Denying Sex to husband for a long time without any justification amounts to mental cruelty and is a ground for divorce, Delhi high court has said.

Why do and how do people deny sex to their marital partners?

Usually this is a result of power struggles between the spouses.

Anger is at the root of marital/sexual discord. The anger or hostility may be within one’s consciousness or beyond awareness. This will express overtly (by outright denial of sex) or covertly (using one excuse or the other). More destructive than straight forward hostility is the denial of hostility accompanied by defenses against its awareness and overt experience. Overt anger can be dealt with, but covert anger is often denied or not perceived and its manifestations then are rationalized.

By what mechanism is marital discord translated into sexual difficulty, or exactly how does the castrating woman castrate.

When the anger is covert, the partner is denied sex as a punishment, to get even with. This sabotage takes many forms and quite effectively deprives the other partner of his/her conjugal bliss.

A wide array of sexual sabotage maneuvers are employed by ambivalent marital partners.

In essence, in poor sexual relationships one partner fails to encourage the flowering of sexual expression of the other. Instead one subtly punishes, discourages, frustrates and undermines the other’s sexual confidence in a covert manner which is not recognized or appreciated by either. Sometimes such hidden enemies are incredibly sensitive to the needs and points of weakness of the other and use this knowledge to effectively ‘castrate’. Sexual sabotage is not open and overt, but subtle and unacknowledged by both. The following are some clever sexual sabotages commonly encountered in clinical practice.

Pressure and Tension: The seductive lover carefully creates an ambience of relaxation and builds up his/her partner’s self-esteem. An excellent means to destroy sex is to do the opposite, to create pressure and tension prior to the act of lovemaking. Some persons pick quarrels, make demands, criticize and insult the partner, and bring up anxiety provoking topics such as money worries just before initiating lovemaking. Or one may in all innocence say, ‘Gee, you’re getting kind of fat aren’t you’, or ‘Okay, but the kids are due home any minute now. We’ll have to keep an ear out for them’.

Other effective devices for pressuring the partner so she/he cannot function are: just prior to or preferably during lovemaking to demand sexual performance; to let him know you expect him to have an instant erection; to insist that only coital orgasm is acceptable; to indicate he/she is not pleasing but not tell him/her what would please. An especially effective anti-sexual device is to say something that will mobilize the partner’s anger or his/her anxiety about being abandoned.

Using Proper Timing: Great lovers are exquisitely sensitive to when the other desires sex. In contrast, delay of sex when the partner is in the mood and demands for sex when he is not can be destructive. Each time the husband wants to make love, the wife is either tired, or she has to first complete a series of tasks – the dishes must be done, the children attended to, a phone call make, etc. However, when he is fatigued, has overindulged in alcohol, or is preoccupied with business matters, she suddenly becomes amorous and demands sex. One patient, a man, could think of no better excuse so he decided that he had to set right the malfunctioning car music system just when his wife was lying in bed, perfumed and bathed, waiting to make love. It is hardly surprising that when he returned one hour later and said, ‘Okay, honey, let’s go’, she was no longer in a very romantic mood.

Making Oneself Repulsive:the person who is engaged in a romantic conquest may go to infinite trouble to make him/herself appealing. Diets, exercises, deodorants, hairstyles, clothing, tooth brushing, cosmetics are all used in the service of enhancing one’s appeal to the lover. In sharp contrast is the partner who unconsciously destroys his/her sexual appeal. Such persons become fat, smoke cigars, take no care with grooming or toilet, or, more subtly, move in a stiff non-sensuous manner, or speak in harsh tones. It is no surprise if a man is impotent when he gets into bed with his fat, oily, smelly, unbathed wife, who has not brushed her teeth but has taken the trouble to put curlers in her hair.

Frustrating the Partner’s Sexual Desires:Frustration of sexual wishes is the exact reverse of seduction. The sabotaging partner is highly sensitive to what the other desires and withholds this, usually with the excuse that the craved activity is too anxiety provoking, disgusting, taxing or immoral:

He likes her to swing her hips – she lies motionless.
He needs to be made to feel loved and desired – she is tired and ‘does him a favor’.

She likes to move actively – he pin her down.

He is very stimulated by touching her breasts – she feels ‘ticklish’ and cannot bear to have her breasts touched.

He has his best erections in the morning she insists on sex at night only.

One such man’s comment whenever his wife indicated she would like to be stimulated was, ‘Do I have to push that button again?’

These frustrating interactions may reflect deep hostility

However, all sexually destructive transactions are not invariably the expression of hostility towards the partner, although they may be incorrectly ascribed to this. Often sabotaging behavior is the consequence of the spouse’s intrapsychic problems and /or anxiety and insecurity about sexual functioning.

Whatever may be the motive, whatever may the method of sabotage, denial of sex to the marital partner is detrimental to the relationship. Either seeking therapeutic help or parting ways amicably is better than living in an acrimonious relationship.