Co-Sleeping Destroyed His Marriage

Co-Sleeping Destroyed His Marriage

This topic is one that I have written about before and received many angry comments and even blog posts written against what I taught. There’s not one verse in the entire Bible that commands that parents sleep with their children. No, not one. Usually, it’s the wife who wants this to happen. If the husband wants it, that’s fine but if not, it’s not. Some have said I was wrong teaching this because mothers know what is best for their babies and children, but God commands wives to submit to and obey their husbands in everything! If a husband doesn’t want children sharing the marital bed with him, then they should not! Wives obeying their husband is clear in Scripture. Husband, after all, are the leaders of their families!

Dr. John Rosemond wrote an article entitled “Stop co-sleeping and save your marriage.” It’s about a man who claimed that co-sleeping destroyed his marriage and he’s not alone. “Co-sleeping was popularised by the 1976 book ‘The Family Bed’ by Minnesota housewife and community activist Tine Thevenin. Since then, co-sleeping has contributed to countless divorces, including that of actress, author, and noted co-sleeping and attachment parenting advocate Mayim Bialik. From the start, when Thevenin’s book came out, I didn’t like the idea and began ranting against it in this column.

“The argument for co-sleeping consists, entirely, of emotional appeals. One article went so far as to accuse parents who did not co-sleep of abandoning their kids at bedtime, of inflicting upon them a form of psychological torture. That’s odd. Even when my mother was a single parent, I slept alone. It was not torture. It was my preference.

“She [a wife] has responsibilities to the children, but she made a vow, a promise, to YOU, not them. The children do not come first. Neither do either of you. Your marriage comes first. It is, in fact, the most important thing in your children’s lives, which they won’t ever appreciate if you don’t pull yourselves back from the brink. It’s not too late.”

If your husband doesn’t want the children in bed with you, then obey him! Our children never slept in our bed and our children turned out to be wonderful adults. Your marriage bed is for you and your husband alone. There’s no great benefit to children sleeping with their parents. After all, everyone is sleeping. It matters not where they sleep, but it is important to be available sexually to your husbands when they desire it (1 Corinthians 7:5). Children in the bed interfere with this important aspect of marriage. Don’t allow co-sleeping to destroy your marriage!

“Contrary to popular opinion, the most important characteristic of a godly mother is not her relationship with her children. It is her love for her husband. The love between husband and wife is the real key to a thriving family. A healthy home environment cannot be built exclusively on the parents’ love for their children. The properly situated family has marriage at the center; families shouldn’t revolve around the children” (John MacArthur).

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Ephesians 5:23

47 thoughts on “Co-Sleeping Destroyed His Marriage

  1. Amen so important. I mean the occasional kid had a bad dream wants to sleep with parents might be ok if husband is ok with it. But the constant kid sleeping in the bed is almost sinful. Sex is so important in marriage and neither spouse should be deprived. Marriage is before the kids. If the wife is choosing her kid over her husband she needs to rethink her role.

  2. Unfortunately, my first wife was like this, against my wishes, and no doubt many others are like her. I felt it was wrong then and still do. Knowing and living first hand that I was 4th in her life behind herself, the kids, and her parents was just one of many reasons I divorced her. You are absolutely correct in your thinking that it isn’t right, Lori.

  3. Our babies don’t have a regular feeding pattern until they’re about 12 weeks old. That means that I am awake almost every hour of the night to feed them on demand. That’s when the temptation to co-sleep is greatest for me. Thankfully my husband has always been firmly against it, (he fears he’ll rollover the baby in his sleep ?) and later on, I find myself grateful that I didn’t bring baby to our bed. It definitely helps to have a firm and supportive husband during those turbulent hormonally charged post partum days otherwise short termism can govern a woman’s decisions, with terrible consequences in the long term. It’s a blessing to have all the children in their beds by 7.30pm. It gives us plenty of time to tidy up and prepare for the following day as well as time alone together.

  4. This is one which I also have some experience. We have 6 kids, and all of them slept with us as babes. And I’m OK with that. In fact, I think that’s good.

