The marriage bed

16 September 2013

When Matt first brought me home to the brownstone apartment in Oak Park, we laid down in the marriage bed belonging to his grandparents. It was thick and dark, heavy old wood, storing memories like secrets we would never know. I guess you would call it mid-century, all clean lines and right angles and the start of our prairie life together.

Unfortunately, we broke it less than a year in, the victim of a tickle fight. I swear.

Fate and Jesus would have it that my job at the bookshop provided a hefty Christmas bonus. I'd never had one before - a full time job or a Christmas bonus - and suddenly my rash refusal to put off returning to school seemed fortuitous. We apologized to the parents for accidentally destroying their birthright, took that $500 bonus and bought a mattress set and faux-wrought-iron Ikea bed. Happy Y2K.

That bed moved from Chicagoland to Kansas City with us. It's gone from apartment to house to apartment again, up flights and flights of stairs, been crated and shipped overseas, held our babies as I nursed them to sleep. It's been jumped on, fought on, loved on, peed on, stored for several years and put back together again, always worse for the wear. Still beautiful, still ours, but old and rackety as 14 years, ten moves and three children will do to you.

Today the marriage bed is on its last leg. This bed... this bed is so done. Just sitting on it feels like you're breaking its back. The sounds it makes when I roll over at night keep me awake, not to mention the wee lad sharing the other side of our wall. It literally sounds like it's dying, creaking and groaning loudly with every midnight breath. Between the noise and the no sleeping, it's time to go.

I'm not particularly torn up about it, as beds (even beautiful mid-century oak beds; even especially Ikea beds) don't last forever. The mattresses are wearing thin, too, and at this point in life and marriage, it's time to trade up. And while we know it's time - probably way past time if we were to be honest - I'm dreading it. It's not just the money (of which we have none) or the memories (of which we have so much), but it's the time and the effort and the discernment. It's the future we must take into account now, making the wisest, cheapest, best decision for our family. It's the stress of getting it wrong, spending too much, wincing over every knick or scrape or squeak. I'm all a ball of nerves just thinking about it, the anxiety rising with every move in the night.

And, you know, it's our marriage bed. At 35 I love it as much as I did at 21, in all its fake wrought iron and brushed metal finials glory. It makes every house a home, holds every secret.

But, you know, I kinda hate it, too. Secrets will only allow you so much sleep. Secrets, and lumbar support.


I have this habit of writing odes to inanimate objects; the marriage bed is just the latest. What do you love/hate in your own home?


  1. Do you have Cost Plus World Market near you? I found a beautiful wooden canopy bed there a few years ago that I just love, and I was kind of shocked how inexpensive it is. Most of their wood furniture is rubber wood, which is crazy heavy and you will have to assemble it yourself, but it is sustainable and sturdy. Way more sturdy than anything I've ever bought at Ikea!

    1. Hi Donab! Thanks for stopping by. We don't have a World Market anywhere near us, think our only options are Ikea or handmade by the husband. I'm sure it'll come together eventually! :) But I will remember your advice if we ever find ourselves living in the States again!