Anger And Sexless Marriage

The Role of Anger
What is the role of anger in sexless marriages? 
Lately I’ve been considering the different ways that anger is demonstrated on this forum and wondering exactly how this relates to sexless marriage.
Anger is a logical response to abuse – and sexless marriages ARE emotionally abusive. Anger can be a great motivator for the Refused person – it is often the catalyst for action.  Anger may be the last emotion to resist numbness and despair, and is thus a survival mechanism, a final attempt to make good.  So it definitely has its place in sexless marriage.
But if anger is to be productive, it needs to be harnessed and used appropriately.  The scatter-gun approach in which the Refused person sprays their anger indiscriminately is unlikely to reap good results for that person – or for anyone else.
On ILIASM this seems to be revealed as sarcastic comments on posts where the person does not see eye-to-eye with the original poster (OP), or as criticism of any viewpoint that does not reflect their own.   (And I’m NOT talking about the trolls or the obviously nutty comments from those with no understanding of sexless marriage.  I’m talking about the genuine posters who are struggling with their own situations.)
Examples include those who belittle others for what they perceive to be naïve or uninformed perceptions.  When OPs first come to ILIASM they are (almost) always at the early stages of facing the true reality of the long term effects of their sexless marriages.  Some (like me!) take years or decades to reach this point.   When these OPs are met with scathing remarks, sarcasm or patronising posts, it is devastating.  It is hardly surprising that some posters never return and therefore miss out on the true value of this forum.
Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D. clinical psychologist says:   . . . anger makes you see the world in simplistic, absolutist terms. Everything looks either black or white--as in "I'm good and you're bad," or "I'm completely right and you're totally wrong."
And “behaviours performed in this impassioned emotional state can be rash and imprudent.”
When anyone gives reign to their anger and does not attempt to understand it or control it, then the anger controls her/him.   Instead of seeing how this anger can be used to change their life, the person is actually FURTHER disadvantaged by the anger they feel.    This person takes on the victim persona – “I am badly done by and it isn’t fair”.  “Everyone else is wrong - only I know the real truth”.  “Other people whose opinions  vary from mine are AGAINST me.”
The triggers for your anger are usually found in the unresolved anger of your past.  If you have previously suffered abuse of any sort (and we all have!) then your “stored up” anger will exacerbate your angry feelings in current situations.  If you fail to recognise this, you will lay all the blame for your anger on the current environment (person, situation) and that is both unrealistic and unreasonable.

Dr Vesna Grubacevicsays:    It is important to take responsibility for the anger you feel because you are the one feeling it, rather than blaming your partner, family or friends for making you feel angry.

I’m not saying you have no reason to feel anger – you do!  And feeling angry is normal and a natural response to feeling disempowered or discriminated against.  But blaming the world for how you feel simply externalizes the issue and fails to give YOU any opportunity to benefit from the feeling.

Anger that is blamed entirely on the catalyst of that anger is likely to be inappropriate. 
Leon F. Seltzersays:   When you vigorously--and misguidedly--let out your anger with others (rather than more calmly communicate your frustrations), your unconscious motive is to defeat them, triumph over them, bury them. For you assume that they, not yourself, have caused your anger. But the fact is that no one has the power to make you mad independent of your own negatively biased appraisal of their intentions.

A different response to anger, but one that is also ineffective, is to bury it or deny it.  Sometimes this is done for fear of the outcome of expressing the anger – and I think this is probably very common in sexless marriages.  Numbness and despair may be the outcome here – and neither of these feelings is productive.   Suppressing anger also results in a range of unhealthy outcomes.  Some are physical (such as migraines, stomach upsets, sleep irregularities) whilst others are psychological in nature (depression, resentment, moodiness and self doubt).

The person whose long term anger is not dealt with appropriately (whether inappropriately expressed or suppressed) often exists in a consistently “angry” environment. Bitterness is "anger that is retained" and hatred is “anger that is hardened”.

Timothy Quek says:     “. . . chronic anger chokes out other feelings and becomes a solution for most problems. If there is an awareness of chronic anger, then the person goes into a guilt-binge cycle, that is, unsuccessfully suppressing anger because of guilt feelings, then getting intensely angry without reserve, and then returning to anger suppression. This cycle prevents the person from learning other ways to express feelings.” 

And the chronically angry person nurtures a social and emotional environment that promotes anger”.    (Note: the emphases are mine.)

How should we handle anger then?
Anger serves an important purpose in our lives.  It alerts us to the fact that “something is wrong”.  It acts as a spur for us to act to change the situation. Once anger dies, it is replaced by apathy or indifference, so for some people, it is one way of keeping a relationship alive – albeit at a negative level.

Positive handling of anger requires hard work on our part.  

  • Figure out the source of your anger -   know why you feel angry. (Note: this involves looking into yourself and your past, and recognizing the ways in which your current situation triggers old grievances.)

