Ask Sheila: Help! My Wife Sleeps with Our Kids!

by | Mar 4, 2019 | Uncategorized | 52 comments

When you share a bed with your kids and sleep with your kids instead of your husband

What do you do if your wife sleeps with the kids instead of with you?

That’s a question I recently had from a frustrated husband–but it’s not the ONLY time a husband has written in like this. On the contrary, we get quite a few, and I’ve written about the drawbacks of cosleeping before.

He writes:

Reader Question

When our child was born 8 years ago, my wife started sleeping with the baby because we were having hard times. Things got better between us but my child had become used to sleeping with her. Four years later we had another beautiful child. That child began sleeping with my wife, too, and now she too has become attached to sleeping with Mom. I have been through one divorce with children due to substance abuse issues with my ex. I am staying with my current wife now only because I do not want to have another family destroyed by divorce. We have no private moments together, no intimacy. I almost forget what she looks like without clothing. What do I do?
Every time I have written about cosleeping and I’ve said that you really should sleep with your husband, I have had women really angry at me. Often they say that the men need to grow up. So I’m taking another stab at it in a video today:
For those who don’t have time to watch, here are some other posts on sleeping with kids:
Especially as kids grow, it isn’t healthy for them to become your emotional support.

It’s easy to feel as if your kids need you, and that can be very intoxicating. But when you sleep with them, you train them to associate you with sleep, and then it becomes very intimidating and fearful to try to sleep on their own. It’s just not a good dynamic to start. Children, too, need to feel confident that they are capable of coping without you, and that is a gift you can give them.

The biggest gift, though, that you can give your kids is a great marriage with their dad.

Do don’t choose your kids over your marriage! You need to reconnect with your husband.

If you have a hard time even knowing where to start, I have a FREE 5-part email course on emotional connection that you can take. Every Monday I give you a new suggestion–just one little thing you can do to start feeling emotionally connected again this week. Do these things for 5 weeks straight, and you’ll find that you’ll be able to talk a lot more easily. You’ll feel like you have more in common. And you’ll be able to tackle some of those harder things in your marriage!

When you share a bed with your kids and sleep with your kids instead of your husband

What do you think? Is cosleeping a good idea? When should you reclaim the bed just for you and your husband? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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52 Comments

  1. Bessie

    What if one of the spouses snores so loudly that the couple has to sleep in separate rooms?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s really a different scenario, and I do understand that! I’ve actually written about that here. I get it. My husband used to snore a lot, and I’m a really light sleeper. But I think even then it’s best not to sleep with the kids.

      Reply
  2. Ashley Ziegler

    I wish I could sleep in my own bed most nights but, my toddler has epilepsy and wakes multiple times a night from seizures add to that our younger toddler who was just weaned and continues to wake, it’s not about where you sleep in my opinion, it’s more, is sex and intimacy an intentional thing. I get them to sleep in one bed and then I go to my own until the first waking of the night. We have sex several times a week because I chose to make it a priority. He prefers I sleep with the toddler because he is a very light sleeper and works a lot of hours, I get more sleep if I sleep with them so I don’t have to constantly get up. Hopefully the seizures will be under control soon, but not every family is cookie cutter.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Ashley, that’s so tough with the epilepsy! I hope you’re finding a medication that helps. I know so often with epilepsy it’s trial and error and they don’t even know which one works until they’ve tried a whole bunch.

      Yes, sometimes when there are health issues you do what you have to do, and it sounds like you’re doing a great job prioritizing your marriage as well!

      Reply
      • Jeff

        My daughter is turning 5 soon and I can count the night’s my wife has slept next to me. She’s been co sleeping since my daughter was born.
        I love my wife and I love my daughter. I miss my wife and marriage even though she’s in the room next door. It hurts when I think about it, really want to spend my night’s next to my wife, slowly but surely our marriage is fading as my desire to sleep next to my wife grows bigger and bigger and the resistance of her doing it becomes more resilient. Feel so lost and hurt by something that most women wouldn’t think to much of being much of a deal. We moving to a new home soon and daddies room and mommies room is how our daughter talks and it tears me apart. I agree with what you’re saying I just don’t know how to convince my wife without it becoming a fight that just gives her more reason not to

        Reply
    • John

      My son also has epilectic seizures, I would like to know how many kids/adult’s have died from one. Most I can find is (SUDEP) even with that IMOP I can’t say you would be able to help even with meds to pull them out of it. When God pulls our ticket it is time to go be free of all problems with our world as we see it. I’m not saying it is fair, but neither is not sleeping with your significant other. Also they make cameras and you can watch/record from the comfort of your bed.

