Have you ever had a wonderful day with your husband only to be rejected sexually at the end of the day? You lay in bed replaying the events of the day in your head. There were no arguments; you both appeared to be enjoying yourself. It was an expensive outing at a local mall but your husband didn’t complain, he even made several purchases for himself.
So, what happened to that loving man you spent the day with? Where is the man who seemed to be happy to be with you and eager to please?
Not to worry, he is still there. He is now passive aggressively punishing you for what he wasn’t willing to express to you earlier. That expensive day of shopping bothered him. It bothered him tremendously and you now need to be punished for engaging in an activity that he failed to be honest with you about.
According to Scott Wetzler, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man, “Abstinence is a common complaint from women involved with passive aggressive men. If he’s in a financial pinch, he’ll take you out for the evening but remind you that the evening’s expenses are a huge burden. He’ll then make up pay by refusing to have sex. But if you offer to go Dutch before he suggests it, he’ll take it as an emasculating gesture. And still he’ll make you pay by withholding sex. His sexual refusal, however, will usually be hidden under the guise of a transparent excuse: he’s sleepy, sick, preoccupied with work.”
Try to get a passive aggressive man to admit he is punishing you by withholding sex and he will look at you as if you have three heads. My ex husband was passive aggressive. His favorite way of punishing me was to withhold sex. He punished me so often that as far as intimacy we averaged six times a year.
I did what most women who are punished in such a way. I internalized it, made it about me. If I were better looking, thinner, a better mother or a better wife my husband would want to be intimate with me. That is what most women married to passive aggressives do; they doubt themselves and buy into the “too tired” excuse.
In other words, we do exactly what the passive aggressive is not able to do openly and honestly. We punish ourselves. His need to punish us is successful and he didn’t have to say a word. All it took was turning away from us in bed. He keeps his good guy image and at the same time makes his wife pay for not reading his mind and knowing he was upset and acting accordingly.
Most men engage in sex for pleasure, so they can make a deeper connection with the woman they love. The passive aggressive man doesn’t view sex the same way. For the passive aggressive man sex is not about making an intimate connection with his wife but about proving to himself that he isn’t dependent on his wife, the he doesn't need that intimate connection.
While most men are having sex with their wife in order to connect more deeply with her, the passive aggressive man withholds sex from his wife in order to keep himself safe and to show her who the boss is. Sex is a weapon to be used, not a way of connecting more deeply with his wife.
“To undermine your self-worth without taking action is a passive aggressive man’s ideal crime of omission,” says Scott Wetzler.
Below are suggestions for dealing with a passive aggressive husband who withholds sex:
- Do not internalize his behavior. It isn’t about your worth or attractiveness. It is about him and his inability to express anger.
- Call him on his behavior. Tell him you know he is upset and you deserve to be told what is wrong instead of punished like a child.
- Keep in mind that his behavior has to do with fear, fear of getting to close to you, fear of being abandoned by you and probably years of hidden anger toward you.
- Get into therapy as a couple. A passive aggressive man can change his behavior if there is motivation and a commitment to his marriage.
- Reassure him that he is important to you, that you love him and hope that he loves you enough to want to change the unhealthy relationship dynamics.
- When all else fails, make the decision to either stay and accept his behavior or leave the marriage. If, after expressing your desire to save the marriage by going to counseling and helping him change destructive behaviors he carries on, the odds of him ever changing is slim to none.