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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/04/07

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Dear Rachel,

I have become an avid reader of your column and greatly appreciate your attention to SSA. I am a typical “Bais Yaakov girl.” I got married two years ago − young, sheltered and innocent. My husband is a kind honest person, but he has a sexual problem. At first I was always the initiator and he’d make me feel like sleeping with me is a favor. Then I stopped asking, albeit the intense loneliness.

I had my first baby recently. During my pregnancy my husband slept with me twice. We live together like good friends, but nothing more. We’ve been to professional counseling. He likes me and truly doesn’t want to leave me. I do not turn him off in any way. He has been labeled an “asexual.” Homosexuality has been repeatedly ruled out.

Is there something like “asexuality” really out there? How does one’s partner survive? He has been treated with medication but has no drive to take it. My loneliness is hurting, and I am questioning my endurance.

Feeling hopeless

Dear Hopeless,

Couples who are married for several years and take one another for granted are much more likely to confront the type of situation you describe. In a young marriage such as yours, one would need to examine the background of the individual with the problem − what he has been told, his beliefs about a woman, and the ideas he has formed of the adult intimate relationship.

Your husband’s problem can stem from a deep-seated fear of expressing affection and of allowing himself to get involved in a mutually loving intimate relationship.

A good therapist should be able to get to the root cause of his inhibition and help him overcome his fears − but he first must acknowledge and accept that he has a problem and that his behavior is not “normal.”

Physically affectionate gestures between siblings and between parents and their children, etc. can be termed “asexual.” When a husband or wife harbors no desire to be physically intimate with the other, something is amiss − and it needs to be dealt with in order for the marriage to thrive and survive.

One can argue that the degree of desire may vary in intensity from one person to another − one partner’s sensual temperament, for instance, may exceed in potency from the other’s. As in every facet of a marital relationship, compromise − coming to a happy medium − is the key to wedded bliss.

Since you did take the big and serious step in the area of commitment, you owe it to yourselves and to your child to work at making things work out between you. Patience − especially yours in this case − is a key factor. In the interim, practice being a kind, giving and caring spouse. A harmonious relationship out of the bedroom cultivates a closeness and compatibility in private.

Dear Rachel,

Good thing for anonymity − I feel almost silly writing this letter. But you’re the only one I can turn to with my thoughts. Besides, if it wasn’t for your column, I may never have had them in the first place. Allow me to explain.

One of our sons is soon turning three. He is an adorable little tyke, soft spoken and tender natured − with a mop of curly hair that cascades down his back. (As our tradition mandates, we wait until his third birthday to give him a haircut.)

When we recently exclaimed, “You are such a big boy!” − he shocked us by saying, “No, I’m a big girl!” (He has even asked for pink underwear!) Then again, from among his siblings, it is hardly surprising that he identifies most closely with his sister, the only one with hair like his − and the only girl in our family.

My husband and I realize he is just a toddler and that his reaction most likely stems from simple childish innocence. But with all the craziness in today’s world, I wouldn’t mind reassurance that there’s no need to be alarmed.

Am I being paranoid?

Dear Paranoid,

Hopefully you are not obsessing about this non-issue.

(It is amazing how the wider world impacts on our lives.) According to my professional contact, “transgender” is a term that applies only to a psychologically impaired adult. Most of us will in fact recall trying on a big brother’s or sister’s clothing in our childhood − just a normal passing phase that is neither a result of genetic influence nor symptomatic of a chemical imbalance.

As long as parents do not encourage or push children in this type of behavior and establish healthy boundaries between fantasy and reality, their children will outgrow their childish play.

While you allow common sense to prevail, watch how quickly your little one will consider himself to be just “one of the boys” once he sports a brand new yarmulke on his new “do.”

May you and your husband reap much nachas from all your children!

Confidential to the Roses: May the fragrance of your blooms forever permeate your luscious garden.

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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