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So, sexually abusive as well?

(24 Posts)
Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 09:48:55

I am having a rough patch in my marriage at the moment.

Together for 9 years and tbh things were never amazing due to various problems - drinking /lack of money / cultural differences /bad communication / traumas not dealt with /problems with immigration - to name a few.

When I feel disappointed and resentful the last thing in my mind is to have intimacy with Dh. Not even being affectionate or initiate a hug and a kiss. Ad my low sexual drive and the unconscious habit of using sex as a form of control and you have a recipe for disaster.

I finally realised that I have to make more effort in this area as part of our plan to work on the relationship and move on, and I was getting better at it, on my own pace...however for Dh my pace is not fast enough and he still can't understand the behaviour that makes me go backwards or shut down.

For instance, I need to feel that intimacy is normal and a cuddle and a kiss won't necessary lead to sex. If happens, happens. I feel under pressure if he looks at me in certain ways or if he calls me sexy. Or if he says he is looking forward for a together time later on....If I feel under pressure, I pull away.
He was being good at following this and if he did anything that put me under pressure I would tell him and he would stop.

However we had a row at the beginning of week and he has been sleeping in the couch since. I have never asked him to do this, it is his decision.

I tried to talk to him a couple of days ago about the row so I can have closure and move on and he said he wasn't ready to talk yet. Fine.
However yesterday he came to bed whilst I was on the computer, initiate a bit of talking re the website I was on and then said that he wanted to sleep in the bedroom on our bed again. I said it was a good idea since he couldn't possibly be resting properly on the couch. He then said that the only problem if he came to sleep in the bed would be that he would want to have sex with me....so I immediately closed up and said that this wasn't going to happen at all.

He than proceeded to say how I keep rejecting him and pushing him away whilst I tried in vain to explain he did put pressure on me and is trying to pretend nothing is happening re our row.

Thing is: for him sex is a way to make up and make things get better. I am the opposite. I need to make things get better first by talking and knowing where I stand before having sex.
But he is my husband, not a new boyfriend, so should I be so guarded? I know that if I don't want sex, then this should be enough but the funny thing is, I was quite up for it and would have sex with him last night happily if he had use the right approach that works for me.
If he had said that he wanted to come to bed and have a cuddle or a hug or just be on my side or just reassure me he wasn't still ready to talk but would let me know when he wanted to talk and then just lie in bed naturally, sex could have happened a I could have even initiated.

He does not understand my point.

Am I using sex to control him and his actions, or not?

And how make him understand that I haven't got a switch on off button and need a bit of 'romance' and reassurance to get in the mood and let my guard down?
I have said this many times but in goes in one ear and out in the other.

dollius Fri 06-Jun-14 09:54:06

No, you are not using sex to control him.

He basically told you that he would only come back to sleep in your bed if you had sex with him.

Anyone with half a brain knows this is not the way to get someone to feel like having sex with you.

IMO, he is the one being bullying and controlling.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 10:04:21

It's not that he doesn't understand your point it's that he thinks his need for sex is more important. If things have never been amazing, they are not going to get better if you've got this serious mismatch. You shouldn't have to 'make more of an effort' to be intimate with someone you love. It's a massive effort to force yourself to be intimate with someone who has spent years making themselves unlovable with ... drinking /lack of money / cultural differences /bad communication / traumas not dealt with /problems with immigration - to name a few.

Any particular reason why you are so determined to flog this dead horse?

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 10:06:26

Thank you dollius

I am glad to see I was able to stick to my boundaries this time.

I am afraid I have used sex in the past as a form of control with him and other men. This is one of the issues that I have to work on myself.

But I am glad that apparently I am able now to recognise behaviour that is not normal and stand up for myself whilst still being serene.

It is as though that I even have fear of the word sex though. He can say I look beautiful if he says I look sex, I feel uncomfortable.

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 10:14:27

Hi cogito
I have problems being affectionate with a lot of people and even with my own daughter.
Sometimes I have to make a big effort to cuddle and kiss my daughter and even say "I love you too" back.
It doesn't mean I don't love her.
I have a big problem showing love and accepting it too.
And I had many men in my life whose I cared about and loved a lot. Still they all say the same thing about my lack of warmth...and they even know one another.
A part from the drinking - /lack of money / cultural differences /bad communication /traumas not dealt with /problems with immigration - to name a few - are all issues that I created too.

At the moment I feel that is not time to make a radical decision yet.
But I am trying to understand it all and find the right solution.

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 10:28:40

*Still they all say the same thing about my lack of warmth...and they DON'T even know one another.

correcting myself there.

All of my ex (long term) boyfriends and ex husband with who I had lots in common, always said that past the honeymoon stage I become as warm as a fridge.

