Once upon a time, society had rules. Among those rules were rules surrounding marriage. Looking back into history from our perspective, these marriages of old seem more like business deals than like the love and romance we like to dream about. Problem is, we haven't fully moved to a world where marriage is defined by love and romance (and we never will). Thus, we now have a really messed up idea of marriage where we are appalled at the idea of obligation while still feeling entitled.
Marriage of old
Men and women get married for different reasons. We each have needs and desires which we seek to fulfill by getting married. Some of the actual desires are the same but their rank within the hierarchy of desires is not the same.
(Obviously, your personal millage may vary because both men and women have masculine and feminine character traits, it's just that men are generally more masculine and women are generally more feminine. There are masculine women and feminine men out there. This post will speak in general terms. By "men" I mean most men or the more masculine version of humanity and likewise with regards to "women".)
In the days of old, it was not socially acceptable to have sex outside of wedlock. Did it happen? Of course it happened, but it was unacceptable and therefore happened much less and more hidden. Because of this, if you wanted to have a regular sex life, you had to get married. This was true for most people. Since sex is higher up on the list of needs for men, this practically meant that men had to accept marriage in order to have regular sex. There were parts of marriage which he may not have been particularly interested in or perhaps he was indifferent to these parts or even opposed to them, but this was the trade off, he committed to these elements in exchange for regular sex.
Same was true in the reverse. Maybe sex wasn't as important to the woman as it was for her husband. Maybe she would have been okay with half the amount of sex as what he wanted. Maybe she didn't need it altogether. But his happiness, his ongoing commitment and support were extremely important to her and so, in exchange for that, she had more sex than what she would have had if it all went according to her desires.
It's true that there were miserable men and women back then, there always are. However, to a very large degree, this worked. Men had to prioritize what was important to their wives and women had to prioritize what was important to their husbands. It was a trade-off and everyone knew it and was open about it being a trade-off. But once the terms and conditions were agreed upon, it was expected of both parties to keep their end of the deal. Not upholding your end was grounds for divorce while getting the lower hand in the process.
New age marriage
According to modern thought, nobody owes anything to anyone (except when they do). This is especially true with regards to the obligations of a wife towards her husband. "It's my body and I don't owe him sex" is heard quite often. Similar sentiments are sounded with regards to many other issues. (I'm not here to debate the issues themselves so if you're here to troll, you can leave now).
OTOH, certain entitlements remain, especially when the marriage doesn't work out and the couple divorces. This is destructive to marriage. As much as we'd like to believe in love and romance, reality is that people want to give and receive within a marriage. When one party feels like they're only giving and not receiving anything in return, they feel taken advantage of and the marriage breaks down from there.
Masculinity and femininity are meant to balance each other to create a harmonized marriage, family, community and world. When we each play to our strengths and work in tandem, our marriages, families, communities and the world at large will be a much more wonderful place to live in. When we work against each other, we experience a breakdown in marriages, families, communities and the world. This us vs them mentality helps no one. It's destructive to everyone.
We can't change the world, but we can change ourselves. We can treat our own spouses in a manner where we work together, our positives balance out the negatives of our spouses. We encourage and support one another and live a great life. The key to this in a world gone haywire on marriage is to do the exact opposite as what caused the problem to begin with.
The problem began when the feminist movement sought to liberate women from male oppression. Let's examine this statement without getting sidetracked by whether women were or weren't oppressed in the 50's because that's besides the point. This statement assumes that traditional marriage is oppressive to women and that men are the oppressors. It seeks to pit men and women against one another, thus breaking down the family unity. It also assumes that the old version of marriage was all obligations for women while being all benefits to men. This is not true. As explained above, marriage of old was a trade-off which was actually negotiated in great detail in many cultures.
If the problem is that people wish to shirk responsibility while reaping the full benefits, the solution is to do the opposite, to provide the full benefits by fulfilling our full responsibility without expecting immediate returns. Many of the seasoned women here can attest to their successes which occurred only after they were consistent in sticking to their end of the deal while giving their men the space to catch up when they were ready.
Ask not what my husband/wife can do for me, ask what you can do for them. Live your married life in full devotion to your spouse without expectation of anything in return.
If a period of time passes and they are only taking and taking and are taking you for granted, perhaps it's time to consider divorce. When the basics of the marriage are in place but your guys just got a little sidetracked in the bickering, one spouse can break the vicious cycle by doing their part consistently. The other spouse will usually catch up after a few months. However, if they don't catch up and just take you for granted, it may be a sign that the foundations are shattered beyond repair.
Take a step forward and improve your marriage today! If you aren't married yet, take a step forward and improve your RMV today!