'tis the Bearded One

Withholding Sex in Marriage

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An interesting, highly pertinent topic here!! 

What are your thoughts on a spouse withholding sexual intimacy from their spouse? It need not be manipulative but can be a result of disconnect due to conflict. Would you be comfortable with the vulnerability and intimacy that comes with having sex when there is a big unresolved conflict looming? We all know there will be varying degrees of conflict and hurting of each other in marriage - how do you see this impacting sexy time? How will you deal with a spouse who doesn't share your method of dealing with it? 

Very interested to hear from both gender sides since I think their is a key split in perspective.....

I was going to post this a while in the future when I have more time but with @Naturally's post and request I thought I might as well use the momentum for some more discussion! Sometimes I feel like having a massive introduction to a topic at the start turns people of contributing so I'll be offering my perspective further down the track :) 

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I guess I'll provide the first male perspective here. I always try to be as objective as I can. But I still have my bias and I am a male. Make of that what you will ;)

I want to establish some quick disclaimers that will always remain true no matter what I am talking about. First, it is never okay to coerce, guilt or force anyone to have sex, not even your spouse. That is rape and yes there is such a thing as marital rape. Sex can only be given with joyful and full consent. On the flip side, the withholding of sex for manipulative/selfish/controlling reasons is also abuse, plain and simple. There is never a justification for either. End of story.

Now let's get into circumstances of not engaging in sex due to legitimate reasons such as conflict, hurt feelings, sickness etc. Yes, there will be periods of time where there will be a lack of intimacy. There's no getting around that. But I also believe that these periods of abstaining should be brief and practiced sparingly. So when it comes to sickness, recovering from a giving birth and other physical reasons, I believe intimacy should be restored in full as soon as the afflicted is back in good health. When it comes to conflict, I believe I would be comfortable engaging in sex in the middle of most disagreements that haven't escalated into heated emotions. This would include unresolved conflicts that aren't important enough to require an immediate decision such as where to spend a far off upcoming holiday. When it comes to heavy conflict that involves hurt emotions, it is understandable that one or both parties may not want to have sex. But as was said in Naturally's other thread, the immediate priority should be to solve the conflict at hand ASAP. Because the danger of neglecting intimacy for too long with ultimately lead to more resentment and thus cause more conflict on top of the current one. No matter what the situation may be, if my future wife wasn't willing to have sex for an unreasonably long amount of time, I would really insist on getting serious marriage counseling to address why she is feeling that way.

Here's where my guy perspective comes into play. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but I'm speaking in general. Most of a guy's needs are physical whereas for most women, their needs are more towards the emotional. I think many women sometimes think of sex as a "peripheral" or a relatively minor thing in a marriage. But it couldn't be further from the truth. Guys need sex in a marriage and we need a lot of it. I'm sure girls need it too but it's especially true for guys. I hear lots wives complain how their husbands always want sex and treat it as a chore rather than a gift of intimacy. It would be no different than a man complaining how his wife always wants to talk for hours about her feelings. Many members of both genders simply don't understand the needs of the other. For guys, sex is our ruling need. It's not like an annoying itch that we must scratch often to stop the irritation. It is simply how we genuinely connect with our wives. That is when we feel the closest to her.

Here's some advice for the ladies here, I hope you all find great husbands who are sensitive to your emotional needs and will gladly fulfill them to the best of his ability. But also try to understand that sex is very important to us guys. The last thing we want is a wife who begrudgingly engages in sex out of pure obligation. Most of us would almost rather not have sex at all with that kind of attitude. One of the best ways to keep your husband happy is to joyfully be available sexually as often as possible within reason. He will greatly appreciate it and that will make him even more enthusiastic about wanting to love and please you.

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Yay for this topic! Where to begin!

I apologise in advance if I come across bitchy, my answers are going to be your worst nightmare if you heard them from your wife, and I was cringing writing some of this, but I'm genuinely interested how men here, whom I respect, view this issue and I would like to know if I'm being unreasonable.

*When I mention 'conflict' I include every possible disagreement except for sexual affairs which in my opinion is too severe and warrants counselling and likely divorce.

Women need to feel loved first - Vince, while women can understand that sex is a ruling need for men, as you've mentioned, having that emotional connection is a ruling need for women. It's been said that women need to feel loved in order to have sex and men need to have sex in order to feel loved. I really believe this and I personally don't think I could have sex with my husband if I don't feel loved by him, that is, if he hasn't shown a genuine interest in me that day except for the purposes of sex. Therefore if I don't feel loved, I'm going to withhold. 

The husband should give in and engage emotionally first, because it's easier - If there's an unresolved conflict I really don't think I'd be willing to be vulnerable and intimate until it's resolved. Although I'd really like to have sex with him after its resolved but I'm incapable of putting my feelings aside and opening up to him physically if he hasn't made peace with my feelings, so I would withhold. Although, wouldn't it be easier for a guy to put his sexual needs aside and engage emotionally than it would be for the girl to put her emotional needs aside and engage sexually? or is it just as hard for a guy to engage emotionally when his wife won't engage sexually?

