In a previous post, we discussed the issue of passive aggressive husbands withholding sex in the marriage. It is a form of punishment that tries to keep you under his control. However, we can also understand it as his misinformed way of handling fears about rejection, worthlessness, and emasculation. The next question in your mind is certainly: “How do I fight back?” Let’s break down some steps.
The first step (and this one is NOT optional) is to understand that it is NOT ABOUT SEX. It is not about your performance, attractiveness, or ability. It is about your husband finding a way to control your needs and emotions – and more than other means of control, withholding sex hits us all below the belt, capitalizing on some of our deepest insecurities. Withholding sex is about your husband’s need to control you by ignoring and denying your needs!
If you do not address this situation in a healthy and critical way, your needs will increase, and so will your insecurities. You will continually look to him for approval, which is exactly what he needs to feed his depleted ego.
Mentally, you need to clarify the relationship dynamic to yourself. Ask yourself: who has control of the normal impulses of your body? Who gets to say what your body should feel and when? YOU. This step includes practicing whatever you need to in order to celebrate (not criticize) your own body and sexual identity. You can get massages, do yoga, work out at the gym, dance, buy clothes that flatter your body, achieve better health with food and vitamins, or anything else you need to do to feel alive, sensual and connected with your body.
Another issue, of course, burns at the center of many wives’ minds – do you take advantage of a chance to seek sex from someone else? This is really a personal decision that rides on how you see the marriage. If you’re dedicated to this marriage, the best thing you can do for your peace of mind is probably to focus on yourself and your relationship, and not involve other people in your emotional and sexual refocusing. However, if this idea is one that will not quit, perhaps you need to evaluate whether this marriage is one you’re willing to stay for anymore. Either way, we encourage you to heal your body and mind to the best of your ability before moving to the next steps of loving or leaving your husband.
If your partner is using this strategy against you, don’t suffer in silence or continue to blame yourself! He is shooting himself in the foot, because depriving himself of this vital activity is only suicidal. Isn’t it pathetic? Have pity of him, but keep yourself alive.
Do you need someone to talk to about this or other personally hurtful passive aggressive behaviors? You can schedule a private, one-on-one phone session with Dr. Nora, our expert conflict coach. Your first conversation with her is always free.