Right-wing talk radio host Dennis Prager is in hot water these days, for saying that it’s a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband whether she feels like it or not.
I’ll play a devil’s advocate: Is he right? (I’m ready for your responses, darlings, but I ask you to imagine he used the word “spouse” instead of wife, first. Ok?)
Let us for a moment decouple this sentiment from the mid-20th century patriarchal propaganda & women’s rights: In a monogamous relationship, should a spouse try to meet his or her partner’s sexual needs, or do they have no ethical obligation to do so?
We all have our ups and downs, sexually speaking (no pun intended ) – periods when we’re not as horny, and times when we just can’t get enough. In a long term relationship, these peaks and valleys might not match our partners.
In a situation like that, I’ll be the first to admit that there were times when I said to myself “I worked for 16 hours straight, and would like to just nod off… but oh, well. That hard-on nudging my back should be taken care of”, and then proceeded to do so with all the enthusiasm I could gather. Sometimes, it turned out to be great fun for everyone despite my slow start. Other times, it was still a communion with someone I love. And there were times when I was the one waking up my honey in the middle of the night, cutting down his measly 6 hours of sleep to even less…
Of course, not being monogamous, we have it easy (easier). Don’t feel like having sex tonight? Whatever, honey#2. We’ll cuddle, and tomorrow, honey#1 will be hopping for it.
In a strictly monogamous relationship (which I figure is the kind a Republican radio host would talk about… at least publicly), it’s presumed that a partner is giving up ALL of his or her other sexual options, in exchange for the pleasure and privilege of spending his or her life with you. Forever. In fact, your very relationship depends on it.
Now, if we promise to support our spouse’s health and happiness through better and through worse, doesn’t that include their sexual health and sexual happiness too? After all, we (actually, the monogamous folk) require them to completely depend on each other in this one, and only one thing (I never heard of someone divorcing because husband liked the neighbor’s turkey better). Doesn’t that mean that we’re ethically obligated to try to meet them at least half-way sexually? If someone tells their partner, in effect, “It’s me or no one, and if you stray you will be punished”, isn’t it only fair that someone also takes responsibility for fulfilling that particular part of the relationship?
I’m not talking about being forced, or doing it when sick, or completely exhausted, or in pain or sorrow – but, is “I’m not in the mood” really good enough reason to refuse sex, every time we’re not in the mood? And if it is, why is it commonly accepted that the men who are not in the mood to cuddle (another expression of intimacy) are bad?