This week’s blog post is a special edition because today we are celebrating our three year wedding anniversary! I cannot believe I’ve been married to my wonderful husband for three whole years. Our wedding day was honestly one of the most fun and incredible days. I don’t think on that day we could have prepared ourselves for all the changes coming our way!
Reflecting over the past three years, I realize we’ve been through a ton! Traveling, becoming home owners, getting pregnant, losing our first baby, losing a job, job promotions and successes, getting pregnant with Jackson, becoming a family of 3, a very difficult postpartum experience, learning to be parents and learning to co-parent together, tackling debt, and starting businesses. I’m so lucky to have my husband as my partner in life in all aspects. There is no one I’d rather share my life with both in good times and in bad.
Truthfully, the first 6 months of parenting was kind of tough on us, particularly because of the sleep deprivation. We had to put our marriage on the back burner out of pure survival. From my experience, I truly believe that a family as a whole is stronger when a marriage is stronger, and teaching Jackson the skill of good sleep has been a blessing to our marriage. So today, I’ll be sharing how incredible getting Jackson’s sleep on track has been for us as a couple, and how it can help you too!
(I’ll also be including some of my favorite photos from our wedding, because I love looking through them!)
- No middle of the night arguments.
The great marriage and family researcher John Gottman has happy marriages down to a ratio. (He’s got some street cred by the way- he can predict with over 90% accuracy if a couple will wind up divorced just by watching them interact!) He says a happy marriage has 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction. Now, I only have anecdotal evidence here, but it was our experience (and many of my clients’) that baby being up all night, every night, can lead to some pretty frustrating exhaustion-induced 2am arguments. “Whose turn is it to take the baby?” “Why don’t you ever wake up when he’s crying?” “I already gave him a bottle, you gave him another??” “I have to work in the morning!” “So do I!” “Your sneeze woke him up!” So yeah, you don’t want to start the day behind on positive interactions if you know what I mean. When baby is sleep trained, you have about 10-12 hours of potential unconscious bliss, with no room for sleep deprived fights!
- The bedtime routine can be a family bonding experience.
Before Jackson was sleep trained, I had to nurse him alone into a coma in a dark room (sometimes over and over) and if Rick dropped a safety pin 4 rooms away, Jackson woke up. Rick could not be involved and bedtime often ended up as at least an hour that we could not spend together in the evening. Now our bedtime routine is so fun and we do it all together! Rick gives Jackson a bath while I lay out his jammies, turn on his sound machine, fill his diffuser, etc.. Once he’s out of the bath, we all go to his room together and say family prayers while we put his jammies on and let him drink his milk. Then we sing a song and lay him down in bed. Jackson rolls around, plays with his teddy bear and falls asleep while Rick and I eat dinner! I love that our bedtime routine adds to our family time together now, rather than taking away!
- You can both feel your best.
According to WebMD, the top effects of sleep deprivation are as follows: prone to accidents, impairs cognitive processes, leads to risk of serious health issues such as heart disease and stroke, lack of sex drive, causes depression and anxiety, skin aging and sagging, memory loss, weight gain, impaired judgment, and finally… double the risk of death from all causes (this study followed people who cut their sleep from 7 to 5 hours per night. I for one know that I got less than 5 hours of sleep many nights with my little night owl!) I don’t think I even need to follow this list up with how sleep deprivation makes it virtually impossible to be your best self- for yourself, your family or your marriage!
- You can Netflix (and chill 😉 )
Knowing we have time to spend together at night is priceless. Before sleep training, we never really knew how long it would be until Jackson would wake up and need us. Because of this, we were always scrambling to sleep for the precious little time he slept, and rarely had time together. On the uncommon occasion we braved turning on a movie, like clockwork we would hear a wail come from the monitor as soon as we got through the opening credits. On top of that, postpartum intimacy can really take a dive, and having no time together only compounds the issue! You need that time together to strengthen your marriage, and having a reliable sleeper helps a ton!
- You can enjoy a morning routine together.
When you’re getting a full night of sleep and your kid wakes up at a reliably appropriate time, you can get up together in the morning to enjoy a cup of coffee, talk about your schedule for the day, and spend some time together. A lot of times Rick and I get work done first thing in the morning, and I love sitting and drinking coffee together and chatting or working on our businesses.
- You can leave the house to go on dates!
I once had a client who told me they hadn’t left the house in over two years without the baby because of his sleep issues. Phew. I honestly don’t think this is as uncommon as we’d like to think. When baby doesn’t sleep well, or has only learned to be comforted in one particular way by one particular person, you can never ever leave! I totally get this concept for the first three months of your baby’s life, but allowing it to go on for years can place an unnecessary burden on yourself and your marriage
- You can go somewhere together overnight.
This is something we are looking forward to doing this weekend! For the very first time since before we’ve had Jackson, we are heading north to celebrate our anniversary and spend the night in my in law’s cabin on the river, and we are so excited! Our siblings are watching Jackson, and he sleeps so well now that we feel confident that he will do just fine without us overnight! I never could have imagined a night away with my husband before sleep training.
What ways has sleep training helped your marriage?