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Boundary issue--mild abuse?
January 13, 2006
12:44 pm
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gofigure
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Morning all. I guess I'm trying to figure out how serious this is as a boundary issue and am looking for some feedback. Last night, when asked to have sex I said I'd rather not. Over the next 3 hours or so (while I was trying to go to sleep) he must have asked me again ("are you sure you don't want to...") 6 or 8 more times. He also seemed to be trying to keep me from sleeping by continually asking me questions (other questions in between his main question). I didn't give in as I have in the past (if only to get some sleep), and I'm proud of myself for that. But guess I'm feeling a bit hostile towards him--I suppose that's natural huh? I've asked this before, but is it abusive of me to refuse sex on an ongoing basis? I almost never refuse and I almost never WANT to have sex--I guess I do it primarily to keep the peace. But I want to stop compromising myself and have lots of trouble in the "midst of it", you know? Bad precedent I've set. What he's doing, this pressuring, isn't "normal" is it? I mean as a general rule.

Thanks,
~go

January 13, 2006
12:48 pm
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Anonymous
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as a general rule, no.

but since his efforts worked in the past - yeah, he assumes it will work again.

the only way to make your point is to be consistent and stick to your guns.

if you allow him to do it before, he will think he can again.

you just need to retrain him.

but it won't be fun 🙁

January 13, 2006
12:56 pm
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jewel2
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One of my favorite quotes is - 'you teach people how to treat you.' You have taught your b/f that if he asks enough you will give in. You guys need to talk and with utter honesty. You need to share with him how low your sex drive is - and I would recommend you look into why it is so(not necessarily a conversation to have with him but with a therapist perhaps?) Are you on ant-depressants for example as they play havoc with sexual desire? Do you truly trust this man? Are you attracted to him? Has your sex drive always been low or just with him? IT IS NOT abusive of you to refuse sex, it is your body and YOU get to say if you wish to share it. So this has less to do with him pressuring you as (a) as I've already said you have taught him that it's successful and (B) he's a guy who is obviously attracted to you and in my experience men are not as sensative about this as women are. So put him straight with your real feelings here and stop trying to keep the peace because it's not working is it?

January 13, 2006
1:00 pm
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Anonymous
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oh, one more thing - I want to clarify something.

it is not abusive to refuse sex on occasion - or even frequently.

however - in some states - if you refuse to engage in sex with your partner for 12 months or longer - it IS grounds for divorce based on abandonment.

so be careful here.

January 13, 2006
1:05 pm
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jastypes
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I do not believe it is abusive to refuse to have sex. I do, however, believe it is abusive to press the issue when someone is trying to get some sleep. My husband had a bad habit of using this technique of abuse with me. I'd be drifting off to sleep, and he's jump in with, "Are we getting a divorce?" I'd say, "Not right now, I'm trying to sleep." Then just as I was drifting off again he'd said, "Do you love me?" The last time it went on until 4:00 in the morning. The last time he did it, I talked to him about it the next day. I told him I considered it abuse. I told them that if he does it again, I will leave our bedroom and sleep on the couch or in one of the children's rooms. I told him that if he follows me in there, I will take the car to a friend's house and sleep there. He must have believed me, because it hasn't happened again.

jill

January 13, 2006
1:27 pm
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kathygy
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gofigure,

I agree with what has been said here. Your first priority needs to be to yourself and being true to yourself.

When you have sex when you don't want to you are allowing yourself to be violated. It is not abuse to refuse sex ever given that you don't want to have it.

I do wonder though why you lack an interest in sex. Have you always been this way? Are you angry at your partner? Anger would stop me from having sex. I do think it warrents exploration as to why you feel this way about sex.

Your partner is not respecting your boundaries by trying to pressure you into having sex. This would really annoy me.

Have you told him straight out how you feel about sex and how you feel when he continues to bagger you?

January 13, 2006
2:00 pm
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gofigure
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Alicat and Jewel,
You are both absolutely right--I have taught him if he bothers me enough I will do what he wants. Trying to stop that.

Jill,
Way to go!! I offered to change rooms, but I guess I need to just do it.

Kathy and Jewel,
My sex drive has been waning for a couple of years now. I've talked to him about how sex makes me shudder sometimes, how I don't enjoy it etc. He seems to understand at the time, then bedtime rolls around...

