The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Sleeping on the Couch

My husband has started sleeping on the couch and it’s driving me crazy. At first it was just the occasional restless night, and then he got sick and claimed he didn’t want to wake me up with his coughing.

Gradually, he kept drifting out to the living room in the evenings and he refuses to admit it, but it is becoming his bedroom. I’ve tried to bring it up and the conversation goes nowhere. So now I’m trying to be the understanding wife. He’s in the middle of a big career change and he’s stressed out. It was hard enough for me to start a new career, young and single, let alone him being fifty-two with a wife, a kid and a mortgage.

So part of me appreciates how overwhelmed my husband is, how hard he’s trying to hold it all together.

Every night, he comes rushing home after his new clients, trying to make it in time for “family dinner” despite unpredictable freeway gridlock. Later, he climbs into bed to read stories to our son and often falls asleep as soon as his head hits the dinosaur pillowcase.

There’s still The List: take down the Christmas lights, pay bills, take out the garbage. Understandably, the man just wants a little s-p-a-c-e at the end of the day. Really, I tell myself, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.

He seems so happy on the couch. He gets out his blankets, his book, puts on the music he likes, gets his bowl of cashews. He’s got his alarm clock, his pillow. He is hunkered down.

Meanwhile, I’m in our California King; the one we picked out together back when I was hugely pregnant and we were making sure there’d be room for all of us. I remember how we weathered the newborn ‘family bed,’ the years it took to get our son to sleep through the night.

I kept thinking, ‘As soon as we. . . we’ll get back to us.’ Now I’m looking over at the empty spot in the bed where my husband used to be. I try to stretch out, read my book, end up instead with the stupid school newsletter that only reminds me of all the volunteer opportunities I’d be doing if I were a better mother. I’d actually like to help out more. Sometimes my work is like having thirty kids. So I’m not signing up for any volunteering this year. Except for Lice Check. I’m not giving any more because really, there’s not another piece of me left.

So I can understand my husband needing his privacy. I need him. I want my husband in our bed.

Deep down, I still believe that you need to get under the “same tent” with your mate, that you kind of re-fuel each other, that something happens when your dreams are floating around in the same room -- that it weaves you back together as husband and wife.

God knows, so much of parenthood makes you forget why, as a woman, you love this man. All those kisses and hugs for your kids, that easy, extravagant love you get to feel as a mom; it’s too bad it’s so much harder to get that going for the Spouse Person.

You tell yourself that there are times in a marriage your husband doesn’t want what you want and you have to decide: how important is it?

I’ve polled my girlfriends. Would this couch-sleeping bother you? I’ve discovered lots of people sleep separately. He snores, or we’re light sleepers. No big deal.

I've decided I can get used to having this big old bed, all to myself. Nobody to tell me when to turn off the light. I can tap these laptop keys to my heart’s content.

Then, just as I settle into this new arrangement, here’s the big lout, blanket in hand, back in MY room. It’s cold out there, he says, let’s warm each other up.

The mixed blessing: having kids means I can’t leave simply because my husband drives me crazy. Sometimes, that buys us just enough time to find the good in each other again.

By Mary Beth McClure


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