"Sorry" is not good enough - While sex is the strongest way a husband feels connected to his wife. If the argument was hurtful and the woman feels disrespected, she may intentionally withhold because she doesn't want to connect with him right now. Sometimes "sorry" just doesn't cut it and it can take time to resolve hurt feelings before she wants to connect with him sexually again. She's not trying to manipulate her husband she just needs time to feel close to him again outside the bedroom before she feels safe to open up with him again inside the bedroom. 

He doesn't have the right to want sex all the time if he doesn't make me feel loved all the time - You're right Vince, intimacy should be viewed as a gift but I think men and women can receive it in different ways. What would make me sexually desire my husband is his character and how he interacts with me outside the bedroom. The more loved he makes me feel outside the bedroom the more I'll enjoy sex with him and the less I'd complain that he wants to have sex all the time because I'd be wanting to have sex all the time!

'I have a headache' is a completely good reason to withhold! - I get that women may use this as an excuse but gentlemen, if she really has a headache, then she really doesn't want to have sex. I don't get headaches often but when I do, I'm contemplating the most painless way to end my life, it's debilitating. If he tries to have sex with me during a headache, just hand me the divorce papers.

Either withhold or feel like a prostitute -  I would never begrudgingly have sex with my husband, for this reason I would withhold until we reach a resolution. The worst thing he could do to me is to make me feel like a prostitute, and that's exactly how I would feel if I have sex with him when I don't want to. This would really make me resent him - and resent is harder ro resolve. Wouldn't you rather no sex than sex with a wife who's just not into it?

Why get angry? - I think getting angry with your wife for withholding is counterintuitive and gives her a reason to keep doing it. Even if she's doing it to be manipulative, there's a deeper reason as to why she uses it as a weapon and it's only by making her feel comfortable and safe with you that she will be able to admit what she does and be willing to change. Do men not know this? And if they do, why do they still get angry with their wife?

Creating arguments - I've heard of some wives starting fights to avoid sex. This I admit is disingenuous but I think it's borne out of relationships with poor communication. It's about how we receive that gift differently. If the husband isn't loving with her during the day, the wife is not going to want to have sex with him and will complain that he wants it all the time. Instead of talking about the real issue she creates an argument about something else which serves as a distraction. I think this is a very sad situation to be in...

I do empathise with men - What I think is dangerous about withholding is that your husband might suppress his true thoughts and feelings so as to avoid an argument because he knows if he upsets you he won't be getting any action. Despite everything I've written here, if my husband did this I would consider our marriage in serious trouble. Which then begets the question, if you won't have sex with him if he upsets you but you get upset when he suppresses his true thoughts so as not to upset you - Then what is it that you want!?!?!? 
Answer: I don't know! (I'm more complicated than I've realised) 

But I also empathise with women - If we withhold sex for any reason (negative reinforcement) we're called manipulative, and if we give it abundantly (positive reinforcement) for any reason we're still called manipulative. Women simply have the power in sex. Deal with it.

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4 hours ago, Naturally said:

I apologise in advance if I come across bitchy, my answers are going to be your worst nightmare if you heard them from your wife, and I was cringing writing some of this...

This is excellent! Thank you for being so candid in your post. I was hoping for a strongly differing female perspective!! 

 

4 hours ago, Naturally said:

Which then begets the question, if you won't have sex with him if he upsets you but you get upset when he suppresses his true thoughts so as not to upset you - Then what is it that you want!?!?!? 
Answer: I don't know! (I'm more complicated than I've realised) 

Imagine how the average man, who is already in general baffled about the complexity that is the woman feels facing such an issue (especially in light of the common male fear of inadequacy) when you yourself are caught off guard by your own complexity! :lol::lol::mellow::superwaiter:

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2 hours ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

This is excellent! Thank you for being so candid in your post. I was hoping for a strongly differing female perspective!! 

Well, you got it!
 

2 hours ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Imagine how the average man, who is already in general baffled about the complexity that is the woman feels facing such an issue (especially in light of the common male fear of inadequacy) when you yourself are caught off guard by your own complexity! :lol::lol::mellow::superwaiter:

I know! haha, that's why I do feel bad for men sometimes. I don't even understand my feelings sometimes and yet I'd get upset if my husband didn't understand them? Doesn't make much sense I admit.

You mentioned the male fear of inadequacy, what does this mean? I understand why teenage guys might feel inadequate but what would a married guy feel inadequate about?

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Interesting... I'm going to break up the male-female dichotomy going on here, as I think I identify more with the typical female response to this problem...

I'm a very physically affectionate person. It's how I show love and feel loved. But when I'm mad at my partner, I'm simply not in the mood to jump her bones. When my last girlfriend and I would get in an argument (more than a simple disagreement), I would withhold kissing, though I'd hold her hand to show her I still love her. I remember one time she tried to kiss me before I felt resolved. I love kissing, but at that moment I was mad. And her attempt to kiss me made me more mad. My thought was, "Seriously, that's where your mind is? Try thinking about my feelings first." I wasn't being manipulative; I'm simply not in the mood to kiss my partner when I'm upset with her.

When it comes to romantic relationships, I'm a very emotional/passionate person (probably moreso than most guys). To me, sex is all about love and intimacy. There's nothing intimate about putting out while I'm pissed off. It sounds like being used for sex (ugh, gross). I wouldn't do it and I wouldn't expect my wife to do it either. I only want sex if we're both into it. Anyway, fixing the strain in our relationship ought to be the first priority. Sweeping it under the rug for sex is ultimately not a good idea. I'd expect us to consider each other's feelings first and address the problem as best we can before anything else happens.

