3. The baby boom generation elevated feelings to a status higher than codes of behavior. In determining how one ought to act, feelings, not some code higher than one’s feelings, became decisive: “No shoulds, no oughts.” In the case of sex, therefore, the only right time for a wife to have sex with her husband is when she feels like having it. She never “should” have it. But marriage and life are filled with “shoulds.”
4. Thus, in the past generation we have witnessed the demise of the concept of obligation in personal relations. We have been nurtured in a culture of rights, not a culture of obligations. To many women, especially among the best educated, the notion that a woman owes her husband sex seems absurd, if not actually immoral. They have been taught that such a sense of obligation renders her “property.” Of course, the very fact that she can always say “no” -- and that this “no” must be honored -- renders the “property” argument absurd. A woman is not “property” when she feels she owes her husband conjugal relations. She is simply wise enough to recognize that marriages based on mutual obligations -- as opposed to rights alone and certainly as opposed to moods -- are likely to be the best marriages.
5. Partially in response to the historical denigration of women’s worth, since the 1960s, there has been an idealization of women and their feelings. So, if a husband is in the mood for sex and the wife is not, her feelings are deemed of greater significance -- because women’s feelings are of more importance than men’s. One proof is that even if the roles are reversed -- she is in the mood for sex and he is not -- our sympathies again go to the woman and her feelings.
6. Yet another outgrowth of ’60s thinking is the notion that it is “hypocritical” or wrong in some other way to act contrary to one’s feelings. One should always act, post-’60s theory teaches, consistent with one’s feelings. Therefore, many women believe that it would simply be wrong to have sex with their husband when they are not in the mood to. Of course, most women never regard it as hypocritical and rightly regard it as admirable when they meet their child’s or parent’s or friend’s needs when they are not in the mood to do so. They do what is right in those cases, rather than what their mood dictates. Why not apply this attitude to sex with one’s husband? Given how important it is to most husbands, isn’t the payoff -- a happier, more communicative, and loving husband and a happier home -- worth it?
7. Many contemporary women have an almost exclusively romantic notion of sex: It should always be mutually desired and equally satisfying or one should not engage in it. Therefore, if a couple engages in sexual relations when he wants it and she does not, the act is “dehumanizing” and “mechanical.” Now, ideally, every time a husband and wife have sex, they would equally desire it and equally enjoy it. But, given the different sexual natures of men and women, this cannot always be the case. If it is romance a woman seeks -- and she has every reason to seek it -- it would help her to realize how much more romantic her husband and her marriage are likely to be if he is not regularly denied sex, even of the non-romantic variety.
8. In the rest of life, not just in marital sex, it is almost always a poor idea to allow feelings or mood to determine one’s behavior. Far wiser is to use behavior to shape one’s feelings. Act happy no matter what your mood and you will feel happier. Act loving and you will feel more loving. Act religious, no matter how deep your religious doubts, and you will feel more religious. Act generous even if you have a selfish nature, and you will end with a more a generous nature. With regard to virtually anything in life that is good for us, if we wait until we are in the mood to do it, we will wait too long.
The best solution to the problem of a wife not being in the mood is so simple that many women, after thinking about it, react with profound regret that they had not thought of it earlier in their marriage. As one bright and attractive woman in her 50s ruefully said to me, “Had I known this while I was married, he would never have divorced me.”
That solution is for a wife who loves her husband -- if she doesn’t love him, mood is not the problem -- to be guided by her mind, not her mood, in deciding whether to deny her husband sex.
If her husband is a decent man -- if he is not, nothing written here applies -- a woman will be rewarded many times over outside the bedroom (and if her man is smart, inside the bedroom as well) with a happy, open, grateful, loving, and faithful husband. That is a prospect that should get any rational woman into the mood more often.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”
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