The history of a couple’s sex life can be easily divided into two essential ‘historical’ periods : BC (before children) and AC (after children). The BC period is generally one of spontaneous encounters or bacchanalian evenings of intimacy. It is arguably the high point in any relationship and generally the one that begets its more lifeless descendant the AC period. Returning to a relatively normal sex life after you become parents is difficult, to say the least. However, if you choose to co-sleep, you may find these difficulties become almost insurmountable. While you are busily preparing emotionally for child care and all it’s challenges, take some time to prepare yourself for the massive changes a child will bring to your sex life as well.
Is co-sleeping for us?
You simply can not know how you are going to react to your child until you have him or her in your arms for the first time. You may have designed the perfect nursery with the most expensive crib available but when you look into your newborns eyes, you may find the idea of being that far apart horrifying. The question of whether you are going to be the kind of family that thrives on separation or attachment won’t be answered until you get to know your baby. Trust your instincts. Do what feels right and what gives the most comfort to your family during this emotionally exhilarating but incredibly difficult time.
How will co-sleeping affect my relationship?
There is no doubt that when there is a tiny body (or two) in the family bed, your previous sex life and level of intimacy will be affected. Whereas before you might be able to roll over in the middle of the night and enjoy some ‘private time’ with your partner, it simply won’t be possible when your child is sprawled out between you. Making the decision to co-sleep means making the decision to spend more time finding ways to be close that don’t involve the bedroom.
This may mean being creative in terms of where and when you have sex. You have an entire house/apartment/garage to explore, all you need is the time and the energy to do so. Most couples without children are trying to find ways to be more creative in bed: for those who co-sleep, creativity is often a necessity, not a luxury. Enjoy this period of craziness for what it is. Eventually the two of you will think back to the time you broke the coffee table or any number of other pieces of furniture and what seems like a period of deprivation now will seem romantic and bittersweet.
Sleeping together is an important part of your relationship, but it’s not as crucial as it may seem. When it comes to having children together, the most important thing is communication. Be sure to communicate regularly and include physical affection in your everyday lives. Certainly, not being able to cuddle nightly will be difficult, so compensate by instigating a 20 second kiss rule or ensuring that hands are held and backs are rubbed on a regular basis.
What if one of us starts to resent co-sleeping?
A fussy baby and a light sleeper is an awful combination. If your baby is going through one of many broken sleep cycles and you or your partner have to work in the morning, the couch might suddenly seem like a viable option. Try not to despair. Sleep is the most important thing in the first year or two for everyone, so all your plans may be reduced to whatever yields the best sleep for everyone. This may mean that mom is on the couch and Dad sleeps with baby or someone is on an air mattress in the kids room while the other is sprawled on the couch.
However, If the changes in your sex life are starting to cause undue stress on one or both partners, then it is time to make a change. As difficult as it might be separate from the sweet, warm body of your little one, your partner’s warm body was there first and as such, is a priority.
Your children are on this earth because of the intimacy that you and your partner share. Although co-sleeping has been proven to create more secure, sensitive children, it simply isn’t worth it if your relationship starts to suffer. The damage that your kids will sustain living with snippy, unloving parents will far outweigh any of the benefits that the family bed offers. If you choose to co-sleep, be sure that you make the time to be together on a regular basis and find ways to substitute the closeness you may lose by not sleeping together. Not only will your children thank you for it, but you’ll find the sleepless nights a lot easier to handle with a bit of hot lovin’ under your belt…