And after we feel resolved, we can have mind-blowing make-up sex. ;)

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I find this to be a very interesting topic and I apologize before hand if my response is kind of scatter-brained.

I would first like to start off by saying that I absolutely loved Naturally's answers! I tend to agree with pretty much all of them for very logical reasons. I'll try to answer these questions in the order that they were asked, but understand that most of my answers will have some degree of bias based on my gender, experiences, moralistic views, and thoughts on my own parent's marriage.

What are your thoughts on a spouse withholding sexual intimacy from their spouse?

Honestly, I think it's a healthy thing to do as long as both spouses agree to it. I've read books on how married couples will take periods of time (mostly short to moderate) and abstain from having sex. Almost like when Christians fast, and what they'll do is spend that time in prayer and reconnect with one another. They'll use it as a way of detaching themselves from many of the monotonous routines that come with married life, specifically sex, to rediscover that passion and desire for one another. Sex is supposed to be something that is pure and beautiful and I believe having the same understanding as to why you're withholding that from one another is key.

Now the flip side to that is there will be times where withholding may be intentional, whether unconsciously or not. Naturally brought up many valid reasons as to why this may occur and I think understanding one another's love languages (how they receive and perceive love) will greatly help a couple understand one another so this doesn't happen. I'm not a very physically intimate person myself (which all of my girlfriends were) but one of my love languages was quality time which I always gave them. I'm not a cry at movies emotional kind of guy, but I have a very heightened sense of reading another person's emotions and I was able to pick up on how they were feeling at the time. I think I relate more to women on this subject than men do because I am a very intimate/emotional guy.

Would you be comfortable with the vulnerability and intimacy that comes with having sex when there is a big unresolved conflict looming? How do you see this impacting sexy time?

As terrible as this may sound, there will be times where I won't want to have sex but I'll do it anyway because sex is another form of expressing love. I would rather do it to please my spouse than for her to feel like she is unloved. Now if one of us had gravely hurt the others feelings then I would understand how time apart from sex would be a necessity. My parents would fight from time to time and as a result they would sleep in separate beds, which I never agreed with. I think most matters should/can be settled before going to bed, with the exception of infidelity. This I think is where pride comes into play. No one wants to back down and admit they were wrong or they handled the situation wrong, so they continue as if they are in the right. Marriage isn't about who's right or who's wrong, it's about compromise and forgiveness and acceptance. My grandparent's were married for 35+ years until the day my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother would always say forgiveness and kindness are the two most important things in a marriage. Being kind to your spouse when they are angry or upset and forgiving them when they unknowingly hurt you can either save or break a marriage.

How will you deal with a spouse who doesn't share your method of dealing with it?

Now this is where it gets tricky for me because my answer is purely hypothetical because no two women are the same. They will never react the same, or make the same judgments, or have the exact same views on every subject. I think if it were a serious disconnect and both partners dealt with the situation in a completely polar opposite manner, then maybe counseling would be necessary. But I think that would only happen in extreme cases. I think this is where communication would play the biggest role in a relationship. Being able to express and understand one another can resolve so many issues, the problem is men and women are both wired completely different in this area.

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9 hours ago, Naturally said:

You mentioned the male fear of inadequacy, what does this mean? I understand why teenage guys might feel inadequate but what would a married guy feel inadequate about?

:blink: Ahmm I was honestly somewhat surprised by the question. Here is a brief article that sums it up quite well I think in the relational context: http://www.imom.com/why-men-feel-inadequate/#.WAiFfRkaySM

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@Naturally I respect you as a strong woman and I usually enjoy reading your equally strong opinions. But I have to say I find certain parts of what you said to be unreasonable. It's not so much the individual points you made I have issues with. Rather it's the mindset in which you wrote it in. It's has a very "me first" and "my way or the high way" kind of mentality. Here's what I mean:

 

On 10/19/2016 at 9:16 AM, Naturally said:

Women need to feel loved first - Vince, while women can understand that sex is a ruling need for men, as you've mentioned, having that emotional connection is a ruling need for women. It's been said that women need to feel loved in order to have sex and men need to have sex in order to feel loved. I really believe this and I personally don't think I could have sex with my husband if I don't feel loved by him, that is, if he hasn't shown a genuine interest in me that day except for the purposes of sex. Therefore if I don't feel loved, I'm going to withhold. 

The husband should give in and engage emotionally first, because it's easier - If there's an unresolved conflict I really don't think I'd be willing to be vulnerable and intimate until it's resolved. Although I'd really like to have sex with him after its resolved but I'm incapable of putting my feelings aside and opening up to him physically if he hasn't made peace with my feelings, so I would withhold. Although, wouldn't it be easier for a guy to put his sexual needs aside and engage emotionally than it would be for the girl to put her emotional needs aside and engage sexually? or is it just as hard for a guy to engage emotionally when his wife won't engage sexually?

