I am not a marriage counsellor, nor do I pretend to be, but every day I receive emails from parents all over the world telling me how I have saved their marriage.
How could I, a sleep consultant, do that? Let me tell you all about it.
These letters of thanks come mainly from mothers, sometimes from fathers, who say they were spending no time together, were fighting all night, felt emotionally drained and were absolutely at the end of their tethers. The common theme in all of these letters that seemed to be at the root of all their martial angst was: a lack of SLEEP.
“How can lack of sleep be ruining a marriage?” You may ask? The question I would like to ask is: Why is no one talking about this?
We need to talk about the root of the problem
We all know that marriage takes work, and lots of it. To feel happy in our relationships we need to feel supported and nurtured. We need to make time to connect on every level, from the emotional to the physical. We also know how quickly we can start to disconnect from our spouse in certain circumstances. Sadly, this disconnection can start chipping away at the very foundations of our marriage until there doesn’t seem to be much left to fight for.
Sadly, recent studies about marriage have shown that the average marriage lasts eight years before ending in divorce. During this time, couples often experience many stressful events that can put a strain on marriage. They may move to larger houses, take on more debt, start new careers and, of course… HAVE CHILDREN! Add months or years of interrupted sleep to all this and you have a recipe for disaster!
On frustration and exhaustion…
Often during my seminars and consultations I ask parents (mostly 95% mothers attend these) how they feel when they are tired. The responses are usually similar. They feel grumpy, depressed & emotional. They overreact, they argue, they don’t eat properly. Mothers feel overwhelmed by the demands from their children and spouses. They feel burnt out, helpless and scatter-brained. One mother shared with me that she was so exhausted one morning that she actually put the toaster in the fridge & didn’t notice until she went to make toast the next day!
Dealing with a baby or toddler several times in the night often leads to feelings of resentment for mothers, not necessarily towards their children but more towards their spouse. One mother said, “I don’t get angry at the baby, but I sure let my husband have it the minute he walks in the door!”. At 3am, arguments often ensue about whose job is more important the next day. Yes, dad may have to work, but stay-at-home mothers have to get up and deal with children all day, which is definitely an equally demanding profession. And many women working full time may also end up also managing the household and majority of childcare. One mother told me that after the sixth wake-up one night, she walked into her husband’s “bedroom” and screamed at the top of her lungs that he should get out of bed and deal with his child or she was moving out!
To be fair to fathers, they don’t always know how they can help. It’s a helpless and frustrating feeling for many fathers to try repeatedly to put their children to sleep only to fail time and time again. Often the mother will eventually walk into the room and take over once she sees that her partner is unsuccessful, which only leads to more frustration for both parties.
When we co-sleep out of necessity rather than choice…
I regularly see couples (and in fact did this myself with my first 2 children 20 years ago) sharing their beds with their children. Not by choice, but out of sheer desperation. I call this “co-sleeping out of necessity,” meaning that co-sleeping was not necessarily their first choice but it seemed like it was the only way anyone could get more than a few hours of rest. What this often leads to is mum and baby in one bed and dad in another. One couple I saw had not shared a bed in eight years! One parent slept with the older child, while the other slept with the younger. Tell me how that can be good for a marriage!
There is no denying that sharing a bed with your spouse is a crucial ingredient to a healthy relationship. Not just for sex, but for that deep intimacy that comes in the night when you reach out for your partner and they are there. It’s the pillow talk you have before falling asleep that can be the one time of day that couples can share their thoughts, feelings and dreams. Even if it’s just to talk about the cute things the children did that day, it’s still a connection. That is pretty hard to do when there is a sleeping baby in someone’s arms. The mere thought of accidentally walking that baby that you just took an hour of rocking to get to sleep so scares most parents that they wouldn’t even dream of striking up a conversation. Then there is the constant movement and restlessness of most children that usually drives one parent from the bed somewhere in the night. Even if it means sleeping in the toddler bed, it’s usually a preferred option to the having a tiny foot in your face all night.
The need for a healthy and well-functioning marriage
Do all this for months, even years and it’ s no surprise that a marriage would start to disintegrate fast. In my opinion one of the most important things I can give to my children, besides a good night’s sleep, is a healthy and well-functioning marriage. I want them to see how couples who love each other act towards one another. I want them to see that we make time for each other and nurture the relationships that matter the most to us. They need to see how all family members’ needs are important, not just their own.
I want them to see all this, so they will go out into the world and find these things for themselves and eventually model the same for their children. But I can’t do this if I am exhausted. I can’t do this if the only thing I care about at the end of the day is going to sleep for a few hours. I can’t do this if my children are by my side twenty-four hours a day. I can’t do this if I resent my husband because he won’t or can’t help me in the night. I can’t do this if every day the only thing I can think about is getting my children to sleep more.
The real challenge is that the issue is simply not being discussed! Couples are ashamed that their marriages are falling apart for no better reason than a simple lack of sleep. I deeply and passionately believe that by shining a spotlight on this issue we can make a dramatic and important difference in the lives of millions of people.
As you can see, it’s not just a matter of “wanting to get a better night’s sleep”; the issues go much deeper than that. It’s about creating a healthy and nurturing environment for each and every family member. It’s about feeling better about your job as a parent and about having extra energy and time to stay connected to yourself and your spouse.
What’s right for EVERY member of the family
No one could live on a diet of only bread and water. You might be able to do it for a few weeks, maybe even months if you were really committed, but eventually you are going to start to feel depleted, resentful, unhealthy, and bored. The same can be said for telling a parent that their sleepless nights are just something that they have to “just live with.” How can that be the best thing for a baby? How can a mother /father live their best life on a diet of bread & water?
It is for this reason that I know that the career choice I have made in my commitment to sleep and in helping families be the best they can be has been one of the most rewarding decisions of my life. I have lost count of the number of mothers who tell me how thankful they are for my guidance and support… how she could never have done this without me… how it has changed her entire life and how it has given her back herself and her back time with her partner. It’s always so wonderful to hear how something so seemingly “small” as getting a restful sleep night after night has had such a profound impact on their overall happiness.
I know personally how much a difference it can make to the family. I know that this program works not only by promoting good sleep which in turn ensures child and baby development is exactly where it’s supposed to be but also ensures that the family environment is surrounded by love & nurturing 24/7 providing their children with a secure and stable environment that they need to thrive. At the end of the day that is what every parent wishes for more than anything else; a thriving stable loved child surrounded by love which it sees and feels daily.
How I can help…
I can help your family reach this place. Through my own personal story I can relate completely to where you are right now and I know that an improved sleep solution can help remove a lot of the strain that is felt by everyone. When this is resolved, the feeling of darkness and resentment is turned in one of love and passion for each other and it’s the best feeling in the world to watch those you love blossom in front of you.
For your own family, I am offering a FREE 15 minute sleep evaluation call where we can discuss in further detail how I can help your family stop the rot of sleepless night killing your marriage and allow your love for each other bloom again. To book your call please click on the link below which will take you to my online availability calendar to allow us to start chatting about your own personal story and how I can help you with your family’s sleep.