      Reply
      • Lisa

        John, am I understanding you correctly? She shouldn’t sleep near her child because when it’s time for her child to die it’s just time for him to die?

        Reply
  3. Kay

    It sounds to me like co-sleeping was a symptom of a much deeper problem and wasn’t actually the problem itself at all. No? She made the choice to sleep with her child in the middle of marriage problems. That’s an entirely different scenario, in my opinion. The problems were already there! Going back to sharing a bed wouldn’t solve anything here.

    In general, however, cosleeping to me is another one of those things that every family needs to do what is right for them but the couple should be talking openly about it to problem solve. I went into marriage thinking “I will never sleep with my kids” and being taught this exact thing, that you are supposed to sleep with your husband not your children.

    Well, that was before my second daughter was born with a lot of (then) undiagnosed food issues. She did not sleep for more than 2 hours uninterrupted. At 8 months postpartum I was suicidal from sleep deprivation. After being hospitalized, I began co-sleeping with her until she was about 18 months old and I was stabilized. My third was a better sleeper so I didn’t do that, but my fourth I once again spent many nights in the nursery because I. Just. Need. Sleep. It was temporary. It was never the long term plan. We still tried very hard to pursue sexual intimacy as much as we could given the circumstances. But I wish someone had told me sooner that I was not a horrible wife that was destroying her marriage for needing to co-sleep for a few months of our marriage. In fact, refusing to co-sleep was far more detrimental to my marriage.

    Sometimes sleep is sleep. Do what you gotta do to survive. Do what is right for YOUR family. This advice was not right for mine, and that’s okay! If you’re using the kids to avoid your spouse, however, that’s a problem.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, Kay–that sounds really hard. But I think that what you’re talking about is totally different than what Sheila is warning against. You’re talking about a SEASON of co-sleeping to maintain sanity and actual sleep. That’s very different than sleeping in your kid’s bed for 8 years or longer.

      Many things that we have to do for a season aren’t ideal for a long-term solution. E.g., pulling all-nighters at college, eating into your savings for a month while you deal with an emergency, taking a week off of work because you’re really stressed and need to avoid burn-out even though you’re not in the best financial situation. All of those short-term solutions are completely acceptable in the short-term even if they aren’t ideal, but they damage you when it goes for longer.

      So sleeping with a baby who has severe health issues, even if it has to go for a little longer than others because of said health issues, if it’s a short-term solution that you’re working on together it doesn’t fall in the same category as moms who sleep with their kids long-term (we’re talking well into elementary school years) and don’t let the dad in on that decision. Or when the dad says, “I don’t like this,” they’re accused of not being a selfless parent.

      I hope that makes sense?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, I’d agree. Sometimes you do what you have to do, and again, we’re talking about a really young child here. I think it’s different sleeping with a child with sleep issues who otherwise would be keeping all of you up, and choosing to sleep in the child’s room regardless.

        Sometimes, though, it is that we’ve gotten into some really bad sleep habits and the child isn’t sleeping (I’m not saying that’s what happened with you, Kay, just speaking in general). I know that was true for me with both of my kids. We took short cuts to get some sleep because we were so desperate, but in doing those short cuts, we solidified really bad habits with our kids so that they’d need us in the middle of the night. We had to stop those habits (giving them bottles; nursing them to sleep; etc.) And often the habits had to be stopped during the day. I’d have to put them in bed for their nap WITHOUT nursing them to sleep. That was hard. But they had to learn it during the day before they’d learn it at night. But once they did, everyone was so much happier, including them.

        Reply
      • Melanie

        It’s actually the other way around for me. My husband sleeps with my 2 kids, age 4 and 6, and I’m the one sleeping in my own room. I work nights so my schedule is different. I feel embarrassed when people sleep over and find out that I don’t sleep with my husband.

        Reply
    • Jean

      I was just about ti wrote exactly the same as Kay. She has expressed what I was going to say brilliantly. For me, the two things here are that the wife went away because they had problems in their marriage. And the second is that these things need to be discussed And agreed by the couple. My Husband and I coslept with our daughter while she was breastfeeding (just over 3 years) then she moved into her own Room quite happily with no traumas. Like Kay said every family is different.