I think the root of the problem is, well I don't know that there's one root. I DO have anger toward him for leaving me to do 99% of everything at home, for promising the kids things and pretty regularly not following through (to the point that my 9 year old says "I just can't count on Dad to do what he says", drugs, numerous job changes, lying, porn. God I could go on and on. For some reason the last thing I want to do is talk to him about this stuff--I've tried and it makes him defensive and I feel like a hypocrite because I am no where near perfect myself, along with the fact that any changes are so short-lived I'd rather deal with what I can count on rather that playing the guessing game. Ahhh, it's all a jumble of feelings, but that's the jist of it I think. One of these days I'll quit talking and start doing.

January 13, 2006
2:22 pm
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Anonymous
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I think you are using the sex to control the only thing you CAN control.

you can't control his porn, his lying, his drug use, or anything else he WANTS TO DO.

But you can control your participation in sex with him.

And perhaps it's a way to pay him back for all that you are angry about.

And you have every right to be angry.

But withholding intimacy is not really the right way to deal with that anger.

I think that if you move to another bedroom - you are taking one step closer to divorce. I think that's something that will hurt him and may not ever be able to be repaired - should you decide you want to work out the marriage later on.

I grew up with a dad who's favorite saying was "someday" - I'll get ot it someday, I'll do it someday, I'll get to it later, etc....and I got so used to saying it that I knew not to expect it done. And one time, I even got brave and put "someday" on the calendar, like a birthday. And on that day, I pointed and said "hey dad, someday is here, can we finish xyz????" - I got sent to my room for that smartass remark.

I thought it was funny - hoped it would prove a point - but it didn't.

I lived in the "attic" as a small child - later, they enlarged it to a normal size bedroom. They never finished the work - so I lived in a room with raw plywood floors and drywall - no outlet covers, trim, carpet, paint or anything

when I moved out, they finished it.

made me feel like i never deserved to have a nice room - perhaps that's why I never put htings on my walls at home or hang curtains (lightbulb moment).

Anyway - I grew up with a dad like your husband - and it sucks.

your kids deserve better.

January 13, 2006
2:25 pm
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Mishy2sons
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Jewel2, How true: "you teach people how to treat you." I must remember this. I definitely taught my husband that it was ok to abuse me verbally and sometimes physically because I did nothing about it for years.

Jill, I am both saddened and comforted to know that I am not the only one putting up with the sleep deprivation! I have threatened the same thing you have because my husband will follow me from the couch to kids' rooms etc. If I try to leave the house, he stands in front of the car and blocks me from leaving. I don't want to run him over, though it is tempting. He turns on lights and shines them in my face to keep me from sleeping and it isn't for sex. It is to finish arguments, get the last word in, or ask stupid questions like, "Do you love me?" (We are middle-aged and I always want to sing that song from Fiddler on the Room to him!)

Gofigure,
As far as refusing sex. I don't think it is wrong to refuse, especially when you are tired or sick. And I do think it is wrong to keep pressing after someone has refused. However, I also believe that love sometimes means making some sacrifices. So, if it is just that I don't feel like having sex, I usually have it anyway for my husband's sake.

Have you thought about why you are so often not in the mood. Is it that you are tired from working or caring for children etc.? Is it chemical, hormonal or medical? Is it that you need a little romancing first and he wants to just jump right in there? Is there a lack of personal hygiene on his part? Has he "let himself go?" Or are there deeper more troubling issues of anger and resentment between the two of you that keep you from feeling sexual toward him? Are you in love with someone else? I am just asking these things for you to think about and consider.

Not everyone needs or wants sexual intimacy with equal fervor. It could just be that he wants more than you do.

I am interested in a man's perspective on this whole thread. Any guys out there "listening?"
Peace,
Mishy

January 13, 2006
2:28 pm
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Matteo
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I would be qually annoyed if my partner was pressuring me for sex or rejecting me. The issue here is not who is abusing who, if he abusing you by pressuring for sex, or if you are abusing him by denying it.

Not wanting sex is always a sign of much wider problems in a relationship. You and your partner have to take a long and careful look at the relationship, how the relationship satisfies both of you and eventually what do you want to change there, before going into the sex issue.

