NEW YORK – Husbands need sex, and it's a wife's job to provide it - as much as he wants, whenever he wants it. So contends Laura Schlessinger (search) - better known as Dr. Laura, the ever-provocative radio-show shrink - in "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands."
In a galley of her book, coming out in January, Schlessinger describes what she calls "loving obligation" - that is, a spouse's duty to do something whether or not he or she feels like it.
If husbands are expected to "go to work and earn money" and visit relatives they don't like, she argues, why can't their wives put out on demand?
She also describes other ways a woman can make her marriage flourish: by making her husband her No. 1 priority; by not nagging, nitpicking or whining ("Be honest, girls, this is what we do") and by seeing her husband for what he is: "a gift from God," and respecting him accordingly.
This may all be very well, coming as it does from a married, conservative, 56-year-old with a Ph.D in physiology, but some therapists aren't buying her major thesis: that it's men who are starved for sex.
"In most marriages, it's the wife who wants sex, and the husband who doesn't," says Frederick Woolverton, a clinical psychologist and director of the Village Institute for Psychotherapy.
"Dating and honeymoons are all about sex. Marriage is all about intimacy. Men have affairs because they're afraid of intimacy."
It's true that sex is an essential part of marriage, Woolverton says, adding, "It's the women who are complaining."
Marcella Bakur Wiener, a clinical psychologist who has counseled couples for 30 years, agrees that the notion of the sex-starved husband is a generalization.
"Some men are insatiable, but so are some women," she says.
But no matter who needs it, she says, sex should never be something that's supplied on demand.
"There are so many things we already 'have to do' in life," Wiener sighs. "Why should there be a 'have to' in an intimate relationship?"
Yet another therapist sees Schlessinger's point - sort of.
Diana Adile Kirschner, a couples therapist, believes husbands and wives should meet each other's needs as long as it's not "a one-way deal."
"In the couples I see, the women want foreplay, romance, communication, which tends to open them up to being sexual," she says.
"When the man gets more sex, he feels more connected, and more like communicating. When a woman feels understood and romanced, she's more likely to feel more sexual."
Memo to Dr. Laura: Can "The Proper Care and Courtship of Wives" be far behind?