Naturally

Virgin Therapists: Withholding. Not manipulative, just angry.

99 posts in this topic

So, this is a situation with a friend of mine and her husband (newlyweds - first argument) that I would appreciate your opinions on because I'm having trouble viewing this with a bipartisan mindset.

I've long heard that witholding sex in a marriage is cruel punishment the passive agressive (usually) woman inflicts upon her husband for the purposes of getting her way on a particular issue by holding out on her husband to the point of his desperation where he ultimately caves in and appeases her demands in order to receive the affection he is desperately craving.

I think most of us can agree that this behaviour is toxic, unconstructive, and sowing the seeds of resentment. ALTHOUGH, are there not contexts where witholding sex is not used as a weapon by a passive aggressive wife but rather simply the natural reaction of a *Insert emotion* wife?   (*Insert: angry, annoyed, sad, hurt, disappointed etc)

Hear me out, It would make sense for a wife to be deterred from having sex with her husband if there's been a disagreement between the couple and she feels *Insert feeling*, right?     (*Insert: misunderstood, disrespected, unheard, ignored etc)

Then lets say days/weeks pass - still no sex, to the husband's dismay - and the husband and wife communicate/fight but still can't reach a compromise on their subject of disagreement and the wife still, understandably, does not want to have sex with the husband feeling how she's feeling. Her witholding is therefore involuntary due to feelings of disconnect and not intentionally inflicted to manipulate.

I completely understand the wife's reaction in this context and I don't think it's wrong! (In fact, I'm sure that's how I'd react, am I wrong?) If she feels disconnected from the husband and he's trying to fix it / not trying to fix it, and they can't agree, isn't it natural to feel deterred from sex and withhold?


1. She can't help the way she feels, right? and if communication is to no avail, doesn't it make sense that for the days/weeks that it takes for an agreement to be reached that the wife won't want to have sex during this time? 

2. Would you consider this type of withholding manipulative / passive aggressive?

3. Like the wife, why doesn't the husband feel deterred from sex during this time of disagreement? but rather, still persues her, getting frutrated by her rejections?

4. What would you do in this situation?!! She's so frustrated with him because they can't reach a compromise and he's so frustrated with her because she won't be intimate with him. How do you solve this!?!?!?!

I think I'm too close to my friend that I'm totally biased to her side of this issue and unable to rationalise his side and nor a solution. Help?!

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First of all, I do not consider your friend's behavior "witholding," so I wouldn't even apply the word to her situation. Witholding is all about control. The main complication is creating a secondary issue (intimacy) over the primary one (argument), which needs to be addressed first. It seems proper communication is in order.

I would never encourage anyone to partake in activities when their heart is clearly not in it. The husband should be focused on resolution not intimacy. If it's their first argument, they should be especially invested in setting up healthy conflict resolution patterns for the rest of their marriage. Solving the discord 100% is usually not required, but getting to a place of mutual understanding and a commitment to working things out. Once the positive feelings are restored, intimacy will soon follow suit.

Of course it depends on each case. I wouldn't recommend reconciliation if the husband did something irredeemable, for example. I'm just assuming it's a normal spat.

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Thanks for sharing, Naturally. I will try to be as objective as I can with your question. Obviously I don't know what the disagreement is with your friend and her husband. So I will try to speak to your question as if it were a generic couple fighting rather than specifically your friend's marriage. I may also add some perspective on the male's side of things to some of your questions aimed toward the husband.

9 hours ago, Naturally said:

1. She can't help the way she feels, right? and if communication is to no avail, doesn't it make sense that for the days/weeks that it takes for an agreement to be reached that the wife won't want to have sex during this time? 

