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How do I change this dynamic?(55 Posts)
I'm really upset with Dh. We have a good supportive relationship but there's something not right with our sex life and idk how to change it. Put simply - Dh doesn't "do"'intimacy outside of sex, no occasional kiss, no cuddles, no holding my hand or hugging me before we fall asleep, in summary very little body contact. He also complains regularly that I don't make myself available to him sexually enough (as in - we don't have sex frequently enough). After a few days when we haven't done it he becomes sulky, uncommunicative, and passive aggressive. I know he's punishing me for it and I hate it. He claims I'm never in the mood, but I disagree completely and I tell him that the reason I'm not in the mood is that he doesn't create the conditions for me to be in the mood , he expects me to simply switch it on from zero to 100 whenever he feels like it.
This week was a case in point. I worked last weekend and was exhausted (though we still had sex on Sunday noght). He was away mon-tue and came back late on wed night when I was already asleep. Thursday night I went to bed at 10 I was so knackered and he tried to initiate it but I was basically already asleep and said I was too tired for it. Well, yesterday he came home from work, didn't say a wOrd to me, read all evening and went to sleep without a word. This morning he's still not talking to me and he's now left without speaking.
As I write this I'm getting really angry and depressed. I realise I am always actively counting the days we go without it and making sure we don't go over 3 or I know it will be awful between us. I enjoy it but it's very much something to tick off my to do list to make sure we keep harmony in the home. But I should be allowed to say not if I'm truly exhausted as I was on Thursday after 12 straight days of work with no breaks, right?
This is so unromantic isn't it. I resent him for making this so transactional (is it too much to ask to go out once in a while, have dinner together, or simply spend us time ? He never plans or wishes for anything like this. I've stopped planning for things like these as I find it just too depressing to always be the one driving this kind of intimacy) and he resents me for not putting out more.
It's all so unhealthy but he refuses to even talk about it and acknowledge we have a problem. As far as he's concerned I am the problem.
I love him dearl, I am attracted to him and our relationship is otherwise great but this is too much. I know I'm going to have to initiate sex tonight to make peace (after a day of him having treated me like shit) and I cannot tell you what a turnoff this is.
How can I change this dynamic?
Isn't that emotional abuse? You are married to an abuser.
No, it;s not and I'm not. It's a communication and an expectations issue. We both suffer because we cannot find a way to communicate our expectations, desires and needs around intimacy. I punish him for his lack of emotional attention by being sexually distant, he punishes me for my sexual coldness by being emotionally distant. and so on and so on.
It's a rotten dynamic in an otherwise great and loving relationship. We both want to break out of this and I don;t know how to.
No, he is emotionally abusing you by using his bad moods and silent treatment to coerce you into having sex with him when you aren't in the mood.
Unless you accept that nothing will change.
Who's getting their own way in this current dynamic? He gets sex every three days, you get intimacy never. The fact that you will initiate sex to make peace with him tells you where the power lies.
This is revolting. You don't make yourself 'sexually available' enough to him? No wonder you're upset, he treats you like a piece of meat & is then emotionally abusive when you dare to object to it. These cold, soulless men make sick.
Wow! I'm shocked you cant see or if you do see, admit what is happening because you have described it perfectly in your post.
He is punishing you for not having sex so that you will have sex. That is manipulation at its most basic. You are counting the days and making sure you have sex at least every 3 days. You are altering your behaviour because of how he is treating you when you follow your own natural pattern of behaviour.
We both want to break out of this and I don't know how to.
Is his version of breaking out of it mean he just has sex whenever he wants?
My ex was like this - it was a big reason our 15-year, 2-children relationship ended. I couldn't spend the rest of my life without physical affection and I simply no longer wanted to have sex with him because I felt so distanced from him.
If you want it to change, you have to talk and talk and talk. Do not let it go by or have sex just to pacify him - you're teaching him that everything's fine.
Book Relate if you can't talk about it at home for whatever reason.
