“My Wife Doesn’t Want Sexy Time on Valentine’s Day”

My wife and I don’t get much leisurely sexy time because we have two children — a daughter, 14, and a son, 7 — and no nearby relatives to babysit. I suggested we get a hotel room for Valentine’s Day, but, since we don’t have a babysitter, we could only stay for about five hours, from about 6pm to 11pm. She wasn’t crazy about the idea. At first she said that it would feel too rushed and she wouldn’t be comfortable. After some discussion she said that if anything happened to the kids while we were gone she’d never be able to forgive herself.

We feel comfortable leaving our kids alone for a few hours, but not all night. The truth is we are terribly overprotective. We’ve never let them sleep over with any of their friends, and, while we’d be comfortable with relatives watching them overnight, we’re not comfortable with anyone else watching them. That probably isn’t rational or even very good for them or us, but that’s the way we are. We took a weekend getaway a few months ago when my mom was in town, and it was wonderful. My wife loved it. We had some great meals and nice walks. And there is something really nice about slow, leisurely sex.

As for my Valentine’s Day plan, I was kind of surprised by my wife’s reaction. I’m not sure if it’s just too “sexually-oriented” for her or if this is really an anxiety issue regarding the kids. Do you think the idea was not conventionally romantic enough? — By The Hour

I’m… confused. Can’t you have sex at home? Is it not sexy enough to have sex at home? I mean, I get that it’s exciting to do it somewhere else, but, if my husband and I had only five hours to ourselves (For free! No need to pay a babysitter! How liberating!) and I knew we could get frisky when we got back, I’d prefer to spend the five hours away from home doing stuff I couldn’t, you know, do at home. But that’s just a personal preference. And I can appreciate that, if you’ve been married many years and want to spice things up, getting a nice (or not nice) hotel room for a few hours could fit the bill.

So, maybe the hotel idea wasn’t “conventionally romantic” enough for your wife. Or maybe she, like me, would prefer getting out-out — going to a unique restaurant or a concert or a swanky bar (or a dive bar) or seeing a movie. Hell, you could still get a room for an hour or two at the end of the night before you head home. But, yeah, maybe the idea of spending five hours having slow, leisurely sex at the end of which you have to hurry and get dressed and rush home to the kids sounds… I don’t know, counter-productive. To me, you either have all night to take it slow and easy OR you have an hour or two hours max to have a quick, wam-bam, hot sex session. Trying to squeeze in nice and slow and romantic in a five-hour time block (and not even that since you have to get to the hotel and then get home within that five-hour frame) in a hotel room you aren’t even going to sleep in doesn’t sound very fun… or relaxing (but, again, that’s just my personal preference).

On a different note, it’s time to let your kids sleep over at their friends’ houses. Unless they have super special needs or you’re in some sort of weird cult or something, it’s just bizarre-o that you are THAT overprotective that your kids have never ever gone to a sleepover. That’s some Tiger Mom shit there. Let them go! Loosen the leash a little. Even if you’re up all night worrying about them, it’s important that they start establishing some independence (especially the 14-year-old, sheesh) and build bonds and memories with their friends. “That’s just the way we are” isn’t a good enough reason to keep your kids from enjoying a well-rounded childhood and adolescence. WHY is it just the way you are? And why does your wife worry that something would happen to the kids while you were gone from 6-11? Is she not comfortable leaving a 14-year-old home alone? You say you’re comfortable leaving the kids alone for a few hours, but it doesn’t sound like your wife is. What it sounds like is the two of you need to sit down and get on the same page in more ways than one.


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  1. Depending on the dynamic between the kids, I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving my seven year old at home until 11pm so I could have sex in a random hotel. That just wouldn’t sit well with me.
    That being said, there’s nothing wrong with the suggestion you made. In fact, it shows you are making an effort and want to keep your marriage alive. Heck, if I had been married that long, I would probably really appreciate that my husband wanted to do that.
    But also, what Wendy said about letting your kids sleep over friends or have a babysitter. You’re okay with them being “watched” at school, right? I would guess that’s because you trust that their teachers are professional, competent adults. The same can be said with a babysitter, there are plenty of competent, professional babysitters out there. Check their references just as you would for any other job.

    1. Now watch the LW reply that they homeschool their kids 😛

    2. escapehatches says:

      A lot of teachers (especially younger teachers) will babysit for kids they’ve previously taught. You can always ask the kids’ teachers if they have any babysitter recommendations, if you’re trying to avoid strangers.

  2. lets_be_honest says:

    A 14 y/o should be able to babysit, especially if its her little brother she’s babysitting.

    I can sympathize with being nervous about sleepovers, but you have to force yourself to get over that. Sit in her bed and cry the entire time she’s gone, but get over it. One night away in the same town should be ok with you. Give her a cell phone for the night if it makes you feel better. She’s missing out on big milestones and memories.

    As to the sex at home thing – Its tough but do-able. I shared an embarrassing story on the deleted thread about this and after that, it took me a bit to get it out of my head and feel comfortable doing it at her when she’s was home. Its not exactly a turn-on when you’re afraid the kids will hear you, haha. What we’ve done is take advantage of every time possible when she’s not home…like, the minute someone picks her up, we go to the bedroom, if she’s at a play date, or my mom’s or even playing in the backyard. The second the bus leaves in the morning is a favorite of mine too and great for people who might be too tired at the end of the night.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Also, remember being a nag about sex is a huge turn off. Spin it however you need to, but don’t nag.

  3. I’m confused as to why having a 14 year old and 7 year old means they don’t have any time for sex? It’s not as if they’re infants that wake up and need to be fed and changed through the night. When I was 14 I WAS a babysitter, I didn’t need one.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Maybe I’m a weirdo too, but I think its way easier to have sex at home with a much younger child who won’t know what’s going on, as opposed to a older kid who will and is annoying and will knock on the door, etc. Babies and toddlers cab be left in cribs too. (not saying abandon your baby for a 5 hour sex session at home, but you know what I mean).

    2. Yeah, I got my first babysitting job when I was 13 years old. I babysat a 2-year old and a 3-year old.

      1. I started babysitting at 11 or 12. I even took a class for it. I think I was babysitting babies for an evening by the time I was 13. My parents also let me stay home alone for a weekend when I was 17. I had a few friends over, sure, but no major parties. Then again, I’m 34, so I guess that was a different time?

        My eight year old niece went to her first all night sleepover last weekend and LOVED it. It’s all she could talk about. And this is a girl who is super nervous and loves staying in her comfort zone.

        I think a little independence is good for children.

      2. I was staying home at night by myself by the time I was 9 or 10. Babysitting by 12, and staying home alone for several days at a time by the time I could drive. I think they need to loosen up a bit. Why can’t they do it after the kids have gone to sleep. Lock the door for an hour. I don’t have kids, so maybe I just don’t get it.

      3. I also started staying home alone around 9/10. I think that was when my mom went back to work. It was no big deal at all to me. I’m an only child so I was on my own a lot anyway. I don’t remember when I started sleeping over with friends, though. Probably because that’s not a big deal either and it started in grade school.

    3. When I was ELEVEN I was babysitting other people’s kids until 10 or 11 at night. Everyone went to sleepovers, starting in freakin’ first grade. I don’t understand the scenario here, so I haven’t wanted to comment on it. It just sounds…wack.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Yeah, I was the babysitting tycoon of my neighborhood by 13. And the parents often got home past one. Fargo was a wild town, I guess. And sleepovers? Those were the best times!

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        So not that this will make Marc feel better, but the first time I watched porn was on the parents’ tv of the kids I was babysitting.

      3. Moneypenny says:

        OMG me too!!! They had all tv channels, and I discovered it one night after the kids went to bed. heehee

      4. You’re from Fargo? I never knew. Some of the stories from your past that you’ve shared make so much more sense now.

      5. Agreed – I was 10 or 11 when I started babysitting neighborhood kids too. I took a class at the hospital and learned CPR and stuff. Plus I was within a few blocks of my own house in case anything happened. But a 14 year old should be responsible enough to watch a sibling, especially for a few hours.

  4. I read this through in the forums (did I respond? I don’t even remember, but everyone had good responses) & basically, I know it probably seems like we’re all focusing on the wrong thing (“you don’t let your kids have sleepovers, what WHAAAT?”) but the two issues (sexy hotel time/being overprotective) are linked. Because, like, I assume the 5 hour time frame is because you’re uncomfortable letting the kids be home by themselves overnight? But like Wendy said, the 14-year-old can definitely stay by herself, & watch the 7-year-old. (I mean, right? Not sure what’s considered reasonable nowadays)

    1. PumpkinLatte says:

      Oh yeah, that’s reasonable. I was watching my younger siblings (a two and a three year old) for the majority of the night at fourteen.

    2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Do you mean a 14 year old can babysit over night? Because I wouldn’t be comfortable with that.