    However, once they get old enough to sleep in their own beds, they should. Nothing provokes me to anger more than coming to bed, tired and ready to hit cool sheets, only to find my 8, 10, or 12 year old son in bed with my wife. There’s just something about the idea of my wife being in bed with “some other guy“, and the fact that that “other guy” is my son does not even begin to make it OK. And I do not expect to have to “warm bunk” in my own bed.

    Maybe this is a cultural difference? I do not know. I do know that in the Bible, the parable of the loaf of bread, one of the reasons the man could not get up to give to his friend was “The door is shut and I am in bed with my children“. That may simply mean that “everyone is in bed”, or it may mean that they all slept in one bed. In those times, there was often only one bed in the house, on the floor, and everyone slept on it at night, and it was put away during the day. Whatever the case, that is not the culture today.

    The whole idea of a “marriage bed” is foolishness to the world. They will deride people like me, calling me everything from stupid, to chauvinist or misogynist. But I just don’t like the idea of being in bed with anyone other than my wife, nor my wife being in bed with anyone other than me. Not even our own children. Our marriage is between me and my wife. The children do not participate in the marriage; it is between the husband and the wife alone.

    I admit right up front that when it comes to my wife and my marriage, I am a jealous husband. I am jealous over my wife in every bit the same way that God is jealous over his people, and Christ is jealous over his Church.

    Marriage is to be vigorously defended and protected. God gave us our marriage, and he gave us the necessary tools to keep it, and keep it safe and healthy. And we cannot abandon those ways and expect no consequences in the marriage. And our marriage is one of those things that we will each give an account of before God.

  5. After three nights of no sleep when our oldest was born my husband suggested bringing him to bed. I had been a social worker, teaching safe sleep, before becoming a mother so was opposed but desperate so we did. Best night of sleep ever! Next day I was up researching safe cosleeping! Our bedroom is now a full wall of beds as we are pregnant with number five (married 8 years). I agree we must submit to our husbands wishes. Just wanted to show some husbands are on the other side of the spectrum. When a friend of mine asked how we keep getting pregnant with a family bed I just laughed; if at night in bed is the only time you have sex, you must have a pretty boring sex life in my opinion!

  6. I agree with this, but what if your husband is the one who insists on it? What if you have children with extreme anxiety or other special needs and they are genuinely terrified of being alone at night?

    I’ve been trying to figure out how people have existed for thousands of years with children sleeping alone in a bedroom without being terrified, and the only thing I can come up with is that the middle-class and the wealthy used to have governesses/nannies who slept near the children so they wouldn’t be frightened, while the poor may have had no choice but to sleep in one room, or at least with all the children sleeping in one room.

    The latter is still the ideal solution…. have many children so they can sleep in the same room and protect each other from anxiety.

  7. You train them to not be afraid of the dark and that Jesus is with them even in the dark. We trained all of our children to sleep in their own beds and without night lights or governesses/nannies. They grew up having no fear of the dark. God commands that we train our children in the way they should go!

  8. To me this is something that is just so inherently obvious!
    Yes, there are episodic instances where it may be appropriate, such as those described.
    But overall? No!

    I mean, for some levity, who wants to sleep with those sweaty, restless, bony little wonders any way? ?
    There is no sleep. Therefore no rest!
    It’s a practical matter, as well!

  9. I am an enthusiastic co-sleeper – we co-sleep with our babies until they are about three years old. However, I do it with my husband’s complete blessing and support – I think that’s the difference.

    Life was nightmarish for me before our pediatrician (surprisingly) encouraged co-sleeping. I was so exhausted from being up non-stop trying to nurse and put the baby back into his crib (over and over) that I was falling asleep sitting up and even dropping the baby while falling asleep trying to nurse him. It was a night and day difference once we switched to co-sleeping, and I never experienced the newborn sleep troubles again, with any of our five children. It’s been the best decision ever.

    However, I understand the problem if one’s husband is against co-sleeping, or if it continues beyond what he considers wise. Each couple has to decide on that, for sure.

    As always, I appreciate your willingness to tackle controversial subjects, Lori! You have amazing courage.

