Went for another hike last weekend with friends. This time, someone knew where we were going and so all I had to do was follow. What a great illustration for us and Jesus. He knows where we are to go, what steps to take, what pitfalls and dangers are ahead. He shepherds the way. Others may think they know the way you’re to go, but that’s not always true. Stay close to him. He is the only one who knows you and loves you perfectly.
To sign up for my free webinar on December 3, on living your own story instead of being a victim in someone else’s story, sign up here.
Today’s Question: My husband has not spoken to me for months but still wants to have sex with me. Am I wrong for refusing? We are both Christians.
Answer: You say that you “refuse” to engage in sexual intimacy with your husband who has not spoken to you for months. You’re wondering as a married Christian woman if that’s okay with God.
On some level, you must believe it’s acceptable since you are continuing to refuse his overtures for sex. Since he has not spoken to you in months, how does he communicate with you that he desires sexual intimacy?
Here’s the bottom line. Touch and talk are the primary channels human beings use to become more intimate with one another. They are also the primary ways we harm one another. For example, you can talk superficially such as, “Nice weather we’re having,” and never really get to know someone personally. Intimate conversation goes deeper. Intimate talk is about sharing one’s dreams, goals, ideas, and feelings. Personal conversation builds closeness and intimacy. On the other hand, conversations, where there is screaming, mocking, degrading, demeaning, and dismissing comments, kills closeness in any relationship. It makes conversations feel unsafe. Refusing to talk to someone for long periods of time is also manipulative, punishing, and breaks trust.
The same holds true with touch. You can shake hands (pre-COVID) with lots of people that you will never build significant relationships with. Physical closeness moves beyond superficial touch to personal touch, a hug, a pat on the back, a squeeze on the shoulder. Physical intimacy with someone moves even closer with kissing, sexual touch, and mutual nakedness. And, in a moment of anger a slap, a punch, a pinch, or forcing someone to do something sexually breaks trust and safety. And that always kills intimacy.
God does not only care about the sex act in marriage, he also cares about the relationship that expresses that sexual act. God created sexual intimacy for our good and our pleasure. It cements people together. That’s why he tells us not to be casual about sex and to save it for a committed, safe, relationship, i.e. marriage. Click To Tweet
So right now, your husband has withdrawn all conversation from you. He refuses to talk. Yet he expects you to be willing to engage sexually with him. That makes no Biblical sense. He’s treating you like a body to use, not a person (wife) to love. You are within your Biblical right to refuse to enable that kind of selfish thinking.
To love him well doesn’t mean letting him use you sexually so that his sexual needs are satisfied. Rather it means you will be strong enough and loving enough to confront him on his silent treatment and invite him into a meaningful conversation about the status of your marriage so that hopefully all aspects can be healed and restored.
If he refuses, don’t beg him to do what he is unwilling to do. But don’t pretend you have intimacy when there is this huge problem in your relationship he refuses to discuss and resolve.
Meanwhile, get some help for your own self so that you don’t beg, cave in, or get reactive and bitter. The silent treatment is a manipulative tool of coercive control. If he can get you to react to it by breaking you down, he will continue to use it to control you to get what he wants. This is an immature and unhealthy person’s way of handling his or her own internal feelings and problems. When you notice it controlling you, you have your own work to do even if he never changes.
Friends, How have you been able to stand strong yet loving against the manipulative tactic of the “silent treatment” when someone has used it on you?
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After a five hour car ride home during which my then husband gave me the silent treatment, I confronted him with calm conviction. While he was silent in those five hours, his made his hatred for me known. I told him instead of one issue (what we were initially in conflict about), we now had two: the initial problem and now his silent treatment of me. I wish I could say that after I confronted him he realized how destructive the silent treatment was, apologized, and we were able to work through that and the initial problem, but that’s not our story.
