Diary of a Marriage: That Time I Punched My Husband In The Face (And Other Tales of Co-Sleeping)

Because you take each other in sickness and in health—and as sleep buddies for life.

Diary of a Marriage: That Time I Punched My Husband In The Face (And Other Tales of Co-Sleeping)


Last week, I was in an office, talking to a co-worker. He was standing in front of a window and the sun beaming in made him fuzzy around the edges so that I couldn’t really make him out. We’d just come from a meeting, and he’d said horrible, derogatory things to me in front of the entire staff. I was blazing mad.

He continued shouting at me in the office, and I shouted back. I wondered how no one else had heard and why people weren’t running towards the commotion. Was anyone going to call security? This guy is nuts. Suddenly he said something that I don’t remember and I snapped. I threw back my arm and hit him square in the face.

“HOLY CRAP!!!” J. shot up in bed like a rocket, holding his nose. “What the hell was that?”

I think I mumbled something. J. jumped out of bed and pounded into the bathroom. I mumbled again. Why the heck was he up and being so loud? I looked at the clock: 3 a.m. Ugh.

“You just PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE,” he called from the bathroom.


I ran in to find my husband standing at the mirror, inspecting his nose and looking for blood. There wasn’t any, thank God, and it didn’t even swell or bruise—I don’t think my hand actually ever clenched into a fist; J. vehemently disagrees and swears he specifically felt knuckles—but still. I had had some weird sort of rage dream and hit J. in the face while we were sleeping. Even worse, this was the second time something like this had happened. Once before I had a dream and ended up slamming my fist into the pillow next to me, inches from his face, with a loud THWAP that woke us both up. Apparently I become some sort of crazy Mike Tyson rage monster in my dreams. I’m sure I should go to therapy for this.

I told my friends about my mid-sleep knockout as soon as I got into work. I had to talk about it, or else it felt like some dirty secret. Hi, my name is Emily, I hit my husband in the face.

“It’s okay,” said one girl. “Matt threw a cat at me one time.” (This is true. The couple’s cat, Oink, had been running across the bed while they slept. While still asleep, Matt reached down, grabbed the cat by the neck and threw it at my friend, startling her awake and really freaking out the cat. Naturally, Matt slept through the entire episode.)

Another girl has full conversations in her sleep. Her husband finds it hilarious, and sometimes talks back. Still another had a boyfriend who filled her in on her odd sleeping position: one arm stuck straight in the air all night, like some sort of weird nocturnal salute. And another had a boyfriend who worked in a deli at Whole Foods and would take orders in his sleep. “I once awoke to hear him muttering: ‘Half a pound of roast beef, quarter pound of turkey…”

When we say our vows, we aren’t just promising to love one another in sickness and in health. We are also saying to that person: I choose you to be my sleepover buddy for the next 60 or so years. That can be a pretty big leap of faith. Rarely do sleeping patterns get brought up on first dates: “So I was born in Providence, grew up in the suburbs, I enjoy reading books and playing tennis, and sometimes when I’m sleeping I beat the crap out of the person next to me without realizing it. More wine?” But if a person spends more than half of their life asleep, figuring out early on if your partner takes deli orders while snoozing could be a good thing. Often by the time you realize that the person you’ve fallen in love with sleepwalks or snores or chucks felines, you’re too far in to turn back. But I suppose that’s part of the deal. You love someone even though sleeping next to them can be painful. Sometimes literally. Perhaps Lucy and Ricky had the right idea.

J. and I eventually fell back to sleep the night I punched him in the face. (Full disclosure: I fell asleep almost instantly after realizing there was no permanent damage. It took him a little bit longer to relax, which I guess is understandable.) I haven’t Mike Tyson-ed him since, and he’s even sleeping a little closer to me again. He sleeps silently, which was a lucky score for me; after sharing hotel rooms with my dad during family vacations, snoring has become one of my pet peeves. I hope J. doesn’t ever take it up, for his sake. After all, I can throw a mean right hook.

Have you and your groom had any co-sleeping issues? How do you think they’re going to shake out over the course of a lifetime in the same bed?

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