      Reply
  4. Sleepy

    I have mentioned here about my wife co-sleeping with the kids. I was actually thinking about this today. I think one problem we have is that we have gotten so used to it. Sometimes its frustrating but it’s been almost 4 years that I have forgotten how it is to sleep with my wife. I was thinking today: “man it must be so sweet to just lay in bed and cuddle and then get in the mood to have sex and just have it”. For us to have sex t has to be planned a lot and it’s usay with a lot of stress and it hit me that that’s how it’s supposed to be. I have gotten so used to having to hope that my kids fall asleep early and that my wife won’t fall asleep. She has told me we are going to have sex today but I got the feeling that things will go as it often goes. She goes to bed with the kids, fall asleep and I am waiting in the living room couch. That part really sucks.
    And it sucks that I have gotten used to it. I mean I don’t have to wake up if the kids wake up unless it’s a real emergency so I always get to slee good(altough the kids are sleeping better now they are 3 and 1). And I can stay up and play games(which I only do when they are asleep). So while it has its benefits it’s still sad that I have gotten used to it. We don’t have a bad sex life but I think it would be more satisfying if we slept together alone. And we could finally be cuddling. We rarely do. Barely after sex because it’s alwyas stressful because she either has to go and sleep with the kids or we have to have sex during the day and hurry to get to the kids because they will notice that we are having sex.

    Reply
    • NeverBeenMarriedTakeThisWithAGrainOfSalt

      That sounds really difficult. A thought struck me while reading. If, for right now, it would not be best for the family if the kids slept in a separate room from your wife, then it might help to set that as a goal and to work towards it. That way you aren’t stuck waiting for things to just change one day.

      Reply
    • Brandon

      I’m in the exact same boat. My kids are 14, 13, 6, and 4. The 13 and 14 year old kids no longer sleep with my wife , but the 4 and 6 year old do.

      I don’t even try to sleep in the room anymore as sleeping on the edge of the bed is exhausting…

      My greatest fear is that one day the kids will all be gone and I’ll be left with a wife who doesn’t know or care to me. What happens then???

      Reply
  5. Victoria

    The baby years are hard! It’s so easy for both partners to feel completely stretched thin and overwhelmed. I have spent plenty of nights away from my husband, sleeping with the baby on the couch, in the nursery, on the kitchen floor (that was a low point). Two of the things we found helpful was first, talking together ALL THE TIME about how we felt, where we were, and where we wanted to be in x amount of time. This helped keep us on track when we found ourselves in short-term solutions (kitchen floor) that had the potential to become long-term crutches. Another thing we both loved was something I read somewhere on this blog, about making saying “yes!” to sex the norm, rather than the exception. With so little sleep, it’s easy to feel overly-emotional and unable to make decisions (“Do I REALLY want to have sex right now?”). It has helped keep us close by reminding us of our connection and intimacy, and it has lightened things up for us on days and nights that felt overwhelming or hopeless.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love that, Victoria! Thank you.

      Reply
  6. Newlywed

    Newlywed. We don’t have kids yet, but hope that we will.

    My parents divorced and their second marriages also resulted in divorce.

    It is so good to hear someone say that you’re not a bad mom for putting your marriage first, and that a happy marriage is a gift to your children.

    I’m adamantly against co-sleeping (*unless in the rare, heartbreaking medical situations described above), because your kids can’t be a substitute for your own marriage.

    Reply
  7. Jean

    I thought I’d also mention safety as you brought up official recommendations. Nowadays most people (obviously not everyone) use special cosleeping cribs which attatch to the bed And can’t move so there is no danger to the baby. They’re a great safe optión, depending on size, they can be used Up to 2 years of age.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, those are actually what the pediatric societies recommend for up to 6 months of age at least, and then the babies can go in their own room (the key is when babies can roll over; once they can, the risk of suffocation dramatically decreases). Thanks for mentioning that!

      For those who are interested, too, here are the guidelines from the Canadian Pediatric Society, and here are the ones from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both are adamantly against sharing a bed with the baby (or child).

      Reply
  8. Natalie

    I watched a documentary recently about the sexual habits of different cultures. Apparently mothers sleeping with their children in a separate room/bed and not with their husbands is the norm in some cultures like Japan (who has LOTS of marriage and sex issues as a culture, but I digress). I’m a huge fan of co-sleeping particularly for breastfeeding moms. Our first child slept “in” our bed in a side-car-type bed that fitted up against my side of the bed. Made rolling over to feed him very simple when you’re mostly still asleep in the middle of the night. He did that for the first 7-8 months of life until he was sleeping through the night, at which time he slept in his crib in our room to transition easier, and then we moved him and his crib into his own room around 9-10 months. We found that worked very well and seamlessly for us. And we were able to have sex in our bed the whole time, albeit with the lights out. I don’t really understand the concept of not having sex in the same room as a sleeping baby… I mean, first of all, it’s a baby who is fast asleep and wouldn’t remember or understand anything they saw anyway. Secondly, how do you think your ancestors did it when they had 5+ children in a one bedroom house? :p If we wanted the lights on, we’d have sex on the couch before going into our bedroom. Not ideal, but it worked, and it’s only for a couple years out of our lives when the kids are very young. We plan on doing the same thing with this next baby.