And I always used affection / attention and intimacy as a way to get them to do or behave the way I wanted.
But does not work long term.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 10:36:02

When you say 'issues I created' do you mean you were the one drinking, spending the money, not communicating, not dealing with trauma etc ?

You do seem very insistent that you use sex as a means of control. Do you feel you have to have sex with a man in order to get him to like you? Is there any history of sexual abuse in your past? Do you have any doubts about your sexuality? Are you generally a manipulative person?

mariposaazul Fri 06-Jun-14 10:42:03

From all you have said OP I agree with you - it does appear that you use withholding sex & affection as a form of control - perhaps it would be useful to think through why you feel the need to do this?

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 10:53:35

When you say 'issues I created' do you mean you were the one drinking, spending the money, not communicating, not dealing with trauma etc/
A part from the drinking, yes. I screw up with finances big time. Now trying to correct it and becoming obsessed with savings and being savvy.
Also I created some immigration issues that could have been easily avoided if I had dome the right thing. This put a huge strain in the relationship.

You do seem very insistent that you use sex as a means of control. Do you feel you have to have sex with a man in order to get him to like you
Yes I used to feel this way. I used to have sex with strangers, in the streets and even charged money once as a way to validate myself. But sometimes a good meal or a night out would do. I didn't need to do that btw.
I even had one last sex session when we were already separated and he was with an OW, so this way I could have had the last "say" and make him cheat on her with me.
Degrading yes?

Is there any history of sexual abuse in your past?
A part from exposure to pornography, I can't remember being sexually abused.

Do you have any doubts about your sexuality? Nope

Are you generally a manipulative person?
I can be. Try my best not to.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 10:55:56

" I need to make things get better first by talking and knowing where I stand before having sex. But he is my husband, not a new boyfriend, so should I be so guarded? "

Yes you should talk and know where you stand before having sex.... married or not. Just because he's a husband and not a boyfriend, it doesn't mean that he can click his fingers and you should sleep with him regardless. In a healthy sexual relationship everyone should be relaxed, comfortable and feel that that they are loved, valued, cherished etc. There's a horrible expression of having sex 'on' someone... not 'with' but 'on'... and that sounds like what he's proposing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 10:59:53

Have you ever counselling to work out why you need so much sexual validation? Have you any personal theories? You said you could be manipulative generally but choose not to... amen to that.... but is there any sense that, in your life more generally, you feel powerless or insignificant? Do you have a responsible job, for example?

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 11:00:28

Yes. I used the expression "click fingers" a lot.

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 11:08:45

Have you ever counselling to work out why you need so much sexual validation? no
Have you any personal theories? no
You said you could be manipulative generally but choose not to... amen to that.... but is there any sense that, in your life more generally, you feel powerless or insignificant? Do you have a responsible job, for example?
In the outside I appear to be strong, and in control. People admire me and my coping skills. But if I make the mistake to compare myself to any other person I come at the bottom always. I feel uncomfortable with people in general because I have low self esteem even though no one notices and people think it is in fact it is the opposite. I can be arrogant for protection. I used to feel insignificant as a child and of course powerless. Now not so much. I have a very responsible job and in my job I function well enough.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 11:34:11

Interesting. smile I mentioned sexuality and the possibility of past abuse but is there any sense at all - and I apologise for this in advance - that you despise men, mistrust them or find them fairly weak and pathetic in general?

Because, if I remember rightly, this one drinks to the point of being obnoxious rather than pissed? He doesn't sound particularly loveable, more irritating. So if he's then demanding that you sleep with him just because he happens to be married to you, I can see how that's not going to happen. I can also see that you'd want to punish him for being an arse by withholding affection. I'm not sure that means you are controlling him with sex.... more that you are stuck with a man you don't particularly like or respect (but not enough to LTB) and you have limited means of protest at your disposal

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 11:50:26

You raise interesting points cogito thanks.

I will be back in the evening to answer your questions about my feelings for men in general.
I got to go now.

He came home yesterday after a long shift, he was earlier then usual again and with no signs of drinking.
We had a nice chat and I could well see I do have feeling for him and I do believe things could improve if everything falls into place and I can still see qualities in him that I forget are there when I am upset with his drinking.

The incident re sex happened much later in the night. He wasn't drinking. He says he felt yet again rejected and pushed away because I was to abrupt and dry by saying "not gonna happen"...
If only he wasn't to abrupt by mentioning the word 'sex', things would have been different. It is a trigger that he can not understand.