Now we've already established that in moments of serious conflict or hurt, it's perfectly understandable to avoid sex. That's not the issue. My issue is when you say women's need should always come first before the man's, even at times when there is no immediate conflict. If you believe in the impasse idea that men and women use one thing to get another, then why does the man always have to give in first? Because you think it's easier for a man to give emotionally first? How would you know that? It is easy for any of us to claim the other has it easier giving in when we don't have the same needs as the other person. A man could just as easily turn what you said around and say he's not going to give emotionally until she has a genuine interest in having sex with him. But if both people had this mindset, then no one will get what they want. It would be an endless cycle of fighting over who should give in first.

That's not what love is about. It's not always about what is easy or about what we want. It's about a choice to love the other person and tending to their needs despite the fact it can be hard. It's a give and take. Sometimes your spouse yields to your needs first, sometimes you yield to his depending on the situation. The needs in question doesn't necessarily always have to be sex for the man and emotional support for the woman. It can be with anything.

 

On 10/19/2016 at 9:16 AM, Naturally said:

Why get angry? - I think getting angry with your wife for withholding is counterintuitive and gives her a reason to keep doing it. Even if she's doing it to be manipulative, there's a deeper reason as to why she uses it as a weapon and it's only by making her feel comfortable and safe with you that she will be able to admit what she does and be willing to change. Do men not know this? And if they do, why do they still get angry with their wife?

This particular point really rubs me the wrong way and quite frankly I find it pretty offensive. Throughout your entire post, you argue when a woman doesn't have her needs met then she has a right to be upset, which she absolutely does. Yet what you are basically saying in this point is if a man isn't getting his needs met, he's just supposed to shut up and isn't allowed to be upset. How is this not a double standard? Somehow I don't think you would take very kindly if your needs weren't being met and your husband coldly asked you, "why get angry?" By you saying this, you are showing you couldn't care less about how a man feels, it's all about what you feel and what you. See this is my problem with much of what you said. You expect the man to always give in first and always be the one to compromise, but you aren't willing to do the same. Your needs are always first and his is only secondary. That is extremely selfish.

What disturbs me the most about this point is it's almost as if you are rationalizing manipulative behavior. The only "deeper reason" for manipulation is malicious or selfish intent. It isn't any less wrong than if a man used manipulation to get sex. Manipulative behavior, whatever form it may come, is abuse. Period. Abuse should never be appeased. Ever.

 

On 10/19/2016 at 9:16 AM, Naturally said:

I do empathise with men - What I think is dangerous about withholding is that your husband might suppress his true thoughts and feelings so as to avoid an argument because he knows if he upsets you he won't be getting any action. Despite everything I've written here, if my husband did this I would consider our marriage in serious trouble. Which then begets the question, if you won't have sex with him if he upsets you but you get upset when he suppresses his true thoughts so as not to upset you - Then what is it that you want!?!?!? 
Answer: I don't know! (I'm more complicated than I've realised) 

Well I must give credit where it's due. At least you acknowledged the discrepancy in your statement. But then it gets even more confusing because in your previous point, you say a man shouldn't get angry when his wife withholds sex. Yet now you are concerned about being upset if he doesn't express that his true feelings that he is upset. But then if he expresses he is upset, then you will get upset. :wacko:

Goodness, my best friend's father was right. He was a wise man who once said, "Vince, the day you stop trying to figure out women is the day you become smart. Because they can't even figure themselves out." :P 

 

On 10/19/2016 at 9:16 AM, Naturally said:

But I also empathise with women - If we withhold sex for any reason (negative reinforcement) we're called manipulative, and if we give it abundantly (positive reinforcement) for any reason we're still called manipulative. Women simply have the power in sex. Deal with it.

I honestly have never heard this particular "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation before. Nevertheless, I can admit that that is an unfair and wrong characterization of her if she is doing it for sincere and honest reasons.

Aside from that, I don't think of marriage in terms of who has "power." Marriage shouldn't be a power struggle game of who can get the upper hand. It should a partnership with with a spirit of cooperation and selfless giving.

 

15 hours ago, Coast830 said:

As terrible as this may sound, there will be times where I won't want to have sex but I'll do it anyway because sex is another form of expressing love. I would rather do it to please my spouse than for her to feel like she is unloved. Now if one of us had gravely hurt the others feelings then I would understand how time apart from sex would be a necessity. My parents would fight from time to time and as a result they would sleep in separate beds, which I never agreed with. I think most matters should/can be settled before going to bed, with the exception of infidelity. This I think is where pride comes into play. No one wants to back down and admit they were wrong or they handled the situation wrong, so they continue as if they are in the right. Marriage isn't about who's right or who's wrong, it's about compromise and forgiveness and acceptance. My grandparent's were married for 35+ years until the day my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother would always say forgiveness and kindness are the two most important things in a marriage. Being kind to your spouse when they are angry or upset and forgiving them when they unknowingly hurt you can either save or break a marriage.

No, that isn't terrible at all. That is how I think marriage should be. A big part of marriage is both people being willing to die to their own needs to tend to the other's needs. It's not just with sex but with anything in a marriage. There will be times when you have to love your spouse in the way they need even when you don't feel like it. I said this in the other thread. Love isn't ultimately about feelings. If we based everything on feelings, then no marriage would last. Love is about making the choice to love someone and tend to their needs even at times when it's inconvenient for you. I can tell you right now, if my wife was bothered by something and needed emotional support, you can bet your life I will be be there for her even if I had a hard day and I'm tired. I can only hope she is willing to do the same for me in times with whatever I am needing at the time.

