also measured every oz of her son's food and fed on a schedule, so I definitely don't agree with her parenting style, and it's really none of hers(or anyones) business what is happening in my household sleep routine. I love that DD sleep with us, sometimes she can drive us crazy but most of the time it's wonderful, and if we *really* need our bed to DTD, we let her get up on Sat. am and watch a DVD, and get our time alone.

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#27 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:25 PM
 
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thus the origin of the nookie bed.......
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#28 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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Haven't read all the post but wanted to say, I do know of marriages that broke apart in large part because the couple basically gave 100 percent to the kids and had no intimate time (they co-slept).

I do think that co-sleeping means that a couple makes sacrifices when it comes to intimacy. People often say that you can "do it anywhere" but well, first of all, my DH works all day and we don't get a lot other other moments besides in bed and secondly, I don't equate intimacy with just sex. That time spent alone in bed, cuddling, sharing thoughts, worries, etc., some of that is just plain lost when you have a kid lying between you or beside the bed.

I also do believe that it is not a question of the kids taking second place to the marriage. I think the kids' best interests DEPEND on a good relationship between husband and wife. I don't think any child would prefer to live in a home where mommy and daddy have lost touch with each other.

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#29 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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nookie bed... funny... We used the guest room a lot.

Wombatclay made an excellent point. it doesnt matter if your kid is in a crib in a sound proof room across the hall - if you are too tired you are too tired. So I will qualify my prior post by clarifying that that was all once I was past the too tired to breathe stage...
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#30 of 159 Old 05-16-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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I guess maybe it's just individual to the couple as to how they get their "together time." Even before kids, my husband and I connected outside of bed. Our cuddling and together time to talk or whatever was always on the couch. When we got to bed, it was to sleep. Always. I can't connect with my husband if I'm falling asleep, which is what I do when I get into a bed, lol!

We've gotten to the point where we have more ... umm ... interludes now with 3 kids than we ever did with no kids, and we're 110% convinced it's because we've learned to be creative since there are kids in our bed. I have a Body By Jake ab machine that no one uses but I can't get rid of because it's "special" to my firstborn son. He doesn't know it, but we do. LOL!!
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