Regardless of our outcome, my sense of awareness in that situation and conviction to stand and confront him was the start of something amazing for me. I was clear for once, strong for once, convicted for once. I owned my convictions and stood for what was right, unafraid of his reaction.
What I found interesting after that incident was that anytime I would speak to him with calm conviction, he would react. I learned to observe him after any confrontation. His true self came through each time.
The silent treatment he gave me stopped working once I stopped caring whether he approved of me. I don’t think he stopped doing it, it just stopped affecting me.
Annie, That’s about the same here. I said something in September that he didn’t like, and he hasn’t really talked since. This week he started to be nice and call me dear again, thinking that all was forgotten. Nope. Every once in a while he decides we need to ‘talk’. Then he proceeds to go on and on about how we can make changes. This year I decided to sit back and really observe what he is saying, watch his body language, etc. I also took the Give Her Wings class, and am seeing the whole schmeer. Gaslighting, crocodile tears, lying, excuses, blame-shifting. It’s actually quite interesting how he just simply does not think like I do. So many things he says are subtle threats. He was bragging about something he did ‘for me’ when he ‘could have been mean, you know’. That’s when I really realized that ‘mean’ is his normal. Doing something ‘nice’ is so abnormal that he expects a parade. Yet even the ‘nice’ is for his benefit, not mine. I think I am being respectful yet protecting my heart, but of course he says I’m the one giving the silent treatment. I honestly believe that he sets me up for failure in his eyes so he has an excuse to feel sorry for himself. I think that’s the real addiction.
This week he squeezed out a tear and told me how he just didn’t know what to do anymore. “I pray and pray and God just doesn’t answer.” Um, and all those books and seminars we started to read and go to, when as soon as it got uncomfortable you quit? That wouldn’t be God answering, would it? He thinks he can do it by himself, no input from anyone, especially me. When all he has ever known is ‘mean’, how can he even think to change himself?
Anyway, I don’t know why the silent treatment, it’s part of withholding. Withholding whatever we need or want is a game. I think they actually think we’ll give them what they want that way. Maybe mother did, and I guess for a while I did too.
I was going to add, even when he doesn’t talk, you know when he wants sex. I used to ‘give it’. I guess I thought it would keep him a bit happy for a while. Maybe I was living in my own la-la land. 🙂
I always enjoy reading what you post. I think you really understand the dynamics of abuse. I am sorry you still have to live in such a difficult living arrangement. I agree that to disassociate is an effective coping mechanism, however, what a shame that any of us have to do it. Sometimes I forget there is a whole world of people who are loved, respected, honored and enriched by their marriage. The reality is that love is the norm, not the twisted mind games we have to endure.
It’s amazing when our eyes are lifted about ‘someone’s mean’ being their normal! Your husband sounds incredibly emotionally lazy! Next time you entertain the conversation about God not answering him, maybe suggest that God is answering him showing him that he wants God to do what God requires of us all to do, surrender to the process of change and yes this isn’t in a closet by ourselves and this is about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable!
The silent treatment often works early in relationships as a tactic to get what they want- yes it’s mind games, many times we don’t realize that we have jumped through hoops in the past to fix the emotional abuse norms of these people and once we wake up they don’t get how their tactics don’t work anymore!
My h used to do the silent treatment as one of his pouty avoidance parties for himself, he got to check out and I got left with the other responsibilities. When it became clear, even the smallest turn to silent treatment I would have to remind him I don’t do marriage with a 2 year old! Or engage in middle school relationships🤦🏽♀️
2 year olds withhold – when they can’t communicate and when they need to express themselves. Developmentally we grow/parented through this, some choose not to.
I’m not answering Leslie’s question…… but since Asperger’s issues are gaining some recognition here, I want to point out that such “silent treatment” could very well be related to Asperger’s, and thus not intentional in the sense of being manipulative. That doesn’t minimize the pain or anything else Leslie said about what a marriage is. But look into the possibility of Asperger’s.