    I think it’s fine to bring baby into your room as long as you prioritize your husband and marriage. However, the mother (or father) leaving their spouse to go sleep in their child’s room I think is totally different. I wouldn’t call that co-sleeping, personally. Idk what I’d call that: marital neglect, enabling your child’s codependency when you should be fostering independence… something more along those lines. If you’ve watched enough Super Nanny episodes and similar shows, you know that nothing good comes out of children who are coddled during bedtime by parents who don’t lay down the law and say “this is your bedtime” and “this is your bed where you will sleep”.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Natalie, what you’ve described is pretty much what is recommended by the Canadian Pediatric Society! Exactly. That’s a very healthy way to do it–keep them in a bassinette or crib thing attached to your bed when they’re little; then transition out to a crib and then into their own room. And this honestly can work! And I totally agree with you about having sex when you’re talking about a baby. They don’t know what you’re doing and they’re sleeping anyway!

      Reply
  9. Sher

    I have a two year old daughter and I have to say one of the best things we did was sleep train her from the beginning. I read a french parenting book called Bringing up Bebe long before I was even pregnant which emphasized pausing before picking up your baby in the middle of the night so that you don’t disrupt their sleep if they aren’t truly awake and can then sooth themselves back to sleep. We did this and our daughter learned to sleep on her own and has slept through the night since 2 months. When I meet Moms of toddlers now, that are still up nursing multiple times a night and still need mom/dad to sleep even for naps I really don’t understand how they function. I think that sleep deprivation and cosleeping has become so normalized that it’s a badge of honour to function in this sleep deprived state as a parent. I think often times parents are just projecting on their children, like they think that the child won’t be well attached if they’re not right next to them constantly or that they will be scared if they’re alone but I truly believe the best thing we can do for kids is to help them have healthy sleep and eating habits. No toddler needs milk multiple times per night but we all need sleep! Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker was also a lightening bolt trigger for changing my sleep habits and prioritizing sleep for my whole family, the health consequences of lack of sleep and disconnection from your spouse in this case are more serious than most people realize.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Sher. Totally agree with you! And you’re totally right about pausing before picking up baby so you don’t disrupt their sleep cycles.

      I would echo this, too: “When I meet Moms of toddlers now, that are still up nursing multiple times a night and still need mom/dad to sleep even for naps I really don’t understand how they function. I think that sleep deprivation and cosleeping has become so normalized that it’s a badge of honour to function in this sleep deprived state as a parent.”

      That’s really why I keep writing about this (and what I’ll be talking about on next week’s podcast). I just want people to understand they don’t have to be chronically sleep deprived! There is a better way! Honestly.

      Reply
      • Jessica

        I actually think (and this isn’t entirely related to co-sleeping) that there’s some interesting conversation to be had on the current “Martyr Parent” syndrome that seems to be crossing my facebooks. I’m glad we seem to have mostly abandoned “Perfect Pinterest Parent” syndrome, but I’m still pretty sure no crowns are handed out in heaven to the mom who took the fewest showers or slept the fewest hours, just as much as there are no crowns handed out to the mom whose kid’s birthday party was the literal best ever.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yep! I agree. Moms, you do matter. Your needs matter. Your sleep matters. It’s okay to need sleep. It’s okay to teach your children to sleep without you. It’s okay.

          Reply
  10. Jessica

    I hate sleeping with my kids (they kick, squirm, snore, are big, and have no respect for my need to sleep with a bubble around me) so I don’t struggle in this area at all. 🙂 The thing that I always find interesting when it comes up, is how many people say things along the lines of, “People for centuries lived in single-room houses and they always managed to have sex!”. Aside from all the things we’ve managed to improve in our Modern Times (sanitation, life expectancy, the entire industrial revolution, etc), I bet most of those centuries-ago people probably would be just fine with living now, here, when it’s fairly standard for everyone to at least have 2 bedrooms in their houses, just think of all the private sex you could have! (I think the same thing when people say that drug-free, intervention-free labor was how women did it for centuries and so that’s how we should do it now and I have to refrain from making comments about how dying in childbirth was a very real fear for women until about 100 years ago so I’ll take my meds and my doctor, thank you)

    On a related note, I’m reading the Little House books to my kids right now and I keep thinking, when on earth did Ma and Pa have 1) the time 2) the energy and 3) the privacy to ever create Grace.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      HA! I hear you about Ma and Pa. 😉 and I think Pa would have preferred a bigger house with more bedrooms, too. 🙂