  10. My husband and I practiced co-sleeping when our children were infants. We had a little “side-car” that the babies slept in attached to the bed. It greatly helped with night nursing and reduced our new parent anxiety. They out grew the side car at 6-8 months and were gradually introduced to their own crib in their own room. First with naps then with bedtime. Two transitioned fairly easily but with the other two it was a struggle. After that we were firm with them to stay out of our space. We have a lock on our bedroom door and we use it!! I guess I’m lucky my husband and I are in agreement.

    Under the Old Testament laws a mother was unclean after childbirth for 40 days (boy) or 80 days (girl). Her husband couldn’t touch her until she was purified. They must have had separate sleeping arrangements for the mother and child apart from the husband.

  11. Haha awesome. If you’re husband is all for it cool. Seems like you guys are good in the intimacy department. God bless you and your pregnancy :).

  12. I entered marriage knowing that my role as wife came first, mother second. When our first was born (after a horrific and scary pregnancy), I had a lot of trouble nursing him. He had to have supplementation from the beginning; anyway, I did bring him into bed because he would literally sleep the night away and his weight would start plummeting downhill. He just didn’t wake up, didn’t fuss, and he wouldn’t give cues of hunger. So I kept him next to me until he was about two months old, when he finally put on enough weight and was alert enough that he could cue me. Then he spent the night in his own room in the crib and I’d set an alarm for 2 am to feed him (a quiet one). My husband was 100% behind me bringing him to bed in the earliest days and also had no problem with the alarm because he knew that he had to eat. When he napped, even in the early days when he was still sleeping next to me, he always napped in his crib so he would get used to the idea that that was his space. With my other children I didn’t have the premature infant issue, nor did I have the same difficulty producing milk for them, so it wasn’t really a problem. When I was recovering from birth, the babies slept with us, but by four weeks they were in the crib at night and I’d go get them to feed them during the night.

    I learned, however, that I was a means to an end, quite literally. My husband always insisted that our bedroom door be wide open, under the pretext that this was the only way we could hear them at night. So the door stayed open. I didn’t like this at all. I thought our bedroom should be private for us. But I didn’t say anything because it would not have been respectful.

    I had some really nice nightgowns that I felt weren’t really appropriate for the children to see me in. This bothered me a lot. So I just put them away and bought more modest sleepwear that I felt comfortable being seen in. I didn’t say anything. But I did start to feel a bit depressed. We still had sex occasionally, and since I’m like a Fertile Myrtle, getting pregnant was no problem at all. I ended up with four under age five. That’s when the real problems began, and my husband got upset about our son who was a preemie and was a slow starter (now he’s a teenager and you’d never know he was a late bloomer). That’s when he started leaving our bed to “teach me a lesson”. And then, as I have mentioned before, it wasn’t much longer before relations ceased completely between us at his decision. My purpose was to bear children for him, and he has made it quite clear that he wanted “show” children — sort of like 100% college scholarships to the most elite institutions in the country. I was a means to an end. I suppose more husbands than wives feel like they were merely means to an end, but I am one of the wives that is. Once you’ve borne the children, you are put out to pasture.

    It’s depressing, but it can eventually be OK. If you’re a wife in this situation where the kids are more important than you, you are very limited in what you can do about it. I strongly discourage co-sleeping with most younger wives/ mothers I meet — it’s OK when the babies are very, very young and you are convalescing from childbirth because you mustn’t be physically intimate then anyway. Being able to nurse them right next to you at night will help you sleep better and hasten your recovery. But naps in the crib, and get them used to the idea that they have their space and Mom and Dad have theirs. Then they will sleep where they should. I only had problems with them sleeping when they were very small. Once they were five months or so, they slept fine. They learned that there was structure to life and they had their own beds. Even not considering the disastrous effects of the co-sleeping on your marriage, just the presence of structure and order makes for a much better structure in your life in general — and in theirs, too. Everybody needs structure and order.