      1. My parents policy when I was a younger teen (14-15) that I could stay home with my sister but not super late (so midnightish). Once I was 16-17, they were more comfortable leaving us home later, though still not over night. We were also closer in age though…so when I was 14 my sister was also old enough to stay home alone for a few hours.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I actually just talked to GGuy about this, and my opinion is such because of the location of my parents house. It’s out in farm country, there isn’t a neighbor to run to, the locks don’t work (on any of the doors), there is no security system…etc etc. But the way he grew up, in a development with really good locks/security system, close neighbors that where known well. I could maybe see a kid staying over night alone then. But frankly I still have problems staying home alone at 28 so…

      3. Oh yeah, huge difference. I grew up in a suburban cul de sac, very safe, and lots of trusted family friends within shouting/running/dodging the children playing in the street distance of the front door. But my parents didn’t let us stay alone over night. Other parents did, my mom is just very, very nervous and anxious.

        Hear you about staying home alone as an adult. I gave myself a heart attack over what turned out to be a stray cat over thanksgiving.

      4. Oh yeah, I’m right there with you (on the staying home alone thing, I hate it). And I hate sleeping anywhere other than home (or my boyfriend’s, which LIKE home). If I sleep over somewhere random, I tend to leave before anyone wakes up so I can still get a few hours in my own bed, haha. AND I *was* allowed to go to sleepovers as a child…

      5. I wasn’t allowed to stay home alone overnight until I was in college! But I think that was more because of “party potential”. 🙂

      6. I’m fairly certain if my parents thought I would have parties, they wouldn’t have let me stay home alone for a weekend at 17. I really was a responsible kid. I so desperately wanted independence and I think this was one of the few ways they let me exert that.

      7. I was allowed to stay home alone overnight at 14-15 year old. Of course, we had locks on the doors, the alarm system was on and we live across the street from the police department.

        On the other end, now that I live by myself, I still get scared that someone got in the house while I was showering. That happens like every other night.

      8. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Oh the shower. I absolutely hate showering after dark. I’m such a dork. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve tracked water/soap all over the apartment checking for “bad guys”.
        I also still look under the bed when I get home and no one is here. Ugh.

      9. Do you also check behind the shower curtain every time you go in the bathroom? Because I still do that. No idea what I’d do if someone were actually there, of course.

      10. I keep the shower curtain open just so I don’t have to check behind it.

      11. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Oh yeah. And the closet. I have no idea how I will ever survive in a place bigger than our 750 sqft apartment. Basements and attics give me such anxiety as far as the “bad guy” factor.

      12. I DO. I always imagine it’s a clown with a knife.

      13. I don’t do the shower thing, but I refuse to look in a mirror in the dark. Still. At 34. I also will turn on a light before entering any dark room. If I have to walk to the other side of the room, I go, turn on the light then walk back to the previous room and turn off the light in that room.

        Apparently, I’m afraid of the dark. I’m only “safe” if I’m snuggled up in bed with the covers on. I guess nothing can hurt me there????

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        Wondering if any other parents are like this too…If I’m alone with Lil, I’m never afraid, but if I’m alone-alone, I get scared. What is that all about? Its not like Lil is going to kill the intruders.

      15. That made me laugh out loud. Awesome.

      16. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Obviously not a parent, but I’ve always been that way around kids too. The responsibility makes me feel brave somehow.

      17. I feel that way about my cat. Nothing’s going to get me as long as he’s in the bed with me, nope nope!!

      18. So glad I’m not alone in the mirror thing. Anyone see Black Swan? The mirror scene…I stayed up til 4 AM that night watching black hawk down to distract me from thinking about how creepy mirrors are. I was 21? 22?

      19. I haven’t and now I definitely won’t.

      20. “Candyman” scarred me for life for bathroom mirrors. I slept with the lights on for a full week after seeing it (of course, I was also like 10… thanks, parents). And even now I positively HUSTLE out of the bathroom after turning the lights off.

      21. stickelet says:

        Mine is ‘Bloody Mary’. I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

      22. Yep to both of those.

        I was staying withe friends on Halloween in high school, I think, and we watched Candyman. BIG MISTAKE. But I was afraid of mirrors waaaay before that.

      23. lets_be_honest says:

        My first two sleepover failures were thanks to ouiji boards and the movie with that line the call is coming from inside the house. Even typing that line gave me the chills.

      24. Ooh. My favorite suspense movie is The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Love it. Also, did you ever play that game light as a feather at sleepovers? We tried that a lot.

      25. Holy shit, yes! Candyman traumatized me. I couldn’t look in a mirror if I was alone, so I had to go in my parents’ bathroom and get ready for school with my mom.

      26. I never look in the mirror while the light is off!!! I’m convinced there are going to be bad spirits there.

      27. stickelet says:

        YES to the mirror thing. If I get up to pee in the middle of the night I just refuse to look in the bathroom mirror. I don’t open my eyes enough to see or keep my head down. And my full length mirror in my bedroom can’t be seen from where I sleep.

      28. I do the mirror thing because of…what was it? Baby Blue? Did anyone do Baby Blue as a kid?

    3. I will leave my 8 yr old with my 15 (now 16) yr old. And when my oldest was younger, she would watch the little one starting at about 1 1/2 yrs old.

  5. I can’t believe they don’t allow their kids to go out for sleepovers. They are seriously missing out on so much fun and so many amazing experiences. Sleepovers were like the most amazing part of life when I was a little kid. Plus it gives kids a chance to learn that not everybody’s home is exactly like theirs. They get to learn a little more about the world out there, and exercise their manners in someone else’s home.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      Yeh I have sooooo many memories of sleepovers from ages 10-15. I mean this is where girls really bond and stay up until 4am and tell secrets. If the other friends in her group have been having sleepovers and she has been the only one who hasn’t been going, she’s missing out on a LOT of bonding. I agree that it also makes you have manners in other homes and see how other households function.

      1. It really is a right of passage in a girl’s life, isn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t have fond memories of sleepovers? Oh my gosh, in third grade, we were all about NKOTB so we talked about them and danced to Paula Abdul and played MASH.

        Honestly, all clean fun for my group of friends.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        Yeh it was good, clean, fun. We would practice the dance routines from N*Sync music videos and play truth or dare (dares usually involved eating something gross). We made up games. Like we got really creative during sleepovers.

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Somewhere there is a VHS with a full costume Wanna Be performance from one of those epic teenage sleepovers. Oh those where the days.

      4. I feel old, thanks.

        N*Sync started when I was in college. I mean, I loved them. But my pre-teen boy band was NKOTB. Yep. Old.

      5. Man, I feel like I really missed out! I went to one sleepover in the first grade (and got lice) so my parents didn’t let me go to another until I was in the 8th grade.

      6. I went to my first sleepover when I was 5 or 6, started baby-sitting an actual BABY when I was 14. Sleepovers were THE BEST. They are among my favorite childhood memories.

      7. And Girl Scout camp! And summer camp! We did those things starting in second grade probably!

    2. I wasn’t allowed to go to any sleepovers growing up…neither were most of my Caribbean friends – just wasn’t done. Friend could sleep at our house but we could only sleep out at family houses. My friend’s parents would let her go to the sleepover but came to get her at 11:00 for curfew. I had little best friends growing up and while I remember begging to go to some sleepovers – I’m no worse for wear for being told no and it didn’t affect my childhood social life. Looking back I actually appreciate how protective my parents were…because the reality is you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and there are wicked people in the world who no one would ever suspect of being wicked. I fully expect to get the same begging from my daughter I gave to my mom but the answer will be same for her as it was for me. There are no guarantees in life and I can’t protect her from every harm – and some things she will have to figure out on her own – but the benefits don’t outweigh the risks as far as I’m concerned in letting her sleep under some one else’s roof.

      1. iseeshiny says:

        Hi! How have you been? I was just thinking about you the other day.

      2. Hi I seeshiny! I’m good – I’m reading all the time but don’t have much time to comment when everyone else does – so I’m late to all the parties! I wanted to tell you congratulations!!! If I remember correctly you are expecting? I’m not confusing with someone else am I? Because apparently baby brain doesn’t go away when the baby shows up – so forgive me if I am.

      3. iseeshiny says:

        Yep, that’s me, due in August! And thanks! From what I hear baby brain can last through the toddler years 🙂 I’m glad you’re doing well. Congratulations yourself! How’s the baby? Is she wonderful?

      4. She kinda is. I’m beyond lucky with her. Do you know boy or girl yet or do you wait to be surprised? I’m so happy for you!

      5. I’m glad you got a girl. Being a woman in this world is tough, it’s great to see the new ones being raised by people who can rock it.

      6. FireStar, I hope you’re having a great time with your little one. I miss you, I loved how you responded to my being freaked out about my dead boyfriend once, and I respect you a lot in general. I hope you’re reading this. See you around.

      7. Aw…I miss you too! But it’s hard finding time to comment with the little munchkin and still running my business. I’ve always felt such an affinity to you and even told baby XJ you told her hi when you asked me to….and then had to explain to my husband how I had a friend named rainbow in Argentina. I hope things are going well with you – are they? And I’m thrilled I had my little girl. I’m sure I would have loved a little boy as much but secretly my heart wanted a girl.

      8. Avatar photo meadowphoenix says:

        I had the same experience, Firestar! People could sleep at my house, but I wasn’t going to anyone else’s. I did do a lot of overnight summer camps. My mom just called every night.

