Withholding Sex – This is Not a Good Idea

Let’s be honest. When you spouse doesn’t do exactly what you want them to, or somehow hurts your feelings your first response is to hurt them back. Yes, it is juvenile and immature but the bottom line is that few of us completely outgrow the desire of revenge. In the big world of marital relationships, one of the easiest ways to get your revenge is to happily roll over when they lie in bed next to you after an argument, trying to ‘kiss and make-up’ so to speak. Withholding sex has been the number one tool with leverage for marital couples since the dawn of matrimonial bliss. However, at some point you have to wonder if it’s worth it, if it works, if it is fair and if sex should be a bargaining chip in marriages at all. There are plenty of people who manage to have one-night stands with people they don’t know, completely removed from emotional attachment, and for the simple pleasure that it feels good. Couldn’t it be the same with our spouses?

One of the problems that come with withholding sex is that often each partner feels differently about it. Not to be cliche, but many women see withholding sex as an easy way to get back at their husband for everything from coming home late to not helping with the dishes. The problem is that women often feel that sex and the simple things around the home are connected, when they aren’t. A man doesn’t know that by not fixing the kitchen floor they are losing any chance of some midnight loving. To them, it is as related as the television and vacuuming. What it does accomplish, is a disconnect and a feeling of rejection that can be difficult to understand. And if we are being completely honest with ourselves, there is a good chance that the woman just wasn’t in the mood for sex that night anyways and uses that excuse, compiled with some hurt feelings to drive the point home.

In many relationships, withholding sex may seem to work. There are some men and women in this world that rely so deeply on the physical connection of sex that not having it is like depriving them of water. For these people, the worst pain you could inflict would be withholding sex. But for the bulk of marriages who have sex only a few times a month anyways, withholding seems to only drive two people further away from another. Considering that sexual needs are real and different depending on the person it is natural to wonder if withholding sex as punishment would drive someone to cheat.

In the perfect world, you would want to think that not having sex wouldn’t give anyone an excuse to cheat. But it does. If you know that your husband or wife is a very sexual being, who has a high sex drive than the denial of it on purpose is only asking for trouble. And while it shouldn’t be an excuse for cheating chances are, they will find their fix somewhere else in time. After withholding sex for months or years, the human nature will cause them to look elsewhere for satisfaction of innate needs. It is also downright mean and while self serving in the moment it hurts both of you in the long run.

Withholding sex is one of those behaviors that is passive aggressive. Rather than talk about or say what you are really thinking, you take something away hoping all the while that your partner (man or woman) will figure out your true meaning. There are few of us who are married to mind readers, and your mind works so differently than your spouses that hoping for them to make this connection wastes a lot of precious time and breeds anger and resentment. Wouldn’t it be easier to say what you mean, mean what you say and be honest about what you are angry about? The real trouble should be in figuring out why you can’t talk to your spouse and why you have to use something as wonderful as sex to punish the relationship as a whole. After many years, withholding sex can be the ax that divides the root system of your relationship. In the process, it may be effective at getting what you want from your partner without really saying but years later, your spouse will tire of the behavior and give up trying. Then what? More than likely, the role reversal will come into play and you will be the one trying to initiate sex without any results.

To be fair, there are certain times when having sex with your spouse can feel repulsive. After a heated argument, during times of upheaval or stress in the middle of a strong debate or when a larger issue is looming. Your spouse may have hurt your feelings, slighted you emotionally, been unthoughtful or disrespectful. In other words, you definitely aren’t in a lovey-dovey mood and intimacy is not going to fix things. For some people sex makes everything better and is their way of apologizing or ‘not’ dealing with the issue. You may feel that having sex with your spouse is like throwing up the white flag on an issue that isn’t resolved yet, or just isn’t inline with how you feel. And that is okay. However, the withholding shouldn’t be your answer just like the having sex shouldn’t be theirs. Sex in a marriage shouldn’t give either partner power.

