I really appreciated the response you gave to Randi from Denver. The child is the most important factor in this decision.
On that note: My partner of 15 years and I have a four-year-old daughter. We do share a bedroom, but have kept the door open and have remained (for lack of a better term) platonic since our daughter was born. I am really at a loss about how, when, or if to reclaim an intimate relationship with my partner.
I think sexuality and sex are very complex issues and our child isn’t old enough to understand. I worry that if we lock our door it might be trouble in an emergency, or that our daughter might talk about finding our bedroom door locked at school. (Although it occurs to me that if her peers talked about locked doors of heterosexual parents, it would be considered “cute” or amusing.) Silly as this might seem, we really worry about it. Any thoughts?
When is it time for you and your partner to reclaim your intimate relationship? About three and a half years ago! Parents who sleep with the door open at night who still really want to have sex will find a way — by getting a baby sitter to take the child to the park, or both calling in “sick” on a school day, or taking a shower together during nap time. Avoiding sex with each other because it’s too complicated for your child to understand is just an excuse to avoid sex.
(You might think my advice to you contradicts what I told Randi last month, but the big difference here is that Randi’s partner is a new-ish love, as opposed to you and your partner who have been together and co-parented your daughter her entire life.)
To directly answer your question: A four year old does not have to learn the details of sexual acts in order to learn about privacy and respect for boundaries. It’s simple: make sure your daughter knows to knock when a door is closed. When you and your partner are intimate, lock the door, and trust that your daughter is capable of asking for help should an emergency arise.
But right now, the real emergency is the intimate relationship you and your partner have neglected. You are not doing your child any favors by raising her with parents who are distanced from one another. It’s a sure recipe for a break-up in the future, and that definately is not in the best interest of your child. Meet with a queer-friendly therapist, perhaps even one who specialized in sex therapy. After four years, you will probably need some help with communication, trust, and other issues involved in re-establishing your intimate relationship.