      9. @FireStar I asked my boyfriend about this and he said he’s never known any Caribbean families that didn’t allow their kids to attend sleepovers. He’s Trini as you know, and grew up around mostly Trinis, Bajans, Jamaicans and Haitians and they all did the sleepover thing. I wonder why the difference between his friends (and his sister’s friends) and your friends/community?

        The only kids I have ever known that weren’t allowed to attend a sleepover were Indian kids. And one extremely religious girl I knew wasn’t allowed to come to my house because my parents were divorced.

      10. So funny – I even asked some friends today about it and none of them were allowed to sleep out either. One friend even said “what do you think? No one was “. Like it was crazy to even ask! And she was Jamaican/Bajan. My St.Lucian friend wasn’t allowed either. None of the Guyanese kids we grew up with….No one in my husband’s family – And none of us would let our kids either. I hope they all end up friends with each other. It will make for less begging.

  6. PumpkinLatte says:

    I agree with everything Wendy said. I see that you recognize that your over-protection isn’t rational or good for either your children or yourself, but just saying “oh well, that’s the way we are” isn’t a good response. It’s like giving a non answer or replying “Because I said so.” That level of anxiety over the children is not normal. Seriously, let your children go to sleepovers with their friends. It’s important that they learn independence, as Wendy said, but they’ll also learn social skills and 100 other little things, like how to gather the courage to do unpleasant things, like asking where they keep the towels. Do you want the first time they’ve slept some where other than home to be their first night at college? Probably not, right? You should also think about the effect that your and your wife’s anxiety is having on your children in other ways – like anxiety as a learned behavior.

    1. That’s what I was thinking! What are they going to do when the kids go off to college? At least if they go to a sleepover, they get to come home the next day. It’s like a gradual change. If the first time they’re away from you is when the move out permanently, that’s a lot of adjusting all at once.

  7. Maybe you can salvage this idea by having your wife to go to the hotel ahead of you. She can have some time to focus on just her. She can go shopping, have a bath, order anything she wants from room service, get a massage in the room, or just watch tv shows she doesn’t usually get to watch. You’ll watch the kids during that time. Then, you two can meet up at the hotel. She’ll be more relaxed. It’s more conventionally romantic to look out for her needs. And your kids will be home alone for less time, since you’ll have watched them alone while she’s out. Also, then the hotel room has two purposes: relaxation and intimacy – not just intimacy, which might take some pressure off. I think sex gets built up in our heads if we haven’t had it for awhile and a chance to relax and feel sexy again would be nice for your wife.

  8. Avatar photo Stonegypsy says:

    Yeah, a 14 year old should be able to babysit a 7 year old. And sleep over at friends’ houses. And both of them are old enough that they can entertain themselves while you and your wife lock yourself in the bedroom for the evening and have lots of slow, leisurely sex.
    You know you’re overprotective parents, you know that your limits are irrational, so work on getting over it. It’ll be better for your children and better for your marriage.

  9. Also, I probably would not want to go out for 5 hours just to have sex. I would feel rushed and pressured. If I was getting a hotel room, I would want to enjoy the room for the night. Feel like I could relax. Enjoy the bathtub and the big comfy bed and the nice sheets and order room service and fall asleep in my boyfriend’s arms after sex and then sleep in the next morning and head home after brunch.

    I think it would suck to get there, have sex and then have to watch the clock and put my clothes back on to go back outside and head back home. I would really want to spend some quality alone time with my boyfriend, not just feel like a rushed hookup.

  10. kerrycontrary says:

    So I responded in the forums, and I think your idea is fine (my fiance and I love getting hotel rooms! His work pays for at least 1 hotel stay in the local area for meetings/parties per year and its always fun). But I think your wife’s anxiety over leaving the kids for 5hrs is the biggest concern. I understand only having family watch kids (that’s how my extended family is), but that doesn’t work if you don’t live around your family. You and your wife’s overprotection and anxiety over your kids doesn’t seem to be within the range of normal, and your wife especially may want to visit a therapist about this. I agree with someone above who said that your kids can pick up on and learn that anxiety. My mom has anxiety, but was usually reasonable about it. But my sister and I have both picked up on a lot of her anxious traits (like always expecting something bad to happen to someone traveling/driving) and it’s NOT good.

  11. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

    Basically the thing I found most outstanding about this and from things you have mentioned Marc is that you and your wife seem to only have sex with the kids out of the house or you out of the house…Forgive me if this is incorrect or verging into TMI territory. Basically and I know this isn’t why you wrote in, I think this is probably long-term not doing you, your wife, or your kids any favors. Just hear me out-I also know that your family is Catholic and I get you grew up Catholic and in a probably pretty sex-negative environment. I also grew up Catholic, in an extremely devout family and basically every day at school it was drilled into me that sex was wrong, if I had sex before marriage I would become an unlovable, worthless girl, that my virginity was my gift, that even kissing someone was wrong etc. This coupled with the rampant display of sexuality I saw going on with classmates (no friends, luckily) led me to have a really scared and curious interest in sex (not a good combination). Now here is where my parents come in… They themselves were extremely open with sex-not in like doing it in front of us but a lot of sexual innuendos (which when we could understand were always greeted with ewwwwwwww mom and dad), kissing in front of us, snuggling, vocal in their love and affection, and when the door was shut at night we knew not to open it. My parents would only shut their bedroom door when they were getting down. Yeah it is weird I know this but honestly growing up with that model led me to have, despise the rest of my upbringing a ridiculously positive view towards sex, which basically all of my friends still struggle with a lot. And my parents had 4 kids that they had to deal with. I am not going to critique your marriage and I know that there is a lot that goes into it, but my parents making one another and their marriage a priority over us kids is honestly the reason they are still together, happy and in love 35 years later. I know you and your wife may think that your kids knowing you have sex will be damaging, but the thing is, it’s not! It happened to me more than once and yeah it was sick at the time but even then (last time was a sr in HS) I can appreciate that shit, 4 kids, 20 years etc. and now 35 years and they STILL want to bang. God I can only hope I am that lucky. Basically I think growing up and thinking that my parents never had sex, coupled with all I was picking up and learning at school, would have been a recipe for disaster (which is something I see played out a lot with my friends, all from the same HS and environment). So just something to think on, we recovering Catholics got to stick together!

    1. A good friend of mine is Catholic, went to Catholic school, and her home life was very conservative in terms of sex not being something you talk about. She got married recently (not recently, three years ago. Gah!) right after her college graduation. We were honeymoon lingere browsing online (okay, picking out the items most likely to make her blush). But we had a very interesting conversation, the gist of which was that she had been saving herself for marriage, but that all the rhetoric she heard about sex was that it was a shameful thing, you don’t talk about it, you don’t have it. And she was looking forward to having sex with her husband, but she was also having a hard time dissociating those feelings of guilt and shame that she grew up with about premarital sex from sex in general. Catholic guilt on her wedding night. And it really can be damaging to grow up hearing sex is bad and shameful and sexuality is dangerous, because those messages don’t just switch off for people once they get married and the sex is “good” sex. So if you want to create an environment of marital sex as the focus (which personally I don’t agree with) then being positive and open about the role of sex in a healthy marriage seems like a much better place to start than sex is a bad shameful secret.

      Signed, a recovering half catholic-half evangelical living in sin with a recovering Catholic

    2. Recovering Catholic here too. My parents kissed in front of us. Gross! Dad would even dip mom then kiss her. Gag! They took a weekend trip every February. When I was old enough, I realized what they were doing. Ewww.

      But they also took the “wait until you’re married” stance on sex. And were pretty strict. When I finally had sex at 21 (still in college) and needed birth control, I told my mom and she said “you better take care of that then.” Hello planned parenthood. Thank goodness for friends guiding me! What the fuck mom? All I needed was a doctor’s appointment. I actually think that is her one and only failure as a parent. Refusing to discuss responsible sex, but I digress.

      I guess what I’m saying is that, like mucha, I was actually ok with and happy that my parents had an active sex life and showed that kind of affection in front of me. I got to see what a healthy marriage looked like, and because of that, I was able to recognize in my relationships when something wasn’t going to work.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        Yeah my Mom was very much on the prude side. One of the most awk conversations I have ever had with my dad though was when I was 18 and in my first serious relationship and he was casually talking about my cousin or something and how his gf had just cheated on him with his best friend and he walked in on them. Then my dad looked me straight in the face and was like “Well I think when two people really love each other, even if they aren’t married, sex can still be a beautiful and great thing, if you are responsible and safe” and I was like ew god stop, bc it was clear he was telling me so I would feel okay about it, but also I am thankful he was so realistic about it. I still waited 6 months with my first BF to have sex because I thought it would make him more committed to me or love me more. I am lucky my first boyfriend was so good about condoms because yeah, I had no idea about birth control and thought it was like devil candy that would kill me.

      2. Wow, that’s awesome about your dad. Mine would have never have said anything like that. We was more strict on his sex stance than my mom.

