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Sex and the Married Woman

2/3/2009 - 03:38 PST

(Page 2 of 3)

The rules and regulations of sexual intimacy between a Jewish husband and wife are many and are meant for their mutual benefit. Of those laws there are specific ones in regards to what is not acceptable. This includes exploitation, rape, incest, coercion, or subjugation of another person.

Sex within a marriage is considered sacred. Jewish teaching says that it is a sin not to enjoy sexual intimacy within marriage.

If we can collectively agree that the need to practice self-control is a given part of man’s nature – and we are specifically speaking about “man,” then wives should feel an obligation to at least consider ways in which their denial of sex puts undue strain upon the expectation of a husband’s fidelity. While this does not give a man freedom to place blame on a woman for his infidelity, it does make it necessary for a woman to take responsibility for her decisions regarding withholding sex in a marriage.

The sexual revolution screamed for women to take control of their bodies, to no longer be tied to one man, to have control over their sexual reproduction. When a woman responded to the sexual revolution with an attitude that her body was specifically hers to give or keep, all else became secondary. Most specifically, this attitude ended up in the marriage bed where a woman was now “expected” to withhold herself even if it was just to make a statement. It was all about “her” and not about “them.” Women were now “in charge” of everything and men were on their way to paying the price for whatever role they may or may not have had in the repression of women. Emasculation began in full.

Let’s say this same woman, who no longer gave freely of herself in bed, was married to a man who woke up one Saturday and said, “Honey, I need a break today. Is it okay with you if I don’t cut the lawn?”

All other things being equal – meaning we assume this husband is responsible and a good husband and father – this wife’s response will be something like this, “Sure! There won’t be any problem if it waits till next week.”

The week then passes and Saturday morning the wife fully expects that the lawn will be cut because now it is getting a bit long and the neighbors are eyeing it. The husband wakes up and stretches his arms out and says a bit sheepishly, “Gee, it was good to take a break from cutting the lawn last week. What could another week hurt?” To which the wife’s dismay may be seen on her face but she is willing to let it slide.

By the third week the husband no longer cares about the lawn. The wife could hire someone to cut it but the husband would be furious and she is left seeing her husband in a less than stellar light. This continues and then begins to affect additional aspects of how each views the other. This was a conscious choice of the husband’s, not to cut the lawn. It wasn’t something that was out of his control. This isn’t to say that he was always in the mood to cut the lawn but that, regardless of the mood, it was something that he should be doing.

Is it ridiculous to expect the husband to cut the lawn? I think not.

Is it unreasonable for a wife to give herself to her husband even is she is not “in the mood?” I think not.

But this brings us back to the point where there has to be a common understanding that the union of a husband and a wife is a gift from God. Both ought to come to a place in their marriage where they see this union as a way for them to grow and develop together. Whether they are in the middle of child-bearing years or at a time when the union itself offers an intimacy that can only be had within that union, a married couple should see their sexual relationship as holy and sacred. A husband should learn ways in which he can romance his wife and put her in the mood while a wife should learn ways in which she can still give of herself when the mood doesn’t manifest.

It is not right for a woman to expect faithfulness from her husband and yet stack everything against his being able to be faithful. It also is not right for a husband to always expect his wife to be intimate as her emotional and physical make-up is different than his and requires different stimulus, so to speak. However, and most importantly, it is not right for either a husband and a wife to believe that “duties” are not part of the marriage.

I know a woman who, for physical reasons, began abstaining from relations with her husband. The reasons were legitimate, her ailments real. But as time wore on, and the reasons for abstaining from a sexual relationship began to wane, the physical intimacy did not get re-established. In the interim, her expectations of her husband’s patience for the situation continued to mount. “If he loves me,” she would say, “he will know that I just can’t.” And, of course, he did love her. He loved her tremendously, but his ...

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1 - 10 of 11 Comments

  1. Hmmm
    2 years ago

    First off, I enjoyed reading this article, so thank you for this.
    It's important to remember that God is the binding force and centrality of a Catholic marriage and that the goal of both husband and wife is holiness. From personal experience, talking to Catholic friends of both genders and observations, young Catholic men are pressured into repressing their sexuality (save it for marriage), which leads them to the assumption that once they are married, it can run wild. Women are so bombarded with external references to them as unhealthy sexual objects that their desire to be loved is unfulfilled. When you put these elements together in a marriage, it can cause a rift, which seems to be picked up in this article. A word that I haven't seen used, and surprised at that, is communication! The man and woman have a responsibility to their marriage and God to communicate; without this, the goal of holiness and Heaven is practically unattainable. Men despise begging for sex and women despise being objectified. If they communicated with each other in an honest manner, they are saving themselves from many misunderstandings, and enabling themselves to have a much more enjoyable time in the marital bed. Another word that I would've like to seen used is sacrifice. There are times where your wife will not be in the mood or your husband desires your intimacy (or vice versa) in which case, sacrifices have to be made, bothways! Sex is a beautiful thing. God made it, He knows! It takes two and if husband and wife communicate and make sacrifices, their marital intimacy escalates.

  2. carise
    3 years ago

    Finally! Something about sex and the fact that it is good in a marriage! There's tons of protestant sites/blogs specifically about sex in marriage and there are none that are Catholic! It's nice to at least find an article on it.

  3. GKelly
    5 years ago

    Wow. This raises many questions for me re: the author and angle of the article. Pro-marriage, pro-women? Not sure, though I do see the underlying subtle point I believe was intended. Nonetheless, I was insulted.

