The Night My Husband Talked in His Sleep

The night my husband talked in his sleepWhen my daughters were babies I tended to be the one who got up in the middle of the night with them. First, because I was nursing; and second, because my husband was doing his residency in pediatrics and worked such ridiculous hours he really needed the sleep when he could get it.

But occasionally he’d be on a light rotation, and so we’d agree to split the nights. On “his” nights, if the babies woke up, I’d shake Keith. “Rebecca’s awake,” I’d say. “I know, I can hear her,” he’d reply. “Are you going to go get her?” I’d ask. “I will in a minute. Let’s just see if she goes back to sleep,” he’d say. And then we’d continue to have this two-way conversation, and I could never get him out of bed.

One night, I got up, went to the phone, and dialed the hospital. His pager went off, and he was up like a rocket. He dialed in, and the receptionist said to him, “Go get your baby. She’s crying.” Mission accomplished.

Keith has this amazing ability to carry on full conversations while he is totally asleep.

So last Wednesday, at 11:30 p.m., when we were all in bed, the phone rang. It was the alarm company. My mom was out of town, and the alarm at  her house was blaring. “There may be intruders at Mom’s place,” I told Keith. “That’s awful. Are you going to check on it?” he replied. “Well, I thought you could,” I told him. “I’m kind of tired, honey, and I don’t even know all her codes for her doors and alarms and such. Why don’t you just go?” And this went on.

Once I realized he wasn’t budging, I put on a sweater, got in the car, and thought about how terrible my husband was for making me go battle potential burglars by myself. Thankfully the police were there when I arrived, and they checked out the place with me and ensured a lack of People of Evil Intent. I headed home. “What happened?” he asked. “The police were there,” I told him. “They sent backup, since they never go into a potentially dangerous situation alone,” I said. “That’s smart,” he replied. “Just glad you’re home now, honey.”

The next morning he called me. “Sheila, did something happen last night? Something about police?” I laughed, and told him that he had sent me off to battle burglars. He laughed too, but then he was a little perturbed. “You know me,” he said. “You know I’d never send you in a dangerous situation alone like that. You should have really woken me up.”

And I do know him. And I should have woken him up. But his conversation seemed so normal I forgot all of that right then. I forgot that he was acting out of character. I forgot that he would never really do that. And I assumed the worst and got caught up in the moment.

I have put my husband through several similar things lately. As I shared last week on the blog, this whole perimenopause thing has not been treating me kindly. My hormones are totally out of whack, and there are times when I almost feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. I’m mad at the world, though the world has done very few mean things to me. If my husband dares to smile or have a good time while I’m in the middle of one of my funks, I take personal offense. How dare he have fun if I have work to do? How dare he not share in my mood?

And then the day passes and I’m fine again, and I look back on the monster I manifested the day before and I so wish I could banish her forever.

But most of all, I wish that people would see that that is not the real me.

And so my husband and I have come to an agreement.

We will not assume the worst of each other.

Do we assume the worst in each other? The night I believed something my husband said in his sleep.

From now on, when someone says something out of character, we will not assume the worst. We will try not to take offense. He will back the truck up and say to me, “You look like you’re just really overwhelmed right now, and I don’t want to contribute to that. I love you, and I want you to relax, so I’m going to leave you alone for this afternoon and I’ll take care of myself and Katie.” That’s far safer for both of us. And me? I’ll get a spray bottle of water by the bed so if I ever do need him to wake up, I know it will be a done deal.

How many times do we cause extra heartache because we assume the worst and forget the truth about those we love? Instead, we judge them by what’s going on right now. Maybe if we could take a step back, and not get so caught up in the moment, we could see the totality of the relationship. We could keep perspective. And that would help us love more, give more, and forgive more. And if we capture some burglars while we’re at it, all the better.



  1. Hi Sheila. Great article & so true. I just wanted to comment about the perimenopausal. Take flaxseed oil as this will help. Ground flaxseed (from health food store in vacuumed sealed bag) is great as an additional (you’d have to eat tons to equal the value of the oil) keep it in the freezer as it doesnt feeeze & will keep fresh. Neither is to be heated. Work your way up to 2 tbsp a day of both. oil is great on salad. I put the ground flax in my protein shake/smoothie. (I also give flax to my dog! )
    See a really good naturopath to help you thru the moods,hot flashes, etc… lots of natural alternatives. Good luck!

  2. Jennifer says:

    My husband has done this for the last 7 or 8 years – not just conversations but walking around the house and doing things as normal. It has taken me awhile to figure out when it is happening since he talks and acts like he is awake (one time before I knew, I sent him outside to walk the dog!) The difficulty for me is in actually waking him up out of it – there are times that I absolutely cannot, no matter what I do, get him out of it. Loud noises, shaking, lights…nothing… the only thing I can do is let him stay where he is to eventually go back to sleep. Then when he wakes up he is fine. But it can be difficult to deal with and remember that it is not him and that he isn’t abandoning me when I need him. It was wonderful to hear about another wife dealing with it. Thank you.

  3. I love that you had the hospital page him! That cracked me up.

    And yes, I think “assume positive intent” is another way to put it, and it’s on my list of number one things to try and remember in our marriage, and really, ALL relationships.
    Sarah @ Little Bus on the Prairie recently posted…Fire UpdateMy Profile

  4. That’s one of those pieces of advice that has made my marriage so much better: Give your spouse the benefit of doubt. Sometimes my hubby even says something that sounds really awful to me, so I’ll respond, “I heard __. Is that what you meant to say, or do you want to clarify?” Of course, the look on my face probably says, “Clarify, buddy,” but still I’m giving us a chance to calmly discern what’s really going on. Very often, when one of us is curt, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the other, but rather some other stress of the day.

    Hope you’re feeling much better post-surgery!
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…3 Things You CAN Learn from Love ScenesMy Profile

  5. Sheila – thank you so much for posting my article! I greatly appreciate you! Blessings – Shaylah
    Shaylah Coogan recently posted…He Is The God Of HopeMy Profile

  6. Alchemist says:

    Yes. Assuming the best is good advice in general.

    But apparently you weren’t awake either. Why would you, woman alone, drive over to your mom’s house in the middle of the night?! What were you going to do if there was a burglar? Unless you took a gun and was going to shoot him, why would you do that? What if he had a gun and shot/ kidnapped/ hijacked your car or otherwise hurt you?

    I’m sorry but this kind of thing really gets me. Unless you are going to shoot to kill, stay AWAY from burglars!!! Don’t go look! Lock the door to your room and call the police! Stuff is replaceable. People aren’t.

  7. I have had a similar fight with my wife…. We would often take turns during feedings for all of our kids, although my wife being a stay at home mother did take more shifts than I did.

    The problem was that I could wake up enough to make the bottle, feed and change the baby and then lay back down and be asleep again in seconds… My wife was always fully awake and ended up being up for hours. On days off or when she was still breast feeding we would split the duties, and I would retrieve and change baby, or make the bottle while she would do the other half.

    She often confessed to sitting in bed wanting to smack me awake for being able to fall back asleep so quickly….

  8. HA! That’s hilarious! I do that! I have conversations with my husband in my sleep and don’t really remember them in the morning. I mean, I remember something happened, it’s just really hard for me to remember what or what I did. Excellent point, as well. Sometimes, as a sensitive wifey, I read into comments or get hurt by things that weren’t meant to hurt me. :)

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