Is sexual obligation normal and healthy in a marriage?
Is it normal for one partner to be obligated to keep a marriage "healthy" by having sex even when they don't want to?
Women actually normally consider sex an obligation. However, sex should not be thought of as an obligation. Then keeping the marriage alive becomes a duty, a job. The goal is to find some common ground. Try to find an even area where both of your sexual desires are met.
Ideally when two people are married it is hoped that they are sexually compatible. If one person wants to have sex 4 times a week and the other wants to have sex 1 time a week then you are looking at a difference of 208 times Vs 52 times per year! That type of difference has problems written all over it. Sexual incompatibility and sexless marriages often lead to infidelity or divorce. The underlying assumption made in having a monogamus relationship is neither person will have sex with anyone else (because) they have someone who loves them and is "committed" to addressing their needs physically and emotionally. Most people do want to (feel desired by their spouse). In fact it is our sexual desire for our mate that separates romantic love from friendship, parental, and sibling love. There are ways to please one another without having actual intercourse. Sometimes there are medical reasons for a lack of libido and if that is the case doctors can help. Other times a person never really had an interest in sex to begin with. Some people buy into the belief that the less sex a couple has the deeper their love is.
Having said that I don't believe love and affection can be demanded. These things are given freely. Chemistry is either there or it's not. Not everyone is going to have the same sex drive. However when we change our circumstances change! I wrote about this subject awhile back. Life is all about making choices and decisions.
“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions” – Stephen R. Covey
http://dashingscorpio.hubpages.com/hub/ … ationships
It's interesting to me that it does seem to be social norm that women feel sex is an intimate duty or obligation for men --men need it, they must have it and women must give it to keep them happy. And society seems to endorse it. For women, in their normal life cycle, reproductive factors of child bearing and hormonal changes might greatly influence their sex drive over time, and my belief is that this is actually normal. Does that mean there is something wrong? Not necessarily, but I do believe social pressure makes women fear being left for a younger woman and from that fear comes obligation.
Now that women are increasingly able to support themselves in the labor market, I expect changes will be happening in norms around sexual politics. You can also see that big changes in gender/parental expectations have already changed because of how female roles have changed in the workplace. (Today, more men than ever are stay-at-home moms perhaps because the female has greater earning potential.) I believe that a healthier approach is if either partner experiences a period of low sex drive, it can be discussed without blame/shame/obligation, as a part of their life cycle rather than in spite of it. I believe that this is a healthier, more flexible platform on which a long-term partnership can find an honest balance.
Ruby, I agree with you 100%! Communicating and discussing the biological or emotional reasons for a low interest in sex can open the door to greater understanding and even greater intimacy, if approached without defensiveness and with an open mind.
I don't think it is healthy at all. At the same time, I know there are times when one partner needs to have his or her sexual needs met, and a loving spouse might decide to meet those needs even if he or she isn't in the mood.
Obligating, or telling the spouse that "you have to, it's your duty" is a great way to kill any intimacy and love that exists in the marriage.
You might want to see my hub on "How to Approach Sex With Your Wife".
I have written a book on this topic, "To Love and to Cherish...facing sexual abuse in marriage" by D. Anne Pierce, on Amazon for $5.99
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