        My little sister got pregnant at 19, partially because I think she felt like she couldn’t go to my parents and ask for help with birth control. And partially because she was naive and thought the pull out method was ok. This was her first boyfriend she had sex with, btw. Anyway, after she finally go the courage to tell my mom, and subsequently our dad, he told her it was because she wore short skirts and she needed to go to church and confess her sins.

        THAT is not why she didn’t get pregnant – short skirts? Please. I could have easily been her, but I was smarter about sex, but not because of my parents.

        So, LBH, I know you say it’s offensive, but when you grow up the way I did, you equate beliefs on sex with your religious upbringing.

        I also still go to church, but there was a lot of things I was taught and had to learn weren’t quite right. I went to Catholic grade school and they had us making pro-life posters when we were in fourth grade or something. IMO, we were way too young to understand what that was really about.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        I understand why you equate the two, and for you and your experiences, there was a perfect, direct link. I’m sure many could say the same thing if they came from the more extreme religious upbringings. I’m just saying its not that way for all and regardless, its offensive. I appreciate your response not being nasty 🙂

      4. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        I mean I guess I can see how its offensive, personally I was not bashing anything. I grew up Catholic and although I don’t practice still identify as Catholic. I do have a lot of respect for people who have faith and that is something I say in jest to family members and friends, pretty much all of whom are still devout, practicing Catholics.
        Also the literal definition of prude:
        noun 1.a person who is or claims to be easily shocked by matters relating to sex or nudity.”–>is the definition of my mother (and it has nothing to do with religion for her) so I don’t get how that was implied or is even offensive. I could care less what people choose to do for sex in terms of waiting. For me personally that decision was heavily influenced by my extremely Catholic upbringing a lot of which has left scars on me to this day I am still dealing with. Everyone does have different experiences of religion and for me that term encompasses how I feel and in my opinion isn’t a negative thing in and of itself. It doesn’t mean I hate Catholics or am no longer Catholic, just that a lot of what I learned growing up were things I had to spend a good deal of years unlearning.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        Good points, thanks for responding. And yes, you’re right – your experience with it was different than mine so it makes for a different opinion of it. Its interesting that you still identify as one while not practicing or believing every aspect. I know some people think you either believe and agree with every aspect or your don’t, but I’m like you in that I identify as one, but certainly do not agree with all aspects of it.

      6. Same here. I will always identify myself as Catholic. I occasionally practice it. And I don’t believe in most of it. Although, I kind of do like the new Pope. He’s refreshing.

      7. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        Yeah I identify because it is so much a part of me and I feel like I was so heavily indoctrinated growing up and was such a part of my life it is hard to ever completely disassociate myself from that. I pretty much consider myself an agnostic, but because Catholicism in and of itself informs even those beliefs, I just identify that yeah I am or was a Catholic, but eh it just gets confusing. Ha it is too hard to write about religion, easier to talk about it.

      8. lets_be_honest says:

        Phrases like “recovering catholic” are really, really offensive. Just because you choose to not follow that religion, you shouldn’t openly bash it.

        Also, people can be “prudes” (also offensive) or waiting til marriage and it has nothing to do with their religion.

      9. “Recovering catholic” offends you for real? Not being snarky, just wondering how the phrase is offensive… it’s not bashing an entire religion, it’s a self-descriptor based on someone’s personal religious upbringing (& that’s how muchacha & others are using it–it’s a pretty common phrase among people who were raised as Catholic, & now aren’t)

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, when they both replied and shared what they meant, I agree, its not offensive.
        The reason I took it that way (and maybe I was being oversensitive) was because I generally feel like people think its ok to say negative things about it. Take recovering alcoholic. You are recovering from a bad thing, so that’s how I read it-catholics are a bad thing. Hey, some are, I just wouldn’t blanket it as they all are.

      11. Agree 110%.

      12. kerrycontrary says:

        Because it makes it sound like Catholicism is something you have to recover from, like a disease…or a cult. I can see how it can be offensive. But I actually understand the phrase as well. Used to be catholic and there is a very ingrained sense of guilt and you feel like you need to reset your brain to not feel like that all the time.

      13. well lets not forget that when you are brought up any way -catholic or whatever belief system- when a person decides to leave that and reframe everything they have ever been taught, they *DO* actually have to recover from it. i dont think that has to be a negative thing. its reality.
        i mean, someone mentioned a recovering alcoholic- alcohol isnt always bad either. if you are recovering from alcohol, that doesnt *have* to be negative, you know?

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        Very good point katie. Wow. I guess the negative connotation here with the word recovering, which isn’t a negative word really.

      15. When we’re deciding what to be offended by, let’s keep in mind that we are talking about an organization that for decades (if not longer) has systematically and knowingly enabled the rape of thousands of children around the world.

      16. lets_be_honest says:

        I believe there is a difference between the religion/beliefs and the “organization.” I mean, obviously I do. A part of the religion of Catholicism isn’t ‘its ok to rape kids.’

      17. What bothers me is that the media/public often see a VERY skewed picture of religion. The bad stuff is what people hear about so that’s what they focus on. Catholicism in and of itself does NOT stand for raping children. The minority of priests and bishops who think that it’s ok are just that — a minority. Now I don’t think that particular situation was handled appropriately but every weekend when I go to church I see the positive influences that religion can have on people. I’m not saying I agree with everything that the church stands for, but the church and my religion enriches my life.

        I’m definitely not saying organized religion is for everyone because it isn’t. I’m saying that you can’t judge an ENTIRE religion based on the minority.

      18. Lyra, it’s like you’re in my head! Everything you just said I completely agree with.

        The Catholic Church is so large and diverse, of course it can’t be perfect. But, at least in my experience, there’s a whole lot more good being done than bad.

      19. This is only vaguely a reply to you, LBH, but your comment was interesting to me and got me thinking. I’ve never really thought of the term recovering catholic as particuarily offensive; even my friends who are very devout use it about other people. So it was interesting to me that you do and then I started thinking about it. Because for me, recovery really is the best analogy for growing up with pretty conservative religious beliefs and then gradually abandoning those beliefs as I gained life experiences that made me question them. Recovering from certain mindsets and breaking thought patterns, if that makes sense. Of course, for me, I was raised both Catholic and in an evangelical denomination that didn’t even consider Catholicism christianity. So my religious upbringing was very much a mix of the beliefs of both those denominations, not just Catholicism.

        Would someone saying they are recovering from their religious upbringing be less offensive to you than saying they’re recovering from the religion itself? It’s maybe more accurate (for me at least, won’t speak for everyone), and removes the connotation of the religion itself being the problem, rather than the teachings certain human practitioners of it espouse.

        Personally, I don’t bash Catholicism. But I did have to recover being raised to believe homosexuality is a sin, a woman should not be able to control her own body, and human sexuality in general is a negative thing. (And in that respect beliefs about sex and religion were very closely related for me, personally. I grew up believing what I believed about sex because it is what I heard at church. There was no other input.) Those were very damaging things to grow up believing, again, for me, personally. It’s an upbringing that I’ve struggled with, and that I’ve watched many friends struggle with, especially those who have to deal with coming to terms with having a sexuality that they were raised to believe is sinful.

      20. lets_be_honest says:

        The responses I got to that comment are the reason I love dw. Its good to be questioned why you think something, and it might just change your mind.
        I obviously was raised Catholic, but just as obviously (maybe) not raised with any extreme views on it like some hardcore Catholics are. I’m sure this paints it in a different light for me. Really good points about recovering from certain of the beliefs as to what is and isn’t a sin.

      21. I had never thought about it before, but I guess I can see how “recovering Catholic” could be offensive? I tend to usually say non-practicing or former Catholic when describing myself (if I don’t want to outright say “atheist”). I do agree that if you feel oppressed or shamed or guilty because of your own religious beliefs, letting that go and coming into your own values and beliefs definitely is a recovery of sorts.

      22. lets_be_honest says:

        Why don’t you want to say atheist outright?

      23. Because people act really weird about it. If I don’t know someone well I’ll usually just say “I’m not religious.”

      24. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh, yea I guess I never talk religion (or politics) if I don’t know someone either.

      25. yea, atheist is kind of like feminist in that it evokes a certain extremism/crazy stereotype, and people are reluctant to then label themselves with it.

      26. Painted_lady says:

        Depending on the person you say it to, you can also open yourself up to a bunch of really invasive or inappropriate questions. Stuff I’ve been asked:
        “So do you think all Christians are stupid?” No. Just like you wouldn’t be so judgmental as to believe I’m stupid…right????
        “What makes you think you know better than the rest of us?” Same way you do?
        “Do you just hate Jesus?” Hard to hate someone you don’t believe in, at least in the god-on-earth capacity.
        “Why do you celebrate Christmas, then?” Because…it’s fun? And I like the food? And I get to see family?
        And my favorite of all time, said once and once only, thank jeebus:
        “So do you scream ‘Oh my ME’ during sex?” Fuck you fuck you fuck you.

        Not everyone says stupid shit. And sometimes I’m in the mood to tell someone off, so I risk it. And sometimes the person is cool enough I assume they wouldn’t ask stupid, ignorant things. But a lot of the time, I don’t have the emotional energy.