I completely agree with your point about how marriage isn't about who is right or wrong and how it's really about compromise from both sides, forgiveness and acceptance. A marriage cannot work when it involves two takers or one giver and one taker. For it to be successful, it requires two givers with a generous and humble heart who are willing to put the marriage first over their own pride.

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When I think about this topic the concept that (in general) husbands need to earn their wife's sexual intimacy keeps coming to mind while the converse is rarely the case. I know that men aren't always the higher sex-drive spouse. When the husband isn't getting enough sex it's mostly portrayed as his fault - he hasn't been helping enough with the chores, hasn't brought her enough flowers, hasn't been romancing her enough. When the wife isn't getting enough it's that his testosterone is too low, he's not a "real man", or he has a porn problem. Maybe it's just because I haven't been exposed to many of the last scenario but I cannot recall ever hearing that maybe the wife hasn't been man-romancing him properly. 

I'm not discounting  the worth for men to romance their wives. I've just got this nagging uneasiness with the earning aspect. One point being that having "earnt" something generates a right to get paid. Obvious problems when it comes to sexual intimacy. Another is that it makes the marriage more transactional rather that a mutual giving in love and commitment. It introduces an egoistic, self-serving element that I believe marriage is designed to remove. An eye on the balances of the ledger...

Without factoring in manipulative abusive mechanisms, the lower-sex drive individual will have more power over sexual decisions. It would seem that this is mostly the woman if only because her sex drive is more influenced by emotional/psychological factors than the mans. If we posit that the woman has a legitimate right to withhold sexual intimacy whenever she feels an emotional/psychological disconnect, what is the male equivalent? If sexual intimacy is a (if not the) primary reason for men to get married what is the female equivalent? Some may say economic provision. It's an insufficient comparison but it will serve an illustration. How would a wife feel if due to her husband feelings of disconnection he withholds his financial support? (This would at a certain extent be considered economic abuse and amount to domestic violence in law....)

If we take sexual intimacy as being an intrinsic aspect of a marriage relationship, why should this be dependent on factors that do not legitimately call the relationship itself into question ie infidelity? Should we not train ourselves to learn to relate in a loving marital way despite conflict and disconnection?

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Although I have, up until this point, avoided commenting in a thread blatantly about sex, I would like to offer my perspective. Here goes...

7 hours ago, Invincible said:

Sometimes your spouse yields to your needs first, sometimes you yield to his depending on the situation. The needs in question doesn't necessarily always have to be sex for the man and emotional support for the woman. It can be with anything.

I disagree. Sex is completely different than other needs.

From a historical perspective in which birth control wasn't always ubiquitous, sex involved the potential of creating a child together. In a disagreement, I would naturally, perhaps biologically, refrain from sex because of this line of thinking: "Why should I risk parenting a child with this person when we can't even get along as the two of us?"

Also, I would never want to create a human being through begrudging intimacy with my one true love. Please take into consideration that birth control is not always 100% effective nor does everyone intend to use it in their married life.

In conclusion, if you examine this issue without birth control as an assumption or fixed variable, you can better see where women (and some men) are coming from. Sex is differentiated from other needs in a relationship because it has the most potential to change your life and can create new life. Of course, you already know the value of sex if you're on this forum!

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@redgrapes Interesting perspective. It's rests however on the notion that sex must equal PIV. There are many ways that a couple can relate sexually without the risk of conception. I don't think any religion or moral code prescribes that all sex must have PIV (except maybe some staunch "sex is only for procreation" and not even for bonding between spouses....). I'm aware of some catholic thoughts that any purposeful avoiding of PIV to prevent conception may be unacceptable aswell but depending on the perspective you could say that PIV is off the table because you don't feel emotionally/psychologically open to it. 

 

The point in relation to not wanting to have kids with someone you don't (at the moment) get along with should be an issue explicitly addressed if that is a factor. Yet when is a relationship ever guaranteed to work out well? Even not having any conflict for the first few years is arguably a poor indicator - may even be a negative indicator....With that line of thinking you could reasonably apply the same thinking to newly weds honeymoon period. Unless you are completely deluded you will realise that the infatuation period won't last forever and there will be a heap of issues coming up by the mere fact of being married. You can really have little accurate idea how the relationship will be in 5 10 18 years from now. Certainly if there are some deep rooted issues (ie malicious tendency to abuse) I can understanding wanting to get that sorted before starting a family but to a degree there will always be issues until the both of you are "perfect". Your point is certainly very interesting and I admit I haven't thought about it that way but unless you are very conflict averse I think that thought would be restricted to cases of chronic, unresolved conflict issues?? Such a thought popping up at every instance of disconnection (which doesn't even need conflict...) seems like a recipe for insanity in my opinion. 

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10 minutes ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

@redgrapes Interesting perspective. It's rests however on the notion that sex must equal PIV. There are many ways that a couple can relate sexually without the risk of conception. I don't think any religion or moral code prescribes that all sex must have PIV (except maybe some staunch "sex is only for procreation" and not even for bonding between spouses....). I'm aware of some catholic thoughts that any purposeful avoiding of PIV to prevent conception may be unacceptable aswell but depending on the perspective you could say that PIV is off the table because you don't feel emotionally/psychologically open to it. 

