The Trouble with "Never Say No" and Old-School Marriage Advice

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by Veronica Hilbring

What does it mean to Never say No?

I recently attended a bridal shower where other married women offered advice to my friend, the bride-to-be.

The most consistent words of advice given to her were, "Never Say No," or better known as never deny your husband sex.


Even if you’ve worked all day, taken care of the kids, and cooked and cleaned. At the end of the day when he taps on your shoulder, you better be ready, willing and able. But how realistic is this? With all of those things going on, a woman’s libido is bound to be low.

Now granted, I am looking at this from a single, working, never been married woman‘s point of view. But I can’t imagine that if I were married I wouldn’t feel the same way. I barely have the time to cook dinner and write. And then on top of all of that I’m also supposed to be porn star ready at any moment?

Any day of the week? Even on Thursdays? No.

Because if you even think of asking me of anything while "Scandal" is on……..

But on the other hand, if you tell your husband no you’ll be the reason why your marriage didn’t work out and why he’s messing with Mary Jane Paul. Either way as a woman, you take most, if not all of, the blame.

So what’s a girl to do?

Do you have sex even when you really aren’t in the mood? I don’t see that benefitting anyone. I’m sure there will be a time when the roles will be reversed. You may be in the mood when he’s not. But what advice can women offer to each other that is realistic and optimistic without placing women in that “you’re only here for his pleasure box?”

Many women have heard the “being submissive to a man” doctrine that has been drilled in our heads every day of our dating lives since the age of 16. Is never saying no part of the policy that us single girls have to learn before getting that MRS degree?

Here’s some advice I’d like to hear:

Instead of advising girls to never say no, let’s suggest something fun like, Be Spontaneous, Find new ways to keep it spicy and all of those things that Cosmopolitan Magazine has been talking about for decades.

My married homegirl under 30 dismissed the "never say no" recommendation.

“I told him no last night. He still has to work for it every once in a while. I could be wrong but I know I’d get bored if I had sex with him anytime he thought about it.” They’ve been married for 5 years. She might be on to something.

Telling women to simply never say no just feels problematic. Sisters, let’s be easier on each other. I would never advise a woman to do anything she didn’t want to do. It’s 2014 and we as 21st Century women aren’t June Cleaver or Stepford Wives.

So while we work to build a strong foundation with our partners for marriage, let’s retire "never say no" for something that can keep both partners happy.

Veronica Hilbring has been a feminist since Janet Jackson dropped the original Control verse. She lives in Chicago.

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