Relationship Connection: My husband’s touch makes me cringe

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Question

My husband will often touch me in sexual ways both at home and in public (when he thinks others aren’t looking). Sometimes I push him away and sometimes I don’t. The times I don’t push him away lead him to think I’m sometimes okay with it, but the truth is I hate it. I just don’t want to make a scene.

I’m never okay with it and I’ll talk with him about it later, but he gets defensive and pulls away from me for days. He won’t touch me or talk to me, as if I’ve hurt his feelings by not letting him do whatever he wants to my body.

All of his touches lead to something sexual, so I cringe anytime he wants to touch me. Even holding hands makes me nervous. I feel trapped.

Answer follows below.

Answer

Although I’ll provide a longer response, I want you to hear me loud and clear on this one truth: You get to decide who touches your body, when they get to touch you, and where they get to touch.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your husband. No one has permission to touch your body without your permission. A healthy marriage is based on giving ourselves to our partners, not taking something from our partners. You give yourself to him and he gives himself to you. You get to decide what you’ll give to him. If he wants more from you, he can certainly ask, but taking is never okay.

When he touches you sexually without your consent, his behavior is domineering, selfish, and uncontrolled. You aren’t required to let your husband touch your body. You are not his property. Even though you gave yourself to him in marriage, you didn’t give him permission to ignore your voice and preferences.

I know you’re worried about making a scene in public. It’s important for you to send an unmistakable signal to your husband that you won’t be sexually touched without your consent. If that involves moving away from him in a way that is noticeable to others, then I hope you’ll have the courage to act. You are the only one who can enforce your personal space. You are not trapped.

I see how confusing it is for you to have your husband treat you this way. I’m sure there are moments in your marriage when you want closeness but don’t get to have it in a way that honors or respects your preferences. If you want this to change, you’ll have to teach your husband how you want to be treated.

Set the boundary around touch and let him know you won’t send mixed signals. You want him to understand that this behavior is never okay with you. This doesn’t mean you can’t be open to sexual touch under different conditions. If he’s open to hearing your concerns, then let him know how you want to be treated. Your boundary isn’t a manipulation to control his behavior. It’s an opportunity to do things differently in your relationship.

Now, I’ve spoken strongly about personal space and respect. This can’t be the final conversation in your marriage if you want to build a strong bond.

While there needs to be time and space to rebuild trust and safety, there also needs to be a time down the road when you can both talk about the relationship dynamics around touch and sexual intimacy. If he’s working to respect your space, are you open to working together to create a new kind of relationship that is mutually satisfying?

Don’t stop at personal boundaries and leave it at that. Marriage offers you both a chance to express what you need and work to respond to each other in loving and respectful ways.

Stay connected!

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Instagram: @geoffsteurer  

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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17 Comments

  • .... November 10, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Evidently she is married to some RealLowlife scumbag dumbob that has social and mental health issues !

  • RealMcCoy November 10, 2016 at 11:32 am

    She says she is never okay with him touching her. That’s a bad sign for the marriage right there. If she has turned frigid in the marriage and the husband is the touchy/feely type, all that is going to happen is her feeling ‘violated’ and him feeling ‘rejected’.
    She hasn’t hurt his feelings by telling him she doesn’t want him to touch her; she’s rejected him. He feels she is not attracted to him by this rejection (or maybe attracted to someone else).
    Odds are that they both used to act live a couple in love, with hand holding and lover’s touches, but now she has changed and he has not.
    You can preach that it’s her body and her choice and all that, but she also needs to realize that the husband entered a marriage with a woman and not an ice queen. If she no longer wants a physical connection with him, let alone being touched anymore, then she needs to tell him that outright and figure out why she changed.
    A man trapped in a marriage with no physical contact will not stay long.
    People can rail against me for saying that, but the truth is the truth.
    If the shoe was on the other foot, and the man didn’t want to touch his wife (say, she gained 200 pounds and now he cringed when she touched him), people would condemn him and say ‘marriage…sickness and health…shouldn’t matter what she looks like now….blah bah blah’.

    • Bob November 10, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      might be true. it happens with marriage

  • Billy Madison November 10, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    If it’s any consolation, I don’t like him touching me either.

  • ladybugavenger November 10, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    To the husband: give your wife coke and cheetos and keep your hands to yourself! She will come to you and you’ll soon find that you are orange. Problem solved

    • .... November 11, 2016 at 5:02 am

      Yeah just make sure those ain’t my Cheetos !

      • Real Life November 11, 2016 at 6:44 am

        Or your pills!

        • .... November 11, 2016 at 9:37 am

          I agree with your comment 100% ..or YOUR pills ! L0L ! you said it stupid

          • ladybugavenger November 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

            Stupid is a mean word….spelling it stoopid (and say it like a white chick) is not so offensive 😉

  • Bob November 10, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    i think they need to bring this up with their bishop asap. the other option is a trailer park in oklahoma 😉

    • .... November 11, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Well then they can be RealLowlife’s neighbor he lives in that trailer park

    • ladybugavenger November 11, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Come on over! Living in the Bible belt will whip them into shape lol

  • Sapphire November 10, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    A lot of men don’t like affection, not even back rubs or foot rubs. To them closeness is sex and women mistake that for an interest in them personally because of the passion and intensity. These men rarely find soulmates or have close relationships. Eventually, you find there is nothing worse than to feel you have no use but to be his fire hydrant. Find another man that loves you, the person, before you get involved with sex.

  • xbcmc059 November 10, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    My advice to you dear is to start drinking heavily……..

  • Riley November 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Although the therapist is right in his statements about her control over her body, i wonder why the actual question wasnt answered. She needs to find out why her body is reacting that way to begin with. (Sounds like trauma to me) The therapist should be helping explore why his touch is a trigger for her to begin with….

    • ladybugavenger November 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      It’s because he’s mormon

  • ladybugavenger November 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I wonder if she likes a strangers touch…hmmmmm

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