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The Bizarre Sex Problem I Just Couldn't Seem to Solve

Photograph by Twenty20

OK, so, I don’t like to toot my own horn (get your mind out of the gutter, it's not about sex ... yet), but I’m a pretty funny person. Growing up without beauty or popularity, I became the funny kid in class, nurtured by a steady diet of Jim Carrey and Mel Brooks movies. In college, I was part of a semiprofessional comedy improv team and wrote humorous articles for the campus newspaper. Funny is just my thing.

Over time, of course, I’ve learned to take things seriously. There’s a time for joking and a time to be stoic. The only area of my life where I just can’t seem to flip off my “class clown” switch is … wait for it ... in the bedroom. With my husband.

Of course, my sense of humor is part of what made my husband fall for me. But he’s also a very romantic guy. He’s into candles, rose petals and epic love stories like "Titanic." I love how intensely romantic he is, but when I see candles I can’t help but make a joke about how funny it would be if our sex candles burned the house down and we had to explain it to the firefighters and insurance company. It’s like word vomit—I just can’t stop.

For example, our first kiss. After a series of passionate kisses, I pulled back to say, “Y’know, I really rip on that 'Twilight' series when Bella is always saying that Edward literally takes her breath away, but damn, now I know what she’s talking about!”

I know, I KNOW.

Once, he asked me to dance for him and do a little striptease. It was a total disaster because I couldn’t stop doing cheesy moves like 'The Sprinkler.'

I’ve tried talking dirty to spice things up, but I just can’t make it work. Even if I say something sexy, I automatically put it in a dumb accent or a silly voice. Like saying, “Do me harder,” becomes my "Scarlett O’Hara getting her corset laced" impression.

My husband has always been obliging and finds some of my commentary or attempts to be sexy humorous, but he’s also confessed that deep down, he wants me to be passionate and romantic—like we’re in a movie or something. Once, he asked me to dance for him and do a little striptease. It was a total disaster because I couldn’t stop doing cheesy moves like “The Sprinkler.”

But I want him to be happy, so I sat down and thought hard about why I just couldn’t be serious in the bedroom. After a time of self-reflection, it came to me: I always used humor as a defense mechanism. When kids made fun of me at school, I joked and made fun of myself to diffuse the situation and take back some of the power. Even though we’ve been married several years, I don’t see myself as a sexy person. If I tried and failed, then I’d be a failure. But if I just kept it silly, then I could never fail.

I realized I had to decide to be vulnerable and give myself over to romance. A hefty portion of wine assisted me in my endeavors on Valentine’s Day last year and let’s just say it paid off. But I had to be OK with trying and failing in order to kick free my defense mechanism.

I still believe a healthy sex life should include laughter, but not as a shield to protect you from being vulnerable, especially in front of the partner you want to spend your life with. Now, we alternate between serious and funny, and our relationship has opened up in ways it never could before.

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