      27. lets_be_honest says:

        Oh my god (no pun intended). People are so dumb. However, that last one is pretty funny if an asshole isn’t saying it.

      28. Man, Christmas has become such a secular holiday! Most of my Jewish students celebrate it, my Buddhist best friend celebrates – it’s a day to get together with family and friends, eat good food, and exchange gifts. I think it’s still nice to include the true meaning of Christmas in your celebrations, but nowadays, it’s totally not necessary.

      29. starpattern says:

        For me, I am reluctant to describe myself as atheist or agnostic because the vast majority of my neighbors, coworkers, and family are devout Christians, and I believe they would become distrustful of me if they know I’m a non-believer. I probably wouldn’t get to be around their kids anymore, that kind of thing. Saying I don’t really go to church anymore is… less offensive to them, somehow.

      30. lets_be_honest says:

        That’s so fucked up. I don’t even know what else to say to that.

      31. starpattern says:

        Haha yeah, as much as I like to be all “my city has one of the highest # of PhD’s per capita!” … it’s still Alabama.

        To be fair I could be underestimating some of them. I just don’t want to take the risk since I’ve seen it happen before.

      32. oh dang it. this is much better then i was saying above.
        also, i agree a lot, and “recovery” is basically the best word for what i had to go through -which sounds a lot like what you had to go through as well, morgan.

      33. I agree with you LBH. I know it typically isn’t *meant* as an offensive term but it can definitely be taken that way.

  12. BriarRose says:

    Sleepovers are basically the best thing that ever happened to me as a parent. Free babysitting!

    My daughter has a friend who didn’t do sleepovers because she was too scared to sleep away from her parents, and we worked with her last summer over the course of several weekends. She would come over prepared for a sleepover, knowing that if she really got upset, I could call her Mom. When she inevitably got upset and wanted to leave, I would sit with her in bed and calm her a bit, and see if she would fall asleep. It didn’t work the first two times, but on the third sleepover attempt, she calmed down quickly, fell asleep, and had her first ever sleepover! Point is, it can be done, even if both kid and parent are nervous. Find a trusted family friend and see if they can work with you….it’s definitely time to make sleepovers happen.

    1. Aww, I had a friend like that growing up. She’d come over ready to sleep over, but pretty inevitably she’d end up walking home (so sleepover is maybe a little generous when you live six houses apart). So mostly we did them at her house, and then I think she was maybe 12 or 13 when she finally slept over? I’m glad you helped your daughter’s friend get over her fear!

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I was like that for a while too, and my little sister is like that now. She won’t even stay at my house and has tried like 5 times now.
        I was a little sad that Lil didn’t even look back for a second when she went on her first sleepover. I had to call to say good night and she rushed me off the phone.

      2. I had my first sleepover very young. Like around 5 or 6. It was at my friends house down the street. My mom says she woke up at 3 in the morning by my crying outside the house in the bushes or something. I have no recollection of this. I thankfully got over it and had a successful social life.

  13. lets_be_honest says:

    I could be so off base, but is there a chance that the “children” excuse is just an excuse so she can get out of having sex?

    fwiw, I would not enjoy a 5 hour hotel trip and I love the sex.

  14. As someone with a very anxious mother (and even she let me go to sleepovers, sheesh), anxiety is a learned behavior, and you and your wife are teaching your children to be afraid of anywhere other than home. The sex isn’t even an issue here for me (I assume you won’t have sex with the kids in the house in case they hear?). But by 14, I was babysitting, and 6 to 11 is not that long. A 14 year old can use the microwave to heat up something you’ve prepared in advance. And the 7 year old is old enough to get his/her self ready for bed. So the 14 year old stays up til you get home. Hell, my favorite babysitting gigs were the late night ones. The kids have a bedtime of 8:30 or 9:00, and I get to watch TV and make sure everything’s fine. Leave a number of a neighbor or friend for the 14 year old to call if something goes wrong, and enjoy your evening.

    I get that you love your children and want to protect them. But right now, you need to protect your children from your instinct to shield them from the world. Childhood and the teenage years are so important for learning how to be social, how to make friends, and how to be independent. Your kids aren’t going to live at home forever, and if you never let them have any of these experiences, you’re doing them a disservice.

  15. Painted_lady says:

    Something I thought about but don’t mention in the forums: what is it that your wife would like to do? Not that her word is final, but it seems like you made these plans without considering what she *actually* wants. Like Wendy said, she’d rather do stuff she can’t do at home and I didn’t even think about it from that perspective. If it were me, I’d much rather spend that time during the day when I’m supposed to be working, like someone else in the forums suggested. I’d want to leave the kids with a babysitter (or spending the night at a friend’s) for the entire night. Not because it’s “sleazy,” but rather because if I’m in a hotel I want to enjoy the full experience – long shower, tv, room service, not needing to be anywhere. And that’s just me.

    So obviously, you want to have sex on Valentine’s Day, and, well, duh. That’s obviously a totally normal expectation. How could you do that in a way that would make your wife more comfortable? What does she think about an alternate plan?

    One of the weirder things surrounding sex is how we all expect ourselves and each other to be mind readers, and none of us are very good at it. So maybe give a shot at planning something together. It’s super sweet that you tried to surprise her, but maybe save the surprises for things like flowers or dinner.

  16. I’d enjoy a 5-hour hotel stay, but I’m the dirty one in our marriage. My husband would take some convincing!

    That said, I agree that there are other things going on here- either concerning anxiety issues, other issues surrounding sex, or both. It would probably be beneficial to speak with someone (therapist, clergyperson, etc) either together or separately to figure out some of that.

    In the meantime, your kids are getting older. I won’t harp on why sleepovers are the most important thing ever for kids, but I will say that you might want to think about whether your decisions are really for your benefit or theirs. If your values prohibit sleepovers for some reason (even if I personally disagree) that’s one thing- but if you’re keeping them from having life experiences because of a parent’s anxiety, that may not be in their best interest.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I really hope that he reads this and tries to look at all of his parenting this way – just because you as the parent have anxiety over it, doesn’t mean you should keep your children from experiencing it. I have to repeat that to myself sometimes.

  17. So, LW, to actually answer your question. Sorry for the rants. So many good memories!

    I like your hotel room idea, but maybe squash it for this V-day and get your wife to warm up to it. I mean, there is too much V-day pressure as it is. So, maybe some random weekend, do as another poster mentioned and get a hotel room on a Saturday. Your wife can check in at like 2, or whatever the time is, and maybe relax sans kids while you have a fun “daddy and kid afternoon.” Then, pick her up and take her to dinner, like a date. After the date and when she is more relaxed, go back to the hotel room for a little hanky panky. A couple hours is more than enough for some nice, fun sex.

    Anyway, I know on the forums you mentioned your Friday lunches. But maybe do this a couple times a year or something? It takes the pressure off the sex part and you’ll still both have a good time and hopefully be in the mood!

  18. Bon Vivant says:

    I concur with WEES re: the kids should be able to stay for a few hours by themselves and that the daughter should be able to enjoy sleepovers. I am though in the minority re: the hotel room, because at first read an evening at a hotel as a mini-getaway for some alone time sounded fun. Perhaps I assumed a swanky hotel and there’d be dinner/wine/relaxing or something like that as well, which may not have been how the idea was presented. It seemed that the LW was genuinely trying to do something nice/special/different for Valentine’s. We often read or hear about people being disappointed in their partner’s lack of effort in doing something/anything for special occasions, and here this guy made an effort and is getting shot down.

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      I’m with you. I think it was a really fun/sweet idea. 5 hours is long enough for dinner, a relaxing bath, and other things.

  19. I am going against the grain here, but I think a 5 hour love fest at a hotel for the evening is AWESOME!! While not exactly romantic, I am not a super romance kinda person anyway. Even though we have many kids between us, and hardly EVER an empty house, my “husband” and I didn’t let that get in the way of our sexy-time together…they have knocked, tried to open the door, the little one would sometimes try and talk through the crack at the bottom of the door! But we MADE time for each other…because it was important to both of us.

    As to the overprotective tendencies of both of you…you need to find a way to get past that TOGETHER. I understand not wanting to leave the kids overnight. I won’t go out immediately after work, because I don’t think it’s fair to the kids to be gone all day AND all evening, even if they are more than capable of having dinner and getting off to bed on time. That’s a “I am the mom, it’s my responsibility” kinda thing. I will, however, have no guilt about leaving the kids for a few hours…or taking ME time on a Saturday while they chill at home. “What if something happens?” Are you really going to live in a bubble with the kids because of “What if…”? What if they can’t function as young adults because they’ve never been taught how to troubleshoot a problem, or deal with a scary situation, or be responsible for themselves?

  20. something random says:

    I agree! I would love this for Valentines Day. I was actually going to do this for valentine’s day until I found out my sitter is busy! I think a hotel is super romantic, especially if there is a decent bar and a nice tub. To me that feels more relaxing and valentine’s Day ish than trying a new restaurant.

  21. I was a babysitter for actual babies (as in diapers and bottles) at 14. Kids learn responsibility by being given responsibility. By overprotecting your kids, you are setting them up for disaster as adults. “That probably isn’t rational or even very good for them or us, but that’s the way we are.” Congrats, you’ve successfully signed your kids up for a lifetime of anxiety, irrational behaviour, and therapy. At least I hope they’ll get therapy, because they’re gonna need it.

