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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/20/08

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Dear Rachel,

I love reading your advice to people, weekly. You always come straight to the point and give your opinion with a lot of confidence. I hope you can help me.

In the past, someone wrote to you about still being in love with someone she once knew. Your advice to her really helped me because I was in a similar situation. I wish I had kept the letter because I would like to reread it and remind myself of what you told her. If you can e-mail me the advice or print it again, I would appreciate it.

Recently, I am constantly thinking about another man. I know that it’s completely wrong and that nothing will ever come of it, but I just can’t help it. I am married to a great man who is kind and sweet and a great father. He is also, Baruch Hashem, a good provider. So why do I think of other men? The problem is that I’m just not attracted to my husband. I really wish I were, because he is such a good person.

When he first asked me to marry him, I said no because I was not attracted to him. The second time something sparked and the attraction was great but lasted only until I got pregnant (very quickly). It just never came back, even after I gave birth. Even many kids later. I will never leave my husband because I love him and he is a good person and I could never hurt him or my children like that. I know he really is the best man for me. But this lack of attraction really bothers me.

I feel it’s not just women who need to look good for their husbands. Men need to take care of themselves as well. It would help if my husband shaved more often, wore nice clothing and got more frequent haircuts. I hate to say this, but it would be nice if he could dye his hair. When we are together, he looks like he could be my father. People have even made comments to that effect. I never tell him any of this because I don’t want to hurt his feelings, and I know that he can’t halachically dye his hair, but it really does bother me. Maybe you can help me fix the thoughts in my head.

I know that one is not to place much emphasis on looks, that a man can turn ugly and an ugly man can turn handsome by the way he treats you. But this logic just hasn’t worked for me. I feel like there is really something wrong with me.

I am also a ba’alas teshuvah and have had past experience fooling around. My husband has had absolutely none, so intimacy between us is very boring. There is hardly any physical display of affection, and I feel very uncomfortable trying to express my needs – as though the image of me being a nice, innocent girl will be taken away.

I wish my husband would be more romantic and compliment me more. He can also be shy. Sometimes I wonder if rabbis teach about the intricacies of intimacy.

I just don’t know what to do. I really want to be attracted to my husband and hope you can help me.

The boredom’s getting to me

Dear Bored,

Believe it or not, to many readers you’ve pretty much described the ideal mate − kind and sweet, a good provider, a great father, loyal, mature, and a stable and reliable figure in your life.

On the downside (everyone’s got them), he tends to neglect his appearance, your intimate life lacks spark, and his head of gray hair doesn’t excite you much either. Hence you’ve taken to dwelling on your past and reliving the highs you achieved through promiscuous behavior.

No, there is nothing wrong with you. All that you are feeling is normal. One of the reasons that a ba’al teshuvah is divinely held in high regard is because despite having tasted the lure and sweetness of sin, s/he has abandoned her/his wrongful ways and remains steadfastly virtuous.

When is the last time you took your husband on a shopping spree and helped him pick out some of his clothing items? When did you last buy him a tie, a shirt, or even alerted him to a great sale at a reputable shoe store and insisted that he treat himself to a new pair of shoes?

This may come as a surprise to you and others, but it is in the privacy of your bedroom where you were meant to flaunt your feminine wares. Use your womanly resourcefulness to shake him up with new bursts of affection. Chances are he’ll love it and will learn to respond. Reserve the “nice and innocent” image for the outside world; with your lawful soul mate be passionately loving, playful, and straightforward about what turns you on.

Any suggestion that your husband might be your father should be taken as a compliment − this is more likely than not a reflection of your own youthful appearance. Nonetheless, a male’s gray head of hair is viewed as a mark of distinction. But if it becomes unruly in your eyes, just tell him that you love the boyishness he acquires whenever he gets a haircut. This and your new bedroom persona should motivate him to clean up his act.

It takes two to tango, but a shy partner may need his lady to take the initiative. Practice patience; he’ll probably catch on in no time. And when he does, you’ll be glad you took the lead.

P.S. The letter you refer to appeared in the 6-8-07 column and can be accessed online.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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