Bed Time Prayer And Couples Who Sleep Together

07/29/2016 02:31 pm ET Updated Jul 30, 2017

Many people who share a bed pray at bed time. Some do it privately and often silently; it's a relationship between them and God. Some pray together with their bed-sharing partner. What people's prayers are like is quite varied. Some prayers are straight out of the Bible or a prayer book. Some prayers involve a lot of improvisation, even though there might be a clear structure to what is improvised. For example, one couple I interviewed for my Two in a Bed book would pray together at bed time in a process that included statements of acknowledgement of God, thanksgiving, statements of confession, petitions, and supplications.

For the people I interviewed who talked about bed time prayer, prayer meant that they were not alone but that God was with them, as guardian, protector, confidant, companion, and listener. For some, praying was of real help in going to sleep in a relatively upbeat, less worried, more at-peace mental state. Among many possibilities, for those whose prayers reflect their concerns (for example, about the health of a family member) handing their concerns to God may make it easier to fall asleep.

Possible Relationship and Sleep Benefits for Couples Who Pray Together

For couples who pray together at bed time, the process of saying prayers together is a way to affirm that they are a couple and that they are at the same place about religion. It also makes it likely that they got ready to go to bed at the same time and more or less fall asleep at the same time, which means they are less likely to have to deal with the problem of one of them coming to bed later and waking up the other. Also, by praying together before sleep the couple is more likely to have time together in the time before or after saying their prayer for conversation, snuggling, sex, or one of them warming up the other's cold feet.

I imagine that how a couple says their prayers together may be an affirmation of important aspects of their relationship. For example, if they pray in unison, with neither taking the lead, it could be a marker of how they are coequal and unified, rather than one taking the lead, at least in the area of religion and perhaps in other areas of life.

Also, routinizing the prayer may, like all routine steps taken before trying to fall asleep, make it easier to fall asleep. That is, routinized going-to-bed practices make it easier for people to fall asleep

Benefits for Praying Together with Somewhat Individualized Prayers

Some couples who pray together at bed time often or always say somewhat different prayers. Typically one of them might pray aloud for the recovery of someone who is sick, the safety of someone who is traveling, or that something they are working on goes right (for example, the outdoor party be blessed by good weather). Such individualized prayer is, of course, a way of asking for God's blessings on what is of concern to them. But it also a way of one partner saying to the other what they are worried about, what they care about, and what they want to go right. In that sense, such prayer is a form of couple communication. Also, to the extent that they are praying together about the matter, it is a way of drawing them to be on the same page about what they want and are asking for God's help with.

People Who Share a Bed But Pray Alone
Some of those I interviewed prayed privately and silently as they lay in bed. More often it was women who did silent praying. Some might say that they did not want to bother their partner, but I think more often they had their private concerns and issues, things they did not necessarily want their partner to know they were concerned about or to comment on. Also some clearly wanted their private relationship with God.

The Problem of People Who Stop Praying Because They Share a Bed
One woman I interviewed used to pray before going to sleep, and her prayers were important to her. But once she started sharing a bed, she hardly ever prayed at bed time, and she said she missed that. She said she stopped prayer at bed time because her husband's touching and presence blocked her from praying. She did not say why the touching and presence acted in that way, but I suspect it was partly a distraction and partly that physicality for her got in the way of feeling the private connection to God. I wonder whether she would have been able to get back to private prayer by going to bed before her husband or maybe even by having a bigger bed and thus more physical separation from him when she wanted it.