  • Be willing to release your anger.  

  • Be compassionate with your self.   

  • Let go of what is beyond your control.

  • Change your environment.  

  • Evaluate what kind of a person you want to be.

Dr Vesna Grubacevic says:     You can learn to deal with anger and to manage it as it comes up. This is only a temporary solution because the underlying anger will still be unresolved and will still be pushing your buttons and causing you to overreact.  A more lasting solution is to deal with the underlying anger. The best way to be free of the anger once and for all is to address it in a safe and comfortable way, without having to relive the anger or the trauma of the past in order to let it go.

Sexless marriage is a rich source of anger.  Anger in this situation can be a force for good if it is harnessed appropriately and used to stimulate change.  But if it is denied or allowed to over-ride everything else, it will be destructive.   Unfortunately no drugs, hypnosis, or cognitive restructuring will make your anger go away.  There are no short cuts to doing the hard work yourself.  But if you DO undertake it, you can  . . .  transform any destructive anger into a wonderful, much needed life-force.    (Gudrun Frerichs)
enna30 enna30
56-60, F
20 Responses May 9, 2011

Nice post, and I had high hopes of getting some forward progress while reading it, until I came to the vague advice at the end:

- Figure out the source of your anger - know why you feel angry. (Note: this involves looking into yourself and your past, and recognizing the ways in which your current situation triggers old grievances.)
(Well this is the easy bit: ILIASM, and she won't/can't get into a solution mode about this)

- Be willing to release your anger.
( Hmmm. How do I do that exactly? What does this even mean? Does "release" mean "break something"? Or does it mean "Forget about it, you're never going to change anything"? Or does it mean something else altogether. Or perhaps it's one of those soft-focus but completely unactionable pieces of advice? )

- Be compassionate with your self.
(Yes - this bit I can get. But after so many years of trying to understand her feelings and being there for her every need, being compassionate with myself just feels... well, selfish.)

- Let go of what is beyond your control.
(So how does this apply to anger in a SM? Let go of the SM? i.e. the S? or the lack of S? or the M? All of t is beyond my control. She is in control. )

- Change your environment.
( OK - I did that. I left. Now I'm being guilt-tripped into returning.)

- Evaluate what kind of a person you want to be.
( I want to be a happy person. She's pretty well robbed me of that for well over a decade)

As you can probably tell, there is still plenty of anger there. And I'd really like there not to be. But what to do? What to ACTUALLY do?

This post is utter bullshit. As a 47 year-old man trapped in a sexless marriage for almost 16 years, the ANGER I feel due to being cheated of a normal life for that many years is completely justified. To blame myself for my feelings of anger is absolute garbage. I've been blamed for enough. I am the victim in this scenario. I wonder if the author of this udder crap would feel that a rape victim's anger was unjustified. This is merely the other side of the coin.

I don't remember writing this post, but I'm fairly sure the second "udder" was intended to be a pun.

Another great post from our friend Enna. It is true anger serves a purpose in our lives. It is our reaction/action after the initial feelings of anger that makes the difference. I fell into a cycle of constant anger about my sexless marriage. It began to infiltrate every area of my life. Eventually, I became a person who was angry all the time.<br />
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The problem is that when you are angry someone pays for your anger. Your health will most likely suffer if you are angry all the time. You may direct your anger to a friend or stranger. That person may become angry and take it out on someone else. The anger spreads like a wild fire consuming those in it's path. It is destructive anger.<br />
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Now, change your perspective regarding anger. When you become angry, ask yourself what demand is not being met in life. Stay calm and work out a solution to having the demand fulfilled. Sometimes the demand will never be fulfilled and you must except that as fact. Stopping before your reaction and asking "What's really going on here?" will prove to be more productive in the long run. It becomes constructive/productive anger.<br />
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Everything is still "Status Quo" here in my marriage, but at least I am no longer coming apart at the seams from my anger/frustration.

My wife was angry nearly all of the time until she got what she wanted: she told me she did not love me and I told her we have to split.<br />
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PWL, <br />
Does your wife refuse to have sex with you? or is it just too complicated?

Gentleman1, <br />
Just a few thoughts on your comment and they are my personal opinions. I reckon that anger is as much a part of our emotional spectrum as joy and pleasure. I agree that understanding its reason is important but to imply causality from it is reaching a little. Forgiveness also has little to do with anger per se but is really a choice made from a myriad of premises. In of itself, anger does not predicate a spiral in either direction. Rather it is what we do with that anger which is closer associated with whether it becomes something negative or positive. Also, understanding need not lead to acceptance, nor does acceptance lead to problem solving - there is no ready sequence. More likely, we choose to solve or sit on something ba<x>sed on what is in it for us, either way. To my way of thinking, the reality of the emotional spectrum is that it is varied interwoven and rich in texture - the difficulty is being present in it and that is the challenge. And I agree, what we do with that anger is definitely a choice we make. Cheers.