Sure it makes sense and no we (both men and women) can't help how we feel. But we can control how we respond to our feelings. If a conflict is lasting weeks without a resolution, then it's probably something pretty serious. So it makes sense that the desire for intimacy is going to be less of a priority during that time. The top priority should be for both parties to focus on achieving that resolution. Some conflicts have good reason to drag out a long time (infidelity or some other act of betrayal) while others last longer than necessary because of stubbornness and pride. One or both people may feel it's the other person's job to give in or admit wrongdoing. But any healthy relationship requires mutual effort to resolve, even if one is objectively and completely in the wrong. Because the offended party has to be able to work through the emotions and say "I forgive you." The sooner a fight can be resolved, the sooner intimacy can be restored.

At the same time though, we cannot always keep using our feelings as an excuse to stop supporting our spouse's needs to the best of our ability. I'm not not necessarily talking about sex but with anything about the marriage in general. If loving our spouses was entirely dependent on how we are feeling at the moment than I don't think any marriage would last. Feelings come and go, but love is ultimately a choice. There comes a point in time when we must say, "I'm hurt/upset/etc. but I'm going to love and support you anyways." Part of marriage is being able to die to your own needs to support the other person's needs. Marriage requires us to love our spouse even at times when they aren't lovable.

 

9 hours ago, Naturally said:

2. Would you consider this type of witholding manipulative / passive aggressive?

The difference between manipulation/passive-aggression and "withholding" because of genuine disconnect is intent. The intent of the former is purely for selfish reasons and for hurting your partner. The latter's intent is to resolve a conflict for the good of the relationship. It's clear your friend's situation would fall under the latter.

 

9 hours ago, Naturally said:

3. Like the wife, why doesn't the husband feel deterred from sex during this time of disagreement? but rather, still persues her, getting frutrated by her rejections?

Allow me to give some perspective by flipping the situation around. Why do you think so many women complain how they don't feel heard by their man or that they don't seem engaged emotionally as the woman would like to? It's because that is not how most men primarily connect with their partner. Of course, both men and women feel the need to connect physically and emotionally at least to some. But for most women, their ruling needs are emotional and for most men, our ruling needs are physical. So even in a season of conflict, we sometimes mistake our needs for our partner's needs. We think that by engaging in our ruling needs, it would help in repairing the rift that is caused by whatever the current conflict is. But a lot of times, it is just simply a difference of "language" between men and women. We sometimes forget that we come from different thought processes and when there is a fight, we don't have the desire to engage in what the other person wants. Most women crave emotional attention such as being shown romantic gestures of affection or being told they're beautiful or what have you. But I can tell you most men probably wouldn't be in the mood to give that if he was upset or felt disrespected. I just think if both men and women were more sensitive and understanding to each other's needs, then this world would be a much better place. I hope that helps.

 

9 hours ago, Naturally said:

4. What would you do in this situation?!! She's so frustrated with him because they can't reach a compromise and he's so frustrated with her because she won't be intimate with him. How do you solve this!?!?!?!

I would respect that she doesn't want to intimate during that time and focus on reaching a compromise. I'd be willing to die to my own needs for the time being to work on resolving the conflict. Personally, I would almost rather not have sex if my wife was not joyfully engaged in it or felt like it was a chore. But I expect her to put equal effort in working with me to fix whatever problem we have. We need to put aside our pride and work as a team. Personally, I'd rather be happy than be right. Because while intimacy, whether physical or emotional, may be a secondary priority, neglecting it for too long breeds resentment and ultimately drive both people further apart. So depending on the situation and the severity, I'd probably seek marriage counseling if that's what it takes. There is no shame in admitting you need outside help.

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Ha! I was going to post a thread on this issue in the near future and now you bring it up :)...

i'm not on my pc which makes spelling and quoting more difficult so bear with me. 

1stly I want to second Vince's post on the different ways women and men try and connect. Men through the sexual to get to the heart and women through the heart to get to the sexual. Creating a Mexican standoff somewhat illustrated by your friend's issue. Mark gungor touches on it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TbJOL0X4PXA. Using this concept and depending on the type of conflict whoever "gives in" might be the one to "win" in the end. If the wife is willing to affirm their affection in e sexual way - whatever she is comfortable doing, doesn't have to be the full deal e.g. A manual happy ending massage with perhaps the explicit acknowledgement that this is as far as she can comfortably go in the current context - who knows she might find this opens the door to exposing the deeper issue that may be blocking a resolution from his end. 