      Reply
  11. EM

    I am a huge fan of cosleeping and I don’t think it necessarily means that your kids are coming before your husband. My husband was always super supportive of the baby being in bed with us because I was breastfeeding and we all slept so much better if I wasn’t getting out of bed multiple times a night to take care of the baby. We always made time for sex, whether it was when baby was sleeping in the basinette next to us, or we went somewhere else if baby was in bed. He knew he was my priority, and we’ve had them all sleeping in their own beds by 2 years old. I do know of situations where mom is intentionally sleeping with the kids because she doesn’t really want to sleep with hubby, and that is a totally different story! I just hate to see cosleeping demonized because it worked great for us, and some of my sweetest memories are of waking up in the morning and seeing our baby snuggled up against my husband.

    Reply
    • Rebecca

      I agree! We’ve shared our bed with the baby/toddler a lot! If I sit up with her I tend to wake up too much and then I’m awake for hours after trying to get back to sleep so I generally tuck her in with us so I can go strogjt back to sleep. And my husband loves to cuddle her in the morning before he goes to work – he misses her when I’ve put her back in her own bed lol.

      We have a strong marriage and no troubles with intimacy at all. We’ve always managed to find/make time for intimacy because we want to. Where there’s a will there’s a way!!! We’ve been married 7.5 years, and for over 6.5 of those years we’ve had a baby/toddler/child come into our bed at least a few times a week. However, I’ve always tried to start the night with the children in their own beds, unless they’re hard to settle for some reason.

      Reply
  12. Kate

    Sheila, you’re spot on, on emphasizing that a healthy marriage is what the kids need most. Especially since this is a 2nd marriage and we know 2nd marriages have 70% failure rate, as you can already tell there is trouble in this marriage. I hope they can figure this out otherwise, it will be another tragedy!

    Reply
  13. Sarah

    The only reason that man is staying in his marriage is so he doesn’t break up his family. Shiela, I’m a bit surprised at how you’ve presented this situation. You haven’t questioned anything about other aspects of his marriage, which you normally do when there are red-flag statements like his. Instead, you leave it with the implication that his wife’s co-sleeping is the source of his all but failed marriage. I have a huge respect for your wisdom and opinions, but I don’t think you handled this reader question with your usual insight.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Sarah, I hear what you’re saying. But here’s the thing: Let’s say that it is a really bad marriage situation, and he is a horrible husband. The right way to deal with that is not to go sleeping in the kids’ room. It’s to deal with it. To sleep in the kids’ room (especially when one is 8 years old) is to put your emotional needs onto your children, which is just plain unhealthy all round. If your marriage is struggling, then please, everybody, deal with the marriage. Don’t go retreating to your kids’ bed. Do what needs to be done with the marriage. Our children just can’t become our emotional support. It’s just not fair to them, regardless of what happens with the marriage!

      Reply
      • Natalie

        At the recommendation of another commenter on a post here from I think 2 or 3 weeks ago, I read (listened) to Unwanted by Jay Stringer on Audible. I took an AP Psychology class in high school, but aside from that introductory crash course, don’t know much about psychology. While this book focused on sexual brokenness and porn, I found it to be quite insightful into the psychology and backgrounds of those who develope porn & other sex habits and addictions. It spent a chapter on something called Triangulation, which REALLY stood out to me since it reminded me so much of my father’s relationship with his mother as well as my mother’s relationship with her mother and father (& even my relationship to my own parents to some degree. According to Wikipedia, here is the first sentence of what they say about Triangulation:
        “Triangulation is a manipulation tactic where one person will not communicate directly with another person, instead using a third person to relay communication to the second, thus forming a triangle.”
        I think so often in triangulation cases in families, one or more children are that third person in the triangle, and that’s definitely not a healthy environment for a child to grow up in: feeling like they’re responsible or play a more significant role than they do in their parents’ marriage (often, the children being used as an emotional crutch for a parent who feels disconnected from or unheard by their spouse). Just wanted to mention that concept, & how it really does shape that child’s personality and trajectory for future relationships they form.
        For example, my father to this day (he’s almost 60) feels very loyal to and responsible for his mother, moreso than his own wife. For the 30 years they’ve been married, he’s ALWAYS put his mother and her needs above his own wife’s! SOOO unhealthy and damaging to a marriage!!! But also very difficult to break (since he refuses to go to therapy) since that triangulation has been a part of his life for 55+ years.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          This is so true, Natalie! I think that’s really insightful. I may talk about in my podcast this week. I think it’s one of the reasons we often feel breaks with our family of origin so tremendously, because we’ve never dealt with those things as kids. And when there’s a festering wound, it does need to be dealt with.

