Monday, May 6, 2013

Using Sex As A Weapon Leads To Power Struggle In Marriage


I just read your response to "Wife Wants A New Car Payment; Husband Wants To Live Debt-Free". I thought it was from my wife until I read about the student loans. My wife wants a new $40,000 Honda Pilot. She drives a 2008 Toyota Sienna that we paid ~$30,000 for new in 2008. My point is at there is nothing wrong with her van. We are both working professionals, and I while I make a few thousand more per year I will not make a major purchase without her agreement. I drive a 2006 truck, and while I'd love a new vehicle (who wouldn't), I would rather have money to enjoy and travel with. She agrees with me that we should both vote "yes" before making a $40,000 purchase, but she will not let it go!

While I prefer to live debt free, I offered a compromise that she has refused. My offer was that since we both would like to spend money differently we would sit down and from a written budget that includes our combined income. After paying all the bills, we would agree on how much to save and divide the rest equally. We would each be allowed to manage our share of the excess income how we wish. She can use hers on a car payment, hobbies, shopping, etc. and I would be able to spend my share on saying, hunting land, and my hobbies.

I really thought it was a fair compromise, but she insists her car that is 2 years newer than mine "needs" to be replaced. She has been stuck on this car fantasy for months and refuses sex, only constantly shows me cars she is interested in.

Lost in Montana

Dear Lost In Montana:

I believe your compromise is an excellent one, and it is one that I have recommended in the past. Once bills are paid, and money is set aside for savings and emergencies, I believe that couples should be able to have their own "independent" money to spend as they wish - within reason. If you want to buy a new hunting rifle, that is within reason; if you want to buy a $10,000 hunting lodge, I would tell you to talk it over with your wife first.

I am not certain that your wife fully understands the long-term commitment of a car loan. A new car payment on a $40,000 minivan - even with a trade-in - would not be cheap. Arguably, it would be around $30,000 with trade-in. According to the cost - at minimal interest, spread out over 5 yeas (60 months) would around to $525/month. That is every month, for five full years. That is a long-term investment in her monthly spending cash!

I suggest a new compromise, one which would give your wife an idea as to whether or not a car loan is something she is willing to commit to long-term: Figure the purchase price on the vehicle she wants - all options included (since Montana has no sales tax on vehicle purchases, you do not have to factor this into the cost). Divide the total purchase cost by 60 to get her monthly payment. If she wants to shorten the length of the loan this will increase the payment; if she wants to extend the length of the loan this will lower the payment but also lower any trade-in value.

Once your wife sees what her monthly payment will be on a car loan, I suggest that she try to put aside that much of her personal spending money each month and not touch it for any reason - not for shopping, not for vacation, nothing. This will teach her what it is like to live with a large monthly car payment. (FYI: It is not fun!). If after one year she has succeeded in doing this and is still gung-ho about taking out a car loan she will at least have a sizable down-payment to go along with her trade-in vehicle. At this point, she will understand the discipline it takes to take on a car loan and will have proven that she is up to committing to it. Thius, in turn, will reflect marvelously on her credit report. If, on the other hand, she discovers that the sacrifice required is not one she can make she should agree to be content to drive her current vehicle until the time for a new one arrives - which will be when the becomes unsafe to drive or when yearly repair costs outstrip its value. In my experience, it generally takes less than twelve months to discover the sacrifices required to take on a large car payment are not worth making. In the meantime, you need to work on the power struggle that is occurring between the two of you.

Does your wife somehow feel like she receives less at home because she earns slightly less in the workplace? Does your wife suffer from some other form of emotional insecurity? Is she being - or has she been - bullied or made to feel insignificant by other women? I ask because using sex as a weapon or a bargaining chip - as your wife is doing by withholding it - is generally the result of the with-holder feeling a lack of power in the relationship (if, of course, the reason is not health related which does not appear to be the case). 

By withholding sexual attention, your wife has grabbed the seat of power in your marriage and is attempting to wield it to get her way. Surely she values marital intimacy more than a new minivan? Have you asked her this question? Getting to the real reason she feels the need to attempt to emotionally overpower you may help your wife overcome whatever feelings of insecurity she is attempting to overcome through a status purchase - which is what a $40,000 minivan is; a luxury purchase that, in our world of excess, will cause envy among those who see her driving it. 


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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