You beat me to it.

@redgrapes The statement you quoted of me is not in the context of an argument, as we already established that would be a legitimate circumstance to avoid intimacy. It is in the context of marriage in general. You say that your hesitation for sex stems from the risk of conceiving a child. Well entering marriage in itself is a big risk. You're essentially trusting your entire life and the well-being of your future children in the hands of another, knowing full well they could completely betray their vows to you at any moment. Thus could lead to severe financial, emotional and legal ramifications. As TIBO said, not every sexual act facilitates procreation. But let's say for argument's sake that sex always involved the possibility of conceiving a child. By your logic, there is no reason to engage in sexual activity for the rest of your life after you decide you're done having kids because of the risk factor you stated. Now one may argue there is the option of sterilization, but even that is known not to be strictly 100% fool-proof.

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Hah, I knew I shouldn't have entered into a sexual discussion- such a sensitive topic on here. This is my punishment I suppose.

I expected this counterpoint. I don't want to write a thesis here, so I'm not going to break down every situation into which level of intimacy I would apply, as it would vary depending on the circumstances. It's too complicated to cover in one post. Though I agree with and can relate to 4800 Years about holding hands as an affirmation you're still committed but refraining from further intimacy until on good terms.

I wasn't trying to focus entirely about "PIV" sexual intercourse but on the psychological approach I seem to possess. I think mentally healthy women only desire any form of sex within the security of a loving and stable relationship currently free of any major unresolved conflict. I also don't think it's healthy to completely divorce sexuality from reproduction (despite what society tells us) just because conception is impossible from a given act.

Simply put, I am not wired to want sexual intimacy in an unstable relationship. It's not something I have control over. It's not intentional, nor can I switch it on and off at will. However, it can be simply changed with communication and conflict resolution. It's not complicated if one is honest, open, and behaves in accordance with their feelings. On the other hand, forcing intimacy when your heart says "no" will lead to regret, resentfulness, and further complications.

1 hour ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Your point is certainly very interesting and I admit I haven't thought about it that way but unless you are very conflict averse I think that thought would be restricted to cases of chronic, unresolved conflict issues?? Such a thought popping up at every instance of disconnection (which doesn't even need conflict...) seems like a recipe for insanity in my opinion. 

Quite the contrary, I am not "conflict adverse," but I strive to resolve conflicts as quickly and efficiently as possible. I expect numerous conflicts to arise in marriage and be overcome with proper communication. I don't leave any issues festering.

35 minutes ago, Invincible said:

The statement you quoted of me is not in the context of an argument, as we already established that would be a legitimate circumstance to avoid intimacy.

Vince, I did not intend to quote you out of context there. I apologize. It was just the sentences I was reading when my response came into my mind, so I mistook that for relevancy. A lot of the other things you said following that were completely false, so hopefully I can address them later.

1 hour ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

You can really have little accurate idea how the relationship will be in 5 10 18 years from now.

I know all too well from personal experience you never know how a relationship will turn out a decade down the road. However, I have the (perhaps naive) expectation my future marriage will endure. I also only intend to marry someone I can communicate well with and share lifestyle/belief commonalities.

Sorry I won't be able to respond to all that was said at the present moment. There's a lot going on here and I have to get off now. :)

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11 minutes ago, redgrapes said:

Vince, I did not intend to quote you out of context there. I apologize. It was just the sentences I was reading when my response came into my mind, so I mistook that for relevancy. A lot of the other things you said following that were completely false, so hopefully I can address them later.

No harm done :) and yes please tell me why I'm wrong. I get bored being right all the time :D

 

1 hour ago, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Say, wouldn't this make a good topic for a podcast? 

Only if you will be the guest on one ;)

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18 hours ago, Invincible said:

Now we've already established that in moments of serious conflict or hurt, it's perfectly understandable to avoid sex. That's not the issue. My issue is when you say women's need should always come first before the man's, even at times when there is no immediate conflict. If you believe in the impasse idea that men and women use one thing to get another, then why does the man always have to give in first? Because you think it's easier for a man to give emotionally first? How would you know that? It is easy for any of us to claim the other has it easier giving in when we don't have the same needs as the other person. A man could just as easily turn what you said around and say he's not going to give emotionally until she has a genuine interest in having sex with him. But if both people had this mindset, then no one will get what they want. It would be an endless cycle of fighting over who should give in first.

This particular point really rubs me the wrong way and quite frankly I find it pretty offensive. Throughout your entire post, you argue when a woman doesn't have her needs met then she has a right to be upset, which she absolutely does. Yet what you are basically saying in this point is if a man isn't getting his needs met, he's just supposed to shut up and isn't allowed to be upset. How is this not a double standard? Somehow I don't think you would take very kindly if your needs weren't being met and your husband coldly asked you, "why get angry?" By you saying this, you are showing you couldn't care less about how a man feels, it's all about what you feel and what you. See this is my problem with much of what you said. You expect the man to always give in first and always be the one to compromise, but you aren't willing to do the same. Your needs are always first and his is only secondary. That is extremely selfish.

