“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.

J

I dated J for several months before I told him that I wet the bed. Telling him was prelude to spending the night together (not intercourse — that was much later).

Over the next few days, J asked a hundred questions — some intelligent, some silly, some touchingly sweet — as they popped into his head. A college girl who wet the bed was … different. He was kind and sympathetic, without being patronizing. If he had pitied me, I would have dumped him.

After I assured him that I wasn’t hurt or embarrassed by his curiosity, he wanted a “fashion show”. (I wore briefs back then; it was before I discovered pads.) For the next few weeks, he was sneaking looks as I went from bathroom to bed, although he (comically) tried to be discreet. There wasn’t much to see — I wore a big, baggy, flannel Lanz nightgown, just so nobody could tell what I was wearing underneath. Super sexy.

The sense of its peculiarity passed for him as quickly as it had for me as a teenager. It became conventional, as interesting as me brushing my teeth. My fascination with his shaving lasted longer than his interest in my nightwear.

J was just like Mom: practical, compassionate and matter-of-fact. He was relaxed. He was reassuring. It didn’t mean anything to him. It just wasn’t important. And why should it be? It didn’t interfere with my life; there was no reason it should interfere with his (or ours together).

Then we got married. And really intimate.

Incontinence wear isn’t sexy. (I have Simone Perele and Eres for that.) I’m not ashamed of it, but there’s nothing to be gained by flaunting it. Last thing before going to bed, I go to the bathroom, close the door and put on a pad. First thing in the morning, I go to the bathroom, close the door, take off the pad and throw it out. The only thing J ever sees is the pad lines under my pjs. With the modern disposables and my baggy pjs, I don’t think he even sees that.

It doesn’t interfere with intimacy, any more than pajama bottoms do. If I’m in the mood, I don’t put on a pad before getting in bed. (Pretty good signal, no?) If we get in the mood, it comes off PDQ.

I’ve never slept unprotected with J. He’s never woken up in a wet bed. I would never want him to subject him to that misery, especially not to the misery of my wet bed.

I doubt my bedwetting crosses J’s mind more than once a month. Once in a while he’ll ask if there’s anything new, or joke about it.

Maybe I should ask him to make a guest post.

UPDATE: J has reviewed and approved this message, after making me take out some PG-13 material. He also pointed out that “protection” has a different connotation in the intimate context, so I changed it to “incontinence wear”.

Reassure

If your child wets the bed, it’s not enough to convince yourself that bedwetting is not a big deal. You need to convince your child that it isn’t a big deal.

If someone you love wets the bed, it’s not enough to convince yourself that bedwetting is not a big deal. You need to convince your love that it isn’t a big deal.

The first time I wet the bed as a teenager, Mom quickly got me cleaned up and back in a dry bed. It was wonderfully warm and cozy, and I was right back to sleep.

But the next day, I was scared and confused and humiliated. I was 14! I hadn’t wet the bed since I was an infant! I was in high school, a grownup!

After school the next day, Mom sat me down for a private chat. I was just 14, but she talked with me as if I were an adult and her equal. She was calm and confident.

I shouldn’t worry, it was probably a fluke. Even if it wasn’t a fluke, it was a minor distraction, easy to deal with.

It wasn’t going to be a big deal for her. It shouldn’t be one for me. It didn’t make me a baby or a child or reduce me in her eyes.

I was immensely reassured and back to my usual confident self, until I wet again a few days later. And then wet again and again.

When it became clear that it wasn’t a fluke, we had a more serious conversation, about seeing a doctor, about how to manage it and about what it meant. It was a symptom of something, which might or might not be serious. But in itself it wasn’t serious.

My siblings were all chronic bedwetters. Mom had regular conversations with them, too. Their conversations were a little different from mine, because the cause (and cure) of their bedwetting was clear. You’re not producing enough of a hormone or your bladder is just too small. You will grow out of it, sooner or later. You will start producing enough of the hormone and your bladder will grow. Some kids just develop some parts later than others.

For all of us, the rest of the message was the same: It doesn’t reflect on mental or emotional maturity. It’s just a symptom. It won’t interfere with anything you want to do, including sleepovers and camp. Wear protection for yourself and your bed. A good night’s sleep is more important than what you wear to bed. What you wear to bed doesn’t reflect on maturity or worth, either. It’s just a sensible solution to a minor medical issue.

She had that conversation with each of us several times a year, until the topic seemed ordinary. If something changed, she asked. If she thought one of us was unhappy or anxious, she had a chat. She would reassure us when we got an invitation to a sleepover, or wanted to invite a friend to sleep over, or went away to camp or our relatives.

Something Mom didn’t know, but I tell my kids: Bedwetting is genetic. You inherit it from your parents. I haven’t told my kids which parent, or that I still wet the bed, but I think it helps them to know that it’s not their fault.