(BTW online “tests” for Asperger’s can in no way be relied upon for diagnosis, but they can be a thought-provoking place to start. It’s challenging to find good information online but one can start with Mark Hutten’s youtubes and website. No one site is without limitations, so read many, and one of the best books is Eva Mendes’ “Marriage and Lasting Relationships with Asperger’s Syndrome.”)
I found Leslie’s reply to this question very meaningful to a similar problem I have with my husband. Thank you!
I’m following this thread.
My H often shuts me out especially if he’s upset with me. Which happened just an hour ago. I went to the store to pick up 4 items and came home with only three. I had a senior moment. Two items were mine and two were his.
When I arrived home he asked me if I got his items. I replied that I’d forgotten one of them. It slipped my mind. Then I began chatting with him about my morning. He sat in his chair with his nose in his computer and didn’t answer me at all.
I asked him if he wanted me to head out and pick up what I’d forgotten. His sullen reply, “I don’t know.” I felt bad forgetting what he wanted.
I grabbed my purse and said I was heading out. No response.
While I was at the store he texted he was going hunting. I acknowledged his text.
My H doesn’t have aspergers. Though I’m beginning to think, however, he’s on the NPD scale of covert abuser. We don’t have physical intimacy and we don’t touch. He told me years ago he’s not a handholding kind of guy and doesn’t like public displays of any type of affection. We have a sporadic nightly half hearted hug and that’s it.
Because of his abuse and anger issues, I’m developing an escape plan so I can TLC on myself and clear my head and decide what I want to do with my relationship (or lack there of). I’m curious to see what others have to say about the “silent” treatment.
Brave, I have no experience with the silent treatment. My abuser yelled and yelled and yelled. He lectured, pontificated, judged the world and everyone in it, assigning blame to every but himself. Hopefully others will answer your questions about the silent treatment.
However, I would like to encourage you and hear more about your escape plan. What is your timeline? Are you remembering to not notify your abuser of your plan and your exit date? Have you told some safe people who can protect you? I hope so. Keep us posted on your journey into self respect and freedom!
Hi Moon Beam. Sorry for what you went through.
I’ve copied records to take with me. I have my original personal papers. I’ve said nothing to h. I’m planning on leaving a letter. Covid has put a wrinkle in things. Though I have an emergency plan to implement if it becomes necessary. I have lined up two places to land. Both are in other states.
I had a date that has come and went. I may have been exposed to Covid. It’s been 13 days since we’ve confined ourselves to home. It’s looking like we are in the clear. Thank God! I don’t have an alternate date yet.
I live in a community property state, so I’m good there. There are no children to consider.
I’ve not consulted with a lawyer, though I’ve read a lot of law for my state. Right now I don’t plan on filing for legal separation. H’s love of money is great, therefore, I don’t think he would squander what we have spent a lifetime saving. Especially since it’s what we’ve been using to retire on.
Financially things have fallen into place. One of my safe people said there is inexpensive housing available.
I’ve contacted the DV center in my state. I got a lot of good information there. They’ve advised me to call the DV center where ever I land as resources there will be specific to that area.
I’m figuring timing is belonging to my Lord and Savior. Trying to keep my focus on him and not my circumstances. I day dream about living on the other side. 😉
Thank you for your encouragement!
You do seem ready. I will pray for you!! Good planning!
Unfortunately, my husband does both-rages, including the lecturing and dominating all conversation, as well as the silent treatment. I think I have so many walls up now due to the abuse, that the silent treatment is actually a relief. I know my kids think it is a relief. It used to hurt so badly. Now I see it differently. He is either a pouty toddler or an angry, seething, scary man that I don’t want to be around anyway. I’m learning to use the silent treatment as a gift in that I don’t have to deal with him. I guess I have just shut down a lot.
Patrick Doyle has an online education and support group you could join. It has a rolling admission and is only $35 month. Google Patrick Doyle Life. Of course Leslie’s groups and teachings are great too. I think enrolling in Patrick’s group would help you immediately. Leslie has great groups too. She helps with a wide variety of issues, including abuse. Patrick’s material is laser focused to specifically treat abusive relationships.