FWIW my ex wasn't abusive; his family were very cold and unaffectionate and he just had absolutely no desire for affection or warmth unless it was foreplay. (He does seem to have realised his mistake now - he apologised to me about it recently.)
But sulking until you give in and have sex - giving you the silent treatment - that really is shit OP. (Although if you're sulking/not communicating about your feelings either, you're contributing to the same dynamic - been there, done that!)
How about you hand him a written note this afternoon
"I know I'm going to have to initiate sex tonight to make peace (after a day of you having treated me like shit) and I cannot tell you what a turnoff this is." What happens when your behaviour turns me off so much that I am no longer able to have sex with you to keep the peace?
If he still refuses to accept his part to play in this dynamic then you may as well call time on your relationship.
Do you have DC?
You might have bells and whistles in many aspects of your relationship, but he is an emotional abuser and you are in denial. Please address this for your future happiness.
If it is 'only' a communication problem, you need to talk about it. My husband is crap at any intimacy. He prefers to do all the action himself. Frankly I should have had a charge sheet or a blow-up doll for him. Yuck.
Withdrawal of basic respect because you don't submit to his demands for sex is emotional and sexual abuse
You are being coerced into having sex that you do not want
My DH never shows any affection at all (physical or verbal), but will still want to have sex. His way of saying goodbye before he went out this morning was to grope my boobs. No, kiss or hug, just groping. I hate it.
TresDesolee you hit the nail right on the head. I understand what everyone is saying and you are all focusing on the power dynamics which I get - but in all honesty I am also being manipulative and using this dynamic to hurt him.
My Dh also comes from a cold and dis functional family. I know he suffers from a difficulty expressing his feelings (physically, verbally, emotionally) and I think he genuinely feels rejected when we don't have sex regularly because it's the only way he knows how to feel deep connection. He doesn't want to control me he wants confirmation that I love him and desire him in the only way he understands, through sex.
Someone asked what the ideal outcome is and yes it is one where we have frequent , spontaneous sex (I like being physical with him, I find him very attractive, I desire him so I want this too!) in the context of an open and holistic intimacy. i think we are both miserable and are repeatedly hitting the same wall - we want the same thing but it looks different to each of us .
I have suggested counselling millions of times. He adamantly refuses. I know he is resisting it because it would mean having to finally deal with shit he has been suppressing for 40 years. I get his fear and am full of compassion for it, I really am. But I wish he could be more honest with himself about what works and doesn't work in our relationship.
So what do I do?
In fact, I spent the night in hospital with chest pains, and the only affection he's shown is the boob grope. That and checking I'm ok to walk the dog, because he was too tired to. I feel really valued. Sorry to hijack, op.
I am grateful for everyone trying to help but pls can you try and look at this outside the abuse perspective. I really don't think this is what's going on.
Lulu, I'm sorry. This is not what's going on with us but I guess the advice would be the same... Talk?
AKA my ex was like that, maybe not so extreme but basically the same: I could not live like that.
Hope you find your joy in life.
You ARE being coerced, this IS sexual abuse.
Read this, as it sums describes what you've put in your OP in the context of coercion. It's so sad that we women often can't see it when we are in the middle of this sort of behaviour
TBH I would issue going to couples therapy together as an ultimatum. Yes he needs to address his past and yes it's going to be unpleasant in the short term.
My DH was very like this - he was very very very emotionally connected during and through sex but outside of that he struggled and would withdraw/sulk etc due mainly to feeling rejected/unloved (again due to childhood)
It took time for the dynamic to change but he did get that it needed to and at least I didn't have to initiate sex he accepted that he had to the initiating as it takes time for me to get in the mood.
I think we probably had some volatile rows about it tbh - me telling him to stop sulking and I vaguely remember completing ignoring him when he sulked - basically calling him up on it EVERY time and that "it wasn't acceptable and I wasn't putting up with it" Not the healthiest way by any means!!!
Read the link I posted and tell us it's not. I say this as someone who took years to face up to being raped and used all sorts of other excuses for what happened, even lived and wanted to stay with him.
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