OUR CHILD STILL SLEEPS IN OUR BED AND OUR SEX LIFE IS NONEXISTENT

DEAR DALI MAMA:

My wife and I have been married for five years and we have a four-year-old whom we love beyond words. What I don’t love is that our beautiful son has been sleeping in between us for four years. He will start kindergarten next year and I don’t think he should be sleeping in our bed any longer but my wife does not agree. Obviously, this does nothing for our sex life. We haven’t had sex since a month before he was born. While I wouldn’t trade my family for the world, this is not the life I envisioned when I proposed to my wife. I feel like a monk and a father but not a husband. Lately I have been thinking more and more of just going but I don’t know what this would to do my son or to my wife or if I would even get partial custody as I’ve heard that custody decisions tend to favor the mother. I’m 46 and is this the rest of my life stretching out ahead of me? Will he be sleeping between us when he is in high school? I am joking of course and yet I don’t even really know any more.

—Monk Man (Canada)

DEAR MONK MAN:

There are a couple issues here.

First, is there a particular reason your son is still sleeping with you? Are you doing attachment parenting or is there perhaps a medical reason? Do you know why you haven’t had sex since before your child was born?

As I’m guessing you’ve probably had occasional opportunity, even with your son in your bed, for the two of you to slip into another room and enjoy some alone time so it is quite possible that there is some reason for this married celibacy. I know some women who, upon having pushed a head the size of a bowing ball, they said they never want anything to go in there again. Sometimes too they are issues such as post-partum depression or certain medications or hormonal imbalances that can affect a woman’s libido. Sometimes too they may be issues within the marriage or for one or both partners that need to be addressed with a therapist or counselor as sometimes one of both partners may subconsciously or consciously use their child in their bed as an excuse to not be sexually intimate.

Ask your wife in a neutral and curious way about why you haven’t had sex. If she doesn’t answer or offers excuses, it is time for both of you to see a marriage counselor. Many couples’ sex lives fall by the wayside for a while after having a baby, what the difficulty juggling work and sleep and the needs of a child. It is important however for the couples’ relationship to be solid in order to create a solid foundation for the family as a whole. Even physiologically, sex is important hormonally with oxytocin, etc.,  for couples to retain that chemical bond that will keep them strong as a unit.

Your counselor can also help you figure out ways to gently transition your child to his own bed. Perhaps a doggie friend to cuddle with at night might be a nice segue.

Even once you begin couples’ counseling, it is up to both of you to address the issues and do the inner work to make the changes. This may be challenging and could take quite some time but the benefits will be worth every ounce of effort if you both do the work.

If she is unwilling to look at the issues and make changes, you will need to decide for yourself what you need to live and be happy and how to create that in a way that honors all of you.

I wish you and your family the best, my friend.

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