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Groping my wife in my sleep

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My wife and I have been married 2 years, together for 5.

On several occasions over the past couple years or so my wife has had to stop me from groping her while she’s asleep. She feels violated. I’m never consciously aware that it’s happening. A few times I hazily woke up to find myself doing this, and other times she told me about it the next day and I have ZERO recollection of it. Sometimes it’s a little hard for me to believe her because I don’t remember doing it. I don’t know how to stop myself from doing these things in my sleep and it’s becoming detrimental to our relationship.

On the other hand, we’ve been having issues the whole relationship and have tried to muscle through them over the time we’ve been together. We’re too often on the verge of divorce but we’re committed and want to stay together.

She says I am either not capable or willing to do “emotional work” and this is a concept I’m having trouble grasping. She often cites my upbringing as an only child versus her upbringing as the oldest of 3. Supposedly there is a lot wrong with me, but I feel totally lost.

Thanks for your help.

Groping my wife in my sleep

Answered by on -


Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows.”. ~Gaston Bachelard

The words of my favorite French philosopher give us the prescription for this issue. I think it is a very good sign that you wrote us this question. It is an indication that you are, perhaps, ready to work with your feelings in the marriage.

The easiest thing to do is to start dealing with each other directly. A relationship that is constantly on the verge of divorce cannot flourish. If you don’t work to evolve it, it is very likely the marriage will deteriorate.

The nighttime groping is the perfect analogy for the marriage. You unconsciously reach out for her, but are so disconnected from your feelings that even a positive response couldn’t be appreciated. By not being aware of what you need and feel you actually make the situation worse.

I highly recommend couples counseling and individual counseling. Both can be found by clicking on the “find help” tab above. You need to sort through your unresolved issues with your wife, and the couples counseling will help the two of you get the marriage you want.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

Groping my wife in my sleep

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Groping my wife in my sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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