Seven years of withholding sex went too far in the eyes of an Italian court, which has ordered a Sicilian man to pay alimony to his wife for refusing conjugal relations.
The man, whose name was given only as Francesco, decided to punish his wife Piera after she opposed him in a family argument - a punishment that lasted seven years.
The highest Italian appeals court called the man's actions - or rather, inactions - an "offence to her dignity" and said it constituted grounds for separation.
The court also ordered him to pay alimony to his now former wife and their children, born when their marriage saw happier times, and carry the legal costs of the case.
"The refusal to have sexual and affectionate relations over seven years with his wife constitutes a very serious offence to her dignity and has caused frustration with serious consequences for her psychological equilibrium," the court judgment stated.
Withholding sex seems to be a common method of punishing a spouse. We've all heard about the wife who gets mad and sleeps on the couch or turns her back to her husband in bed. Somewhere down the line we learned that cutting our spouses off sexually was an acceptable way of expressing our anger. In my opinion, to do so is a type of abuse...sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
We all need to have boundaries, limits on behaviors we will not accept from our spouse. There are far more productive ways of setting boundaries and expressing our anger than cutting our spouse off from the very thing that bonds us together intimately. Next time you contemplate pulling a Francesco, stop and think. Do you really want to send the person you love the message that you don't desire them sexually?