If you or your spouse have slipped into this behavior, it needs to stop.
Sex is designed for spouses to connect with each other on an intimate level. The greatest sex happens when both spouses have the best intentions, when each puts the other first, when each is fully present and lives that intimate moment as an expression of love.
Sex can be used the wrong way, however, when it becomes a manipulative, insincere act with hidden intentions. It can be used as a weapon to punish your spouse after a disagreement — or as a reward based on how well or how badly we think our spouse has treated us. People who use sex (or abstinence from sex) to manipulate their spouse are often motivated by anger; other times, they’re seeking a sense of control and power over the other person.
What we need to keep in mind is that using sex manipulatively is a form of abuse. Not only is it detrimental to the relationship, but it deeply wounds the other person, damaging the way we express and receive love in marriage.
Sexual manipulation takes the joy out of intimacy
Using sex in a manipulative way has never made anyone’s sex life better. Sex is healthy and enjoyable when it’s a mutual expression of love, when we faithfully manifest with our bodies the love we have in our hearts. If there’s a problem in the relationship, it’s best to deal with it head-on, with honest communication. Spouses inevitably have disagreements, but that doesn’t make it okay to withhold love through sexual intimacy. Conversely, when a spouse does something for the other as a favor, it doesn’t require a sexual “reward.”
Sexual manipulation destroys self-esteem
Our relationships deeply affect our emotions. Sexual intimacy in marriage is more than just a fun time. It’s about respecting and valuing each other. When this is corrupted by using sex for selfish purposes, the self-esteem of your spouse will be damaged. He or she may start to feel that they are being controlled and used. If sex is used in this way, it damages one’s self-worth and the way we view each other.
Sexual manipulation creates resentment
When sex is a way to get what we want—such as attention, commitment, or certain favors—the ends are focused on profit and personal gain alone. That will soon breed resentment. This abusive behavior is contrary to true spousal love of constant self-giving, and can destroy the relationship.
If you see that you or your spouse have slipped into this unhealthy sexual dynamic, it’s vital to recognize it and change it. You may need to have a frank conversation to express your concerns and renew your commitment to a more selfless love, not just in your sex life, but in every aspect of your relationship.
If the behavior continues, seek out help from a professional. If sexual manipulation has already become part of a larger pattern of abuse, take the situation seriously – contact a mental health professional or a domestic abuse hotline or center and seek help.
If you realize that you have treated your spouse this way, you need to stop immediately.If you manipulate your spouse through sex, which is a key expression of married love, you are jeopardizing your relationship. But if you continue to give love and affection freely, even when you have disagreements or go through difficult times, you will find that the problems you face are easier to resolve because your bond of love is strong.