    I read through the gentleman's reply. I hear you, though I pray divorce is not the solution (hear me out). Once the overwhelming fatigue from motherhood, the body changes from hormones and childbirth, and then the poor body image from weight gain really settles in, being in the mood is very difficult no matter what. However, as others mentioned, finding other ways to get the mood started is an essential role for the husband (but yes, it takes two to tango). It's the getting started that can be an issue for a wife/mother. Being overweight or having other health or body image issues can really make sex seem unappealing. Still, allowing
    a marriage to become sexless is not "loving" toward the other, not considerate, and really not fair. The sexual consideration goes both directions, absolutely. Maybe this is what the author wanted to say but then somehow took a detour? And amen to those who brought up some other food for thought on why a woman might be turned off and the "duty" of a husband.

    And, that lawn analysis was completely insulting. House chores are not on the same plane as intimacy.

  4. sts
    5 years ago

    Same goes for emotional intimacy. If he/she is not getting it at home, he/she will try to get it someplace else. Hopefully, he and she in each marriage will BOTH want to be aware and satisfy each others needs, regardless of what they may be.

  5. carriedaway
    5 years ago

    Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong, but if not having sex with husband causes him to have an affair, then what about before marriage- how did he control himself then (I guess because once you start it's harder to stop :S ).

    Also, I agree that husband has a duty to help put the wife in the mood. If women are to respect the guy's needs he is to love the woman by helping her be emotionally available for sex.

  6. Rick Barbano
    5 years ago

    Are you sure you read this article? I mean, did you really READ it? Its not not about a " chore " or " duty " on one persons behalf, its about equal responsibility to the marriage. A sexless marriage is a useless marriage and any marriage with a compulsive partner demanding sex at all times then someone has a problem. Unfortunately my wife has vocalized many times that sex is not important to the marriage and hypothesized " what if she could no longer have sex" ? Then what kind of sex can you no longer have? And she doesn't have it that tough. I do the laundry, clean the kids rooms, strip beds, clean dishes, vacuum carpets, wipe down hand prints, dust window sills,tv's,tables, work a fulltime job, do the yards, maintain the vehicles, play with the kids, do homework with them, bathe the kids, keep the finances, maintenance on the house. So there is NO WAY she could be too tired to have sex for the sake of sustaining the marital bond as well as meeting your partners level of ecstasy with other forms of sex. My point is when the sex stops, why should I care about her identity any more? If she chooses to sleep on the couch, divided from me and the bed and in full view of the children, then the marriage has failed. My male co-workers are wondering where these women are that have husbands that are not " in the mood ". We just don't understand why a man can't be in the mood. If it is an ailment, well then it works both sides of the fence.
    I've lost contact with my wife. There is no interaction even on a civil level even with day to day responsibilities and the animosity, defensiveness has divided us even further.
    I can understand how a marriage can fail either sexless or infidelity. Myself only having sex twice in the last 18 months has left me with a very low opinion of my wife. Divorce is not a question of if it happens, but " when ".


  7. D
    5 years ago

    If he doesn't get it at home he'll get it someplace else.

  8. The Mrs
    5 years ago

    My own husband would disagree with the notion that sex should sometimes be a duty for a woman. If I am not in the mood, the last thing he wants is an effort on my part to give him gratification at the expense of my own. The last thing he wants is for me to associate our lovemaking with a chore. He is far more interested in finding out what exactly is on my mind, and correcting the problem so that I can relax and get into a more intimate frame of mind, so to speak. It could be that I am too physically exhausted from cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, and so on. Rather than mope around or spend 45 minutes begging, he'll try to come home early the next day to help out around the house, or just to give me some time to talk, or drop the kids off at our parent's so we can just spend some time alone having an adult conversation. He would never, ever use the possibility of adultery (in his heart or otherwise) as a scare tactic to get me to perform my "duty". In fact, we believe that the moment something as sacred and loving as sex becomes a "duty", then it defeats the purpose and cheapens it. One could just as easily argue that sex workers are doing their employment "duties", and are not really "in the mood" as well. The minute I'm turning this most intimate act into a duty, with the same level of interest as a sex worker, what does that say about how I respect my husband, or even my marriage for that matter?

    I realize for many women, the threat of adultery is a very real possibility. I realize that doing one's "duty" becomes a habit all too often, and in many cases I've seen female friends turn their intimate lives into little more than a "duty", with all the enjoyment left out of it. If you keep turning an act of love into a chore, how long before loving your husband in other ways is also done with false enthusiasm and a sense of obligation rather than genuine love and affection? I've seen it happen among some friends over the years. One co-worker crying at her desk because she "had to have sex" with her husband the night before. In fact, her husband made her perform this duty almost daily, regardless of what time of the month it was, how she felt, if she was in physical pain, and so on. Where is the line between doing one's duty and marital rape, exactly? And her marriage didn't start off this way. She, like many women, would admit that from time to time, she was too stressed or simply not in the mood. Her husband's response was to get mad, and negotiate a "dutiful" response from her. Over time, this "duty" became an expectation whenever he felt like having some physical gratification. The more she performed this "duty", the less she respected her husband. At present, their marriage is (what appears to me, at least) an arrangement of selfishness and broken hearts, with no respect for one another, let alone themselves.
    I hope the day never comes where making love to my husband is on the same level as cleaning the toilet! He deserves better than that. And so do I.

  9. joy
    5 years ago

    i totally agree with Zee. lame argument. sorry women don't really have the little blue pill to help make sure they can "perform their duty." plus, statistics show that most women have it harder reaching orgasm, while some never experience it at all. If that were the case with a couple, wouldn't it then explain the lack of interest in sex from the wife. And if it truly is a duty on both sides, then you failed to also tell men in this article that they have a DUTY to help their wife enjoy the act more.

  10. msg
    5 years ago

    I thought the article was spot on. God wants us to be happy in our blessed union and being happy takes work from both wife and husband.

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