 

Strongly agree with the bold parts... This is where we get the stereotype that women try to pressure men into marriage, and men try to avoid it...

It is my understanding that women lose attraction to guys they don't respect... Just giving into her demands because you want to have sex is a surefire way to get her to lose respect... This whole situation is set up to fail for both parties... There are 2 possible outcomes from this... If the man gives in and just submits to his wife's demands (especially if she was in the wrong), she is likely to lose respect and attraction to him... On the other hand, if he doesn't give in, and keeps getting refused, he may completely give up on the idea of sex... Then her "weapon" loses its power. 

The attitude that is expressed above, where the man is always supposed to give in and be as spineless as a jellyfish, is going to destroy her attraction to her husband. The man refusing to give in when he knows he's in the right, may keep her respect and attraction to him, but her sexless attitude may cause the husband to give up on sex, lose respect for his wife, and further pull away from her...

It takes 2 people working together to make a marriage work. However, one of them, acting alone, can completely sabotage the entire relationship. This must be guarded against.

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On 10/20/2016 at 7:59 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

:blink: Ahmm I was honestly somewhat surprised by the question. Here is a brief article that sums it up quite well I think in the relational context: http://www.imom.com/why-men-feel-inadequate/#.WAiFfRkaySM

I must be pretty naive, In total honesty, I never thought married men had insecurities.

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:02 PM, Invincible said:

My issue is when you say women's need should always come first before the man's, even at times when there is no immediate conflict. If you believe in the impasse idea that men and women use one thing to get another, then why does the man always have to give in first? Because you think it's easier for a man to give emotionally first? How would you know that? It is easy for any of us to claim the other has it easier giving in when we don't have the same needs as the other person. A man could just as easily turn what you said around and say he's not going to give emotionally until she has a genuine interest in having sex with him. But if both people had this mindset, then no one will get what they want. It would be an endless cycle of fighting over who should give in first.

Fair call.

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:02 PM, Invincible said:

Throughout your entire post, you argue when a woman doesn't have her needs met then she has a right to be upset, which she absolutely does. Yet what you are basically saying in this point is if a man isn't getting his needs met, he's just supposed to shut up and isn't allowed to be upset. How is this not a double standard? Somehow I don't think you would take very kindly if your needs weren't being met and your husband coldly asked you, "why get angry?" By you saying this, you are showing you couldn't care less about how a man feels, it's all about what you feel and what you.

What disturbs me the most about this point is it's almost as if you are rationalizing manipulative behavior. The only "deeper reason" for manipulation is malicious or selfish intent. It isn't any less wrong than if a man used manipulation to get sex. Manipulative behavior, whatever form it may come, is abuse. Period. Abuse should never be appeased. Ever.

I guess this is my response to having read countless reddit posts on the issue with men saying how they'd deal with the issue through "alpha male" behaviour such as ignoring her, going out to clubs with mates to make her jealous, overtly watching porn to show her he doesn't need her. I find all this absolutely absurd and believe it would only perpetuate her behaviour only this time with intense fervour.  Although they defend this behaviour by claiming appealing to her about his needs and his hurt feelings would make her lose respect for him and treating her like garbage is how to make her realise the error of her ways. 

This is exactly what wouldn't work on me and what would is actually what they describe not to do. Him having an earnest heartfelt conversation with me about his desire to connect, how our physical unity is what fortifies him in life, revealing his vulnerability. THAT would work on me. THAT would make me respect the hell out of him.

You're right in that he has all the right to be upset that his physical needs aren't being met, but how he expresses those feelings could make all the difference to the situation.

Regarding the manipulation aspect, I'm not supporting the behaviour I just understand it and if a husband is interested in stopping it, the only way is through communicating with her on a deeper level not engaging in raging arguments or childlish pouting.

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:02 PM, Invincible said:

Well I must give credit where it's due. At least you acknowledged the discrepancy in your statement. But then it gets even more confusing because in your previous point, you say a man shouldn't get angry when his wife withholds sex. Yet now you are concerned about being upset if he doesn't express that his true feelings that he is upset. But then if he expresses he is upset, then you will get upset. :wacko:

I personally would like my husband to tell me his true feelings even if it would upset me. I wan't him to argue my ideas, question my statements, debate my beliefs, tell me when I'm wrong, open my mind to what I reject, challenge my opinions, reveal my ignorance, that is exactly what I want and it's how I'm happiest. But it needs to be done with sincerity, humility, and respect. My issue is not with his message, my issue is how he delivers the message. If he communicates with anger and aggression It will amount to nothing, I will simply close down emotionally and walk away. 

What I was saying was that if he didn't want to bring up something with me out of fear that It would become an argument and I would withhold sex as a result, then that would be a problem. And I would care VERY much that he couldn't discuss something with me. But there is no reason we can't have an argument, communicate a solution and then after, engage sexually. I think the key is setting out this pattern of behaviour from the beginning of the marriage so the husband feels secure enough in the marriage to discuss a contentious issue because he knows it won't impact on the sexual intimacy he has with his wife and the wife must always follow through to prove it.

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:02 PM, Invincible said:

Aside from that, I don't think of marriage in terms of who has "power." Marriage shouldn't be a power struggle game of who can get the upper hand. It should a partnership with with a spirit of cooperation and selfless giving.

