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THIS is an age of hate. The air is full of it. It is important to consider hate and hostility because they can be so destructive to every phase of married life, including sex.

Effect of negative emotions on relationships & health

Some Saturday morning stand at the meat counter of your supermarket for an hour or so. Listen to the honeyed tones in which women address the butcher. That’s so he will give them just the right cut. Then listen to these same women as they talk to their children or to their husbands.

You may be amazed to hear the pent-up and sometimes almost violent hate in the voice and manner of the mother as she says to her child, “How often do I have to tell you not to put your fingers on the glass case.” Or to the husband, “I told you not to call Jim and invite him over.”

In a way, the children and husband are helpless captives. They can reply, of course, but relatively ineffectually. Actually, they are in a position where they must take this expression of hatred. But let the child or husband suddenly fall ill and the relationship is changed.

The hostile wife changes her tune. Love and devotion become uppermost in her feelings. Why, then, most of the time does she use the familiarity of the family relationship to express deep hostility towards these comparatively helpless possessions of hers?

The story is told of a temperamental Italian conductor who was extremely disappointed by his first rehearsal with an orchestra. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “You are supposed to be playing ‘con amore’. Instead you are playing like a bunch of married men!”

Was the implication of the conductor’s remarks that marriage kills love? Can’t a married man or woman act and feel “con amore”? As a matter of fact, why can’t we act with love in everything we do and say, and towards everyone?

The Anatomy of Hate in Relationships

I am going to discuss eight factors which relate to hate in marriage. I feel that this subject has been largely underplayed because virtually no husband or wife wants to admit that he or she is capable of hate towards the other, married life itself, sex, or the children.

What makes such hate? Prejudice, unfulfilled ambition, unrealized emotional and financial goals, erroneous teaching, attempts to conform to arbitrary standards—all these and more contribute to the sickness of hate in our time. Some people are so full of hate they must express it to anyone they meet. But the majority are sweet as sugar to comparative strangers, and reserve their bitterness for those who are closest and supposedly dearest to them.

Why is the victim of hatred usually close to the person who hates? The victim often has a quality of helplessness about him that attracts hate. Give a bitter person an inch of success in spraying his venom and he wants a mile. Curiously, though, the bitter person, the hater, also is, in a sense, the real victim.

For hate is even more destructive to the hater than to the one who is hated.

It should be remembered by husbands and wives that hatred has a boomerang effect. It returns to cause unhappiness, discontent and bitterness. This is true, it seems to me, in every phase of marriage. If sex is the source of long-term marital hatred, solving the sexual problem may help to dissolve the hatred itself.

Hatred Of Your Partner

I would like to stress that some hatred and hostility are normal components of marriage.

By this I mean hatred in a short-term sense, for few of us can be married for any length of time without feeling genuine hate for our partners at one time or another.

There comes a moment, perhaps during or after an argument, when you say to yourself, “Why, this person is perfectly dreadful—an absolute stranger to me. What a terrible thing to be tied to such a person. I had no idea of this when I married.”

Then, in the overwhelming majority of cases, there is a brief lapse of time—an hour, two hours, a day—and the perspective returns to normal. Hatred disappears. You begin to see your partner as the beloved person you married, not as the terrible stranger.

This type of occurrence is almost inevitable in every marriage and need not be destructive when it happens only infrequently.

However, a marriage is in trouble when bitter feelings become frequent. Sooner or later, a general climate of hostility develops. There’s tension in the air, and everyone in the family feels its effects. This is the family that remains together on the weakest kind of thread. It is the family whose members want to leave, to get out, because they find the climate so poisonous and destructive.

As I have said, sex can often be the cause of this type of destructive hatred, but the causes are virtually endless. There is the case of the man who so feared that he would hurt his wife during intercourse that he abstained almost completely.

Soon, he began to hate himself for lacking what he considered to be manliness, and he began to hate his wife for the fragility he imagined in her. Luckily, this couple sought competent advice just as they were on the brink of divorce.

Hate arising from sexuality can result from a mannerism of wife or husband, a demand, a little inconsiderate habit. But it is likelier to arise from something much more deep-seated. That is why persons who continue to hate usually require extensive counselling, if not psychiatric care itself.

A twenty-four-year-old wife I know began to hate her husband intensely. She believed that he would never be an adequate provider. Of course, to this young woman, “adequate” had its own definition.