    Maybe you could spend the five hours at a family counselor’s office talking about how to address your own anxiety.

    1. “Kids learn responsibility by being given responsibility” — this. absolutely.
      when i was 14, maybe 13.. i dont remember the age, but that was the age where you didnt need to be an “accompanied minor” on an airplane. my parents were divorced and my sister and i flew 3 times a year to see my dad. when i hit that age, i think 14, i was my sister’s “guardian” at the airport and we flew alone. and the thing was that there wasnt really an option for anything else. i had to be responsible. i think more parents should be like that.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        And telling/showing your kid that your trust them is such a great thing for a kid. I can see her face light up any time she asks if she can do something and I say I trust your judgment. Its like she’s overcome with pride and then believes in herself more.

      2. exactly, that is exactly it. i mean what is the undertone of constantly being watched and never being “allowed” to do anything alone? mis-trust and incompetency.

  22. Avatar photo veritek33 says:

    I’m not a mother and I’m not married so I don’t know that I have much more to offer to this conundrum. With regard to the parenting aspect, I can’t help.
    However, I know you’d like to have some sexy times with your wife, and the hotel idea wasn’t bad, it just seems that isn’t what she finds sexy. So here’s an idea, and I don’t mean it in a snarky way, but what about asking her what she wants to do for v-day and what would make her feel really sexy and ready to have some sexy rumpus time?
    Maybe the hourly hotel thing just doesn’t sit well with her. Maybe sending the kids to the grandparents for the weekend and staying home would be more acceptable for her? I think you just have to find her comfort level here, so you can both have a nice time.
    I personally love the hotel idea, but I don’t have kids and I don’t know what kind of mom I would be. But maybe it’s time they enjoyed a sleep over at a friends house. I think they’d have a lot of fun 🙂 And you would too!

  23. Lily in NYC says:

    My parents were overprotective, maybe strict is a better word. I was allowed to have sleepovers and stay home alone from a pretty young age, but they ALWAYS knew where I was and gave me very little freedom from about 14 onward. They were the types to drive by a friend’s house to make sure I was really there and I had a ridiculously early curfew. Result? When I went away to college I went nuts with my new-found freedom and feel like I wasted 4 years partying and staying out all night instead of studying. Loosen the reigns and allow your kids to learn from their mistakes instead of keeping them in a bubble so they never make any. They will be better people for it.

    1. Amen to that. Of my close trio of HS friends, guess which one was the one who went wildest in college and got knocked up? The one with the crazy, strict, overprotective mom.

  24. Painted_lady says:

    Another thing re: sleepovers (I’m on my phone so I can’t reply to anything). You said on the forums that your daughter doesn’t show any interest in sleepovers and you don’t know how to encourage that. Here’s how it worked for me: my parents needed a weekend alone, they called the parents of some friend and said, “Hey, we’re going out of town this weekend, can you keep PL? We’ll return the favor when you need it.” I didn’t initiate; my parents did. I think for both your kids’ good and your marriage’s good, you need to take the reins on this because it looks like maybe your daughter isn’t going to.

    Too….and this may be projection on my part, but maybe your daughter has the impression you aren’t okay with sleepovers and that’s why she hasn’t asked? This isn’t a direct 1:1 correlation, but when I was a kid I took a lot of implied things very much to heart. My mom was always put off by friends who came over, because they were pickier eaters or didn’t understand that we didn’t do X thing in the house, or were less polite than she had raised us to be…and I heard about it. I don’t think she meant it this way, but what I heard was, “This was really unpleasant and difficult when your friend came over and I didn’t enjoy it.” So, by about late middle school or early high school, I’d pretty much quit inviting people over because I thought it was this really unpleasant task for my mom. Maybe something similar is happening with your daughter? Just a thought.

  25. Painted_lady says:

    Oh, follow up to that last comment about my mom and complaining about friends…years later my mom was like, “I don’t understand why you didn’t have more people over!” And I told her, well, it seemed like you weren’t okay with it, and she was really confused. Turns out, all she meant was to make observations about said friends, not that it was such an awful ordeal. Now, granted, because she’s my mother, that became about how I obviously got that impression because I get my kicks out of being mean to her…but that’s another story for another day.

  26. Just an important FYI, there are 69 comments on this post.
    DW confession: I’m actually a 14 year old boy

    1. Haha, in my math class today, we were doing a problem where they had to use an integer, any integer, so of course the 17 y/o boys went straight to “69”

      1. I teach middle school…oh the giggles whenever the numbers 6 and 9 are anywhere near each other. I have assigned problem set going up to number 68 and starting again at 70 to avoid that…

        Now after teaching these kids, I laugh about it too and am (almost) just as bad.

  27. Laura Hope says:

    I have a 14 year old and an 11 year old and I’m with you. I would not leave them alone for several hours at night and if I did, I would not feel relaxed. We do, however, have a lock on our bedroom door and have alone time with the door locked every night. The kids are used to it because it’s part of the routine. You don’t have to wait for a special occasion. If Mommy and Daddy have a strong marriage, the whole family benefits so it’s okay to carve out some alone time.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Are they troublemakers? I could see not leaving the 11 y/o for several hours, but the 14 y/o too? Isn’t the 14 y/o in high school?

  28. Laura Hope says:

    They’re not trouble makers but God forbid there was a real emergency like a break-in, I would never forgive myself.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Have you tried just a quick-ish dinner out really close to home? Maybe that would make you more comfortable? (not that you’re asking for advice!)

  29. Laura Hope says:

    By the way, the 14 year old is in Jr. High. And I’m not saying I don’t leave them alone. Just not for several hours at night.

    1. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

      When I was 14 I was a freshman in high school. I was also left for the amount of time at night.

    2. lets_be_honest says:

      Oh, gotcha. I read that wrong.

    3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I don’t think your nuts. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable leaving kids home alone until they can drive. I don’t have a very logical reason why I think that, but yeah, I don’t think you’re nuts.

      1. I already commented in the forums so I wasn’t going to weigh in here…but IMO (:-)) waiting until they have wheels available to them would NOT be the time that I would let them stay home alone for the first time. Maybe I was a bad kid (maybe – HA!) but I would think it would be better/easier to tip toe into the deep end of the independence pool before they could drive and build up to that point instead of diving straight into the deep end. That’s one of the reasons I was pushing for letting Marc’s girl have some overnights while she is still in their “control” and could talk about it and even go pick her up if she was really uncomfy, as opposed to college or whatever.

        I may also be prejudiced but the kids that I grew up with that didn’t have a lot of freedom/experience in HS were the ones who went WILD in college and exposed themselves to some pretty hairy situations because they just didn’t know any better. Kinda like how your first relationship sets what “normal” is for you, so if you don’t have a good support system or some frame of reference it can get out of hand fairly quickly.

  30. Bittergaymark says:

    Okay, it took me a while to figure this out… But the obvious reason as to why they simply can’t have sex at home… Is the wife makes crazy irrational excuses! “Sssssssh! The kids will hear!” Now unless one of you two is a real screamer — this is fucking bullshit. Hell, even if one of you REALLY likes to scream — shove a ball gag or sock into his or her mouth and carry on.

    Now of course your wife will make yet another excuse. “Oh. Too uncomfortable! Lint! Icky!” Or “Honey! No! You look like a cut scene from Pulp Fiction!”

    Sad, but true. Your wife is over sex. Clearly.

    So — this Valentine’s Day, give her the gift that keeps on giving. Tell her you’re as sick of her bullshit as she is as sick sex. Tell her it is time to take the pressure off. Tell her its time to open up the marriage. Sure — this isn’t very romantic. But neither is your marriage at this point.

    PS — Oh, and for the love of GOD, do let your poor kids out of the house! How many ways can you two be so irrational?

    1. iseeshiny says:

      Cmon, snarkymarc! You gonna let that go? I want to see a battle of the Marcks!

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Wait, this is snarkymarc? I missed that. I love snarkymarc — so I must now amend. If it makes it easier for your wife somehow — take a MALE lover. Preferably one from DearWendy — and definitely someone who is not too damn sweet…

      2. iseeshiny says:


    2. something random says:

      BGM, married people have sex at home but (for us at least) it doesn’t happen until after the kitchen is picked up, the kids are in bed, and we are ready for the morning. While the loving is good, its not terribly romantic. We’re often tired and geared towards getting off. That’s why I would personally love a few hours of a wining, dining, hotel romp with sexy undies and nice smelling lotions and no sheets to wash afterwards! And then to get to go home and go straight to sleep in your own comfortable bed? I’m genuinely surprised more married people wouldn’t love this. Maybe I’m missing something.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        Hah! I actually agree with you about the hotel idea. To me, the sex date idea IS totally fucking hot! I am amazed so many on here think it is sleazy. Um, it’s supposed to be sleazy. It’s been my own experience that most long term couples could use a bit more sleaze in their lives…

    3. I can just see it now: “And here’s your special Valentine’s Day present in our special Valentine’s Day sex hotel room.” “A ball gag?!” “Now we don’t even have to leave the house!” That’s romance, right there.

