Sleep Training Our Son Almost Destroyed Our Marriage

Photo: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Sleep Training Our Son Almost Destroyed Our Marriage

In our marriage, I am the one who reads the bulk of the parenting guides. David, in turn, gets his information from me. 

This leads to the occasional squabble, but nothing so fierce as the discussions we had regarding sleep training.

Sleep training almost killed us.

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Alex has never been a good sleeper. So when I returned to work, I could barely function. Because I work all day, I can't just sleep when the baby sleeps. I soon realized that we needed sleep training.

First, we tried a gentle approach. He screamed.

We then tried the cry-it-out method. He screamed.

We tried a modified method. He screamed some more.

Other parents told us it would be tough, after five to 10 minutes he'd tire himself out. So we persevered.

He did not tire himself out.

David had initially been a huge proponent of sleep training. He knew I wasn't functioning right, and wished only happiness for Alex and me. If sleep training was going to get us there, he was all for it.

I knew my husband well, though. He's a bit of a soft touch when it comes to our son. Which is lovely in many ways, but not conducive to sleep training. 

So I began the sleep training when David was traveling for work.

Slowly, over a week's time, the amount of crying began to dwindle. Then David came home and my sister offered to babysit so we could have time as a couple. We came home at a relatively early hour and put Alex in bed.

After a few moments, Alex's crying appalled David. 

"You're just going to let him cry?" he asked me, bewildered.

I reviewed the sleep training strategy we'd agreed upon. I reminded him that we knew this would be hard for a few days or weeks but that, ultimately, it was what was best for all of us.

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"But, you're just going to let him cry?" he sputtered.

Sleep training my baby would not be nearly as hard as sleep training my husband.

David did not want Alex to cry. Not for one minute. Not ever.

This process was not aided by the fact that we were living in a one-bedroom condo. Alex could hear our every move, which left us trapped in our bedroom, silently hoping for it to stop.

There was nowhere to escape the sound of his wailing. 

Many nights passed in the same fashion. It was hard enough to listen to Alex cry without David constantly begging me to make it stop.

During the day, David resolved to continue working toward what was best for our family. At night, he pleaded with me to hold our son.

I looked for alternate methods. We agreed on a modified approach that took weeks longer. We bargained and negotiated with one another, trying to find a way we could all be happy. We debated who needed sleep more due to the upcoming day's schedule.

In the end, we had to move to a larger house before Alex truly began to sleep through the night. The first night in that new house, Alex slept 10 hours. Our marriage stabilized and negotiations came to a halt. 

I'm nervous about going down this torturous road again. Still, I figure that when we have our next child, we can soundproof the baby's room before birth.

I'm kidding, of course. It's a tempting idea, but it's not entirely safe. And we don't have that kind of money.

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Kristin Zaslavsky is a writer who specializes in parenting topics.