Given our preoccupation with politics and economics, it is easy to forget that for most of us micro issues still play a greater role in our lives. So here are some thoughts that, as heretical as they might sound, have been found extremely helpful, sometimes even marriage-saving, from listeners to my radio show, which features a “male-female hour” every week.
The subject is one of the most common problems that besets marriages: the wife who is “not in the mood” and the consequently frustrated and hurt husband.
There are marriages with the opposite problem — a wife who is frustrated and hurt because her husband is rarely in the mood. But, as important and as destructive as that problem is, it has different causes and different solutions, and is therefore not addressed here. What is addressed is the far more common problem of “He wants, she doesn't want.”
It is an axiom of contemporary marital life that if a wife is not in the mood, she need not have sex with her husband. Here are some arguments why a woman who loves her husband might want to rethink this axiom.
First, women need to recognize how a man understands a wife's refusal to have sex with him: A husband knows that his wife loves him first and foremost by her willingness to give her body to him. This is rarely the case for women. Few women know their husband loves them because he gives her his body (the idea sounds almost funny). This is, therefore, usually a revelation to a woman. Many women think men's natures are similar to theirs, and this is so different from a woman's nature, that few women know this about men unless told about it.
This is a major reason many husbands clam up. A man whose wife frequently denies him sex will first be hurt, then sad, then angry, then quiet. And most men will never tell their wives why they have become quiet and distant. They are afraid to tell their wives. They are often made to feel ashamed of their male sexual nature, and they are humiliated (indeed emasculated) by feeling that they are reduced to having to beg for sex.
When first told this about men, women generally react in one or more of five ways:
1. You have to be kidding. That certainly isn't my way of knowing if he loves me. There have to be deeper ways than sex for me to show my husband that I love him.
2. If this is true, men really are animals.
3. Not my man. He knows I love him by the kind and loving way I treat him.
4. You have it backwards. If he truly loved me, he wouldn't expect sex when I'm not in the mood.
5. I know this and that's why I rarely say no to sex.