Withholding Sex to Make Her Point

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I fight all of the time. I will "one-up" him to get my point across by discussing all of his faults.

In turn, he will "hit me below the belt" to hurt me by pointing out my faults. He will even talk about my family. Then I will talk about his family too. When he goes low down, I will become lowdown as well.

Ms. Vicki, I love my husband and I believe he loves me. We have two children (ages 5 and 7) we love more than anything.

Now it's gotten to the point that we sleep separately. He sleeps on one side of the bed, and I sleep on the other side of the bed all wrapped up in my own covers because I don't want him to touch me.

I withhold sex from my husband just to get even with him. I say, "You won't be getting any of this."

When I won't make love to him, he sleeps in another bedroom and pouts like a big baby. I don't care because at least I'm winning.

How can I get my husband to listen to me? I gave up a lot to marry him. We met in college and, after we graduated, he was commissioned in the Army. I was accepted to law school after scoring very high on the LSAT, but I didn't go because I wanted to be with him and start a family.

Now he is so invested in his career that he doesn't think about anything else. I'm tired of playing second fiddle to his career.

I want him to make a choice: It's the Army or his wife and kids. It's been 9 years, and I don't see me living this military wife life any longer.

-- What's Wrong With a Selfish Army Wife?

Dear Selfish Army Wife,

Your marriage has trouble written all over it. You have many of the warning signs that research says will end a marriage: arguing and escalation, negative putdowns, and isolation (sleeping separately and withholding sex from your husband).

Honestly, both of you are very vulnerable for having affairs with other people. Why? Because you are losing your emotional connection to each other.

The arguing, yelling and putting each other down its taking a toll on your relationship. It will only take a guy to come along and make you feel wanted and needed for you to start an emotional or physical affair. It will only take a woman to come along and show your husband some attention and make him feel like he is the best man in the world and "Voila!!"

This is disturbing to me because I see this quite often among my clients. It is like the couple doesn't get it. Someone has to take the high road and stop this madness.

Let me dissect some of your marital issues really quickly. First of all, you married him and he went off to war.

That's not easy for a military marriage. The service member is home one moment and gone the next. In between, there are schools, trainings and stressing for the next promotion. I hear you. I've been there, done that.

Now, let's flip your script. You are a woman who had other ambitions. You scored high on the LSAT and you were on your way to law school -- but wait a minute. Your life came to a screeching halt and now you are angry.

OK, I hear you. You can pursue your goals and have your marriage too. You can't beat your husband up because, honestly, you made the choice not to go to law school.

Somehow, dual-military couples and two-profession couples find a way to make their marriages work with kids.

Has military life impacted your marriage? Absolutely. 

Will the Army be responsible for your divorce? No, it won't.

Your marriage will be over because you are both behaving very immaturely.

My quick recommendation is couples therapy. You should check on post for the availability for therapy. If there isn't any available, you can contact Military OneSource or Tricare and they will connect you to a therapist in your local community.

Moreover, I also think you and your husband could benefit from individual counseling.

Think about it: A person surely has several negative cognitions to continually verbally attack their spouse over and over again. Improving individually will definitely help you as a couple.

I will stop here, but keep in touch with me and let me know what you decide.

-- Ms. Vicki

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