IN 1993 the laws in all but 33 states have changed to reflect influences of women's liberation and freedom from draconian views that women are subject to the husband. Marital privelege or rights were considered to be the norm until the 1970s when women's rights movements began to flourish. Women are no longer thought of as property or chattel belonging to the husband but as equal stake-holders in the business relationship that is called the marriage. As such, women have the right to say "no" to unwanted sexual relations. And, now, women have protection under the law from spousal rape.
Spousal rape is extremely difficult to prove. Many women believe that this is "normal" behavior on the part of men. Please see the links I have provided for more detailed explanations on why it is so difficult to prove.
North Carolina's law states that marriage is not a defense for certain crimes (ie. rape of a spouse). North Carolina was the last of the 50 states to update this law. The rape of a spouse may carry a different penalty under the law than the rape of a stranger.