If you aren’t in the mood for making love, then say so. Tell them that your feelings are hurt or that you are angry. Use your words, rather than your body. Or make love to your partner; with a firm and honest statement, that doing so isn’t going to make the problem go away. This way, they aren’t finding a solution with sex, just as you aren’t finding one by withholding it. And sometimes, having sex can make two people feel better; more connected and perhaps better able to affirm their feelings and opinions. For many couples, the after math of sex can be an intimate time of conversation, where both of you are relaxed and feeling connected on a deeper level.

Withholding sex is nothing new. It is also something that happens in every relationship from time to time for various reasons. However, if it is the number one go to response for problems the marriage needs some work that doesn’t involve the bedroom. Sex in your marriage isn’t about power, but about equality and compassion. Unless you are looking to stir up trouble and play on a field of play that is unlevel, it is one of those things best avoided.



17 Responses

  1. I wish my wife would read this. Our last moment of intimacy was July of 1998 only a year into our marriage. Some time later she said I had been “thoughtless” and she could never forgive me for it. When I apologized for my unintentional thoughtlessness, she refused to tell me what I had done/not-done. Just, “if you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you!” True to her word, to this day I still don’t know my infraction/transgression to justify her withholding all these years. She also stopped helping around the house, so not only do I work hard at my high-pressure career to provide for us, I’ve done all the cooking, cleaning, and maintenance around the home. Marriage can be like a prison sentence, with hard labor and profound lonliness.

    1. @Slade: Man, you need a new wife! And I don’t say that lightly. You have more than “done your time” for her by the sounds of it. You deserve more respect than she is treating you with.

      1. Spade you need to get counseling ASAP! Seems wife only wanted a husband she can control…. you doing all the work around the house and holding down a job with a sex withholding wife is mean, controlling, lazy , manipulative. If wife won’t agree to counseling then leave this selfish controlling abusive farce. It’s not mature, healthy or worth staying in.
        Annemarie Conrod.

  2. It’s cruel & unusual punishment. Your with them. You say you love them. Yet for months, you can’t find the time to give them what they need!!?? That’s abusive in our book!
    I’m sure there are hundreds of hours your man has given his time, DOING THINGS YOU NEEDED OR WANTED” YET in the same span of months you’ve denied him, this monumental task. Sorry for you ladies, & I assure you he will shut down, become angry, then resentful, fights will well up in a moment’s notice…..The end is near, but even if your still together, he will be miserable, & so will you.

  3. My husband used this to punish me almost my entire marriage. When I sought divorce, my boys broke down, my husband broke down and I couldn’t do it. Now it’s been almost 1p years STRAIGHT! I’ve tried time and again to talk about it and most recentlt he said he always felt inadequate. Yes, he was a severe premature ejactulator, but he blamed me. You said K was “stretched out” from having 2 kids! He refused counseling years ago, I went alone. But never left him. Now I’m in my 60’s, I had 3 affairs, ( 1 emotional, 1 fling, 1 love). Almost 50 years married, 55 years together. I am sad almost daily. Now Health problems. Life shouldn’t be like this.

  4. After 38 years of marriage, I got a doll. She won’t lie to me, keep secrets from me, cheat on me or ruin me financially or a whole bunch of other BS my loving wife has done to me.

    Some days I really dislike all women. Resentment and hatred just builds upon itself, but it doesn’t bother her any, its not her problem after all.

  5. My fiancée has been either alternating between “not in the mood”/“stomach hurts”/“just starting my period”/any other excuse under the sun for about a year, now. At this point, I’ve just stopped caring. Before the long dry spell, it was months since the last intimate moment.

    Started out nearly every day, or at least a couple times a week. Then was maybe once a week. Then once a month. And just kept spacing out since then to where now it’s been a whole year and nothing. I’ve been having dreams where I’ve been nearly cheating on her, and I don’t exactly feel bad about it in that dream, but just give her this “well, what do you expect? Not like you’re interested” expression.