 

How sure are you that the expressed conflict issue is the actual issue creating the problems? You talked about the dynamic of manipulative withholding. The book Games People Play might be of interest. One game is a spouse who doesn't want to be intimate purposefully creating a fight to either avoid a pending initiation or have "good grounds" to reject an initiation. The use of intimacy withdrawal is a concern of mine whether that is intentionally used or not. At this point the issue that they can't be sexually intimate when their is a conflict may be the primary conflict now for the husband - the original conflict becoming secondary. The husband may fear withdrawal being used in the future as a manipulative way for conflict "resolution" and thus doesn't want to "give in" and create the first precedent. 

I think what the original conflict is is important. Is it a sexual intimacy related issue or not? Maybe he isn't fostering a safe environment where she feels safe being sexually intimate. Maybe he is not respecting her sexual wishes and needs. Maybe she isn't comfortable with how he has sex with her. If he has ignored her expressed concerns and warnings then withdrawal is, I think a legitimate and healthy mechanism. As important as sex is in a marriage it is in a way a privilege not a right and is preferably treated as such when issues arise. Depending on how comfortable she is discussing issues on sex she may consciously or subconsciously be covering this issue with a different conflict. 

If it is a non-sexual issue then I think it is very important they learn to resolve it without at least extended withdrawal as this could easily become unhealthy even if unintentionally. E.g. Hubby knows if a conflict arises he may not get any for a few weeks so he'd rather bottle it up thus the issue is unresolved and continues to fester away building anger and resentment etc and will likely manifest unhealthily or erupt at some point. 

A book I can highly highly recommend is Sexy Christians by ted and Diane Roberts even if they aren't Christians. It goes into this issue specifically at pg 238-240. Unfortunately That section isn't available on google books :(. They have developed an explicit policy of: "if we have a disagreement in the morning we are having sex that night". Appears to be a good policy as long as conflict isn't used as a weapon to have sex :lol: >_<

Hope this helps :) by all means let us know how it plays out if that's okay as it is a very interesting and doubtlessly pertinent issue!

Edited by 'tis the Bearded One
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You've just hit on my #1 fear... It almost has me totally checked out of the search for a wife... (Keep in mind I am speaking in generalizations in the following paragraphs, and nothing I say applies to your friend specifically.)

One of my main concerns is that instead of just trying to punish the husband because she is angry, is the possibility that she was never attracted to him in the first place and just saw him as somebody who could be useful to her...

Or it could be that she intentionally caused the fight in order to get him to react in a negative way, as a way to lower her attraction to him. Fights NEVER occur over nothing... If somebody is always starting fights with their spouse over trivial reasons, the trivial issue is not the cause for the fight. The cause of the fight is that the initiator is either not attracted to their spouse, trying to get the spouse to lose their cool, wants an excuse for something, or testing the boundaries of what their spouse considers "acceptable". If that is the case, the only reaction that would work is for the "tested" spouse to not play the game... If a husband responds positively to a wife's nagging, she will lose respect for him, which will cause her attraction to him to decrease... Nagging will also become her standard behavior to get something she wants. Likewise, if refusing to have sex with her husband gets her what she wants, she will lose respect and attraction, and that will become her standard method of manipulating her husband...

Or it could be my #1 fear (which I realize is irrational, but can't get rid of)... The thought that no woman anywhere ever wants to have sex with anybody, and that any time they do, it's either about reproducing, tricking their boyfriend into getting married, or manipulating their husband...

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On 10/16/2016 at 10:32 AM, Invincible said:

Some conflicts have good reason to drag out a long time (infidelity or some other act of betrayal) while others last longer than necessary because of stubbornness and pride.

