Not Enjoying Sex as Control

On Wednesday I wrote about using unhappiness to control our spouse. Something else I see is using not enjoying sex for control. I’ve seen it a few times in men, but this one is primarily employed by women.

Unhappy couple in bed © goodluz |

Climax ≠ Everything is Good

First let me address a valid issue related to this. Most men think “If my wife had a climax, everything is fine in our marriage.” I know this is a fallacy. Sex and climax are both physiological reactions, and we can climax even when we are upset with our spouse. Men know they can do this, but most assume women can’t. This wrong understanding causes plenty of problems. 

If you suspect your husband thinks this way, address it head on. Tell him your body works and sometimes you are going to enjoy sex even when you are frustrated with him, worried about the marriage, or are so mad you want to scream. You could also address it after sex. “I enjoyed that, but I’m still concerned about _____.” Even better, talk to him about the problem after sex, when he may be more open to it.

Doing this allows you to have and even enjoy sex when your marriage needs help. Sex builds intimacy, which is always good. Sex also makes him more open to you in many ways, which improves the changes of him dealing with whatever.

Manipulation Never Ends Well

Intentionally limiting your sexual response because of marriage problems is a sure way to get his attention, but it’s not a good way to get positive results. All it does is add to the problems, which is not a good way to solve things. 

If you can’t have sex without enjoying it in a way you don’t want to, then offer him something else that won’t get you going. I’d also suggest trying to find a way to have sex and enjoy it even when you’re upset. As long as he understands what it does and does not mean, and you don’t feel you’re violating yourself, it can only improve things. 

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I used to believe the “It means everything is okay” lie.

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17 Comments on “Not Enjoying Sex as Control

  1. “and you don’t feel you’re violating yourself” You are an insightful person. I bet that’s how many women feel if they have sex when they are upset.

  2. Just wondering what you mean by “violating yourself”. I think IS is correct that many, probably most women would feel that having sex when you’re in conflict is a violation of yourself.

    I wonder if it’s different for women because they are allowing a husband to enter them. If you don’t feel good about your husband or the state of your relationship, it does feel like a violation and you’re doing it to yourself because he’s not raping you.

    For me, personally, I have to have some sort of resolution of the conflict before I can have sex. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect or that we’ve come up with a long term fix, but we have to both be moving toward each other in the spirit of reconciliation before anything will happen. Luckily for me, my husband isn’t interested when we’re mad at each other.

    • @Hiswifeagain Sex is deeply personal and intimate – or at least it should be. Doing it in certain emotional situations does not fit with that, and becomes a violation. Some men use aggressively, which means they are not dealing with this kind of problem, but are very much causing it. Even when this is not the case, a man may feel fine having sex in a situation where his wife feels violated by him or by her choice to have sex.

      I agree with you on the issue of “entry”. I have often thought this simple difference makes a profound difference in how men and women see and feel about sex. I am deeply moved my wife wants me in her, and always appreciative of her giving of herself in this way. As personal as sex is for me, I assume it must be much more so for her.
      The idea of entry is why I suggested some other way of taking care of him when things are not good emotionally. I would assume something like manual sex would be less likely to feel like a violation?

      I’ve never understood angry sex or sex while angry. I would guess it’s mostly a male thing, but I know some women do it too. We dealt with one man who’s ex-wife would start a fight so they could have what was for her great sex. For him it was not good sex, and it was a big part of what killed their marriage. I suspect she was very much the exception.
      As you say, I want some resolution, or at least some hope and indication we are moving in the right direction. That done I do find sex a very reaffirming and reconnecting act.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’sMy Profile

  3. I think a lot depends on the magnitude of the conflict. Sex in and of itself won’t “fix” major issues, but regular sex does make me more likely to extend grace to my husband AND more likely to appreciate his attributes. This makes the minor issues easier to deal with or let go.

    As mentioned, we still have to talk through our issues. Beware of unhealthy patterns. For example, I would be upset about my husband’s drinking, we would talk some but fail to resolve anything, he would pout and give me the silent treatment, I would then feel sorry that I hurt him, we would have sex, he would think everything was fine, and then we would begin the cycle again.

    Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that sex helps put you on the same team to address major issues. And it helps you realize that there is a lot at stake. I don’t know that I would have ever expressed my true feelings openly about what the drinking was doing to our marriage if we weren’t joined together. And I’m not sure he would have heard me clearly.

    • Hey, how did you bring up your husband’s drinking effectively? I have had concerns about my husband’s intake — it just seems really high and he has to drink every. single. day. It’s definitely affecting a lot of things, but the wheels aren’t spinning off anything yet. I don’t want to attack him or come at him liking I’m blaming him for anything — but I really think a lot of things would just be better if he quit drinking.

      • I’m not sure this is the right place for this response, but Paul will moderate and redirect if necessary.

        Attend some Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon is for anyone who is troubled by another’s (family member, friend, etc.) drinking. You may need to try a few different meetings before you find one that “clicks” for you.

