Can Passive Aggression be the cause of a Sexless Marriage?
We are living in times of extraordinary stress. Not only because the world around is changing fast, but because the gender balance is shifting…more and more I hear wives complaining about some aspect of their marriage that they took for granted time ago: male desire. What could be taken as a given, now is included in marital (unconscious) negotiations…
So, instead of focusing on biological explanations, searching for who has the lower libido, here we prefer to look at the relational aspects of sex. If there is a common situation, is the declared “disinterest” in sex. Many, many men can describe themselves as having low desire, whether because they are bored in their relationships or not attracted to their partners or stressed out at work or insecure about their position in the world. If they still have desire that leads to masturbation or that may lead to sex with other people, it shows that desire for their partners is controlled or denied.
So, why is this? is because the sexual part of the relationship has become hostage of a deadly communication pattern between spouses. If one of them wants to get back at the other for some offense or past hurt never explained and repaired, then withdrawing sex is a good weapon to show discontent.
What is really painful is that this language lacks precision…and the offending party never gets to know what behavior caused hurt so great as to damage sexual connections…Who does this sexual denial has no idea of the atomic bomb of hurt dropped on the other person’s self-esteem. Because sex is much more: it’s about feeling wanted, loved, appreciated, sexy… it’s about feeling deeply connected. If intimacy disappears, frustration, anger and resentment take its place.
I have found this woman story, quoted at a wonderful site by Michelle Weiner-Davis, where the raw feelings are described so:
“I have a husband who is a good guy; great father, good provider, but I have no lover. This lack of sex in my marriage is more than just a lack of physical attention… It goes deep into a woman’s heart. I think in a normal marriage, a couple can fight about anything, but then they can make love and soothe the bad feelings… sort of like a sexual rebirth, a forgiving ritual. But when you are deprived of even that, bitterness and sexual resentment and desperation accumulate. I’m angry about the wasted years, the years I could have been loving, but spent agonizing about why I was being sex deprived. It’s so much more than sex. It’s feeling wanted, and sexy and desired by the man that you are committed to for life. “
Because this pain is so real, I want here to offer another reason for the denial of sex. Michelle thinks that communication is broken, or that there could be hidden medical reasons making a man cut off any sexual expression…But a normal guy would be also concerned by his lack of response, and would go to the doctor’s by himself to seek urgent remedy! Or, if he really sees that his wife’s unhappiness isn’t just about not having sex, but that it means a lot of deep feelings, like she wants to feel wanted by him; she wants to feel sexy, and attractive. In this case, he would be attentive to her plunging self-esteem and would reassure her that is not because she is not attractive to him.
So, then, what is the deep reasons he refuses her the normal sexual expression of a connected couple?
Here we think that is one of the many forms in which the hidden sabotage of a passive aggressive man can manifest. Asking him to go to a medical professional, to receive testosterone supplements which he will systematically forget; or to go a marriage therapist to improve communication that will not include discovery of this passive aggressive root…he will not go, or will not volunteer that he is frustrating her out of spite. As a matter of fact, his old anger is unconscious and he will deny being angry at her consistently…while acts completely disinterested in sex.
Because he has this aggrieved child inside, not willing to behave as a grown up because the adults around him feel bossy, controlling or intrusive, he does his best to do passive resistance…he will “forget” his adult life responsibilities…and sex is a powerful weapon to show childhood resentment.
We can continue this conversation for ever and the only response to the dilemma can be discouragement…If a man is resisting her by refusing sex, and in this way expresses his old anger against his own family, what can she do? First, it would be wise not to take this frustration personally; second, she can try to keep up with her perception of being a lovable and desirable woman regardless his response; third, sending signals that she accepts him unconditionally and even can use humor to describe his infantile temper tantrums…would release tension and help him refocus on his present situation:
He is now a grown up, married to this delightful female, who does not nag or criticize him, and able to enjoy married life…He can begin by responding to physical affection, holding hands and sharing the zest of life that his wife deploys…All kind of signals that tell him: “lets play together, I’m not part of your horrible family and you are safe with me…” can work.
Of course, there is much more…here we are just scrapping the surface! Get Escaping the Sexless Marriage, to continue this thread.