He says that he wasn't demanding sex, but I always over react.
I have to think more about and talk to him tonight.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 11:57:05

"I do believe things could improve if everything falls into place and I can still see qualities in him that I forget are there when I am upset with his drinking"

I think I mentioned on your other thread that I've lived with a drinker. It's always 'there' in the background I found and that's enough to tilt the balance away from the level of affection & relaxation needed for a good sex-life. You said it yourself... 'he came home yesterday... no signs of drinking'. On some level you're always on your guard looking for 'signs of drinking' which makes it impossible to forget. Similarly he did use the trigger word 'sex' which put you on the defensive.

IME they treat sex like booze. They don't have to be feeling good to do either the way we do (yes?) - they do it so that they feel good and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 14:05:39

Spot on re treating sex like alcohol. It is a way to make them feel better. He said so few times, that sex will make him fell good within himself.

As my feelings about men in general, well I grew up listening from my mum that men are shit, useless, pigs and any other kind of insult you can think of.

I grew up listening to her complaining that she was coerced to marry someone she didn't love and the marriage + three unplanned children ruined her dreams.

As a teen, I had to hear how she would hate to be a grandmother and how she wouldn't raise a finger in case one of us needed help with a baby.

And that the biggest disappointment of her life would be if we got married one day. We had to be strong independent women who would never need a man for nothing.

As a child she was made sure I was the ugly duckling, my hair was cut short and I had ill fitted clothing. As a teen, I stood my ground but she would always put me down if I showed any sign of becoming attractive or interested in a relationship. Having long and nice hair, nice feminine clothing, accessories, nail varnish, make up...I was criticised, called vain, shallow, "bitch". I would spend a lot of time in the shower washing my hair as it is a pain to untangle...but she said I probably needed to clean myself so much on the outside because I was dirty on the inside. I was around 16.
My sister was alright, she didn't care about her looks as such, jus like my mum.
Also, as a young adult, my sister had a phase of being in a same sex relationship, which made my mum really happy.

You see, my mum left my dad for another woman.
However, it was never open and honest.
Her partner did live with us, in her own bedroom next to my mum's bedroom upstairs, in their self contained "flat" whereas we were left to fend for ourselves downstairs and not allowed up there under no circumstances. Her partner was also a heavy drinker and apparently drug user.
The excuse was that my mum needed someone to share her bills with and this lady was her best friend....
Mum have never came out and I found out as an older teen by street and playground gossip, and after hearing the fight between then, when they were breaking up, when they thought I was asleep.
Also finding some letters and photos when we moved away.
This was never talked about in the family even to this day.
It is a huge elephant in the room.
My dad was a terrible role model and very distant. He also is bipolar and lost everything after hitting rock bottom and now leaves in a limbo.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 14:44:13

I'm pretty sure you'd benefit from counselling. Not to make your marriage better necessarily because I think the problems your DH has with alcohol and attitude are rather separate. But there's a huge back-story with a big confusion of some important concepts there - love, attractiveness/vanity, sex - which has clearly coloured your view of yourself, sex, and, to an extent, the role you think a 'good wife' should play. I suppose you realise you were emotionally abused as a kid?

Apologies if this has been addressed but I can't see it- have you had therapy about your issues surrounding sexual control?

I agree with Cogito that you would find counselling helpful - your childhood sounds pretty grim and it's not surprising that you grew up with mixed feelings about sex and about how a 'good' woman behaves. Best of luck.

BertieBotts Fri 06-Jun-14 15:52:09

The thing is, I think that women are often told, not overtly but all the time in subtle undermining ways that we have no right to our own sexuality, that sex isn't really something women do for fun, that it's this big power we have over men, and of course that we are the "gatekeepers" of sex. This narrative says that women don't really like sex of their own accord, but that men like, no, need it and are powerless to resist it. Hence the whole narrative/relationship between men and women is set as such, with men interacting with women in order to try and procure sex with them, and women having this really confusing role where they are both the provider/source of all sex but also not supposed to seek it out or appear too interested or let it go too easily or we lose our power.

Secondly, there is always this undercurrent that men are more powerful than women in our society. For centuries men have had very obvious power differences to women - economic power (often being the only breadwinner, or women being discouraged from working, under educated, historically confined to lower status jobs such as secretarial or care work, being paid less for the same job as a man), political power (it being much later that women got the vote, the lack of female representation in politics), physical strength (I'm not going to link surveys but there are so many statistics which show women fear violence from men regularly and constantly. Plus women are in a more vulnerable position if they are pregnant or when they have children). Men are taken more seriously in the workplace and a woman is more likely to have a male boss than a man having a female boss. A man's word tends to be automatically trusted over a woman. Men are seen as more logical and rational whereas women are "hysterical", "overthinking" and "soft". Traditionally and in some religions/customs which survive in the western world today, the father is considered the "head" of the household.

Of course, the differences are far less marked today than they were 50, 100 or more years ago. But they are still there today, and they are constantly reinforced in ways that are so subtle that most of us don't notice them. Even if you're aware of them you can't catch all of them, because they are insidious.

