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.
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.