Moon Beam, thanks so much for the suggestion. I can barely make the cost of Leslie’s Conquer work right now, but I am hoping and praying to find a more lucrative job. Once that happens, I will definitely look into joining Patrick’s support group. I really appreciate you help!! Maybe he has some free resources that I can look at in the meantime.
We all can pray and agree together for the Lord to provide a more lucrative job for Lily. And then, Lily, figure out a way to prevent him from taking your hard-earned money from you.
To answer this question, I would say, have sex if you feel like it. I don’t imagine you want to use him like he is using you, but you can if you want. He is objectifying you.
What do you want from this dead relationship in the future? You can’t change anyone but you can change yourself. You can lower your expectations and be a concubine, or respect your self and leave the man. Either way, it is your body and your choice. Don’t blame him. He has revealed to you on more than one occasion, that his has control issues. Men like him think it is perfectly acceptable to punish you with the abusive tactic of silence because he believes he is superior to you. Men who think like this rarely change. Their entitlement thinking lasts a lifetime.
Autumn, thanks for your direct response. I’m going to copy and paste this and look at this daily. I am stuck in a limbo that I am starting to realize only I have the power to get unstuck from. He has shown me who he is, both good and bad. The good (works hard, is extremely helpful when he wants to be, great leader and strategizer, and now my mind goes blank with nothing else) the bad (verbally, emotionally, financially, psychologically abusive employing all the nasty techniques of a narcissist). I am living my dream of creating a family and home-although what he says is what we do. We are all damaged from the toxicity and trauma from this “home”. I am working on gaining the strength, confidence and financial stability to leave. My girls look at me as a victim and I have modeled being one, despite my “fighting back” and “defending us”. I feel so powerless most of the time, but in my heart I know what I need to do. My most recent session with my Christian therapist was hard for me. She said I was “using” my husband because I didn’t either stay and move back into the bedroom and “be his wife” or leave and deal with a broken home, no financial support for myself and kids etc. I know part of the reason that I stay is because I strongly fear his retaliation once I tell him I am leaving. He has the means to cut me off from everything-financially and emotionally. He will simply turn off all positive emotions towards me and I will truly be his enemy. I know that will be true, since I’ve seen him do it to others, and I am not ready for that. But her words still sit with me. They cut me, but maybe it’s what I needed to hear.
Bless you precious Lily. You need a new counselor. You are NOT using this man.
You have a skilled abuser on your hands. The most skilled abusers have some polished “good” behaviors. That is how they keep you hooked. If your abuser was mean all the time and revealed his manipulative thoughts, you would never of stayed with him. He enjoys controlling you, and fooling the general public with his fake persona. He is a liar. This may sound shocking, but as I have written before, these behaviors are not unique. They are pathological.
I think you may like Natalie Hoffman’s site, Flying Free. It offers support for women like us and she features great podcasts too.
I also think it is great you are planning for a financial and physical escape. Our thinking gets so clouded when we let our minds remember what we thought were the abuser’s real self. You know the one we think he “really” is, the guy we fell in love with….That man is a fake. He only exists on our minds. We think this way because of denial. We deny how bad the abuse is and make excuses that help us stay for more manipulation and evil.
The real guy is a con man. If we are taking narcissism here, He loved bombed you. He liked having you around to puff up his public image, feed his ego and/or because you had something to offer him that made his life easier. The general stages for narcissistic attack are targeting, grooming, isolation and then shared fantasy. Of course you can look all this up yourself, it takes years to grasp the truth of it all.
It is a difficult road out of abuse. Yet, it is worth all the effort you put into it. The relationship with your children will vary as they grow and are removed from the evil. First, get your ducks in a row. You get yourself and them safe. Make a plan, get safe people around you. Communicate only by email with your abuser after you left. Not text, email. Record verbal abuse on your phone when possible before you leave. Make copies of important records too.