Sex becomes a big issue, but that's only a tip of an iceberg. I'm afraid that you will have to take a long dive into the cold water to see what is going on under the surface instead of battling over sex.

January 13, 2006
2:46 pm
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kathygy
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gofigure,

I can understand why you wouldn't feel like having sex with your husband. Anger blocks love. Its hard to be vulnerable and open yourself up to someone who you are very angry with and disappointed in. Its real important to get all of the anger out if possible.

I believe that he state of the relationship has a major impact on the quality of sex and the interest in having it.

Does he know the full force of your anger and how that is blocking your interest in having sex with him?

Even if he gets defensive, tell him EVERYTHING that you feel angry about using 'I' statements.

Do you still love this man? Do you want the relationship to work?

January 13, 2006
2:53 pm
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gofigure
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Ali--makes me want to tell my kids to put "someday" on the calendar--I think that was a very clever thing to do.. Of course my husband would probably be pretty angry too if they were to do that. You are a very wise woman--thank you for sharing that with me. I don't TRY to withhold intimacy, I just haven't felt any for a very long time. I've gotten to the point where it's about the last thing I want anymore.

Mishy and Matteo--I have had sex more times than I can count "for my husband's sake". The fact that we can have sex 5 days in a row, but if on the 6th day I would rather not, it becomes (often) a HUGE issue.

I do realize that this lack of interest on my part is a sign of a deeper issue. I have (I think) some unresolved issues regarding the first 5 years of our marriage (we've been married 11 years), but I'm learning to let it go. My husband has also asked me if there is someone else. I can say in no uncertain terms, THAT IS THE LAST THING IN THE WORLD I WANT. Honestly, at the moment I feel if I never have another relationship again that would be just fine with me.
I don't know if anything can be solved. I don't know if I have either the energy or desire to solve it.

January 13, 2006
3:42 pm
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Mishy2sons
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Go Figure,

I can completely understand. I have so much anger and resentment built up that I rarely feel any desire for my husband. He is completely unwilling to admit that he has any role in our marriage troubles (even though he is a verbal and physical abuser and an alcoholic). Everything is my fault, according to him.

January 13, 2006
4:29 pm
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Lass
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One of the reasons that my husband and I have NEVER had a problem in the sex department, is that he NEVER presses to have sex with me after we have been fighting. He KNOWS I am angry, and it ain't gonna be good to take that thing out and risk it with me 'til things have blown over.

That said, sometimes I HAVE pressed for sex to help resolve a fight, and it DOES help if he is willing. I think this works when I have been the one mostly at fault.

What he is doing now, is trying to speak my language. He is finally doing what I have asked for 7 years, to hang a closet door. Why now? The silent treatment. I forget how powerful it is when he goes too damn far, to just "shut the fuck up."

Part of it is just learning what works with the other person. He is trying to win my favor back by picking up on all the areas I have been ignored for a long damn time.

You want to stay together, you gotta find a way to get the anger out, and get back on the right road. It is your own little special language.

LL

January 13, 2006
9:52 pm
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hopeful for change
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Well my husband doesn't have sex with me but I believe under differnt reasons. Anyway, it seems more like to me is that you set a boundary (newly?) and I have found as being a codependent and starting to takecare of me and setting boundaries,it rocks the boat and they try to pull us back in. I also know that it's pretty hard to have sex if you've been fighting or there is anger, you can't just pretend...you feel differntly

January 13, 2006
11:09 pm
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Lass
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Hopeful,

My therapist told me there is something called an "extinguishment burst," an episode when he acts worse than ever, just before shifting/ letting go/ changing for the better some. I sure hope that is what this is, because the alternative is he is getting very much worse. I see effort, and then he just explodes, viscious mad. I am learning, more importantly. I am staying really calm and quiet, whispering (not submission, just quiet calm), even when he yells. Great power in not saying anything. Not looking down my nose, just not engaging at all. If he won't let me speak, I close the door. I tell him, You aren't going to allow me to say anything? Okay. Well, then. Click. Don't ever deal with an angry man if you can help it. Wait for the calmer person to return. Tell him you will be waiting for that man.

Sex is very restorative to the bond between man and woman, and if you don't have it, it deteriorates fast. Get past the mad and see each other as you are if you possibly can. If I can live with the men I have married, anybody can live with anybody. I kid you not.

LL

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