      1. Bittergaymark says:

        You can bet though that THAT husband wouldn’t stray though… 😉

      2. Haha. I was more envisioning the husband as the giver of the ball gag and the wife as the unsuspecting receiver. If the wife were giving the ball gag, I don’t think they’d be in this predicament in the first place.

        Though I would be team Marky Marc.

    4. This was actually my first thought, but the letter does say that they went away in the recent past and the sex was great.

  31. you know whats interesting to me? there are so many people here who are like “oh at 14 i was doing X”, and that was totally normal back then. and then there are people here who HAVE 14 year olds and are like “id never let my kid do x!”. and then think about how “young adult” culture has changed so drastically, how its now not that weird to have college be the first experience with having responsibilities, how young adults still are children for longer and longer periods of time, ect…. interesting.

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      The parents who do so vastly over infantilize their children in my opinion. And boy — they sure aren’t doing their poor kids any favors by artificially preventing them from growing up either. Yikes! Just yikes!

    2. Right? A few years ago I worked with a woman who would never dream of letting her teens stay home for more than a couple hours alone. And I thought it was the craziest thing ever. And I thought I hope I’m not like that when and if I have kids. But IDK, has times really changed that much where it’s just not acceptable anymore? The more people on here talk about it, the more it seems like it might be the new norm?

      It’s all very interesting.

    3. I think part of it is whether or not it’s something that ever had to be done in your family. If one parent stays home with the kids, sure both parents could leave for a few hours, but you’re never really in a position where you either have to leave your kids alone or continue paying for a babysitter for your 11 year old, you know? My parents both worked, so really once I hit middle school, I got a house key and was going home to the empty house every day. But if both of my parents hadn’t worked, that independence probably would have come later, instead of developing out of necessity.

    4. camille905 says:

      I work at a university and let me tell you- these kids with parents who won’t let them do anything are totally unprepared for how much responsibility they have to take for themselves in all aspects of their life when they get to college- work, school studying, etc. Not all of them but a lot of them. That isn’t good for anyone.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        My coworker insisted on going INTO college interviews with her son.

      2. camille905 says:

        That’s ridic. I mostly work with graduate students and though you would think they had cut the cord by then, I’ve had many a phone call from a parent. Of course, I can’t discuss anything with them because of FERPA.

      3. Oh, FERPA. I had to call students once to find out why they hadn’t registered for classes for the next semester, and parents who answered were certainly not happy to find out their kids hadn’t registered but not to be able to find out why (i.e., holds, tuition bills, etc.).

    5. Painted_lady says:

      It’s funny – I teach high schoolers, and I am never ever ever to leave them in the room alone. I do, of course, but I run the risk of getting in trouble, so it’s only for short stints or in emergencies. My first derby practice, everyone brought their kids, ranging in ages from 3-20, and no one was “in charge,” even of the little ones, and there are SO MANY places to hide or get hurt. It completely freaked me out, and I even caught myself reverting to teacher mode at times. But 99% of the time, they’re fine, and when they aren’t, the moms don’t make it about “unsafe environments” or whatever. One little girl jumped off a table and broke her arm, and her mother didn’t threaten to sue: she chewed her kid out for taking a flying leap off a table onto concrete.

      1. That little girl’s mother (not suing, putting the onus on the child whose actions caused the injury instead of everyone else, etc.) gives me some hope for the future!!

      2. Fellow teacher here(middle school). I find it funny how I have to switch out of teacher mode around groups of random kids for that exact reason. The expectations of a teacher are so different than the expectations on a parent or babysitter. Leave a school age kid alone in a room for any amount of time? Hell no! You can get in trouble, who knows what the kid could do? I avoid it as much as possible but when kids are in the room at lunch…you only get so many potty breaks! But a baby-sitter or parent could leave a kid alone in a room for a few minutes and no one would second guess it….

    6. This is an interesting point, so I did an insta-poll of friends with kids in that age range (13-16). My sample size is only 5, but all of them said they would or did let their 14 year old babysit for a few hours at night, unless the kid had shown themselves to be irresponsible/incapable. (None of them would go for overnight babysitting until age 17.) All of these people live in NYC, despite it being infamous for helicopter parenting. OTOH I probably select for the opposite of anxious in my friend group, since that’s how I am.

  32. I was never allowed to go on sleepovers – ever. I missed a big part of the girlfriend bonding and I also missed out on the socializing aspect of staying overnight in someone else’s house. I was also never allowed to babysit because my mother did not believe children should take care of children. When I had my 1st child I had never even held a baby before! Talk about being unprepared. LW, please consider allowing your children some freedom. Trying to learn all of the things I missed in my childhood as a grown ass adult was difficult, isolating, and totally unnecessary. You are not doing them any favors in making them the “odd” kids because their parents won’t let them stay over night. Been there, done that – not OK.

  33. Rangerchic says:

    Back in October our kids were 18 and 13. My husband and I went on a 4-day trip and left them home alone. The oldest was out of high school by that point and I let one of her responsible friends come stay with them. They checked on us more they we checked on them! Now, I do have family in town and have really great neighbors so I knew if there was a true emergency they could get help. Plus they’ve been staying alone for the past couple of summers though never all night before that.

    But, I do get the older kids and sex things. I agree it was easier to have sex when they were younger. But we shut our door and turn on the TV (the main reason we have a TV in the bedroom!).

  34. I agree with everyone who is saying it’s harmful to be that overprotective with your kids (not letting them have sleepovers, never leaving them alone for a night). Your kids aren’t fully learning the coping skills to be independent. Something I’ve noticed is that kids who have been neglected and those who had very overprotective parents often have similar anxieties and coping problems with being alone and on their own. I’m not saying you are a horrible abuser. I know you mean well and you obviously care about your kids, but going too far in the other direction can harm them too. It would be a good idea to start having a healthier balance of leaving them/letting them spend overnights, and deal with the anxiety you and your wife have, so that you don’t pass on that anxiety when they leave home. And taking overnight trips or letting your kids have sleepovers would probably help with your sex life too, in the long run.

  35. Another Anon says:

    Um…everyone who’s saying they’d feel rushed if you had “only” five hours to have sex, how long do you have sex for? Even a super-leisurely session takes two hours max for me. Does it really take more than three hours for you to feel comfortable enough with your own husbands to sleep with them? In otherwise good marriages?! I…just don’t understand!

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      I would feel very pressured if I knew I had exactly 5 hours to create a special evening plus have **special** holiday sex with my husband. It’s a pretty big mental pressure to build up one little block of time as some magical moment, even in otherwise good marriages.

      1. I wonder if this is one of those moments where men and women’s ideas of ‘special’ mean different things. For men it could be the special is also ‘whats different’ vs special for women is, well a whole lot of internalized pressures. I’m not married but I have a boyfriend, and going off of him, special is mostly just about something different. Like, its not that we’re going to be having sex swing or elaborate get up sex, but its still ‘special’ because its somewhere novel, or at a novel time etc.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yeah, I definitely think you’re right. I put a ton of made up pressure on my self that affects this (which I’m/we’re working on). And for him it’s just like “yay sex!”. haha.

      3. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        honestly I *think* I understand the mindset of feeling pressured, but it is 5 hours. I mean I guess I am just someone who gets into the mood ASAP and just like wants sex often. I never have to be worked up to it really, can kind of just go when and where its time to go. I get this isn’t the way for everyone and if I needed like special warm up time it might be a lot of pressure but like you get there (but 5 hours is a lot), start making out and it builds up and then bam sex? or maybe I am oversimplifying this. I don’t mean to offend anyone but I just don’t get that mindset I suppose.

      4. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’m not offended at all. I was taking the original idea as having dinner and then sex in the 5 hours. Which I personally really don’t like having sex close after eating…so I’d want an hour or two in between, which is dinner was an hour and a half + digestion time…it would be down to 2.5 hours? I also have really pervasive thoughts in my head sometimes- like last night I woke up 4 times thinking about a work thing. I won’t be able to focus on sex (thus special sex for me) until I figure the work thing out.

      5. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I think it’s as much the idea of feeling rushed afterward as it is feeling rushed beforehand. Like, I would NOT like doing it and feeling relaxed and then have to hurry and get dressed and go back out in the cold to get home to my kids. I’d much rather be able to do it, relax, maybe do it again, go to sleep in a big comfy bed, sleep in, take bubble bath, eat brunch, and then go home.

        But I am old and married and have a 2-year-old. A five-hour romp in a hotel when I was in my 20s would have been a different thing.

      6. This is exactly what I was trying to say above.

      7. something random says:

        Okay, I can understand this. It would definitely be much better to spend the night. And there is probably a lot more to see and do in Brooklyn than in my small suburb. Maybe that’s why a few hours at a hotel appeals to me, everything around here is pretty boring.

    2. Avatar photo theattack says:

      I think what’s strange about the five hour hotel room for me is that there’s an obvious time of day that you have to have sex. It’s like you walk in the room, and then what? Take off your clothes and have sex, duh. It doesn’t seem like a natural course of events. You can’t just naturally ease your way into sex in a five hour hotel room because you’re supposed to be doing it NOW.