She wanted extremely expensive clothes, a big car, lavish vacations. She was not content to keep up with the Joneses, she wanted desperately to outdistance them.

As an expression of her hatred, she decided to punish her husband by having an extra-marital affair. She did—with one of the neighbors.

Shortly afterwards, the couple was divorced, but prior to the divorce it was revealed that the wife took special pains to taunt her husband about her lover.

She discussed quite openly his prowess in bed, and praised every-tiling from the size of his cock to the size of his bank balance. She said that only her lover had brought her “true happiness”.

This woman’s behavior obviously is indicative of deep emotional trauma, needing counselling.

Then there is the case of the married couple which almost ended in divorce because of hostility born out of misunderstanding. This is extremely common.

A twenty-six-year-old wife began to think that her husband had married her only for physical reasons. Without sex, she thought, her husband would be totally uninterested in their marriage. This feeling intensified until it became a form of hate, and was further intensified by an occasional remark made by her husband concerning the pleasures he gained from sex.

Soon, the wife began to refuse her husband’s advances. She made all sorts of excuses, none of which pleased him in the Ieast. Finally, he became furious with her and accused her of turning “cold” towards him. Luckily, they were directed to a therapist who discussed the entire problem with them.

The wife reluctantly admitted that she thought her husband enjoyed only the sexual aspect of their marriage. The husband, in lure, convinced her that this was entirely untrue. Since the couple received help, they have been happy.

 That wife forgot a fact of marriage which many wives overlook: if the husband wanted only sex, he would hardly have had to marry in order to get it. Obviously from his standpoint there was a good deal more to the marriage than contempt and criticism.

Productive Hostility

There is, however, one good side to hostility, for the hostile individual has a choice: he can keep right on being hostile, or he can do something positive about it.

On a very simple level, productive hostility can be explained this way: If you step off the sidewalk and see a ten-ton truck bearing down on you, the normal reaction is to jump back. You’re angry about the incident perhaps, but you did not allow your anger to render you immobile. If you had, you would have been killed. In a sense, the same idea pertains to hostility in marriage.

Let’s say you find yourself hostile towards your partner. Your hostility may be caused by one of a hundred things, his habits, attitudes, desires, values in life.

If you keep this hostility pent up in you, it will only explode at a later date. If you reveal your hostility, then you and your spouse, as mature, level-headed individuals, can together set about lessening the cause of the hostility.

Very often, a husband will not even be aware of the fact that what he thinks or does serves to alienate his wife; and the reverse is true, too.

Exposure of the facts in the situation is one of the healthiest of all approaches. Such exposure often serves to show how productive hostility can be.

Conflict Solving

Marriages usually do not start off solid as a mountain. Most of them are somewhat shaky at the beginning. There is an air of exploration and unsteadiness about the early marriage which is perfectly understandable.

Two people, with different conditioning, habits and ideas, suddenly are man and wife. It is inevitable that conflict should arise.

The point is this: with each conflict solving together a problem associated with some phase of marital sex. A whole new world opens up for them. This does not mean that there wilt be no further conflict. Almost certainly there will be. But when it comes, the couple will be Just that much better prepared to handle it.

I suppose that some readers are wondering what on earth I am talking about. They cannot conceive of themselves as hating, as using hate as a weapon, as being jealous or in conflict.

Yes, of course they got cross with their husbands or wives last night. And they certainly had to speak sharply to (lie children this morning. But, after all, they are human, aren’t they? Being cross and speaking sharply—that’s human, isn’t it?

This, of course, is where self-analysis and honesty with self must come into the picture. It is extremely difficult to know, at a given moment, how you really feel about something important to you.

It is extremely difficult to distinguish between momentary annoyance, which is quite human, and the use of such a moment to express a far deeper, more destructive feeling, which is vented on a person who may have had very little to do with it—usually a husband, wife or child.

However, we can all benefit from taking inventory of ourselves now and again. I think we will find, a good deal of the time, that we simply are suffering from our own bad habits. It is easy to get into the bad habit of speaking roughly and sharply to someone you love.

This is taking unfair advantage or a close relationship—one so close that the other person really is helpless in it. If we look deeply into ourselves, and try hard to understand just what our real motives are, most of us will find that it is just as easy to allow love to speak as it is hate.