    (The structure and order we had at home made the transition to the Christian school they now attend much easier than I thought it would be….I thought they’d have trouble adjusting from homeschool to regular school; nope! Took to it like ducks to water. I’m convinced that the training, structure and discipline we enacted at home paid huge dividends in this transition. It gives me much hope for the soon-to-be launching of our oldest who is almost eighteen….gosh, where did the time go?)

  13. We co-slept because my husband wanted to. I actually was the one who didn’t want to co-sleep. For me I believe it should be framed as a headship issue only, not a parenting issue at all. My kids aren’t grown yet but they don’t have any major issues and sleep fine by themselves all night in complete darkness in separate rooms despite co-sleeping with us for several years each.

    As for sex, having the children in our bed didn’t slow us down, we just had to find a different venue. If there is no sex because of co-sleeping then I believe it is an issue of a lack of desire, not the ability or availability.

  14. NO, NO, and NO I have a few friends who always had their children sleep with them and they are divorsed. When my son had a bad night I would go to his room for no more than 30, but I would rock him and he always fell back asleep. It’s a marriage bed, not a playroom. I agree with you all the way.

  15. May I humbly ask how to do that? We’ve been trying to train them not to be afraid of the dark and it hasn’t worked. It’s not a manipulation tactic as we initially thought but true terror, with screaming and getting sick. Every night we pray with this child and have him pray too, asking God to take his fear away and to help him feel calm and brave and to sleep well. We’ve tried playing Scripture as audio books to help him go to sleep. We’ve tried everything except locking him inside and letting him scream in terror all night – is there something besides that we can try? or do you recommend that?

  16. I should add that it’s not the dark he’s terrified of; it’s of being away from us. We’ve even tried letting him fall asleep with all the lights on but even that is too terrifying for him. We believe there is some kind of mental illness and we are trying to treat it nutritionally, but we refuse to try medication.

  17. I’ve always had a little sleeper bed next to our bed for about the first 8 months, so I could easily nurse/change them in the night. I would sometimes have newborns in the bed with me, but that was only the first couple weeks. My kids were all good colic wise and were great sleepers so there was no disruption.

  18. Just a thought. Little children, especially daughters do not need to see a man in bed first thing in the morning, and what happens to him physically. Not trying to be crude here, but that is an issue that needs to be thought about if you plan on your kids being in the same room.

    I am totally against it for lots of reasons, but that one alone is enough to have never allowed our kids to sleep in the same room past toddlerhood.

  19. I partially co-slept with all 4 of mine when they were tiny babies. It meant I got a lot more sleep, so I could actually function the next day. They were all out and in their own beds full-time by the time they were 12 months old (or earlier) though. As I birthed at home, it was important that I got enough rest to recover from childbirth, and co-sleeping was a wonderful way to achieve this. And my hubby didn’t mind. When I moved to part bottle-feeding, I stopped co-sleeping (different ages for each baby) and then hubby would sometimes do night feeds, which he enjoyed.
    It’s about finding what works for each family, taking into account everyone’s needs.

  20. Co-sleeping with babies is different to co-sleeping with children. When my babies were first born, sex wasn’t happening anyway… it was a good couple of months before that became a regular thing, and as I birthed at home and didn’t get a rest in hospital like some new mums are able to do, it was important that I got as much sleep as I could, in order to function the next day and take care of my family. Co-sleeping achieved that. But at 12 months (and earlier) they were all in their own beds all the time. Sleeping with children that are no longer babies seems weird, to me.

  21. You aren’t lucky, Laurie. You are blessed and you married with wisdom. Your husband sounds like a kind, caring, empathetic, selfless, and wise man. A man after God’s own heart!

  22. You gotta get creative when you have little ones, that’s for sure, ha! And it’s just more fun! That’s great you and your husband are on the same page.

  23. If you have more than one kid can you put them together? We co-slept because my husband preferred it and graduated from there to putting my kids in their own full-sized bed together. They did very well together (despite one being a girl and the other a boy). We moved when my youngest was four and he declared on his own he wanted his own room. My daughter was sad as she enjoyed her bedtime companion but she is older so could easily sleep by herself then anyway. So for us we didn’t have to deal with dramatic nighttime drama. Would something like this work for your family?