Nailed it. They're starting to sound immature, now adopting the silent treatment and it's out of pride that they just don't succumb to their need to work it out by communicating. 

The issue is that he got a better job in another city that he applied for prior to getting married. She  doesn't want to move because she's a school teacher and just got her first teaching job in this city and it's difficult to find a teaching job when you've just entered the field, so it'll be harder if she moves to another city. Also, she doesn't want to leave her family and friends.

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On 10/16/2016 at 5:13 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Ha! I was going to post a thread on this issue in the near future and now you bring it up :)...

Hope this helps :) by all means let us know how it plays out if that's okay as it is a very interesting and doubtlessly pertinent issue!

You should definitely still post a thread on the issue of withholding/sex denial because it's really a window into another world learning how men view this issue. Before this issue with my friend I had never thought about it, and I still  approach the issue with a "female" view, and have points to defend this view. I always appreciate a good debate to hear the alternative view.

Thanks everybody for your insights, I feel like I will actually be able to help her now. I'm meeting with her again this week, I will keep you informed. 

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On 10/16/2016 at 6:05 PM, Dave1985 said:

You've just hit on my #1 fear... It almost has me totally checked out of the search for a wife... (Keep in mind I am speaking in generalizations in the following paragraphs, and nothing I say applies to your friend specifically.)

Or it could be my #1 fear (which I realize is irrational, but can't get rid of)... The thought that no woman anywhere ever wants to have sex with anybody, and that any time they do, it's either about reproducing, tricking their boyfriend into getting married, or manipulating their husband...

 

Don't stop searching! I am of the belief that the machiavellian selfishness and trickery of which you speak is very low among those of us possessing the xx chromosomes. Having gone to an all-girls high school, living in a house with many women, working with girls and women from around the world - I've grown up and I live in a very feminized world - I can assure you that the common consensus among girls and women is to find 'true love' and to be completely loved for who they are. 

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Your friends sounds like resentment, bitterness and possibly unfaithfulness/divorce could be in store down the road for them if they don't get some things figured out now and learn how to communicate with each other.

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15 hours ago, Naturally said:

Nailed it. They're starting to sound immature, now adopting the silent treatment and it's out of pride that they just don't succumb to their need to work it out by communicating. 

The issue is that he got a better job in another city that he applied for prior to getting married. She  doesn't want to move because she's a school teacher and just got her first teaching job in this city and it's difficult to find a teaching job when you've just entered the field, so it'll be harder if she moves to another city. Also, she doesn't want to leave her family and friends.

Ouch, that is a pretty big problem they have especially for a newlywed couple. Didn't they discuss jobs and where they are going to live before marriage? That's too important of a subject to just play by ear going into a marriage.

I personally know many teachers, including my own mother and sister. So I have lots of second hand knowledge of how hard it is to find an entry level job. I can completely understand how your friend would feel cheated out of a rare opportunity that may not come around again any time soon. At the same time, you say her husband got the better job from a job he applied for before the wedding. Surely your friend friend would have known beforehand there is a possibility her husband would get the job. It's a sticky situation to be sure. I don't see any way out of this one that can make both of them happy. One person is going to have to give in. I think as a compromise, the "winner" should be as supportive as he/she can be to the transition as comfortable for the "loser" as possible. If I was in this situation, I would seriously assess each option and go with the one where the benefits outweigh the costs based on all variables (cost of living, neighborhood safety, salary of job, family/friends etc.). It really does come down to swallowing our pride and doing what's best for both people.

 

On 10/15/2016 at 11:13 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

How sure are you that the expressed conflict issue is the actual issue creating the problems? You talked about the dynamic of manipulative withholding. The book Games People Play might be of interest. One game is a spouse who doesn't want to be intimate purposefully creating a fight to either avoid a pending initiation or have "good grounds" to reject an initiation. The use of intimacy withdrawal is a concern of mine whether that is intentionally used or not. At this point the issue that they can't be sexually intimate when their is a conflict may be the primary conflict now for the husband - the original conflict becoming secondary. The husband may fear withdrawal being used in the future as a manipulative way for conflict "resolution" and thus doesn't want to "give in" and create the first precedent. 

