Help! I Want My Husband to Defer to Me in All Ways—Except in Bed.

Advice on manners and morals.
April 15 2014 6:00 AM

Man Up

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman who thinks the bedroom is the one place her husband should take charge.

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

See Dear Prudence live! Emily Yoffe will be at Washington, D.C.’s historic Sixth & I for a special Mother’s Day themed event, hosted by Slate science editor Laura Helmuth. For tickets and more information, click here.

Q. Need More Heat: I have a happy marriage for the most part. I'm a take-charge kind of woman, and my husband normally is happy to let me control most situations unless they are serious issues dealing with our family. Our marriage works on that capacity. The trouble I have is, in the bedroom, I actually want the opposite. I want him to take the lead, be more commanding, and me to be more submissive. He goes along, does what I want, and half the time I have to guide him, goad him, and tell him to tell me what he wants or just simply do it. I'm finding it difficult to have a discussion with him about what turns my crank per se. Our sex life is good, we both walk away satisfied, but I just know it would be so much better (for me) if he went outside his normal personality a bit. How do you suggest I go about telling him, hey, I want you to be more demanding/bossy/alpha/dominant in bed?

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A: It is somewhat ironic that you're in the position of saying, "OK, next on the agenda, I order you to stop taking orders from me when we're in bed, and start acting more caveman. I want you to drag me by the hair (don't pull really hard, just kind of tug) and take me against the bathroom wall when we're getting ready to go out because you find me so sexy you can't wait." The reason the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was such a sensation is because lots of women, even alpha women like yourself, want to feel taken in bed. But when you are an alpha woman and you have an egalitarian relationship, it's hard to say, "Please be a beast!" I understand the quality of writing in Fifty Shades is execrable, but the book does provide you with an opening. Get it, go to some a relevant passages, show them to your husband and say, "This turns me on." Then talk to him about how your sex life is great and satisfying, but you have a desire to be dominated in bed. Say you know this takes you out of your familiar roles, but you think it would be good for you two to be more wild in bed. Maybe he will rise to the challenge, or maybe your beta male will need more instruction from you about how you don't want to give him any instruction. 

Q. Weird Showering Friend: I have a friend who randomly showers at my place when she comes over. I don't mean when she stays the night. But like when she's here for a couple of hours for lunch. Apparently she does this at other people's homes sometimes too. There's nothing wrong with her shower, and she's not someone who's obsessed over cleanliness. She just likes to have a random midday wash every now and then. I know she's not doing anything wrong, and I have no reason to refuse her request other than I think it's weird. What reason should I give her to politely say no?

A: I would say that someone who randomly gets up from a social event and says, "I'm just going to be popping into your shower for a quick freshen up" likely does have some obsessional issues. You can have compassion for her while insisting that when she visits she sticks to chatting over sandwiches. Just say, "Sue, I love catching up with you, but if you feel the need to break off our socializing and go shower, I'd prefer if you just go back to your place and do it there."

Q. Homewrecker: I divorced my husband because he was unfaithful, and had been cheating on me for months with a co-worker. I have not dated since the divorce almost six years ago. A few years ago I met a man at work who is now my best friend. We are kindred spirits, can talk for hours, and have a great time. He is married and I know that I am in love with him. It is not my interest or intention to take him away from his wife and children, yet I feel as if I am harming myself because he is the center of my world, and I am not looking anywhere else because he meets my emotional needs. I am often angry with him because he cannot meet all of my needs. If something happened between us I would never be able to forgive myself or him. I cannot imagine a life without him and part of me feels that I need to let him go. The thought of that is overwhelming and upsetting.

A: Presumably, six years ago your husband's co-worker could have written me exactly the same letter, except her confessional would have included the fact that she and her married co-worker also had a beautiful physical union. You haven't even dated since the breakup, so I assume the dissolution of your marriage was traumatic for you. As a belated recovery, you are now engaged in the same kind of emotional infidelity that ended your marriage. Listen to yourself: You would never forgive yourself if you two ended up in bed; but if you don't get there soon, you're going to be really mad that he's refusing to meet all of your needs. Please untangle this with a therapist. Then sign up for some online dating. At least when you meet jerks, they will make it obvious really early on.

Q. Feeling Guilty and Spoiled by New Boyfriend's Parents: I have been dating my boyfriend for almost a year. His parents are very well-off financially, and from the beginning have been incredibly kind and generous to me. They love to entertain, dine out, and drink fine (and often expensive) wine. As they only live 20 minutes away, we often go over for dinner and end up staying the night in their large, comfortable home—it feels like a getaway for us, as we are underpaid twentysomethings with small apartments and roommates. They have never accepted money from me, which I have felt guilty about but have justified because they seem to enjoy our company. However, we returned recently from BF's brother's wedding across the country and they paid the bill for everything—airline, hotel, meals, etc. and now I am feeling especially guilty. Is there anything I can do to "repay" them—even if I can't afford to write them a check? This compounded with the fact that my mom is a lower-middle-class single parent who is too embarrassed to entertain in her small, older home and can't afford to spoil my boyfriend the way his parents spoil me has got me feeling like I'm in a bind!

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