How to Do It

My Wife Refuses to Have Sex Anywhere but the Bedroom

Bed with arrows pointing at it.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by JZhuk/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.

Dear How to Do It,

My wife of six years and I have a 6-month-old baby, which has been wonderful, and prior to our baby we’ve had a satisfying sex life, if somewhat vanilla. We almost always have sex in bed; even when foreplay starts elsewhere my wife insists on going up to our bedroom. When I’ve suggested that I enjoy the idea of having sex other places in our home, she has complained about it being dirty, so I made it routine to clean the house. Then came the complaint that we would get the couch, or the counter, or the table messy, and she didn’t want to clean it up.
I offered to clean up and suggested putting down towels, but it’s still straight up to the bedroom. This is where it gets complicated: We both know by now that because our baby’s crib is in our bedroom, that sex must be nearly silent and somewhat restrained to avoid waking up the baby (further complicated in the pandemic because we have a small bubble of people to call on for babysitting). It’s been common to start, wake up the baby, and have to stop. Which leads to yet another reason to consider sex somewhere other than our bedroom. But even when I state the case, my wife has no interest and isn’t offering a reason, just that she doesn’t want to. If she really doesn’t want to, she doesn’t need to articulate a reason, but that leaves me not sure of what else to do.

—Couches Can Be Cleaned!

Stoya: There isn’t anything else I see to be done here.

Rich: I wish our writer would read Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are, which devotes so much space to describing the importance of context in one’s sexual response.

Stoya: I’m rereading that right now.

Rich: If some external factor makes you hit your brakes, you’re just not going to want sex, no matter the stimulus. And I think the wife here, for whatever reason, is just not amenable to sex outside of the bedroom. The writer is better off respecting that than trying to change it.

Stoya: Work on ideas for quiet variety. Save up for a living space with a separate room for the kid. Be happy you’ve got a sex life at all, between the pandemic and the 6-month-old.

Rich: I was going to say, it’s pretty remarkable that this is even a consideration six months in. I understand how the interrupted sex is a frustration for the writer, but life changes after a baby. It seems that while the writer would enjoy sex in other locations, these locations aren’t necessary for their functioning. Whereas the wife, it seems, needs to be in the bedroom. And so, because it can’t happen elsewhere for her and it can happen in the bedroom for the writer, the bedroom is where it has to be for now.

Stoya: Maybe with time she’ll understand or become more comfortable revealing the whys. But that isn’t guaranteed.

Rich: Right, she may not ever get there. And, as the writer suggested, her discomfort is enough of an answer.

Stoya: I’m so curious though. So as far as solutions, working on his pelvic floor to be able to flex his penis well seems like a good use of time and energy, as does brushing up on his oral skills. (The thinking being that there’s less physical motion required with oral.)

Rich: And the pelvic floor strengthening providing some quiet variation?

Stoya: That’s the hope.

More How to Do It

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