Relationship Support: How to Gain More Affection in a Relationship
Is my husband withholding affection and sex from me as a punishment or is he just depressed?
Thank you for your question! I find it really important but also tricky to answer. No matter how you look at it, there is only one person who can truly give you an answer: your husband. Reading this might make you feel disillusioned, but I think there is a past history and other reasons why you don’t want to talk to him directly or why you feel like you can’t do it. Therefore, I want to give you some advice and tips on how to talk about difficult things first, and then I will share some thoughts about dynamics and relationships with you, which will maybe make you look at your situation from a new perspective.
How to communicate, what is difficult to communicate
Do you already know the concept of nonviolent communication? I’ve know it for years, yet I tend to forget to use it when I find myself in a specific situation. When I do use it, I can see that it makes all the difference, so I recommend you give it a try! Nonviolent communication is about describing your own perspective of the situation first. What have you noticed? How does your partner act differently than he did before? You could express your thoughts like this, for example, “Honey, I’ve noticed lately that you’re very quiet and you’re barely talking to me. I also feel like you’re showing less interest in intimacy and that you’re withdrawing from me.”
As a next step, tell your partner how that makes you feel. You might say: “I’m worried because I don’t know the reason for this change. I’m wondering if I did something wrong or if I hurt you. I’m not sure if you’re okay, which bothers me.” Next, you can express what you wish for: “I wish we would talk about this openly. If there is something bothering you, please tell me. And if I hurt you in any way, know that I’m ready to work on it. I want things between us to be good and I want you to be fine.”
I really want to encourage you to talk to your husband and be honest, even if it’s hard for you to do, because there is no way around communicating with each other! Communication is THE most important foundation of a successful and fulfilling relationship. There is no way around it and no shortcut you can take.
A shift in perspective
I can sense from your question that you’re trying to please your husband; you want him to like you and you’re trying to be a good wife to him. You provided two points of view: A) By withholding sex, he is trying to pressure you and make you act in a certain way or he wants you to feel remorse. Displaying this type of behavior is rather uncommon for men but it is not impossible, of course. B) He has problems, needs or feelings he can’t share with you and that’s why he’s becoming distant. So your question implies that there are only two explanations for the situation: You’re partner is punishing you, or he is “depressed”. But could there also be another reason why your significant other doesn’t want to have sex with you? I don’t know the answer to this but I want to put this important question on the table.
In an equal relationship based on respect both partners are honest with each other and each person is responsible for their own feelings and their happiness. I don’t know much about your situation but it might be helpful for you to analyze the role you play in your relationship and the dynamics between you two by asking yourself: What is my responsibility? What is not?
If you make mistakes or hurt your partner then it’s your responsibility to apologize and try to do better next time. I also think it’s your responsibility to address and talk openly about the things you’ve noticed. Your husband is responsible for communicating what he doesn’t like, what makes him feel hurt, and things like that. It is not your responsibility to feel or be able to guess how he’s doing, and it is also not your responsibility to make your partner happy.
Try to look at your situation in the following way: You’re two people who love each other and are willing to support one another. You’re both adults and each one of you is his/her own person responsible for his/her own feelings and well-being. You’re both aware of your responsibilities and you’re willing to work on your relationship. Looking at the situation from this point of view, what kind of behavior do you wish to see from your husband or how do you want him to treat you? What kind of behavior did you display that allowed him to pressure you and play this guessing game with you? How can you act differently now?
Since resolving and rebuilding new relationship dynamics can be a lengthy process, I would advise you to seek professional advice from a therapist or counselor. You’re already doing it via U!Shine in a way, which is great, but talking to a professional in person will allow him/her to analyze your specific situation in depth.
Thank you for being brave and sharing your question! I wish I could give you a simpler answer, but I hope that at least some of the things I discussed will help you.
I wish you all the best for your relationship! Be courageous!
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About the Professional: Lisa Kögler
Lisa is a certified life coach and counselor with a passion for art and design. She launched her own coaching business called “Verbesserlich” - www.verbesserlich.com - which is based in Vienna. Lisa loves to study so she is also currently enrolled as a student of psychotherapy at the University of Vienna. She cannot wait to put all of her coaching ideas, courses and knowledge into practice and to help people in Vienna and Austria. She is looking forward to helping especially those who are unsure of what they want to do with their lives, who feel stressed and need a (new) direction in life.
Lisa lives in a loving and fulfilling relationship with her girlfriend. In her spare-time she runs a group called “Zwischenraum_Wien”, which is intended for people of the LGBT+ community who are being discriminated against by their church.