The marriage bed

My wife and I have a problem in the bedroom.

I’ve slept in more places than I can count–from five-star hotels to hammocks, I’ve seen it all. I’ve woken up on the best mattress in a house I didn’t recognize, in a bed with two other guys in New Orleans, and once or twice on a bar stool. I’ve slept on waterbeds, car seats, sleeping bags, futons and sofa beds. For going on 12 years, I’ve shared these surfaces with the same woman.

My wife put up with my sleeping choices for a long time. I’m one who objects to change for the purpose of change. For the first few years of our marriage, we slept on a bed I bought in college from my then-bed-salesman buddy. He told me a got a “deal” on it, but I’m pretty sure I just paid enough commission for him to buy a dime bag. Regardless, since I dropped the cash, I figured to be buried with the mattress.

Several years back, my wife started complaining about quality of our sleeping surface. She begged me to actually buy a big boy bed. I fought her for months, but finally acquiesced after waking up impaled on a bed spring. It was time. After looking all over on places like, we finally found the mattress that we’d be sleeping on every single night. The new mattress was perfect. I kicked myself for not giving in sooner.

The bed has served us well, as evidenced by the kid who runs around the house singing about the condition of his underwear and calling himself Mr. Incredible. Recently, though, superhero performances between mommy and daddy Incredible have been a bit off-kilter. As I said, my wife and I have a problem in the bedroom.

Across the fruited plains, couples will use this Valentines Day to celebrate the fruits of their marriage. Some might even do it with fruit. For many folks, this might be one of a few times they get it on all year long. Some of the more adventurous couples might get a hotel room, park bench, or back seat of a Chevette. Most people, though, will light a few Polo cologne scented candles, break out a can of Redi Whip, and head to the marriage bed.

I’m no engineer. My bedroom activity is more art than science. So, I don’t know what’s wrong. For whatever reason–excessive use, neglect, tectonic movement–the Mt. Otis bed is an unsafe place. The danger doesn’t lie only in the freaky-freaky times. My wife and I can be sitting quietly in bed watching Alton Brown and, without notice, the mattress will fall off the bed rails and crash to the floor. When it happens during Good Eats, it’s annoying. When it happens at other times, I almost feel the need to say, “I don’t know what’s wrong. This has never happened before.”

There is a sound that perfectly describes the moment. While hard to put into words, imagine a trombone playing three descending notes of dispair. Wonh, wonh, wonnnnnnnnnh. If there ever was a picture of bad naked, it’s me struggling against the weight of a giant mattress while trying to re-adjust the box springs in just such a way that the sleeping surface will not slip off the rails and crash to the floor.

The problem has been going on for a few months now. We tried everything to fix the problem. We employed our deepest knowledge of physics, our most spiritual pleas to higher powers, and–just once–called a shaman in to chant over our love nest. The bed would hold for days at a time. Then, at the most inconvenient of times, it would tilt, slip, and collapse like a house of cards.

My wife and I are adventurous to a degree. I mean, we’ve not yet joined a swingers club or anything, but we don’t mind sleeping on a semi-dangerous surface. However, when the bed hits the hardwood in the middle of Good Eats, I stand a good chance of missing once of Alton Brown’s witticisms. Nobody wants that.

I don’t want to have to buy a whole new bed and mattress, but perhaps that is the only solution to this ongoing issue. This time, we’ll ensure we do our research on our new bed and mattress to be sure that it is of the best quality to avoid problems like this in the future. I’ve heard latex mattresses are pretty sturdy and durable; they can be found at sites like As for a whole new bed frame, that’s going to be difficult… I’m praying that the bed can sort itself out, instead of us having to go through all the trouble of buying new furniture.

In the spirit of Valentines Day, I trudged up to the bedroom this morning and wrestled the mattress and box springs off the bed frame (I was fully clothed this time). I opened my tool box, broke out the socket set, and prentended I knew what to do with with man-things. Thirty minutes later, I was jumping up and down on the bed, daring the mattress to collapse. It appears, for the moment, I have fixed the problem. However, with issues like this, the more you think about it, the bigger a problem it becomes. So, I’m trying not to think about it.

My wife and I made a deal for this fake holiday. No gifts, no flowers, no candy, no cards. We only plan to spend the evening together and, maybe, watch the decidedly romantic “Miller’s Crossing” in bed. And I swear to Gabriel Byrne, if the bed hits the floor in flagrante delicto, I’m going to cry. Like a little baby.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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6 Responses

  1. umm – my first thought is to suggest the obvious – are there cross slats on the frame? If not – you might try that… otherwise – i got nothin’ for ya’…

  2. Props for the Frame,
    ’cause that’s how we roll…

  3. I had the same thought as Maudie. Is some cross support missing? It sounds like the mattress is being supported by an inch or so on the frame. With it trying to support the weight the ends have gotten loose.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    Suck it up and buy a new bed frame….the one you got looks a little ummm….dated. By the way I got a sweet deal on a frame….do you need the hook-up:)!!-franky5angel

  5. Anonymous Anonymous says:

    If your horizontal moves are anything like the vertical ones…..

  6. An opportunity wasted….
    That’s all I see.

    The “Otis legend” could have taken a jump to the next level, what with a broken bed/Valentines day story.

    I hope you’re not here to read this later tonight.

    I hope you and the Mrs. are laughing about leaving the mattress on the floor and spending the night “as is.”