Sex as a means of control is something many men struggle with in a passive aggressive marriage, although it is a sensitive and private matter that most don’t want to share (understandably). Passive aggressive wives can almost always get their desired outcome by withholding sex as punishment – it is a punishment that a victim will usually feel guilty about recounting!
If you suspect this is happening to you in your marriage, here are some facts. It’s a simple and unfortunate truth that as a way of frustrating you, and retaining control of the relationship, your passive aggressive spouse will at some point show no interest in sex, exactly when you feel that the two of you are connecting and happy together. Sometimes it might be after a nice day with the kids, or a romantic dinner at an expensive restaurant.
So, if it’s passive aggressive punishment, why does there seem to be even less notice than usual? Most often, sex is withheld as punishment because of something that happened during the day that your wife cannot explain. It could be that she felt humiliated by something you said to her mother, or that she resents homework. The take-away point here is that it usually has NOTHING to do with sex itself. In other words, you don’t need to lie in bed wondering whether you are no more attractive to her!
What happens when you lie awake worrying like this is that the punishment 100% does what it was meant to do. Your wife’s passive punishment turns into something you do to yourself. You punish yourself by telling yourself you’re not thin, attractive, satisfying enough. At that point, she has effectively controlled the situation and manipulated your ideas about your own self-worth.
Something men wonder at this point is how the passive aggressive female views sex. It’s a good question to ask. Something to remember is that for the passive aggressive wife, sex means surrendering (because it’s intimate). She feels that withholding sex will prove her independence and hide her fear of rejection….
The first step (and this one is NOT optional) is to understand that it is NOT ABOUT SEX. It is not about your sexual attractiveness, or ability. It is about your wife using 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 her 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 her for approval, which is exactly what she needs to feel strong.
If your partner is using this strategy against you, don’t suffer in silence or take the blame! She is also depriving herself from intimacy, which tells you that she prefers control over you to intimacy.
Do you need someone to talk to about this or other personally hurtful passive aggressive behaviors? You can either buy the book, or have a private, one-on-one conversation with our Conflict Coach, Coach Nora. Your first conversation with her is free.