Sex as Duty

Written by Christopher Oliphant.

The night before her wedding to her first husband, my wife's mother took her aside and said, "You need to know that you will have to perform your wifely duty even though you may not feel like it." But this is also true for men. Ask a man whose wife is trying to get pregnant. When her temperature is right, he is expected to perform. This idea of duty is also inherent in the concept that sex is only for procreation.

couple in bed

These days we find the idea distasteful, people should not feel forced by duty to have sex. But is it such a horrible thing? John Grey in his book Mars and Venus in The Bedroom talks about the quickie; sex offered by one partner to relieve the sexual stress of the other partner. It can take the sexual pressure off the relationship and allow the couple to stay connected when the unresolved sexual needs might tear it apart.

What it requires is the acknowledgement that it is okay for one partner to have higher sexual needs than the other. Our culture says that men and women should always want sex and if they don't then they are damaged. It also says that to ask for sex when your partner doesn't want it is to be sexually demanding and therefore also damaged. Coming from this place of damage serves no one and puts additional stress on the relationship.

Instead we invite you to accept that there are differing sexual needs and that those differences are healthy and normal. We also invite you to know that the sexual expectations of society are what are damaged. From this place the couple can speak openly about their sexuality. One can say, "I really want sex tonight." The other can hear that, not as demand, but as statement of fact. The other can then reply, "Tonight I have no sexual feelings." This level of communication is deeply intimate and, if each can see themselves and the other as okay, then true communication can take place. Then you can negotiate making love from this place. It may be a quickie, masturbation, one partner giving to the other without expectation of receiving. As a couple you can get quite creative.

Duty then becomes the door to intimacy, creativity and the deepening of relationship.

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