    Sure, it hasn’t been as long as everyone else, and she hasn’t even said a thing that would indicate I did something wrong, but after so long of trying to initiate and she has an excuse every time, I just don’t initiate. I don’t even see a point in kissing her, hugging her, touching her. When she offers a “comforting touch”, I feel like I grow colder for that instant, and just let it happen. She tried kissing me at one point, I just turned my head so she’d kiss my cheek instead. We used to talk to each other in this pseudo baby talk to express that we are being lighthearted or something, basically another way to directly express that we’re being affectionate (like I call her bibi and what not—well, called her bibi) now I just talk to her in the same voice I talk to my coworkers and friends. No lighter, playful tone.

    And I get asked all the time why I’m still with her. Love is complicated, I say. I may not feel like I’m in love with her anymore, and I don’t really feel like I want to touch her or anything and if she tried initiating, I’d more than likely shut it down quick—but regardless, I still love her. Just… in a platonic way, I think. I dunno. It’s odd. I’ve never been denied sex by someone I was in a relationship for so long, and just dealt with it. Maybe when I’m better off financially, I might just go look for someone that’ll push all the right buttons, instead of leaving me to collect dust. Not like leaving her wouldn’t come with a ton of pain in and of itself, but… yeah.

    Dunno why I put that here. Guess I just needed to get it out. Don’t mind me.

    1. I think there are a lot of men in the same boat as you and appreciate that you took the time to express your frustration.

    2. Don’t marry this woman under any circumstances. Things will not get better.. Your continued affection for this woman is basically lack of affection for yourself. Nothing you write indicates she is interested in getting to the bottom of why she won’t engage in sex. She either is dissatisfied with you sexually (which she should have the decency to discuss) or has a medical/psychological issue (which she should have the decency to rectify) or—-most likely—-wants leverage. She may even never have loved you.

      Leave this creature immediately.

    3. Partners that withhold sex always trying to get something out of you whether it be money or things. Yeah men do it too

    4. I hear ya, brother. Same situation here. Exactly, except I started an affair that I desperately needed. Maybe you should consider that. It’ll help, I think. At least you stand regain some perspective and value yourself a little more. Consider it.

    5. I feel you but I am the woman in this relationship. I also feel that many times my partner doesn’t desire me. He never initiates. I feel bad about myself for wanting it all the time and sometimes I feel guilty. I thought he was gay at one point but he revealed that he thought he was too small. That’s not the issue, because I love him so much. I’m not getting enough

  6. Could it be that after being treated like a prostitute for months or years on end simply gets old? I have never withheld sex, but apparently not initiating and pandering to my partner has gotten me blacklisted. Men: step up. Period.

  7. My wife blames the things is say (political and social crap she disagrees with because she’s a liberal and I’m not ) on her lack of sex drive but I know the truth is the birth control she started taking after our second child was born is the reason why and the sad part is when I try to talk to her about it and provide her with proof she jumps to conclusions and gets irate and then I have to add on another 3 months to me sentence for bad behavior
    She uses sex as a weapon to be used against me and I feel alone and unwanted and that’s on a good day
    She use to be easy to talk to and fun to be with but now its getting to the point where I have to watch every little thing I say or I don’t say anything at all because of the way she tries to find something offensive in everything’s I say
    And I find the fact that she calls herself a Liberal almost offensive because I always thought liberals were supposed to be tolerant and open minded people that promoted different prospectives….. Well not this one !

  8. I’m in a sexless relationship and I’ve never been denied sex in other relationships, but this is getting to be ridiculous. I feel like he’s using it as a tool to keep me hanging on, guessing or wondering when we’re gonna get to it. it’s always an excuse of “oh I was tired, or you was sleeping I wanted to let you rest etc,etc, and I’ve seen too many people in this position who we’re married/dating for years and I just don’t want any part of a sexless relationship. this makes me feel insecure about myself, it’s like what is wrong with me? Do I stink or something? is he bored with me? Is there someone else? I’m 50,he’s 60. My theory is “A’INT noboby that tired or hurting that they can’t get at least one session in a week” c’mon tired of the manipulation.

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