Oh gosh, I have a couple friends who are married and this tactic is used all the time. Except it doesn't involve sex. The wife friend will typically ask her husband to help with a particular chore around the house. He will promise to do it but he doesn't actually follow through so the wife gets on his case about it. A fight ensues and the husband will say he refuses to do the chore and cites the fight as the reason. Keep in mind these friends of mine are in their 40's. This is what children would do. It really shocks me how many so-called "adults" can be so juvenile and immature. smh.

 

On 10/15/2016 at 11:13 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Ha! I was going to post a thread on this issue in the near future and now you bring it up :)...

 

14 hours ago, Naturally said:

You should definitely still post a thread on the issue of withholding/sex denial because it's really a window into another world learning how men view this issue. Before this issue with my friend I had never thought about it, and I still  approach the issue with a 'female' view, and have points to defend this view. I always appreciate a good debate to hear the alternative view.

I agree! I think that would awesome to have that be it's own thread. I know I'd have a lot to say about it :)

 

On 10/15/2016 at 11:13 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

A book I can highly highly recommend is Sexy Christians by ted and Diane Roberts even if they aren't Christians. It goes into this issue specifically at pg 238-240. Unfortunately That section isn't available on google books :(. They have developed an explicit policy of: "if we have a disagreement in the morning we are having sex that night". Appears to be a good policy as long as conflict isn't used as a weapon to have sex :lol: >_<

Hehe, if you hadn't beat me to it with your last sentence, I was about to say I would intentionally start random fights every day ;)

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Update:

So I met with her again and was deliberately nosey in order to get as much info to tell you guys (it's for a good cause :P )

They've made up. The way they made up was after another big blow out. The tension was just building up for weeks with the silent treatment and I think that did it and they both just had to sort it out right then and there.

Her husband turned down the job in the other city and will continue in his current job (he's an accountant). My friend is happy although she recognises that her husband was really disappointed turning it down and now she's worried he may come to resent her in the future.

She told him that after a couple of years when she's more established in her career she will then apply for jobs in cities where he wants to work. But this did little to reassure him, he then said in two years she'd find another reason to not want to go, whether it be family, friends, pregnancy ...

They've had sex once since they "worked it out" but she says it wasn't that great and her husband isn't really initiating anymore like he did before or even during their argument.

He says he's okay and that he's over it but my friend can tell he's not his usual sweet and playful self rather more reserved and pensive. 

Problems, problems, problems :s Makes me want to stay single forever!

 

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17 hours ago, Naturally said:

 

They've had sex once since they "worked it out" but she says it wasn't that great and her husband isn't really initiating anymore like he did before or even during their argument.

 

Sounds like her plan worked even better than she could have hoped. She proved how unnecessary she considers him to be, and he is choosing to withdraw.

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4 hours ago, Dave1985 said:

Sounds like her plan worked even better than she could have hoped. She proved how unnecessary she considers him to be, and he is choosing to withdraw.

What "plan" was that?

How has she proved him to be unnecessary? they had a discussion and they agreed that the best thing for the couple was to stay where they were. Understanding why it's best to stay, the husband then turned down the job. Using your logic, If the wife moved for the husband then he would be proving how unnecessary he considers her to be. 

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I think @Dave1985means in relation to sexual intimacy. As in withholding sex because of a disagreement implicitly communicates that she doesn't need him sexually - she only "needs" him whenever it suits her. This ups the risk in investing in the sexual relationship. I don't think this "plan" was conscious though. 

