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Dennis Prager
Dennis Prager
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When a Woman Isn't in the Mood: Part II


In Part I, I made the argument that any woman who is married to a good man and who wants a happy marriage ought to consent to at least some form of sexual relations as much as possible. (Men need to understand that intercourse should not necessarily be the goal of every sexual encounter.)

In Part II, I advance the argument that a wife should do so even when she is not in the mood for sexual relations. I am talking about mood, not about times of emotional distress or illness.


Here are eight reasons for a woman not to allow not being in the mood for sex to determine whether she denies her husband sex.

1. If most women wait until they are in the mood before making love with their husband, many women will be waiting a month or more until they next have sex. When most women are young, and for some older women, spontaneously getting in the mood to have sex with the man they love can easily occur. But for most women, for myriad reasons — female nature, childhood trauma, not feeling sexy, being preoccupied with some problem, fatigue after a day with the children and/or other work, just not being interested — there is little comparable to a man's “out of nowhere,” and seemingly constant, desire for sex.

2. Why would a loving, wise woman allow mood to determine whether or not she will give her husband one of the most important expressions of love she can show him? What else in life, of such significance, do we allow to be governed by mood?

What if your husband woke up one day and announced that he was not in the mood to go to work? If this happened a few times a year, any wife would have sympathy for her hardworking husband. But what if this happened as often as many wives announce that they are not in the mood to have sex? Most women would gradually stop respecting and therefore eventually stop loving such a man.

What woman would love a man who was so governed by feelings and moods that he allowed them to determine whether he would do something as important as go to work? Why do we assume that it is terribly irresponsible for a man to refuse to go to work because he is not in the mood, but a woman can — indeed, ought to — refuse sex because she is not in the mood? Why?

This brings us to the next reasons.

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.


12 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Man, you are goofy... They ought to make a law that guys like you can have sex with a girl, but then they would have to make a law that stupid girls have to put out... Let me explain the facts of life to you, Son... Marriage is a form of relationship... Lots of newlyweds make a lot of rules and promises going in, above and beyond their oaths... A lot of people have a lot of preconceptions moving in to a relationship, about what the form is, and what it all means... But let me explain the rules, because they are universal... The rule is: whatever people work out... Everyone has to sacrifice for their relationships, and everyone has to make accomodations... You get old, and find a bottle of viagra... What in the hell is that to her??? You still have to make a deal... You might, God forbid, actually have to listen to and respect, and love, and make love to your wife... You think the form should carry you... The form of your relationship is meaningless if the relationship is garbage... So don't talk nonsense... Think with your top end instead of the bottom... I may not have the best relationship on the planet with my wife, but I have no doubt that she is my equal, and if I expect her to go to bed with me, I better give her a damned good reason to... I can imagine showing her a rule book saying she has to go to bed with me, just because, and ending up with my unit looking like some pressed flower in an old Bible... Get real man... Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:25 PM
What about the men that won't ablige their women?? My husband and I have been married less then a year, and he's always "too tired" or "not right now honey." So, I'm lucky that I get sex once a week. Sometimes, it's longer then that. Why can't they give us want we want, when we want it, even though they're not in "the mood"?? I have never turned him down, because I'm afraid it'll be awhile before I get it.
Comment: #2
Posted by: S. Epling
Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:50 AM
Re: S. Epling; Ma'am, send goofus your e-mail address... I don't know how you look, but a feedbag ought to improve his appearance.. Try sticking a picture of some one you care for on the front side, but don't call the picture by name... Or he will be bringing you down saying, No; its me, Dennis, the guy with more testosterone than brains...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:53 PM
Hi, If my life and that of some of my friends is any indicator, I would say that you should have written your piece to both men and women. My husband wishes the "problem of sex" would just go away. I don't know if Ihave ever refused my husband in 30 years of marriage. I know I initiated over 90% of the time! Now I am in menopause and believe me, it takes the right hormones to want to initiate. I have asked him to step up and initiate. Nothing. I mean nothing in a year!!!!! Yes, we have been in counseling. Nothing. I would love to negotiate with a man who wants sex "all the time." I can't even relate to that. I am still attractive, by the way.
Comment: #4
Posted by: karen
Thu Jan 1, 2009 4:27 AM
Wow. What a load of sexist, misogynistic rubbish. Lots of couples, gay and str8, have this problem at one time or another. Counseling can help reconcile the differences or just even honest discussion. But no one should be pressured to give in at every demand. If one partner's sexual appetite is almost nil, often medical examination can determine the cause and offer some treatment, but trying to lay some sort of "moral" groundwork for why one person should be dominated by another is reprehensible.
And one look at the picture of the guy who wrote this column pretty much explains where he's coming from in terms of having his demands met, lol.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Ms. Rowena
Thu Jan 1, 2009 4:45 AM
Again, old man. you need some wack in the face of a reality check.

Comment: #6
Posted by: emma
Fri Jan 2, 2009 11:37 AM
Re: James A, Sweeney. I'm really tired of stumbling across your left-wing nonsense every time I go to read a columnists on this site. You ramble on and on and never seem to have anything worthwhile to say (awhile back, you suggested that the US scrap its entire Constitution, when we're not following the one we've got now.) Why do you read conservative columnists if their opinions irritate you so much? As for the rest of you, put a sock in it, because Prager is right. No wonder you've got miserable marriages...because clearly you don't understand that sex is part of God's union and that husbands and wives have a certain duty to one another.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Matt
Sat Jan 3, 2009 5:38 AM
Re: Matt;...Sorry to offend you Matt...At least I am not offended, alone...But no one is wiping their shoes off on me, so I sympathize... And BTW; I know where the terms Left and Right come from; and they do not apply to me... Left behind does apply to you however... I'd sure like to be a cockroach on the wall when you tell your wife it is God's will... Just to see if she is made of vinyl... Thanks... And trash the constitution... We can do better, and I do mean we...I trust even you more than the gangsters in D.C....Thanks again... and best.... Sweeney
Comment: #8
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Jan 3, 2009 1:20 PM
the best reply to this article is here:

Basically, the point lucidly made is that Dennis should leave gender out of it. The responsibility for sex in a relationship applies to men and women. Framing the topic this way is simply sexist.
Comment: #9
Posted by: simon
Fri Jan 9, 2009 2:40 PM
"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."
This applies to men, also. It is a poor idea for man to jump on his wife, or any woman, just because his feelings or mood determine his behavior.
He should use his hands more often.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Mary Alice
Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:47 AM
Sir, you are a fool. What rubbish!! Have you considered that your wife may be telling you she's not "in the mood" because you lack the necessary skills? No one should be coerced in to having sex if they do not wish to engage in it.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Paul Newstrom
Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:13 AM
To Matt (comment #5)
Matt get real. Prager is a quack, a fool. And you, by your subscription, are the same. Can't you see that the majority of people posting comments do not agree with Prager, and therefore, you? It's just nonsense.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Paul Newstrom
Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:18 AM
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