I haven't yet read all of the comments so pardon me if I am repeating something already said or we have gone beyond this point but sometimes the anger is not directed at the OP but at their situation and that can be beneficial as well. The sarcasm can help them see another point of view. <br />
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I have been here for a while and I have dealt with both and while living in a SM leaves you vulnerable it also helps strengthen us up enough to handle the sarcasm. I was grateful for the comments that were sarcastic because they made me pause and think. They were the comments that really helped propel me out the door.<br />
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Diversity is part of life and should be embrassed. By telling people to make nice with everyone especially the newbies is just another form of censorship and I would not encourage it at all.

Cumber "Remember, you are anonymous so, go ahead, ask the tough questions, we are here for ya."<br />
Are we really? I noticed that EP has sent some of my posting to my Facebook account. Now I have to explain all this to my Aunts, Uncles, brothers and sister, my friends at church....It is a mess.<br />
If anyone knows how to block that from happening please help!

Ano.............. Your right!<br />
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I would have never married her if I thought she felt that way.<br />
I the beginning she couldn't get enough sex. Her biggest complaint was she always had to be the aggressor. But again, she is delusional. What made her think I was not seducing her. The woman has to decide she wants it or not. You can't force them.<br />
During the Superbowl one year, tie score, 4 th quarter....She comes in with a see through négligée and stands next to the TV. She says make up your mind right now, "TV or me" I think I made the wrong decision. I chose her! I didn't know it was a trick question. Should I stay or should I go?<br />
Well thats my decision to make. I know she says hurtful things and does not really mean it.<br />
We even discussed her liking "sex, just not with me". She now denies ever saying that. But still, I am refused any sort of intimacy.

" She says she loves sex, just not with me. did she say that to hurt me, or is that her true feelings. " <br />
The motive does not matter once she tells you the truth. <br />
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As far as I am concerned, your wife expressed something that is very hurtful and destructive to the marriage. I can not speak for you but most wedding ( ha! I was about to type weeding ) vows are a convoluted way of saying " I love you and I want to share my body with you and only you. " Maybe your vows were different but otherwise, your wife's sentiment is just a different way of expressing the obvious: your wife is a parasite and she is comfortable with it too while you suffer. She is ******* in the wind and you are holding the umbrella. <br />
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Would you have married her had you known this truth? Probably not. Time for refusers to reap what they sow, I say.

Love....such a simple four letter word, yet so complex.<br />
My wife is not "in love" with me...that I know<br />
She says she loves me. But how can that be?<br />
She says she loves sex, just not with me. did she say that to hurt me, or is that her true feelings.<br />
We discussed, fought and then just went our separate ways. No resolutions.<br />
I know she does not really understand my position. <br />
I don't want sex from someone who does not care for me. If they find me repulsive, then I have no interest. I know a few attractive women who would sleep with me tomorrow if I asked them. So I know it is not my appearance. People tell me I am a really nice guy. So thats not it either. Maybe it is the fact that I am her husband, and she simply resents that. Another man? I don't think so!<br />
A girlfriend, possible! A lack of sex drive? Doesn't look that way, as she said she loves sex, just not with me. I ponder all these questions. No real answers. She is a wonderful mother, great cook, cleans my soiled undies, etc. All in all not bad, Or is it bad? My Mother was all those things to me at one time. But I didn't marry my mother! I did not marry to have someone take care of me. I married for intimacy, love and hot sex.

Clarity in our situations is only achieved through introspection. It is the cookbook answers that get us stuck in a rut. All we need is to change our fr<x>ame of reference and the way we see things. <br />
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We need to have our biases and prejudices shocked. We have to be told what we do not want to hear. <br />
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OldUglyDude, <br />
You want insight? It is simple: they do not give a **** about us. <br />
Your wife totally forgot that she was being destructive in your marriage but she proves to you that she knows her behavior is categorically destructive. Seems pretty clear to me that she is using you. It certainly is not love in my book.<br />
I have a question for you: Am I the first person to point out to you that maybe, just maybe, your wife does not love you? <br />
What if you told your story to 10 random people on the street and then asked them to check off Yes or No to the following question: Does my wife love me? What would you honestly expect?

ROFL!!! You said it clearly first time Lady A. Big hugs back..

Just my two, I'm laughing at how often I start my comments this way). One of the things I found remarkable about this forum and how we comment on stories and topics on the board, is how we let it all hang out - its nearly like a free flowing therapy group session. Members of the group share in their own way, as much or as little and some act out, others overcompensate, etc... you get the idea. Its amazing how we do this, exactly what we do now. We all process, internalize differently, at different rates in different ways, but we bring it to the group (metaphorically speaking). Just my perspective.