Obviously the conflict has not been properly resolved. Sad. Sounds like he's got an apprehension/taste of the control dynamics to come/continue and probably resents that on top of the job opportunity loss. As far as initiating, I think for (dominant) males at least it is closely linked with leadership and a sense of masculinity. She has undermined his leadership and demonstrated how much control she can and will wield by denying sexual intimacy "until she gets her way" (although the background issues are still unresolved, she is sexually available again; only the initial conflict is "resolved" in her favour....hmmm). This would be particularly damaging if she expects him to be "the head of the household" generally. He might also be resenting himself for giving in. 

I hope they work through it better.....

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5 hours ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

I think @Dave1985means in relation to sexual intimacy. As in withholding sex because of a disagreement implicitly communicates that she doesn't need him sexually - she only "needs" him whenever it suits her. This ups the risk in investing in the sexual relationship. I don't think this "plan" was conscious though. 

Obviously the conflict has not been properly resolved. Sad. Sounds like he's got an apprehension/taste of the control dynamics to come/continue and probably resents that on top of the job opportunity loss. As far as initiating, I think for (dominant) males at least it is closely linked with leadership and a sense of masculinity. She has undermined his leadership and demonstrated how much control she can and will wield by denying sexual intimacy "until she gets her way" (although the background issues are still unresolved, she is sexually available again; only the initial conflict is "resolved" in her favour....hmmm). This would be particularly damaging if she expects him to be "the head of the household" generally. He might also be resenting himself for giving in. 

I hope they work through it better.....

Couldn't have said it better myself. She was withholding sex until she got her way. He caved in and she lost respect for him. Now he's probably getting bitter, and distancing himself from the wife who thought that kind of manipulative behavior was acceptable.

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10 hours ago, Naturally said:

What "plan" was that?

How has she proved him to be unnecessary? they had a discussion and they agreed that the best thing for the couple was to stay where they were. Understanding why it's best to stay, the husband then turned down the job. Using your logic, If the wife moved for the husband then he would be proving how unnecessary he considers her to be. 

The "plan" of refusing sex until she got her way. They didn't have a "discussion" as to what was best. They had a lopsided "do as I say or no more sex" conversation, where they wife lost respect for the husband, and the husband became bitter.

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17 hours ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

I think @Dave1985means in relation to sexual intimacy. As in withholding sex because of a disagreement implicitly communicates that she doesn't need him sexually - she only "needs" him whenever it suits her. This ups the risk in investing in the sexual relationship. I don't think this "plan" was conscious though. 

 

11 hours ago, Dave1985 said:

Couldn't have said it better myself. She was withholding sex until she got her way. He caved in and she lost respect for him. Now he's probably getting bitter, and distancing himself from the wife who thought that kind of manipulative behavior was acceptable.

 

11 hours ago, Dave1985 said:

The "plan" of refusing sex until she got her way. They didn't have a "discussion" as to what was best. They had a lopsided "do as I say or no more sex" conversation, where they wife lost respect for the husband, and the husband became bitter.

What is the title of this thread? She wasn't withholding because she wanted to influence the argument she was withholding because of how the argument affected their intimacy outside of the bedroom. That is, until they resolved the argument it would continue to be a subject of hostility between them - not the subject itself but how they were dealing with the subject.

She wasn't withholding until she got HER way, she was withholding until THEY reached a solution. It could have just as easily gone the husband's way.

She absolutely hasn't lost respect for him, she's eager to be intimate with him, he's now the one withholding. Is he not now the manipulator?

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2 minutes ago, Naturally said:

That is, until they resolved the argument it would continue to be a subject of hostility between them - not the subject itself but how they were dealing with the subject.

She wasn't withholding until she got HER way, she was withholding until THEY reached a solution.

 The specific issue of are they going to move or not as been settled but the relationship is still in disconnect; the conflict has not been "resolved". Does this sound like the outcome of a proper resolution?:

On 11/2/2016 at 11:02 PM, Naturally said:

now she's worried he may come to resent her in the future

...but this did little to reassure him, he then said in two years she'd find another reason to not want to go, whether it be family, friends, pregnancy

..

They've had sex once since they "worked it out" but she says it wasn't that great and her husband isn't really initiating anymore like he did before or even during their argument.

