When Sexual Demands Constitute Abuse

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 21:54 | Filled in Body, Mind, and Spirit/Personal Growth

Dear Dr. Stormy,

        My husband wants to have an open marriage. I do not. The very idea is terribly upsetting to me. We already have sex 3-4 times a day and have a lot of variation in our sex life. My husband started up with this open marriage idea when I told him I was not entirely comfortable with a particular thing he suggested that we do. I rarely object to anything, so this seems unfair. He has gone so far as to say that if I do not agree to the open marriage, he will consider divorce. What can I do?


Dear Crushed,

        I think the thing that needs to be looked at here is not so much your sex life, but the quality of your marital relationship. Your husband’s insistence on an open marriage or possible divorce if you don’t comply with his sexual demands is insensitive, controlling, and downright sadistic. This is not the sort of thing that a husband says to a woman he loves and respects. Rather it shows a great lack of attunement and lack of concern for your needs. I think you should get more assertive and address this underlying issue with your husband. Perhaps he will come to see that there are two people in the relationship — not just him and his needs. On the other hand, he may not be able to acknowledge your needs at all, at which point you will have to get honest with yourself about whether or not you want to stay with someone who is only in a relationship with himself.

        Sexually speaking, having sex 3-4 times a day is well above the norm. This is okay if both partners enjoy it and there is mutual consideration. It is not okay, however, if it is not the desire of one of the partners and/or is only being done to appease a partner.

        Sometimes the need for extremely frequent sexual contact reflects a high level of anxiety for which sex gives temporary, immediate relief. However, if the roots of the anxiety are not addressed, the need for constant sexual contact will just keep coming. Few women want to serve as a receptacle for their partner’s ongoing anxiety relief. It’s too darn lonely.

        The need for constant sexual contact can also indicate self-esteem issues as well as attachment issues. In a healthy marriage these issues can be talked about and worked through. In an unhealthy one this may be more difficult and require professional help. In a marriage laced with bullying and emotional abuse, it is usually mission impossible.

        Crushed, take a good look at what you are dealing with — blackmail and emotional abuse. Stop being so passive and get to work on your own self-esteem issues. There is no reason whatsoever for you to comply with a demand for an open marriage that would most likely be both humiliating and denigrating for you. If your husband refuses to work on this relationship, maybe that divorce isn’t such a bad idea. Good luck.

Dr. Stormy

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