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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/30/05

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Dear Rachel,

Do you want to know why men cheat? It is because they get absolutely no love from their spouse. Please allow me to tell you my story. I married a beautiful woman some 19 years ago. We have five beautiful children. The problem is … my wife hates sex. She hates intimacy. She goes to the mikvah as a job.

I know you think all men are dogs and they just have to have every skirt. Let me tell you that if we have it at home, we don’t go elsewhere. Just like you are full after a meal and can’t eat somewhere else, so too if we are satisfied at home we don’t look anywhere else.

I love my wife and married her because I fell in love with her. But with her it’s a “look but don’t touch” attitude. I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t like me, or just that she doesn’t like anyone.

I told her many times that if she won’t give me love and affection, I will look elsewhere. She says she doesn’t care. I am very hurt because I want a relationship with her and no one else. I want to grow old with her, and we both should shower each other with love. Let’s face it: when all the kids will get married, we will (hopefully) be together by ourselves.

I think my wife is a beautiful woman. I need help in understanding why she doesn’t need any affection. It isn’t normal!

I know you will think, “maybe she’s too tired” or “too busy being a homemaker.” Let me tell you I make an excellent living and can afford cleaning help three times a week. She does not work outside the home, and our youngest child is ten years old. She gets manicures, pedicures, and even massages once a month. Like I said, I love her. I go to the gym and take care of myself. I lotion myself, put on cologne and try to look good. (If you think I gross her out, I doubt it.)

Another background detail that might be relevant is that she went to a very frum school, and she even thinks kissing is dirty. I would like to address the kallah class teachers and tell them that they have to discuss everything openly, or the husbands do suffer!

Please try to analyze my situation.

One-Sided Love

Dear One-Sided,

The absence of home fires burning is man’s oldest excuse in the book for being disloyal. Today’s respectable and intelligent male finding himself in a loveless dilemma will try working things out rather than resort to momentary, meaningless (and hazardous) physical highs. Your civilized quest for a “cure” is laudable.

From your letter’s content, I take it that yours has been an uninspiring union from day one. Please bear in mind that I am groping in the dark, so to speak – for I know neither you nor your wife, and many complex factors may be at play here.

Forgive my scrutiny, but I couldn’t help note the frequency with which your sentences begin with “I.” Can it be that you are so self-absorbed and all-consumed with your wife’s physicality as to be making her feel that she is but a physical receptor for your base desires? This type of hankering can leave much to be desired …

You mention “manicures, pedicures, massages ” yet fail to address intellectual communication. You furthermore seem clueless as to the inner workings of your partner in life. The real test of the solidity of a relationship is the give and take outside of the bedroom, and the finding of each other’s company (out of bed) more stimulating than anyone else’s. True love evolves with the coming together of minds, hearts and souls – a requisite for meaningful relations. Your wife may subconsciously be “fulfilling” your expectations of physical perfection by maintaining her “beautiful” facade while experiencing emotional deprivation.

If you are convinced that you are not “grossing” her out, think again. Taking care of oneself is commendable, but going overboard can backfire. Playing it natural (and clean) is a better bet — lotion and cologne can be repulsive and mess with the beauty of nature in the raw. You may also try playing hard to get. For a change, concentrate your energies on the children, your job, your home … and wait for your wife to miss you, want you, and to desire the elusive you.

A rigid and prudish upbringing may well impinge on one’s sexual proclivities. To the female who identifies with the wife referred to in this letter: Within the boundaries* set forth by the Torah, marriage (Kedushin) gives license to a husband and wife to lavish upon one another affection by way of intimate physical contact – albeit in privacy.

To the male who elicits but a lukewarm response from his spouse: You would do well to heed the wise words of our Sages, ” learn the virtue of modesty from the cat; honesty from the ant; chastity from the dove; and good manners from the male fowl – who first coaxes … then mates.”

*Adherence to the laws of nidda offers (as a side benefit) a powerful aphrodisiac. The reasoning is simple. Too much of a good thing can trigger monotony and disinterest. Abstinence makes more than just the heart grow fonder.

Whatever her (and your) issues are, they may be so ingrained by now as to require the counsel of a therapist trained in the field of marital intimacy. It may be of help to come to terms with the fact that human natures differ and one’s inherent sexual make-up and drive may vary greatly from another’s. Part of a couple’s challenge is to find a happy medium – yes, even within the context of physical intimacy.

May the glow of your Chanukah lecht infuse your home with an everlasting shine and radiant warmth. Hatzlacha!

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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