He says he's okay and that he's over it but my friend can tell he's not his usual sweet and playful self rather more reserved and pensive. 

[From what I read] They didn't "make up", they didn't "resolve". He gave in and he isn't happy about it. Whether or not she was withholding out of manipulation or not is, at this point, a secondary issue to the husband's view of what she did. She may not have lost her respect for him but he may feel she has not respected him as a leader or indeed as a partner in refusing intimacy over a non-sexual issue, in which case has his role in the relationship changed? Rather than raising whatever is bothering him and creating more marital strife and more withholding (whether manipulative or not) he may have resigned himself to the current state of the relationship and lowered his expectations and investment. 

 

21 minutes ago, Naturally said:

She wasn't withholding because she wanted to influence the argument she was withholding because of how the argument affected their intimacy outside of the bedroom.

 

On 10/16/2016 at 1:18 AM, Naturally said:

the wife still, understandably, does not want to have sex with the husband feeling how she's feeling

She was withholding because of her feelings. The husband still wanted to be intimate. If she is only withholding sex when their intimacy is impaired why isn't she doing so now - their intimacy is clearly impaired...

 

31 minutes ago, Naturally said:

She absolutely hasn't lost respect for him, she's eager to be intimate with him, he's now the one withholding. Is he not now the manipulator?

Not initiating does not mean withholding or does the wife have a right to great sex whenever they have sex and anything less is effectively withholding? You've made no mention of him rejecting her advances, but even if he did it wouldn't make much of a difference: as far as we know he could simply be following his feelings in not desiring to be intimate. Sounds a little familiar....

Why do you ask if he is not now the manipulator? All we know is that he is "withholding" when the wife wants to be intimate and their is no dispute in play where withholding could give him a manipulative advantage. So far, it seems to be the same scenario as previously except now the genders are switched. Yet the presumption seems to now exists that he is now a manipulator.....

Is he? He may very well be. He may be wanting to practically demonstrate how he felt when she rejected his desires (two people can play this game!) to be sexually intimate earlier using his resentment to suppress his libido and desire for reconnection. Or he may be simply following his feelings, her conduct over the course of the argument may have lowered his sexual desire for her. Or he may be suppressing his desires for intimacy because he doesn't want to be so vulnerable to the pain of rejection and withholding in the future.

 

My heart truly goes out to this couple. They've had a taste of what happens from poor conflict resolution. I greatly hope they work through this properly and establish a better format for actually resolving conflicts in the future. 

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7 hours ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

[From what I read] They didn't "make up", they didn't "resolve". He gave in and he isn't happy about it. Whether or not she was withholding out of manipulation or not is, at this point, a secondary issue to the husband's view of what she did. She may not have lost her respect for him but he may feel she has not respected him as a leader or indeed as a partner in refusing intimacy over a non-sexual issue, in which case has his role in the relationship changed? Rather than raising whatever is bothering him and creating more marital strife and more withholding (whether manipulative or not) he may have resigned himself to the current state of the relationship and lowered his expectations and investment. 

Agreed 100%. Whether is was out of manipulation or not,  he didn't like the way she went about it, feels undervalued, and quite possibly is angry and disappointed in himself that he caved in. I think that most guys have this expectation that their wives will, at some point, refuse sex because of an argument. What he wasn't expecting was for it to happen that soon, or that he would be that disappointed in himself for admitting defeat.

He might have this sinking feeling in his stomach now... Chapter read and lesson learned. Because withholding sex got her her way, this will now become her standard behavior every time she wants something.

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7 hours ago, Naturally said:

She wasn't withholding until she got HER way, she was withholding until THEY reached a solution. It could have just as easily gone the husband's way.

She absolutely hasn't lost respect for him, she's eager to be intimate with him, he's now the one withholding. Is he not now the manipulator?

And yet, doing this seemed to get HER way when THEY reached a solution... If the husband would have got his way, would she still be refusing sex?