      If you have the hotel room for the whole night, you can decide to take a bath together first, or to have a few drinks and just ease into sex, or to play a game together or watch a movie in bed. Then sex becomes part of a night together rather than the entire event.

      I also think there’s added pressure on the quality of sex. If you’re willing to pay $100 for a hotel room (made up amount) just to have sex, I would internally feel like it had to be the BEST. SEX. EVER., and I would feel a lot of pressure to make it worth it for him, which would probably actually mess with my head and make it not as good. It’s the expectation that would mess with me.

      1. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        yeah true, I guess just for me that would not be a problem? but I also am speaking from the perspective of someone who has a really regular sex life, I can see how if you don’t have sex too often it then would be like okay we are going there for to sex one another up. But I think different strokes, I am more ready to go type of person in every facet of my life so that sort of transfers over to sex too I suppose.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        We have a very regular sex life, and I still need a few hours to mentally prepare for it (unless it’s the morning and I’m half asleep still). Otherwise I have to mentally check a whole bunch of to-do’s off before I can focus. It’s really hard to explain to someone who functions the opposite.

      3. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        I see that. I definitely think its so individualized its hard to blanket-statement it. Also regular for me is sort of different for someone who is married and sees their partner more, I guess my perspective is like whenever I see my bf usually 3-4/5 times a week it is for less amount of time and we just have sex because we want to and its often pretty immediate or after like an hour of hanging, so 5 hours somewhere seems like a pretty normal period of hanging out/sexy time times.

      4. Avatar photo theattack says:

        That makes a lot more sense to be able to hop right into sex when you’re seeing each other for a few hours at a time. Not to harp on about it, but switching to the stage of living together can be really hard on a sex life. Of course everyone knows you have added factors like shared chores (and conflict over shared chores), money stress and perhaps arguments, perhaps other labor issues. What was surprising to me though was that having more opportunities to have sex didn’t actually mean we would have more sex. When your opportunity is only within a few hours a few days a week, you know you have to do it today or you won’t get it until the weekend. When you have constant access to somebody though, it’s easy to put it off knowing that they’ll still be there in three hours, or the next night when surely you won’t be as stressed, or whatever. There’s no urgency. But then too much urgency (like the hotel room) can be hard too, so I don’t know.

      5. lets_be_honest says:

        Hmm, that’s a really interesting point! Now that we have “less” time (bc of the kid), we take every chance we get. Knowing we could 24/7, yea, I could see it happening less because you aren’t forced to only when you have a chance.

      6. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        Yeah I can see how moving in together would make it less likely for sex to happen, just because now when we get up, we know or expect sex is always on the menu because we can’t just have it whenever. If you are always around someone and then add in the daily minutiae of everyday life etc. I can see how it could change things up. Really interesting perspective. I think these are fascinating things to talk about really.

      7. Now I’m afraid of moving in.

      8. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Sorry, Sas! Not everyone experiences that though. I think that’s something we’ve experienced because of other factors in our lives (stress, weight gain and feeling unsexy, etc). It won’t necessarily happen to you!

      9. I was sort of half-joking, half serious. Also we’re not moving in right now so I still have time! I’ve definitely heard that from several people though (sex decrease after moving in) and I can see the logic behind it.

      10. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        It wasn’t the same for us, so it’s really person/couple specific. I actually feel a little less pressure now that we live together.

      11. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Yeah, I used to be much more like that when we had sex more often. Now that we’re in a slump, I also have the added pressure of it having to be great because I won’t get to have sex again for a little while. I think if you’re in a sexual slump, or if you deal with internalized anxiety around sex, it ends up being a cycle where attempts to make your sex life better (like getting a hotel room for a few hours) add even more pressure to you, and pressure does not help a person with sexual problems get in the mood.

      12. Yep, this makes sex issues REALLY hard to address. Sometimes counterintuitive stuff like “no sex allowed for so and so long” works better. I like what Esther Perel’s book “mating in captivity” says on this.

      13. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I’m nodding right along with you. This is all like my life.

      14. This is random, but thanks for this comment. I’m still in the newish phase of ‘dating’ my BF and like that IS often how it goes for us whenever we are done with whatever outing and go home. Like, lets walk in the door and BAM sexytimes. This reminds me to also cherish THIS phase of the relationship because its special too. Not just the ‘precursor’ to commitment as I sometimes wish things were in dating and often complain that I want to FF to the NEXT step.

      15. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Very true, muse. That stage is very special and sexy on its own. Did I read that you just started commenting yesterday?

      16. HI!!! Haha Kinda! I lurked before for a WHILE-so I feel like I know everyone, well as one does while lurking a forum. But I ‘came out’ lurker intro day and started participating fully yesterday 🙂

      17. People are really different in this. I don’t need a natural course of events. My bf often just suggests having sex or even takes his pants off as a sign (haha) and I don’t mind.

      18. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I completely understand that. We used to have sex like that where the slightest things (unbuttoning a shirt, uncrossing my legs, etc) would immediately initiate something. I think it’s a combination of the people involved, where you are in the relationship, and just specific things that turn both people on and off. I’m learning that sex can be pretty complicated in the long term.

      19. Oh yeah, there are so many factors with this, including how long you’ve been together. And YES to the combination of people involved, for me it’s the first time it’s been like that.

      20. Avatar photo muchachaenlaventana says:

        Yeah it is not a static, I think its hard because we get tied up in thinking a lot of sex=healthy relationship, but with everything in relationships sometimes sex is on the up and sometimes its on the down

      21. Totally! I had ‘a lot’ of sex with my ex, but for totally wrong reasons since sex was the only time I felt that he was like paying attention to me instead of his phone/computer/the tv/zoning out etc. Getting him into bed was more like my own insecure way of being all SEE SELF he IS into you, this is totally connecting bla bla…now in a better relationship, my BF pays attention the whole entire time we’re together, so I feel SUPER connected no matter what we are doing.

  36. This is a bazillion miles down the page, so I’m not sure if you’ll even read it, but…

    I am tempted to focus on the babysitting thing too, but I’ll focus on the original question you posted in the forums. When you were writing in the forums, it sounded like you and your wife didn’t get out for a date night regularly. I wonder if (in addition to not wanting to leave the kids at home) your wife is wanting more quality time that is not spent horizontally? I know I’m that way– connecting with Mr. B through conversation and laughter goes a long way towards making me want to connect physically as well. If Mr. B presented the idea of Valentine’s Day with, “We’ll have a hotel room for a whole 5 hours so we can have hot sex!” I’d be like, “Yeah, that sounds good… AFTER we call in sick to work and spend the day hanging out doing fun stuff around the city.”

  37. So, I was left alone for a few hours on some nights when I was 14. It was when my mom had an evening class, and she was a single mom. She was actually normally pretty protective, but I guess because I had already been left alone during the day for stuff, it wasn’t a big deal?

    I know there are emergencies that could be problematic if they occurred with no adult around, but I guess I didn’t think it was possible to live your life while minimizing any risk to your children down to 0.

    All I know is that the people that I knew who were super sheltered ended up being super weird when they got older. The most sheltered girl I knew ended up having her two children taken away from her when she was 22. And then there’s a lot of students that I work with in college who can’t function without their parents around because they were never taught the ability to do that as kids.

  38. Maddie Gray says:

    I wonder why you’re so over-protective with your kids. Is it because you don’t trust them? (Like, you think they’ll drink alcohol or have sex or smoke or steal – or whatever is “bad”?) Or is it because you don’t trust the people they’re with? Or do you just, I don’t know, miss them terribly and want them close by all the time? Maybe you said and I’m sorry I glossed over it. But if the first reason is it, well then a sure shot way to MAKE them drink, screw, or smoke is to not trust them and assume they’ll do the worst. In my experience, anyway.

  39. The age difference between my brother and I is almost exactly the same as the LW’s kids. Unless there’s been a serious problem in the past with leaving them home alone, the LW really needs to start doing so. It gives the 14 yr old a feeling of responsibility, and allows the LW and wife to get much needed time out. Even if the LW starts at leaving them home just for a few hours to go out and get dinner with his wife or do errands, etc, slowly building up the time will make the wife more comfortable, and show that they trust the 14 yr old.

    I watched my brother fairly frequently at that age. I can’t recall a time that we were left alone for the night, maybe when I was a year or two older, but I would make him dinner and get him to bed and really there was nothing to it. Our parents would also drop us off sometimes at the movies and there was never any issue.

    I can understand maybe not having the 7 yr old staying over at a friend’s house, it can be a tough age to do that, but come on, the daughter is 14 and has never spent the night at a friend’s house? That’s far too overprotective and she may end up balking and totally rebelling out of nowhere because she feels like she’s being treated on the same level as her much younger brother. Give the girl a little freedom to spend the night at a friend’s.

  40. Okay, after clicking on links to this old letter for Valentine’s Day… anyone know or care to guess how this ended up? Are they still together? Were the kids scarred for life?

    Enquiring minds want to know. I want to know.

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