Husband punishes me when I say no

QUESTION: I’ve been married for 19 years.  My husband and I have sex usually 5 times a week. He is very persistent about it happening more often.  If I say no he gives me a HUGE guilt trip and will not talk to me for 2 days. I am so angry that he does this to me and desperate for help. He has been diagnosed with an obsessive personality and we have been to counseling many times.  Nothing I say or do is working. How do we find a balance? And am I overreacting?

ANSWER: You are not happy that your husband wants sex constantly, and he doesn’t have respect for your feelings on the matter. If you are asking if you should be okay with his wanting sex more often than five times per week, I’d say no: You don’t have to be okay with that. Is it reasonable for you to want sex less than that? I’d say yes.

Based on your statement that you’ve been married 19 years, I’m guessing that you are both 40ish.  For a couple – other than newlyweds – to have sex five times per week is far above average. According to the Kinsey Institute website, married couples in the 40-49 age range average having sex 69 times per year. At five times per week, you are having sex 260 times per year, or approximately FOUR times higher than average. The same website indicates that only 3.7 % of men and 2.7 % of women in your age range have sex four or more times per week. If you consider all married couples from ages 18 through 59, only 7% have sex four times or more per week.

It certainly isn’t wrong to have sex five times a week or more, if that pleases each of you. However, you make it clear that this frequency – and his desire for even more – is not pleasing to you. Would I be correct to guess that you feel he cares more about sex than he does about you? To guess that you feel like a sex object rather than his partner for life? If these or any other negative emotions exist within you because of his demand for sex, that is NOT good for you. Ultimately, that means it isn’t good for the marriage either.

HOWEVER, if he craves sex that much and causes you misery when you don’t comply, there apparently is some need within him that should be considered as well. You say that he was diagnosed with an obsessive personality. It would be interesting to know what else he obsesses about other than sex. There also should be a question in your mind about what this obsessive husband may do if he doesn’t get a tremendous amount of sex.

In my opinion, the bottom line on this lies with you. If professional counselors have not been able to help, then I don’t know where to send you for more help on the matter. You must decide what to do.

IF you love him and want to satisfy him – and the sex isn’t a burden to you physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually – then fulfilling his desire might be the best thing.

IF you love him and want to satisfy him but the sex IS a burden to you physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, then you will have to decide what you are willing to do and then draw a line there. If that is three times a week, or two times a week, etc. then you have the ability to make that happen. You say that he makes you feel guilty when you don’t have sex as much as he wishes. Which will bother you more – cause you the most pain or difficulty – fulfilling his sexual desire or having to deal with his making you feel guilty? There are various things you can do to try to get him to stop the guilt trips, but, of course, they are not guaranteed to work.

I suggest you figure your course of action by honestly answering these questions for yourself:

1. What will I feel toward my husband if I continue to have sex with him at the frequency he desires?

2. What will my husband feel toward me if he does not get sex with the frequency that he desires?

3. Can I live with the consequences of not giving him all that he wants? (how he will treat me; how he may try to deal with is sex cravings)

4. Can he live with the consequences of my not giving him all that he wants? (what do I think he will he do in the short-term; what do I think he will do in the long-term)

5. Is it likely that with time, he will back of from his demands – and making me feel guilty – if I set a maximum number of times per week that I am willing to have sex with him?

There are more questions you could ask, but hopefully this gives the idea. Many choices in life are trade-offs. We give up one thing to get another. Telling him that sex will occur only 2 times per week, for example, and expecting him to conform to that without difficulty is very, very unlikely to occur. Therefore, you have to decide which is the best course of action for your future, go that route, and accept the consequences it brings.

None of us can make another feel or do anything. All we can change is ourselves.