  24. Quite honestly if it might work perhaps you could get a dog he could sleep with. I can just imagine the hardship of lack of good sleep this can be on all of you. We don’t have dogs so I’m sure they are a lot of work but perhaps it would be worth it?

  25. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, definitely. That was another thing that bothered me about our door always being open and the kids being allowed to come in whenever, because one day one of my kids saw him and asked a question. I felt dishonored and degraded, just as much as I felt he would also. I was so upset, I didn’t start breakfast right away like I usually did, nor did I do the usual chores — just dressed as fast as possible and went out for a very, very long walk. He called me on my cellphone asking where I was and why wasn’t I home doing my chores! The one time I didn’t follow the schedule — I was just at a point where I knew if I stayed around I’d probably have blown….I just walked, ran, and cried. Got it out of my system, got home, apologized for dropping the ball and got busy. Not much else you can do.

    Not to be crude either, but it’s been so long I’d forgotten about that one.

    Ladies, for heaven’s sake, if your husband doesn’t want the kids in the room with you, DON’T LET THEM BE THERE. Think! What if the tables were turned? Trust me. It’s awful…and you haven’t the same authority to do anything about it. Your husband can insist and even establish consequences for your disobedience to him. But you can do nothing when he rejects you. You just have to get through each day and pray like crazy. The emotional pain is impossible to describe. So don’t put him through that pain.

  26. My wife and I are a big proponent of this concept. We think that it is healthy that we teach our children the natural beauty of sex within a committed, Godly marriage. Now that our daughters are grown and married themselves they are teaching their kids the same way. We truly are blessed to see the fruit of our seed multiplying and keeping to the straight and narrow.

  27. I agree with you wholeheartedly and will always remember the husband of a lady i was friends with making a statement one day about ” the best contraception is to have your child sleeping in the bed with you and your wife” That marriage did not last sad to say

  28. I lost my.beautiful 2 month old granddaughter to co-sleeping earlier this year. An exhausted n
    Mom lives with this every day. Please just don’t do it.

  29. Have you considered counseling? It sounds like he could have had a traumatic experience while he was away from you or believes that something bad will happen if you are separated. My younger sister had severe separation anxiety because she watched our neighbor’s house burn down when she was 6 (nobody was hurt, thank God). The following year, my sister was terrified that someone would come and light our house on fire and none of us would make it. She felt like if we were together, we would be more likely to survive together. It made things really difficult for all of us, so my parents took her to a good, Christian counselor that helped her work through her fears from a logical, but biblical perspective. She completely had a meltdown in the counselor’s office because she thought that if she left my parents, someone would come to the counselor’s office and light it on fire too! It was out of hand. Anyway, after one session her head was very clear and she was quoting scripture and such to combat those fears she had. Me and my husband just prayed for you guys. I hope this comment makes it to you. Much love!

  30. I am so sorry to hear that, Tammy. I can’t imagine a greater loss than losing a child.

    There are safe ways of co-sleeping, however, and here in New Zealand, midwives are very good at training new mums how to do it safely. Here, it’s been part of our culture forever.

  31. Hi there Lori, I don’t understanding what part of co-sleeping destroyed his marriage?
    I was always conserned one of us would roll over and smother our precious baby – so no!
    Thank you,

  32. I co-sleep with my babies until I wean them. I have 4 little ones and will most likely have more. I am “being fruitful and multiplying” as the Bible commands. I love co-sleeping and my husband has no problem with it. I get a very good night’s rest even if the baby nurses 2 to 4 times a night. Co-sleeping is amazing and has been a true blessing.
    I hope you know that a baby has no clue what’s happening when you have sex. The baby could be sleeping and we can still use our king-sized bed if we want to. We can also temporally remove the baby from our bed when we want to be completely alone. It’s awkward to have to explain these common sense things. However, I am trying to prove that you can have sex anytime/anywhere, and that co-sleeping should not interfere with your marriage in any way.

  33. The point of the post is that some husbands don’t want their babies and children to co-sleep. If this is so, then the wife must submit to what her husband wants. Some couples have older children in their beds. This would definitely interfere with a sex life of a couple. The marital bed is for a married couple to enjoy each other in. There’s no command that children should sleep in the marital bed.