          Reply
          • Natalie

            Totally agree!! And the worst part is that triangulation is often generational: if a parent experienced that growing up, they more often tend to model those same behaviors as parents instead of dealing with issues in a healthier way. And thus the cycle continues.

            While my mom often vented to me as a tween and teen (and especially more once my grandma died, but I was already an adult and out of the house by then) about how frustrated and hurt she was by always coming in second in my dad’s eyes to her MIL, she also repeatedly affirmed to me how important it is to have your priorities straight in marriage: God, husband, children. Your children will grow up and have their own lives and their own families someday. Your parents will die and your siblings will move away. But your spouse will be with you for the longest time, so you need to make sure you always put them at a higher place than your children and parents. I think it’s a very easy trap to want to put your children first, and that sentiment comes from a place of deep love and wanting the best for them. But we as parents also need to be constantly self-reflective and assess how exactly our actions and behaviors are affecting them and their development.

            Also, I’d really recommend that book mentioned above if you haven’t read or listened to it already. Though with Rebecca’s psych background, she may already know much of it. Might be an interesting topic for a future porn-related post.

  14. Rebecca

    There’s nothing wrong with co-sleeping per se, I think the problem is when one parent moves out of the marital bed because of it.

    Both of my children have slept in our bed. I try to put the baby/toddler in their bed st the start of the night, but occasionally with sickness or teething they are too unsettled and it’s better to have them in bed with me so we can both sleep. However, my toddler is still waking once a night and she generally spends the rest of the night in our bed. This does not effect our marriage at all. We have healthy sex life and a very close relationship. We have definitely utilised other rooms in the house besides the bedroom haha!

    Co-sleeping in isolation should not ruin a marriage. There are obviously other problems which have been major factors in the relationship breaking down.

    Some mums will put their children above their husband, and that will become a huge issue in the marriage, but problematic co-sleeping is more a symptom of that than the cause, and if she isn’t co-sleeping it will manifest in other ways.

    I am with my children all day every day, (I homeschool) and at the end of the day all I want is to spend some time with my husband – who’s been at work all day – and have some adult conversation! If a mum who’s been being touched by children all day then would rather lay down with them and sleep next to them all night than spend time with her husband … obviously there’s some problems in the marriage relationship imo.

    Reply
  15. Rebekah

    I ended up co-sleeping with my second baby because it was the only way anyone got sleep at first. She did eventually go into the bassinet and graduated to her crib in her own room, but it took far longer with her than it did with my first child. The circumstances were completely different, but we knew that co-sleeping could not be a permanent solution. I slept on the couch many nights through the first year of her life. I agree that it is a chronic problem and causes further issues the older they get. I’m thankful our children sleep in their own rooms and rarely come into our room. When they do, we have a special place (small kid couches) where they sleep. They know our bed is not their bed.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s great, Rebekah! And, yes, in those early days you do what you need to do. But it can’t be a permanent solution.

      Reply
  16. CC

    I never planned to co-sleep, or practice attachment parenting or extended breastfeeding, but God, and my husband, led me down parenting paths that I have never regretted. It was my husband’s idea that we have our first child sleep with us. When twins came along 2 years later, I was so grateful we allowed our children to co-sleep or I don’t think I would have ever gotten enough rest. Throughout this time, my husband and I remained close and enjoyed an active sex life. Co-sleeping is something that my husband and I both cherished and firmly believed in. It only works well if both parents are on board. Like earlier commenters, I think this writer’s problem sounds like just a symptom of other, much larger issues.

    Reply
  17. Marriage needs to be a priority!

    Friends of ours have 2 queen beds side-by-side in their room. The kids all have their own rooms and are put to sleep there, but if they wake during the night they can crawl into bed with mum and dad in their room and the parents still have half the night to themselves, and the kids share the other bed. That works for them and I love the idea. Even into my early teens I wanted to sleep in bed with my mum occasionally and it’s nice to be able to do so. All too soon they’ll be grown up and gone!

    I 100% agree that the best thing you can do for your kids is have a great relationship with their father, but I struggle with consistently portraying that (sometimes it’s more like we coexist). I’ll keep trying, I have 31 days, and a good girls guide.

    Another friend of mine has a king sized bed and her 2 littlies sleep with them, but they’re in bed long before mum and dad. They have a great marriage, and get creative with their time. They have a lot of spare rooms in their house. It works for them.

