“I’ve Been Sleeping On My Husband’s Ex-Wife’s Bed And I Didn’t Know it!”

I’ve been with my husband for 15 years. When we moved in together all those years ago, we kept his bed, not mine. We’ve had a couple of sets of new mattresses through the years and just recently purchased a new headboard. My husband didn’t understand why I wanted a new headboard as he felt nothing was wrong with the old one. I told him it didn’t fit our king size bed frame and I wanted a nicer headboard. He didn’t agree, but he caved. The headboard came, it sat in our garage for a few days, and I finally asked when was he putting it together. He said soon and I jokingly asked how long he’d had the headboard we have now, whether he’d had it in his first marriage. He said, yeah, it came with his ex-wife. I’d been joking, but he was serious!

For 15 years, we’ve used a headboard that his ex-wife brought when she moved in with him. I had no idea and still feel overwhelmingly hurt by the news. He did install the new headboard that same day and has the old one ready to be disposed of. He was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 a few years ago, and since the diagnosis we’ve only been intimate a handful of times. The combination of this knowledge and our current relationship has me left feeling hurt, with almost an inadequate feeling and insecure. Do you have any advice? — Hurt By a Bed

This isn’t about a headboard; this is about your marriage being in crisis. The headboard is just a convenient place to put your fear and your anxiety and your anger and your frustration. It’s easier/less scary to be mad about a headboard and what you think it symbolizes than to try to make sense of, let alone articulate, the mixed emotions you no doubt must be feeling toward and about your marriage — and your husband — since his diagnosis. You must know that on some level or you wouldn’t have tacked it on to the end of your letter. Your hurt feelings are not the result of “a combination” of your marriage and finding out the headboard belonged to your husband’s ex. Your hurt feelings are the result of neglecting your marriage — of brushing things under the rug because they’re uncomfortable or painful or awkward to talk about. This isn’t about a headboard. This was never about a headboard.

You think most men care about a headboard? Of course not. Your husband brought that headboard into your marriage because it was a piece of furniture that functioned and looked fine. There was no symbolism attached to it. Why was it kept instead of yours? I don’t know; you would have a better answer than I — maybe it was in better shape, or newer, or more attractive, or YOU actually liked it better. Any of those are possible answers, but what is likely NOT an answer is that it reminded him of his ex-wife and he wanted to think about her every time he was in bed with you.

Come on, this isn’t about a headboard. This is about you and your husband and what’s going on in your marriage that you’ve been afraid to talk about – his diagnosis, your lack of intimacy, what’s happened to your relationship and how you can get it back on track. What are your needs? What are his? How have you failed each other and how can you do better? THESE are the topics you need to address. These are the topics that matter and that will save your marriage if you address them with open and loving hearts, with compassion and kindness, with the understanding that you are both responsible for how things are now and you are both responsible for improving the quality of your marriage.

This isn’t about a piece of furniture. This is about a piece of your soul. Speak your truth and set it free.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Lord have mercy. Talk about burying the lede.

    If you miss the intimacy, go to a marriage counselor. If he won’t go with you, go by yourself. Don’t say one more word about the stupid headboard. It has nothing to do with anything.

  2. WWS. I don’t think your issue is just the headboard here.

    But, I mean, so what if it’s the same headboard? After 15 years, I can’t even imagine being upset about this…

  3. If your husband is taking meds for his bipolar disorder they are likely to blame for the lack of intimacy. I’ve taken every head med there is and 75% of them completely take my libido. Forget about orgasming. He should talk to his doctor about switching to something that is less likely to cause sexual disfunction. None of my doctors ever mentioned sexual disfunction as a side effect of these medications. Most of them were shocked when I said I wanted my sex drive back

  4. Allornone says:

    Listen to Wendy. This isn’t about a headboard. Or at least, I hope it’s not about a fifteen-year-old piece of furniture that someone else once used. I mean, my S.O. and I live in the same apartment complex, same building even, that he used to live with his ex, and I didn’t bat an eye when he suggested the place (it’s really a good place to live, just as I’m sure your headboard served you well). I digress, but it’s not the headboard, it’s your marriage and all the challenges it’s facing right now. So be strong, communicate with your partner, be open and honest, maybe even seek some couple’s therapy, or therapy on your own. o reference a song- You got 99 problems, but a headboard isn’t one.

  5. anonymousse says:

    OMG, marriage counseling! Alone or preferably, together. Do you make an effort, try to seduce him? Tell him you want to have sex?

    Congratulations on the new headboard. It’s time to break it in.

  6. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1). Are you sure he is the only one who is bipolar in the relationship? “Cuz this headboard issue is the dumbest thing one here in ages…

  7. Funny, I brought in the bed from my first marriage into my second. My now wife joked about it and about my ex girlfriends having slept on it. And that was the end of it.

    We are now replacing it after 22 years of marriage because it’s done.

    The problem isn’t the bed or your husband, it’s your insecurities. A confident person, secure in themselves and their partners doesn’t care.

  8. Did he change the sheets and pillow cases? All good then.

    1. LOL. If he didn’t change the sheets or pillowcases for 15 years, then THAT would be a real problem.

  9. dinoceros says:

    The last two sentences of your letter were what you should have been writing about. The bed thing — who cares? My stepmom has furniture in her house with my dad that she’s had for like 40 years, through many boyfriends. It’s not like he gave you her engagement ring or you slept on a mattress they slept on together.

    Presumably you’re upset about the fact that your marriage is drowning, but you don’t want to acknowledge the big problems or deal with them, so your brain is fixating your anger and concern on something irrelevant instead. You’ve got to deal with the other issues. No more pushing them aside and finding silly things to get upset about.

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