So put these two unconscious beliefs together. Women (as a whole) don't have anywhere near the level of power as men (as a whole). That's a horrible feeling, that makes you feel very power^less^. And it's backed up every day, every time your opinion gets shouted down or laughed off by a man, every time you go to work and see that the higher up the company, the higher concentration of males, every time you cross the street to avoid the loud, drunk guys on the other side. When you're in a powerless position what do you do - you latch onto anything that makes you feel powerful. And sex, everyone around you says, makes you feel powerful. And the thing is that when you are engaging with these guys who have these views about sex, about having to "get it" from women, using sex as a power or control tool does work. That's what they want from you, and they're willing to play along to get it. And it's fun - it's sexy, it makes you feel powerful, it's great to feel like you're in the driving seat for once when your entire life you're just a passenger, and most of the time you're not even allowed to ride up front. The feeling of being in control of somebody else is intoxicating and addictive, and it sets off pleasure receptors so you can go along like this, genuinely happy, believing you're loving sex, "owning" this dynamic and enjoying yourself, for years and years. Some people go their whole life like this, but the problem is that it's not really what sex is about, it's not about your own pleasure and autonomy, it's more of an illusion of control and power than a real one - men know that if they wanted to they can take that sexual power from you at any moment by force. Of course decent men don't, wouldn't ever do this, but not all guys are decent.

Plus, it gets tiring, and boring. When sex is all about playing a game and keeping score, it's not about what you want. You're not really enjoying it, it becomes a chore. Meanwhile he's come to expect it. This is when he starts accusing you of playing games, the thing is that the game was never in your control to begin with.

I don't think that you have "an issue with controlling sex". I think you adopted a perfectly understandable and natural survival technique in a world which is far more hostile to women than anybody seems to want to admit. I think that a LOT of women do this, and either fall into a routine where they're happy-ish, their partner is happy-ish, and neither can be bothered to address it (or they turn a blind eye to the way their partner "addresses it") so it's not an issue. Or you're lucky and fall into a healthy relationship by chance, which is the best outcome, but I think that a lot of people just end up long term unhappy and/or in a string of unhealthy relationships playing out the same old dynamics except that in the end your fight is gone.

I'm not saying that counselling won't help because I think it will, we could all a lot of the time do with a little help to unravel these really damaging messages we are constantly bombarded with. I just want to say don't think that you're broken, or wrong, or have behaved in anything other than a perfectly understandable and logical way. The logic is sound, the information it was based on to begin with is the part that is faulty.

Etah Fri 06-Jun-14 16:03:08

Yes, hear about counselling. I would love too, but keep putting it of using so may excuses.
I have had three therapy session in total in my life

First as a teen, when my mum sent me for a session, apparently I was being a rebel. I don't know what the therapist told my mum in private but my mum told me that she only said I was 'impulsive'. Mum said what a waste of time and money it was.
Second session was when I got divorced from my ex as it was very traumatic. Therapist asked me if I realise there is bad people in the world hmm
Third was as a couple, at relate. It was good, but I couldn't feel I could be totally truthful on one session only. Dh and I decided not to go ahead for a number of reason.

If I did realise I was abused?
I do, now. But I still minimise it. It wasn't as bad as other people's experience. Besides I come from a third world country where some children are raised as homeless by homeless people.
Mum asked me once if I had a good childhood. How could I have said no, I didn't? I grew up in big houses, with pets, plenty of food and private school.
But now yes I realise family life must have being chaotic and pretty dysfunctional.

squizita Fri 06-Jun-14 16:17:20

I don't think that you have "an issue with controlling sex". I think you adopted a perfectly understandable and natural survival technique in a world which is far more hostile to women than anybody seems to want to admit.

But I think the OP is much further ingrained in disfunctional behaviour than a normal woman. She does do controlling things which most women wouldn't - sex for money (to feel powerful), sleeping with an ex to un-ex them and make them the cheat. These are unusual behaviours.
These are a step far, far beyond the subtle "flirt and play hard to get" which messes up many normal relationships.
These suggest she does need some help and support.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 06-Jun-14 16:23:59

It certainly was dysfunctional. When I was a teen the NSPCC came to our school to give a presentation as they were our nominated charity that year. Being from the less fashionable end of Manchester, I distinctly remember being shocked at them saying that abuse happens even in the nicest, biggest, richest homes.

I think it's worth seeking out a good counsellor that you can respect and trust. You sound very self-aware and intelligent but there is quite a lot of unhappiness and confusion coming through. Your experiences may not be as bad as other people's and you may even agree with your Mum that counselling is a waste of time, but it could help you make peace with yourself and reduce the self-reproach

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