        I am a different, better, healthier person than I was a few months ago, because of what I have learned and applied to my life. Al-Anon won’t fix your husband, but it can help you find peace in the midst of a difficult situation. I cannot recommend it highly enough to reflect how helpful it has been in my life.

        God be with you!

    • @IntimacySeeker “Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that sex helps put you on the same team”
      Well said!
      This is also why the wife not feeling violated is important, because that will have the opposite effect.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’sMy Profile

  4. When my husband yells at me and our kids and says things like “what were you thinking? Are you stupid? Use your brain?” As well asking why I never do this or that and I’m ruining our kids because I don’t make them do enough chores or do them properly, or I’m not homeschooling correctly….well it really cuts to my core. (I’ve lost all confidence in myself. I make no decision without talking to him, it’s like I don’t know how to think for myself). He always wants sex after he’s lost his temper, it’s his stress reliever. I cannot have sex without feeling violated and used! Sometimes I refuse but then I’m “a terrible wife who doesn’t want to help him change gears from angry to happy”. I know he used to watch porn and masturbate to relieve stress. But I’m not porn.

    • @Anonymous – I should have qualified I was talking about relativity healthy marriages. From what you said both you and your children are in an abusive situation. I would say you have some significant marriage issues, with sex being only a part of them. I pray you will get some help.
      I should write something over on TGH about using sex for mood control.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’sMy Profile

    • Anonymous,
      You need to seek help for abuse in your marriage. Your husband’s abuse problem is affecting you and your marriage, and most likely your children also.
      I could have written exactly what you did as I lived with abuse for 20 years.

      Your husband does not have a stress problem, he has a much bigger issue.
      I would recommend you read the book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft and visit Leslie Vernick’s website where she has a blog for dealing with destructive marriages.

      Amy recently posted…Such Amazing Grace!My Profile

      • Thanks to IntimacySeeker and Amy for the resources.
        It’s impossible to know from what we’ve read how serious the situation is, but there are a number of red flags. These kind of relationships can escalate rapidly if there is a sudden increase in stress. Get some help now!
        Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: SexMy Profile

  5. @All – Thanks so much for your candid discussion on this and so many other issues I bring up here. As I try to help you underhand the male mind, I am learning so much about how women think and feel. Aside from how this will inevitably help my own marriage, I am able to use what I learn here to help other men.
    Words can not express my gratitude!
    Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’sMy Profile

  6. I seriously cannot imagine having any kind of good sex when I’m angry at my husband. That being said, we usually try to get things resolved before falling asleep at night. Sex is such a thinking game for me (and for may women from what I understand), that if I don’t have my head in and focused I can’t play properly. If I am angry at my husband or there is unresolved conflict between us it makes things very, very difficult. This is not an attempt at manipulation, this is my life – if I don’t concentrate I don’t climax.

    “Sex and climax are both physiological reactions, and we can climax even when we are upset with our spouse.” – I do not identify with this statement.

    • BeeU: “Sex and climax are both physiological reactions, and we can climax even when we are upset with our spouse.” – I do not identify with this statement.

      Some women do, some do not. For those who do it makes it even worse.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Lack of Knowledge: The 3 G’sMy Profile

  7. @Paul-I find the same thing with my blog, Paul. I try to help women understand men in particular because that is where I of course have a natural understanding. I want to help men also understand women. In the course of commenting and replying, I am finding I am learning more about women which also helps me in my marriage as well as the blog. I wish I could set up anonymous comments to further increase the communication with the ladies.
    Dan recently posted…Oral Sex: Giving and Receiving the Gift — Part 1My Profile

  8. Many years ago my hubby and I went through a really rough patch, the blame was equally with both of us, and there were too many details to explain. But I will say that is was just us, there was no porn, no adultery. As hard as things got, and we almost separated, I would not deny sex. I knew that if we stopped having sex then that would be the end. A strange thing is that regardless of how I felt emotionally towards him, I needed the physical intimacy.

    • @L- Even though it is over a year after you posted this comment, I am just now reading it. If you are still receiving notifications from here I was wondering if the physical intimacy you needed and shared with him ultimately drew the two of you closer? The needed intimacy without emotional connection as you report it is in opposition to what we are typically taught about women. Do you consider yourself a high-desire woman and is that what created that need, or was it the simply the normal need for the physical touch of another human being? I am not saying you have been abused, but wonder if your continued seeking of physical intimacy back then would, in some way, reflect the behavior of emotionally neglected children who will behave in ways which get them even negative attention as opposed to no attention at all. Even though emotionally not connected to your husband at the time, was the need for physical touch so strong that having sex with him was acceptable for meeting that need? I am trying to understand why you were able to do something we have been repeatedly told women cannot once a relationship goes badly. It would seem there is anecdotal history out there that would say this is not necessarily so.
      Dan recently posted…When Size Doesn’t Matter…It’s Not about Quantity, But QualityMy Profile

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