When the Guest Bed is Intolerable, Is It Okay to Tell the In-Laws?

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Hi, Whit:

Here is a kind of unusual problem. When we go to visit my in-laws (my husband’s brother and sister-in-law) we stay in a bed that is too soft and makes me have a miserable 2-3 night’s sleep. Since we visit them several times during the year, I would like to offer to buy a better mattress. The one we have at home, a Tempur-pedic, would be perfect, and since we would benefit from it, I’d be happy to buy it. We can afford it, so the money isn’t an issue. This is the issue: I want to buy the mattress and put it on the bed that we sleep on when we visit. It seems like a generous and practical solution to me, but my husband thinks that it is rude and “narcissistic.” We are going to be seeing them this summer, so I would like to do something soon to fix this predicament. What to you think I should do?

Wants a Good Night’s Sleep

Dear Wants: If this mattress is anything like the mattresses that most people have in their guest rooms, it should have been replaced years ago. So, I don’t find surprising that you or anyone else is having a hard (soft) time sleeping on it. What I do find surprising is that your husband doesn’t seem to care about your being comfortable when you sleep at his brother’s house. What does he say to you–tough box springs?

That he cares more about how his brother and sister-in-law feel at the thought that they have a lumpy, soft mattress in their guest room than making it soporific for you makes me wonder how he generally reacts to your happiness and well-being. Does he usually dismiss your concerns about comfort? Ask him dispassionately what he thinks will happen if you offer to replace the good-night’s-sleep terminator. Does he really believe that his brother and wife will be embarrassed or mortified over an old, worn-out mattress?

Mattresses wear out and need to be replaced; all you are doing is helping them out with getting a new one. In my opinion, you are doing your in-laws a favor and everyone else who might have had to spend a night tossing and turning on what must feel like a bag full of overcooked, understirred Cream of Wheat.

If your husband still thinks you are being selfish or “narcissistic,” as he put it, point out to him that Narcissus fell in love with his reflection and then fell into the water. All you want to do is to fall into bed and not sink to the bottom.

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  1. What about bringing one of those Tempur-Pedic mattress topper pads with you when you visit? I hear they are pretty good at compensating for a bad mattress–up to a point. If the in-laws ask about it, you could say your chiropractor told you to use it (implying that you also use it at home).

    • Thanks for the fallback position, Cadeswhit. Maybe the husband will refuse to make the mortifying offer to his brother and sister-in-law.

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