Physical intimacy should never be a bargaining chip or leverage to get what you want in a relationship. There can be many reasons for a woman (or man, but women in most cases) to deny or withhold sex from their partner (medical or past trauma for a couple), the most common reason seems to be control. Passive aggressive behavior is all about that person’s belief that they are wielding power over the other person. Withholding sex to punish a partner is due to an inability to express healthy anger and passive aggressive behavior is a silent, “fuck you” to your partner. Because it’s silent, it tends to create anxiety and distance. But, like all passive aggressive behavior it’s bound to backfire.
In many ways, sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. Shared intimate pleasure in a marriage helps couples bond more deeply.
“Let’s get married so we can start planning for misery and divorce”, said Nobody! Withholding sexual intimacy for power and control causes huge trust issues in the relationship and, while there are many negative outcomes let me just list a few:
- It’s guaranteed to create more fights/arguments
- You’re punishing yourself, too – if you think he’s suffering, what about YOUR needs?
- It drives him away – he doesn’t have to put up with you telling him he’s not getting any until he does what you want
- It looks like you don’t care about him – sex is important to men. When you use sex for power, it shows that all you care about is getting your own way. Guys understand if you’re honestly not in the mood or need to talk things out from your last argument. Otherwise it seems that you don’t care about him. Result? See #3
- He stops caring about your needs and, for some guys this leads to #6
- It gives him a reason to cheat.
So, what’s the answer? Entire books have been written about passive aggressive anger and how to change that to a healthier style of anger expression. If you are using sex as a weapon, talk to someone. Also, consider the impact on your most important relationship; that with your partner. In many ways, sex is the glue that holds a marriage together. Shared intimate pleasure in a marriage helps couples bond more deeply. And it is this deep friendship that sustains happy marriages as we age, our bodies change and our need for sex lessens.
Developing and maintaining a healthy sexual bond is up to each partner. Using sex as a weapon is unfair at every level so learn to “fight fair”, improve your communication skills and get busy enjoying all the physical and emotional benefits of great sex.
Guest Blogger, Emma Johnson, EdD has been counseling couples (happy and not so happy) for 25+ years. She is a clinical member of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress and is considered an expert in the area of domestic violence.