I honestly don't know what a woman's needs in marriage are... They'd all default the the politically correct. Love, respect, affection.... And yet these are all the qualities they are most likely to sacrifice when they don't get their way... But what if the man had been ignoring whatever her needs were every time a disagreement came up?

What if they were to have a disagreement, and the husband would maliciously avoid helping her with anything? What if he would take to drinking heavily and watching huge amounts of porn every time there was a disagreement? What if he were to quit his job and leave his wife to pay the bills out of spite? Both the men and the women on this forum would agree that was wrong. And it would be wrong. 

The women know that they can get away with anything because the divorce courts are in their favor. But if the guy would have tried to be manipulative in any of the ways I mentioned, he would lose his home, his money, access to whatever kids he had, and still be paying.

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@Naturally - I did make a mistake regarding my "can and will" post. That was taken from the perspective I assume the husband now has. She has shown that she can withhold (for whatever reason) and she will likely withhold in the future at least in following her feelings. I admit, in the post it does at the least imply that she may have been manipulative or will be in the future. My mistake.

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9 hours ago, Dave1985 said:

Because withholding sex got her her way, this will now become her standard behavior every time she wants something.

That's a bit of a bleak picture and I don't think there is anything so far to suggest it. If anything the opposite. She realises that the way they handled the conflict while superficially in her favour has impacted negatively on their intimacy and I'm sure she realises her withholding had an impact on that. She still places value on their intimacy. We're she to loose interest in genuine intimacy then withholding could become a standard manipulative tactic but not before unless she doesn't see any impact of her manipulation on her husbands desire for intimacy which I don't think would be the case here.

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On 11/4/2016 at 5:54 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

@Naturally - I did make a mistake regarding my "can and will" post. That was taken from the perspective I assume the husband now has. She has shown that she can withhold (for whatever reason) and she will likely withhold in the future at least in following her feelings. I admit, in the post it does at the least imply that she may have been manipulative or will be in the future. My mistake.

Yes. The husband now knows something he should have known from day 1. His loving wife can and will refuse to have sex for extended periods of time. Even if it is not out of spite or manipulation, she has proven to him that she considers sex and whatever other needs he might have as secondary to whatever she sees as a problem or conflict.

On 11/4/2016 at 6:03 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

That's a bit of a bleak picture and I don't think there is anything so far to suggest it. If anything the opposite. She realises that the way they handled the conflict while superficially in her favour has impacted negatively on their intimacy and I'm sure she realises her withholding had an impact on that. She still places value on their intimacy. We're she to loose interest in genuine intimacy then withholding could become a standard manipulative tactic but not before unless she doesn't see any impact of her manipulation on her husbands desire for intimacy which I don't think would be the case here.

That is a bleak picture, but one that I see as being representative of reality. She won the argument, did massive damage to the marriage, and now has his "negative" reaction to the situation as something else to hold against him. He didn't like the way she handled the argument, she didn't like the way he withdrew after she withdrew.

I will freely admit that I am biased and have a hard time seeing the women's sides in these kind of conflicts. But she chose to withhold sex for whatever reason (even if it is only anger, and not manipulation), and now he is distancing himself because of how it played out. One refuses sex because she's throwing a tantrum, and the other is distancing himself... Maybe they are a perfect couple... A marriage made in Heaven... or Somewhere...

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On 11/3/2016 at 10:45 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

I think @Dave1985means in relation to sexual intimacy. As in withholding sex because of a disagreement implicitly communicates that she doesn't need him sexually - she only "needs" him whenever it suits her. This ups the risk in investing in the sexual relationship. I don't think this "plan" was conscious though. 

I understand what you mean now, but what would be your solution in this situation? Should she be intimate with him even though there's an unresolved issue looming?

Also, isn't it simply biology that the male is more sexually dependent on the female (because he generally wants it more), so she doesn't need him sexually as much as he needs her sexually... that shouldn't be a revelation to him.

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