Contact your local domestic violence shelter. They help thousands of women escape abusers and know the local laws. Finally, don’t tell him you are leaving. This is for your safety. Be strong and don’t buy his crocodile tears either. If you can, Let us know when pick a date or week to flee, so we can all pray for you.
Autumn, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be validated by you! The last time I saw my therapist was in February, pre Covid. It isn’t only that she told me that I was using him, the guy who she told me to leave countless times, it was how she said it. She literally yelled “You are USING HIM!” Nothing about cognitive dissonance or trauma bonds or feeling powerless. Nothing that showed me that she understood the reason why my career, which used to be quite lucrative, had been replaced by a low level, low compensating job that barely helped and that he took the paycheck of every month. I haven’t gone back to see her, but she was my emotional support. Hence joining Conquer, even though I have to hide the expense of it. I will get through this, with the help of wise and supportive people like you as well as others that God puts into my life. Already I am slowly starting to get some clarity about my confusing situation. The fact that he really can be a great guy doesn’t help. It makes me live in that fantasy land of doubting myself and believing that the real husband is the good husband, despite all the terrible things he does and says. And all of the games he plays.
Lily, I found that God used various ways to help me understand what was happening to me. It took time for me to fully comprehend the truth of my situation. If God revealed everything to me in its entirety, I probably could not of taken it psychologically. He was wise and merciful in his love for me.
Although, incredibly painful, God was by my side and provided over and over again in ways only he can. He loves you too. You are a good woman.
This is a hard thing for me to post. It does not follow the current topic.
I believe God guides me to share my experience so others might find Him and the answers they seek. When I come here, I try to remember and understand that I cannot know another’s personal circumstances, where they are in their journey or where their loved ones might be as their decisions affect them as well. I cannot decide what is best for them in their current situation. That is between them and God. I feel I need to do my best not to allow my own experience to influence what I say to others and ask God to guide my response to be something that might encourage others. I remind myself to trust God to know what each person truly needs and to guide them to that truth when they are ready.
I feel discouraged by some of the posts I have read here lately. Some of the questions and statements made in response to others remind me of how unsafe it can be when I choose to speak for myself.
I beg of everyone here to ask themselves if this is the direction we want these conversations to go. If we had heard or read these words when were at our most vulnerable, would we have fought on or would we have given up?
I am at a point in my journey where I recognize the fear, doubt and shame when it tries to rear its ugly head in me. I understand and believe I have the choice on whether to allow it in my life or have the strength to let go and move on. I ask everyone to remember others may not be at the same point in their life. I believe I must respect and treat each individual’s journey with the utmost care and respect.
Leslie has recently released some facebook chats and webinars that are very encouraging. Thy provide great balance to our comments.
Personally, I want to post comments that don’t perpetuate denial or prolong abuse by contributing to the fantastical balm of hope-ium. I needed someone to speak the truth to me repeatedly, even if I didn’t like how it was said to me, before I finally broke free from bondage. Most Christian women stay in abusive marriages even with years of counseling. We are a determined and devoted group.
Of course we are also individuals with widely differing situations, however, our abuser’s tactics come the same bag of tricks. The pathology of abuse is well defined and psychologically and physiologically diagnosable. The individual dynamics and nuances of abuse can vary, but a destructive relationship is a destructive relationship. We all battle the same root problem.
Our responses vary, as our personalities do. I chose to pray for those in situations that are beyond my scope of experience. The gentle approach is great. Kindness is a good thing. However, in my case I needed a bit of tough love to escape. I think there is room for all styles of help and support. I have yet to find any posts unsafe and when there was an issue of concern, a moderator quickly stepped in and corrected things.
Lily, a ton of free resources from Patrick Doyle. Videos people often watch over and over and over on you tube via the Dove network.
Thank you for sharing this.