Why Co-Sleeping Didn't Ruin My Marriage (Or My Kids!)
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Basically every choice you make as a parent can be controversial, and co-sleeping is no exception. My own children have always co-slept, either in the same room or in the same bed, with my husband and I. I've met several co-sleepers who discuss it in a hush-hush tone, as though it were shameful to admit that you let your children sleep with you.
Let me say that I have no problem with children sleeping alone. My belief is that children should sleep wherever they feel comfortable, safe, and happy. If a child feels that way in his bed in his own room, great! It just so happens that mine never did. What I intend to do, however, is do a little myth-busting. (I enjoy doing that.)
Once, on my personal Facebook page, I mentioned that we were a co-sleeping family (no shame here!) and one friend asked the ever-popular question, "But doesn't that put a damper on your intimacy with your husband?" My response to her was this: "I have 9 other rooms in this house."
If you and your partner feel the only place you can have sex is at night in your bedroom, dare I say that having your child in your bed may not be your biggest hurdle in the sex department. That's all I'm saying.
Let's examine for a minute what makes a happy marriage. In the book called The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts by Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, these are among the list of things that go into making a happy marriage:
1. Respect between the partners.
2. Each person cherishes the other.
3. Each finds pleasure and comfort in the other’s company.
4. Emotional support of each other.
5. Mutually satisfying physical intimacy.
6. Expression of appreciation between the partners.
7. The creation of fond memories.
8. A feeling of safety, friendship, and trust.
9. An equitable division of household tasks and child rearing.
10. A sense that the success of the marriage is attributable to both partners.
11. An ability to express both positive and negative emotions.
The list goes on, but you get the idea. Nothing on that list is hampered by having your child(ren) sleep next to you.
Let me go a step further. I believe being a co-sleeping family has not only NOT HAMPERED our marriage, but STRENGTHENED it. There's something to be said about looking at your husband, both of you looking down at your sleeping children, looking back up at each other, and smiling with pride and love. In my opinion, it has strengthened our bond as a family unit. My husband works long hours, so co-sleeping provided an opportunity for him to be close to them, to hug them and stroke their cheeks, even if they were sleeping.
But what about the children? Won't co-sleeping make them clingy FOREVER?
Probably not, although I'm not going to lie and say my kids are super independent. They're now 4 and 2, and they still need someone to lay down with them until they fall asleep, and they need one of us if they wake at night, and you know what? It is my privilege to do so. You see, I realize that, in 10 years, I'm not going to be so cool to them, or so needed. I'll enjoy it while it lasts.
There have been a slew of studies on the benefits of co-sleeping, but I'm not going to be linking them up here. Chances are, if you're on a Positive Parenting blog, you've probably seen them anyway. The truth is, I'm not concerned with what the studies say. I'm concerned with what what I feel is right. Whenever I tried to get them to sleep alone (yes, I did try), I felt bad. When they are sleeping close to me, I feel good. I'm not selfish though, I see it makes them feel good, too. So, if we all feel good, and we're all happy, well I'd say we're all pretty far from "ruined."