LadyA...Enjoyed your insights. I guess I have at times been accused of harsh comments. None intended, it is just my sense of humor and sarcasm that may make it seem I am being judgmental.<br />
As for me it is not a joking matter. I do try to find the humor in life. I recently posted some comments about an incident that happened between my wife and I. I will repeat it here to demonstrate a point. <br />
My wife got off the phone with her sister. She informs me that they are having serious marital problems. She informs me that they are not having sex anymore. Ok , I respond (biting my lip) "And Why would that be a problem". She replies.."You can't have a good marriage without sex" duh! I wanted to shove it in her face. Instead I stayed quite and just stared at her, looking her right in the eyes. "what?" she says....Then she realizes we are in a sexless marriage ourselves. She turned red and ran into her bedroom. Behind closed doors she yells, "why are you always bringing that up" I actually fell over onto the ground I was laughing so hard. The woman doesn't even really know what she is doing? <br />
LadyA if you have some insight into why the refusers are what they are, I would love to chat someday. It seems the more I learn the less I really understand.(ok i am a guy and we are not too bright about these types of situations)

Rocking post Enna. I enjoyed it very much. I am one to use humor but never intended as mean spirited at all. (the sheep jokes etc etc) I don't think anybody would take it that way. I agree though that some can really step over the line with nastiness. Although 99% are usually from new folks. The regulars by & large tend to be very supportive. Anyway enjoyed the post & discussion.<br />
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Happy Tuesday<br />
NSH :-)

Ok, I've been participating in this forum for about a month now. My reaction to your post is, "Huh?" I see many people dealing with many issues here, including me, but do not see a lot of angry or sarcastic attacks. Someone posted a comment to one of my earlier stories which I saw as missing the point, and replied to it specifically. Other than that, I don't see it. Do you have an issue with specific posters? For me,your point would be made most clearly if you were to answer those specific comments that fit the generalized profile you present. <br />
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Numerous people have left this forum because of nasty comments? Is this an issue that others see here as well? I mostly see useful support from others in similar situations.

Very interesting comments - thanks to all who have posted. LadyA, your viewpoint offers a new dimension to the discussion. I think I can see where you are coming from, but I'm not sure I agree with you . . . <br />
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My main concern with anger as it is expressed here on ILIASM is that it cuts off those varying view points that you call the "collective whole". When someone's comments deride the poster rather than address the issue, it does not add to the sum of knowledge of the forum IMO. It simply seeks to bully the poster into accepting that their viewpoint is inaccurate, naive, WRONG! <br />
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And for what purpose? To give the "bully" a momentary satisfaction at having triumphed over the other person . . . .? <br />
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Some of the best posters on this forum never descend to attacking other posters personally, but nevertheless clearly and articulately state their opinions which can be (and often are!) in direct opposition to the post to which they are replying.<br />
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The difference between these posters and the "bully" poster is that the former offer alternative viewpoints, ideas and solutions. The latter simply criticise the person whose opinion varies from their own.<br />
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"All anger is, at its core, a dark and cruel wish for harm to come upon the person who hurt you."<br />
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HOW does a poster hurt another poster by expressing a view point that is at variance with their own? In other words, how does reading a post you don't agree with translate into feeling sufficiently "hurt" to induce anger???<br />
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Are we so mentally fragile and vulnerable that we see alternate viewpoints as somehow "attacking" us? I truly do NOT believe this applies to most ILIASM posters, but certainly some posters here ACT as if it were true for them . . . <br />
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If a poster deliberately attacks or criticises a person or group of people (Destiney for example) then the anger response is understandable. But if a poster says that his wife loves him, or a woman says she cannot leave because of the children, or whatever . . . that is NOT "attacking" anyone and should not IMO attract an angry response.<br />
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I am certainly NOT saying that it is not possible to disagree with posters like these. Often the best help we can be as a group is to offer alternate view points and help others challenge their thinking. But surely it can be done without personal criticism and sarcastic comments?

Well said, Enna. The last thing people coming here need is to be attacked, belittled or mocked. They already have enough pain.


This is a great post. It is all too easy, and really part of the learning curve to deal with LIASM, for anger to fill one’s thoughts. Frustration does need to be contained and not sprayed indiscriminately on unsuspecting and undeserving innocent bystanders. <br />
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When those bystanders are the new arrivals to ILIASM, fragile and wounded already, that is the last thing that person needs. I am so grateful to (nearly) everyone I've met here, and all your kind words of wisdom and support. It is a shame, and I can imagine it has happened, that someone reaching out for answers, elusive as they are, becomes yet again a victim of someone’s misdirected rage.<br />
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This is one of the few places of refuge, those of us that are or have suffered, exactly as you have described, the emotional abuse of living in a sexless marriage can come for support, and to vent, and hopefully find their path.