    We also have 2 queens side-by-side in our room, but we don’t have room for our little ones to have a room of their own. They are 4 months and 2 and a half. Hopefully soon our situation will change and we’ll be able to move back into our house. We make use of the time when the kids are asleep. My husband was against having the kids in bed, but I was so desperately sleep deprived with our first that he agreed it was best for everyone if I coslept with the baby this time around. Now he loves it (he actually does!), but I’m certain that when the kids are older he’ll want the bed back to ourselves.

    When cosleeping there needs to be time and space for your relationship, however that looks – wives not being with their husband sounds like a separate issue with “the kids need me” as an excuse. Marriages the world over need your marriage and sex advice! Thank you.

    Reply
  18. Taylor

    I can’t help but get angry at this video. What about women whose men work on there road? Are there marriages doomed because they don’t sleep together at night? There are 24 hours in a day to have time with your significant other. Our one year old sleeps with us and our baby coming will too. My significant other is gone during the week and I feel safest with my baby with me as I even get scared at night home alone with all that’s going on this world. Sleeping with your children is natural!! Any man who feels there relationship is doomed because they have to co sleep shouldn’t be in a relationship. That mother is being the best mother she can be. There is no bigger turn on in the world than seeing dads adore their wives for co sleeping and doing what’s best for their children. My grandparents were married since they were 25? Guess what, anytime any of us grandchildren( roughly 20 of us) slept over we slept with grandma!! And they have the BEST relationship I have ever seen and I pray I have one that strong. My grandpa NEVER complained about my grandmas nurturing motherly instincts. The memories I have sleeping with my grandma growing up are my favorites now that she’s gone. Co sleeping didn’t ruin there marriage. 7 kids, 18 grandkids, and 30 some great grandkids? Sorry, co sleeping is not a bad thing.

    Reply
  19. Liz

    Whilst I agree that co-sleeping shouldn’t mean sleeping apart from your husband, and that intimacy between husband and wife should be a priority, I also believe, from reading scientific research, that when done safely*, co-sleeping is best, especially in the early months, as it supports breastfeeding and enables everyone to get more sleep. Look up Professor Helen Ball of Durham University for more information. https://www.dur.ac.uk/anthropology/staff/academic/?id=121

    *Safely means: no one in the bed has been drinking alcohol, taking drugs or is a smoker; everyone in the bed can move and turn over easily; no one in the bed is obese; and no one in the bed has taken medication or has a medical condition which means that they are difficult to rouse from sleep. And it also means in a bed and not on a sofa which is extremely dangerous.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Liz, that’s likely true, and I’ve heard that before. Just want to point out, though, that this article, adn others like it, were really referring to sleeping with toddlers and older kids, which is a whole other story!

      Reply
  20. Leslie Potter

    I listened to a recent podcast where you mentioned this post. While I appreciate the depths you and your daughter went into to look at the whole psychological element, I had to perform a large eye-roll at this statement, “If a child can’t lay down alone in their bed and go to sleep, then they are NEVER going to be able to go to sleep without you.” Never… really? I think this may be what the comments about co-sleeping being around for millennia were about. Obviously the human race has continued and I can pretty much guarantee that those adults who co-slept and nursed to sleep with their mothers, did NOT also have sex in that same bed with their mother present because they couldn’t fall asleep without her. Just because some kids don’t follow what is “expected” of them doesn’t mean they will have trouble forever. Maybe our culture has it wrong on the ages when we should “expect” certain behaviors from our children (sleeping through the night, as an example). As a cosleeping and breastfeeing mama (my son is 3), I can tell you that although I may be a bit more tired than some of my fellow mamas, I don’t regret a single extra snuggle and I sometimes feel bad for babies and parents who miss out on all those close moments. We have only just started working with our son on falling asleep on his own and he is more receptive, some nights.
    All that said, I respect much of the work you do, but I had to speak my peace on this one as I can’t stand the use of the words “always” or “never”.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I agree with you. In western cultures, babies sleeping alone is normal. In other cultures, it is not normal and even considered abuse in some places. I have five children. Each of them is different. All of them slept in bed with us (and yes, many pediatricians support this given the right circumstances) and all sleep alone now. The idea that if it’s not learned at 7 months it will never be learned is absurd.

