Over at Dalrock’s, Isa asked the following question. Since I’m on record as saying that wives should obey their husbands without exception, I thought I should respond to this delicate issue here.
Just as a more personal question, when would it be acceptable to withhold? If I know that engaging would cause ptsd flashbacks etc. I of course say no (I’d rather not crush his soul into tiny tiny tiny pieces).
I think part of the problem is that women really have no clue how important sex is to a husband. Even the ones who think they know only grasp it partially. When you deny your husband sex, that “crushes his soul into tiny tiny tiny pieces.” You may think it would crush him to be inside you when you have one of your flashbacks, and you may be right about that. But denying him over and over devastates him too, and perhaps worse. Only he can know that. You can’t.
Lying next to the woman you love, smelling her, hearing her breath and movements, and not being able to have her, is torture. If you have no choice — if she was in a terrible gymnastics accident that broke her vagina so it had to be removed — you can roll with that; at least you’re in it together. But when you can’t have her because she denies you, then she is the one torturing you.
You’re saying that sex (often) is torture for you. But being denied sex is torture for him. Is it fair to subject him to torture to save yourself from it?
So my short answer is: it’s never acceptable to withhold. It’s just not. Aside from the fact that Saints Peter and Paul didn’t say, “Be subject to your husbands except when it would be really horrible for you,” it’s the most destructive thing you can do to your marriage, short of cuckolding him in public.
Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with asking for his understanding. A man who loves you doesn’t want to put you through torture just to get himself off. I assume he knew about your issues before you married, so he expected to have to deal with this. I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “I’m in a bad place right now; could I have a rain check?” He’ll probably agree, glad that you’re communicating, as long as you don’t overuse it. Just make sure you keep that rain check, and show him a good enough time that he’s glad he waited. If there are times that you feel like you’d be okay, seize the opportunity by seizing him. If he asks you to do anything to help with your fears — counseling, praying together, medical treatments, sacrificing a chicken first — do it without complaint. Be the best wife you can be in every other way; sandwiches and a clean house won’t make up completely for lack of sex, but they can help. Pray constantly for release from your demons, and pray for patience for your husband.
Frequency of sex is important, but perhaps even more important is that a husband never feels like his wife is using her issues, whether headaches or flashbacks, to deny him or manipulate him. If there are times that you just can’t do it, apologize, beg his forgiveness, and make it up to him as best you can. But when you can grit your teeth and bear it, do it; don’t abuse his consideration.
The lesson here for unmarried women: if damage from your past, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others, makes you feel sick at the idea of a husband pulling you into the bedroom and tearing your clothes off whenever he feels like it, don’t get married. Don’t even date, because you’re not ready to marry. And don’t think you’re going to find an understanding guy with low libido so it won’t matter, because what’ll happen is a guy will fall in love with you and claim he doesn’t mind, but he’ll really be thinking, “My kindness will heal her wounds, and soon we’ll be humping like bunnies,” and he’ll resent you when that doesn’t happen. Get help for yourself and heal those wounds first. If you can’t, well, that’s a tragedy, but marriage isn’t for everyone.