“My spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed”

The most common search terms that lead people to this blog are, “bedwetting spouse”, “bedwetting boyfriend” and the like. I ran them through Google, just to see where this appeared in the list.

What I found were cris de couer to medical sites and advice forums:

“My husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, what can I do?”

“My boyfriend/girlfriend is trying to hide his/her bedwetting, but I found out.”

On the other side, I see equally desperate cries:

“I wet the bed – How can I ever have a boyfriend/girlfriend? How can I ever get married?”

“How can I tell my girlfriend/boyfriend?”

If you’re asking one of those questions and wind up here, my advice is the same as my advice to anyone who wets the bed:

Relax. Live your life. Protect your bed and yourself. Date. Fall in love. Get married. Have kids.

If your spouse/lover/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed, reassure him/her. Get him/her to a doctor.

Bedwetting is not a big deal. No one who loves you will care that you wet the bed.

If you love someone who wets the bed, don’t let it bother you. It won’t affect you at all. Properly managed, you shouldn’t even notice. Bedwetting is not a big deal.

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6 thoughts on ““My spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend wets the bed”

  1. Hi Cathy! Thanks for your very informative blog. I’ve been googling this subject a bit lately, and all I seemed to find were these factual medical pages, or debates about bedwetting in young children or teens – thanks for focusing on the problem among adults.

    My partner has periods of bedwetting (and daytime wetting) now and then, which I’m fine with – we all have our issues – but the thing is she doesn’t want to wear any protection. She can go months without an accident, but then suddenly be wet five nights out of seven. It seems to be stress-related. And also alcohol-related. If we have been out to a party, she will very often be wet.

    Anyway, what annoys me is that she refuses to talk about protection. I’ve brought it up gently a couple of times, but she dismisses the idea, saying it’s just a single accident, or that it’ll pass soon. She doesn’t even want to put a plastic sheet on the bed, as she says it’s too hot for her to sleep on. And frankly, I don’t really like to have a plastic sheet on our bed either.

    I am kind of annoyed with getting up in the middle of the night to change sheets and having out mattress ruined, having the bedroom smelling of pee, and be afriad that she’ll wet when we’re visiting family or friends – but I also don’t want to hurt her feelings as it’s a very sensitive issue for her.

    Do you have any advice on how should I go about this? And what is reasonable to expect of her regarding protection?

    • Mike:

      Thanks for the kind words.

      I sympathize with your partner and understand her sensitivity. Occasional accidents must be more stressful than regular bedwetting.

      Your tolerance is wonderful. I’m sure your partner appreciates it more than she can tell you. It’s another indication that a wet bed won’t drive away a good mate or interfere with with friendship, dating or intimacy.

      My first advice is that your partner should see a doctor. Bedwetting is a symptom, not a disease itself, and it could be a symptom of something curable – or something serious.

      As for managing, you should at least protect your mattress.

      You don’t need a plastic sheet, which I agree is hot and uncomfortable. A cotton bed pad is plenty. The waterproof backing breathes, and there’s plenty of soft padding over that, so it’s not hot or uncomfortable. If you put it between the sheet and the mattress, it won’t bunch up and she will forget that it’s even there. If you put it under the sheet, you still have to wash a wet sheet, but it’s a much more manageable proposition. The better pads absorb so well that she might not even notice it’s wet until she wakes in the morning.

      I sleep with one bed pad between the sheet and the mattress pad, and another on top of the sheet. If my protection leaks, I only need to change the top pad (and not the sheet), unless the top pad slides out from under me. If it does, the pad underneath catches it.

      Beyond that, I would let her choose whether to wear protection, although I hope that she would take your comfort into account.

      When I was in my late teens, I only wet the bed once a month or so. I stopped wearing protection at home. The protection that I had to wear back then was bulky, hot, uncomfortable and hard to put on and take off – besides being an actual cloth diaper in an actual plastic pant. I had long since gotten over the humiliation of wearing that, but I decided that I would rather wake up in a wet bed once a month than have to put up with the discomfort and inconvenience every night. I did still have a plastic sheet on the mattress (and I wasn’t sleeping with anyone who might become collateral damage).

      The protection that’s available now is so effective, comfortable and convenient that the equation is reversed. I would rather take a minute every night to put on a pad than wake up in a wet bed once a month. The pad and stretch panty that I wear are easy to put on and so comfortable that I don’t even notice I’m wearing anything more than pajamas. That’s with a heavy-duty pad, which I doubt your partner would need.

      I understand an adult’s reluctance to wear a diaper, but these pads aren’t anything like that. Neither is the absorbent underwear available at drugstores. Manufacturers are going to great lengths to make absorbent underwear look and feel like real underwear.

      Of course, there’s some point at which the infrequency outweighs the benefit of wearing. Perhaps, if your partner’s bedwetting correlates with alcohol or stress, you might suggest that she at wear something at high-risk times.

      There’s another factor – you. If you don’t get wet, or you don’t mind an occasional wet wakeup, wearing protection should be up to her (subject to protecting the mattress and dealing with the smell). Even if it’s more than that, however, I suspect that you’ve found that waking up in a wet bed once in a while is worth it for a happy relationship.

      Good luck.

  2. Thank you for the thorough reply.

    She says she has seen several doctors about it, and that they all say nothing is physically wrong with her. She also says that she has been through enough embarassment and humiliation with doctors and treatments throughout the years, that she doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.

    Thanks for the advice on the bed pad – I’ll definitely get one of those! Maybe that’s just the solution for us.

    I most admit that I don’t really understand the big difference between wearing a diaper and an incontinence pad – but then again, I never had to wear them :) And maybe it’s a language thing too – where I’m from we use the same word for large incontinence pads and diapers.

    I’ll show her the pads you are using, and maybe she’ll find them agreeable to wear when she’s having one of her wet periods. But like you say – in the end, it is of course up to her whether to wear one or not. I really don’t mind the occasional wet bed. It’s the predictable wet bed after a night of drinking, or the predictable wet nights after the first accident that is getting to me.

    Thank you so much for your advice! It’s been very helpful. Keep up your good work on spreading the word on adult bedwetting. If more people were as open as you, I don’t think my partner would be so ashamed of her condition.

    • Mike:

      I agree with her: If doctors say there’s nothing wrong, there’s little point in seeing them about it.

      I know how she feels. I’ve seen urologists, neurologists and endocrinologists. I’ve been told to see a psychiatrist. As she says, talking about it – even with a sympathetic doctor or nurse – is embarrassing and humiliating. The tests are awful at best, horribly painful at worst. The drugs did little or nothing for me and had nasty side effects. After about a year, I quit seeing doctors about it. The embarrassment, humiliation, pain and expense was worse than a wet bed.

      A few years ago, with better brain scans, my neurologist found the cause when looking for something else. I see her once a year for the other issue, and she asks about my enuresis. (I think she just likes to say the word, “enuresis”.) I get a urological exam every couple of years. My gynecologist and primary doctor know about it. But none of them can do anything, so I’ve quit seeing doctors about it, too.

      A few people just never outgrow it. One can either mope about it, or one can decide not to let it get in the way of a good life. It sounds like she’s done that (and found a good guy in the bargain). More power to her.

      And tell her not to be ashamed. If she and you can live with it, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      • PS:

        Calling it a pad is just salesmanship. I’m not big on euphemism. I call what I wear a “diaper”. But when I had kids, Mom told me, “For goodness sake, Cat, don’t ever use the word ‘diaper’ to anyone over the age of 2.”

        And the pads really aren’t much like a diaper.

        Cat

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