Couldn't agree with you more. This is an idea constructed from the belief that all men want sex anywhere, anytime and with anyone and what stops them from having it is women. It's women who decide yes they will sleep with a man or no they wont. Therefore, if you buy into this belief then women, unequivocally, have the power.

But in marriage this power is equalized by the emotional/sexual paradigm that exists, where each spouse is dependant upon the other to receive what they need.

 

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On 10/20/2016 at 9:08 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

When I think about this topic the concept that (in general) husbands need to earn their wife's sexual intimacy keeps coming to mind while the converse is rarely the case. I know that men aren't always the higher sex-drive spouse. When the husband isn't getting enough sex it's mostly portrayed as his fault - he hasn't been helping enough with the chores, hasn't brought her enough flowers, hasn't been romancing her enough. When the wife isn't getting enough it's that his testosterone is too low, he's not a "real man", or he has a porn problem. Maybe it's just because I haven't been exposed to many of the last scenario but I cannot recall ever hearing that maybe the wife hasn't been man-romancing him properly. 

I agree with you. If a woman were to complain to her girlfriends about her husband not engaging with her emotionally, the response of her friends won't be "it's because you're not sleeping with him enough, shame on you" it would be "what a selfish asshole, he doesn't care about you"

But for men it's the opposite, if he were complaining to his mates that his wife was not interested in sex, his mates would likely ask "are you being attentive to her emotional needs?" and not "she's a bitch who doesn't care about you"

When it comes to sex I think society sides with the woman because it can be such a vulnerable position for a woman that it's understandable that she should receive preferential treatment in order to put herself in that position and if she doesn't want to put herself in that position then the man must be doing something wrong.

Again, I'm not saying it's right, I just understand it. 

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On 10/21/2016 at 3:54 PM, Dave1985 said:

It is my understanding that women lose attraction to guys they don't respect... Just giving into her demands because you want to have sex is a surefire way to get her to lose respect... This whole situation is set up to fail for both parties... There are 2 possible outcomes from this... If the man gives in and just submits to his wife's demands (especially if she was in the wrong), she is likely to lose respect and attraction to him... On the other hand, if he doesn't give in, and keeps getting refused, he may completely give up on the idea of sex... Then her "weapon" loses its power. 

The attitude that is expressed above, where the man is always supposed to give in and be as spineless as a jellyfish, is going to destroy her attraction to her husband. The man refusing to give in when he knows he's in the right, may keep her respect and attraction to him, but her sexless attitude may cause the husband to give up on sex, lose respect for his wife, and further pull away from her...

It takes 2 people working together to make a marriage work. However, one of them, acting alone, can completely sabotage the entire relationship. This must be guarded against.

What you've described here is a man stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Either he admits he's wrong (when he's not) = she loses respect for him = no sex

or he stands his ground (because he's right) = she continues to hold out on him = no sex  (and while her "weapon" may lose some of its power because he doesn't immediately submit, he's still not getting any sex from her and her belief that he will only get more desperate with time is what makes her confident in her "weapon's" power - that he will eventually give in and give her what she wants)
 
A husband should never "give in" to his wife when she is in the wrong just to get sex, and a wife should never make him do that. As well as being manipulative it's exceptionally infantile. It's indicative of a selfish and spoiled child incapable of living in a world where she doesn't get her way. With so many couples I see such a visceral incapacitation to admit they were wrong. They prefer to ignore them, give them the silent treatment, deliberately do things their spouse doesn't like etc until the problem just fades away with time. I genuinely believe that the 5 hardest words for a human being to utter is "I'm sorry, I was wrong". Is pride such an essential resource for survival that we are prepared to jeopardize our relationship just to protect it? Never understood it.

Sorry, I veered a bit off track there...A husband should never "give in" (when he's right) to his wife's demands but he should "give in" to discussing it, as should the wife. Communication is not in male territory or female territory. Some people equate communication to emotional intimacy which implies the wife gets her needs met first. But communication is not emotional intimacy, it comes before it. Communication is the train station and sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy are the trains. Both wife and husband need to get to the station first if they want to catch their train.

Communication is the middle ground where BOTH parties need to "give into" in order to reach a compromise. Therefore, no matter which side of the argument you're standing on, both sides require humility to conclude the argument.

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On 10/20/2016 at 4:52 PM, 'tis the Bearded One said:

Interesting perspective. It's rests however on the notion that sex must equal PIV.

On 10/20/2016 at 5:34 PM, Invincible said:

You beat me to it.

 

In regards to resting an argument on a potentially false notion, it seems most of your statements depend on the basis that giving in emotionally is equal with giving in sexually. I would like to challenge this premise.

I believe outward action is the most powerful statement anyone can make, a massive leap beyond mere rhetorical expression. Since I equate sexual intimacy with affection(emotions), it's as if you're asking the woman to give in both physically and emotionally first. You are asking the most you could possibly ask of a woman. And remember, you cannot separate sex and emotions in either gender. I also believe emotion should precede sexual behavior as that's what makes human sexuality so profound.

It's best to focus on communication and resolution of issues, addressing both emotional and physical concerns for husband and wife. I don't personally worry about withholding in marriage (I worry more about other aspects), so I may not be as invested in this discussion as a few of you fellows. ;) 

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