  34. I want to also add that I strongly recommend co-sleeping while breastfeeding, but only do so if you believe the baby is SAFE and of course, if your husband supports it.

  35. Exactly. My children are only on my bed when they are I’ll or scared. When they’re ill, it’s just easier to monitor them or comfort them if they’re right there.

  36. We’re still married.
    So what. I’m typing in my bed, alone. We did the cosleeping thing. And now we are just roommates. My wife is out in the living room right now, sleeping while the TV plays one episode after the next of CSI or some other such nonsense. Our kids all sleep in their rooms now. They are 16, 14, and 11.

    Sex?? I have to beg and bargain for it. And I finally told her “Don’t come into the bedroom unless sex is on the agenda.”. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Unless you know how it got to this point. Co-sleeping was a BIG part of it.

    When our first was born, my wife thought it would be a good idea to use one of those co-sleeping setups that was all the rage. I never heard of it. But, I figured it would just be a short term thing; and it made sense, because my wife was going to be breastfeeding. I don’t remember any strong objections or warnings from friends or family. But I do remember that neither I nor my siblings EVER slept in our parents’ bed. And my parents confirmed that it just wasn’t done.

    Well, it came time that it started to get really old, and I wanted our son to stay in the crib that I and his grandfather built for him. The boy was strong willed and my wife was not. I got some backup from our pediatrician, that letting him cry it out would solve the problem. Well, the expert opinion wasn’t good enough for my wife. After all, the pediatrician “…was a MAN, not a mother”, so what the h*ll would be know? Besides that, letting the boy cry out would cause PTSD, she insisted. When pressed on it she finally said “I cannot take it, I have to go into his room .”, because I stopped allowing him to sleep in our bed.

    The mattress she slept on beside his crib became the the toddler bed that she would sleep in with him. He didn’t stop sleeping in our bed. Occasionally, If I came home late from work, he would already be in our bed with my wife. Sometimes I would engage, and put him back where he belonged. And more often than not, my wife would shortly join him in his room.

    Our other 2 children, girls, came along. And they weren’t as much of a problem with the co-sleeping thing. Fast forward a few years, and someone got us this “wonderful” couch bed. So, mommy and one or all 3 kids could sleep in the living room with the non-stop TV in the background. For the most part the girls slept in the bedroom they shared. And my wife slept in my son’s bed, and once in a great while our son slept in our bed… but I was getting hostile to that.

    A breaking point came. I came home late; and was about to get in bed with my wife. And it just struck me that my son was 11 years old and almost as tall as my wife… and there he was in the place I’m supposed to be. I ripped off the blankets and yelled “No more sleeping with my WIFE!”. He ran to his room crying; my wife yelled at me for “overreacting”.

    He never slept in our bed after that. But, eventually he and my wife ended up sleeping in our living room… my wife in an ez chair, and my son on the couch. And those pieces of furniture were slowly destroyed; they weren’t built for such repeated use.

    My son is 16 and in his room now. And my wife has been in the living room ever since. I text her to proposition her for sex. Sometimes she she obliges. Most times she ignores me. Effectively, she’s a roommate that I occasionally “get lucky” with.

    Some people think the opposite of “love” is “hate”. I used to think so too. It’s not. The opposite of “love” is “indifference”. Years ago I used to warn her “At some point I am no longer going to care enough to do therapy and counseling or whatever, if I don’t see some type of effort on your part.”. Well, I am THERE now. If she left me, it wouldn’t break my heart.

    Don’t do it. Co-sleeping wrecked our marriage.

  37. Co-sleeping without an end date wrecks marriages. The most effective end date, is to never start in the first place. I too had an episode of coming home late from work to find my 11 year old son in my bed. I had finally had enough and yelled at my son to “Get out of bed with my WIFE!”. And my wife got upset with me for “overreacting”. As you probably guessed, our marriage is nothing more than roommates with benefits now. I failed too many excrement tests and put up boundaries too late. Now I’m just running out the clock.

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