they don't exist any more.
Now I realise it's old news already, but since I was on vacation I couldn't write about it earlier. There was an interesting debate on the subject of marital rape some time ago. Vox correctly pointed out that the concept didn't even exist in most countries until the 1990s, and that instead there was a concept of marital debt which spouses owed each other. However, then things go tricky. Vox states that a man has a financial obligation to support his wife and that he is obliged to do it whether he feels like it or not.
Except that he hasn't. That's right, according to the current laws in Western countries, just as the wife owes no sex to her husband, he owes her no financial support of any kind. Even moral obligation hardly exists any more, since the society (and husbands) fully expect their wives to "help earn an income".
Consider this: Traditionally, the husband had a duty to provide a safe house, pay for
necessities such as food and clothing, and live in the house. The wife's
obligations were maintaining a home, living in the home, having sexual
relations with her husband, and rearing the couple's children. Today,
the underlying concept that marriage is a legal contract still remains,
but due to changes in society the legal obligations are not the same. (Quoted from here ).
So what legal duties spouses owe each other nowadays and what rights do they have? Well, in the USA, e.g., you can receive your spouse's Social Security benefits. And you can't abuse your spouse or lie to him/her about your finances or a criminal past. That's what the modern liberal marriage amounts to.
Just as the husband has absolutely no legal redress if the wife asks for a separate bedroom, there is nothing short of divorce that the wife can do if the husband refuses to provide an income.
Vox mentioned India as one of the countries where the law states that marital rape is impossible. Indian law also states that a wife is entitled to claim decent living standards & basic comforts of life by her husband as per his living standards.
The recent court ruling announced that if the husband is healthy, able-bodied and is in a position to support
himself, he is under the legal obligation to support his wife, for the
wife's right to receive maintenance under Section 125 CrPC, unless
disqualified, is an absolute right. (That was a ruling on divorced women receiving spousal support). Sometimes, a plea is advanced by the husband that he does not have the
means to pay for he does not have a job or his business is not doing
well. These are only bald excuses and, in fact, they have no
acceptability in law.
No wonder that both feminists and meninists decry India's sexist laws.
As someone who supports traditional marriage, I'm sympathetic to Vox's arguments (before you start attacking me or him for promoting domestic violence, he stated correctly that using force to make your wife go to bed with you constitutes assault and battery), however, the idea that the law is one-sided and only favours women is, imo, not true. Marriage under liberal law grants you few legal rights and even fewer responsibilities, and that's true for both spouses.