      With my 1st and 2nd child, nothing more than a gut instinct kept me at it. I knew something was different about them. If I had listened to the common parenting advice, I would have put them in cribs and let them cry. And they still would not have “learned” to sleep alone. My first two children are not neurotypical. And I know, Shelia, you always have that caveat that you’re not talking about special needs children. However, it usually takes YEARS to get a diagnosis. You can’t go in to your pediatrician with your 7 month old and figure out whether your child is atypical. My second child was five YEARS old before we had even the simple diagnosis of anxiety. Now that he’s a teenager, he has 5 diagnosis. FIVE. They have been there, all the time, but it is not only difficult to diagnose a young child but specialists are hesitant to diagnose a young child too soon (with good reason). I am SO very glad I listened to my gut when they were babies and toddlers. My teen’s therapist told me that I saved him by practicing attachment parenting and homeschooling him. She works with autistic and atypical teens and she said that most of her work is trying to help them heal from the wounds of being forced to fit into a mold that they will never fit. Whether it was from their parents trying to make them do what other kids do or a school system trying to do the same thing. I am also so thankful that my husband completely embraced it and enjoyed the snuggle time. Also, we had no problem finding the time or space for sex. It was important to both of us. If something is important to you, you make it happen. It’s no different than couples that have to sleep apart because of insomnia, snoring, apnea, etc. Life circumstances may make your marriage different than others. But if something is precious to you, you take care of it.

      I’d love to see the encouragement to fathers who complain about this. Why do they think their wives don’t want to sleep with them? Are they asking that question and trying to understand? Do they view parenting as doing the fun things like coaching sports and playing Legos? Where are they at bedtime? Where are they when someone wets the bed or throws up on the rug? Are they participating in that part of parenting, too? Are they taking parenting advice from Aunt Sally, some book, or listening to what is on their wife’s heart?

      Reply
  21. Lisa

    Shelia, I’ve been reading your book, “To Love Honor and Vacuum” and one of the suggestions you give to wives whose husbands spend hardly any time with the children is to make sure the house is clean and pleasant and to plan fun things. To entice him to actually be a father. So, what is this husband doing to entice his wife back to their bedroom? Why doesn’t she even care about their marriage anymore? Also, these are HIS children, too. Why isn’t he involved in nighttime parenting? I know many fathers who don’t like certain aspects of their wife’s mothering but would much rather complain about it than actually roll up their sleeves and do some grunt work. Why doesn’t he offer to help their child learn to sleep alone, with a promise of no yelling or harshness? It’s not HER child, it’s THEIR child. They can come to a mutual agreement on nighttime parenting. Unless the truth is that she really doesn’t want to get back into bed with him. Then they have bigger issues and blaming her parenting choices is just sticking his head in the sand.

    Plenty of couples can’t sleep in the same bed and it has nothing to do with children. If they love each other and desire sex, it happens!

    Reply
  22. John

    Great video in response to co sleeping. My wife has been sleeping wit my kids for long time. The boy finally left her room at 23 and my 22 year old daughter still sleeps with her. I gave up and our marriage is basically as room mates. I have lost any deep emotional feelings for her. I still love her but not intimately that has been shattered. We will never get back those feelings. The best days of our middle age were spent apart. I feel slighted and she still wants her daughter to sleep they refer to it as their room and I’m to keep out. Ideas?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Your 22-year-old daughter sleeps with your wife? Your son did until he was 23? That is very emotionally enmeshed and not healthy. It is okay to say, “this has to stop, and our daughter needs to get a place of her own and grow up.” I’m so sorry.

      Reply
  23. Bruce

    My wife slept with my daughter when she was younger. It was a habit that I did not like. Initially for the first 3 months of her life, my wife insisted on having our baby in bed with us. This terrified me as I feared rolling over and crushing her.

    We (my wife, 11 year old daughter and I) have just moved into a new house. She has engineered it so that my daughter was to get the large room, myself the mid sized room with no ventilation and she was to have the small room.

    Instead, she is now sleeping in my daughter’s room/bed again. My wife is doing so for her own purposes. I believe that it is to try and strengthen her bond with our daughter. This seems to be centred around a possible divorce.

    My daughter does not need her in the bed. However, I am concerned with the negative effects on my daughter’s health.

    Can you please discuss the negative effects and direct me to any research about them.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Bruce,

      That is very concerning. Can you insist that you all see a licensed therapist together to talk about this? Or can you insist that this needs to change because you’re worried about your daughter? Sometimes you need to build boundaries that have consequences. I’m sorry you’re going through this!

      Reply
  24. MotherOf4Girls

    Yep, putting your kids before your spouse is going to quickly spell disaster, but co-sleeping isn’t the issue. Communicating and respecting each others needs IS the problem!

    I have co-slept with all 4 of my kids when they were little. My spouse and I, had lots of intimacy (just ask my spouse, he was very happy). We did lots of verbal check in’s (okay some physical lol) making sure everyones needs were being met. My spouses needs were more physical, I was more emotional/and sleep, but we made it work. Oh and pro-co-sleeping tip: while the kids were sleeping in our bedroom (early evening, or early morning) we might enjoy some intimacy in another room…(locked bathroom, spare bedroom etc).

    Reply

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