Latest update: April 2nd, 2012
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Thank you for printing the letter from “Wishing it could have been different” (Chronicles 6-29). She was responding to my letter (Feeling Hopeless, Chronicles 5-4) and I thank her for her solidarity. I often ponder whether there are other women in such a predicament. I am in the midst of intense counseling with a sex therapist (our third). It is most painful. My husband doesn’t seem to absorb what he is being taught. He tries to do his homework but feels burdened by it, and most often any words of advice are forgotten within a week. If he is told to do and/or to document a specified gesture daily (to quote you, “a sporadic upswing”), he does so on one day of the week.
He recently suggested that we cancel counseling, for he fears admonition. I sense that he feels badly, but he expresses himself minimally and displays little ability in analyzing or discussing his emotions. There are no precipitating factors. In all other areas he is smart and successful and has many friends. He doesn’t have a need for or want intimacy. I am his assignment. And with this revelation, my hope withers.
At the present time, to me, the sex therapy is as if we’re teaching a man without hands to write. His emotional maturity is that of a child. He is content without intimacy and cannot be taught to need something he is comfortable doing without.
You write: “when you went for therapy, there was some slight improvement. This would indicate that ‘asexuality’ is a conditioning of the mind, as in ‘mind over matter’…” I take your words with hesitation and hope. Is the success a gray area? Am I being pessimistic or realistic by thinking that I cannot make my husband into something he is not?
The letter from “Wishing it could have been different” reaffirms my apprehension. There is little to no improvement, albeit he is aware of the severity of our situation. Although I’ve been reassured it isn’t me, I feel like a failure.
I want to add a closing remark. Last week, I met a friend I haven’t seen in a long while. With a tinge of envy, she commented on how wonderful my life is. Society, take heed: You truly never know what goes on in your friends’ or family members’ lives.
Thanking you for a most remarkable column,
(Still) feeling hopeless
You wonder if there are other women in your predicament, and I suspect there are many. I can think of a couple of reasons for not hearing of them. For one, the privacy/embarrassment issue. No mystery there. For another, and this may surprise you, many of these couples end up settling into a laissez-faire lifestyle: while she may be missing the intimacy part, she is thankful and appreciative of his other qualities, does not take it personally, and has learned to “roll with the punches,” so to speak.
Frankly, considering your husband’s emotional makeup, he deserves some credit for going the therapy route, though with some griping.
Pessimism is not the way to go. One can be realistic and optimistic at the same time.
The following letter describes another (optimistic) sufferer’s strategy for coping.
I was shocked to read the letters about “asexuality” within the community. My story will perhaps help others. There is no diagnosis, nor a clear medical or psychological reason why my husband stopped being interested. It was a shock at first. There were many feelings of resentment, anger, and other issues that emerged as a result.
I’ve come to a certain peace about my situation, but I also realized that if you want something in life, you have to go for it. I needed to overlook a lot of insensitivity, get past the bitterness and try to rebuild our relationship.
Here, in a nutshell, is what I’ve learned:
1. Any wife deserves to be touched, hugged and to feel “loved.” This is not a right that should be compromised. Often, I have to ask for this, but for now I must accept the fact that my husband’s feeling towards physical intimacy is robotic.
2. There is no “time line.” Many factors led me to make the decision to stay in my marriage. Over the years, my husband has become emotionally responsive to me. This only happened when the bitterness, shock and anger were dealt with, and, as I said, I came to a certain peace about the situation. I just keep inching forward, towards the goal of hopefully having a somewhat interested husband.
I still have to plan which evening we have relations, but I optimistically look towards having somewhat of a physical relationship one day. Everyone has his/her nisayon, but no woman should feel the need to give up the goal of her right in a marriage.
To men out there: A kind word, a show of appreciation, a touch on the shoulder, mean so much to your wives. Don’t give up being sensitive. Keep working on the emotional part, and hopefully the physical aspect of your relationship will change.
Good luck to all, and thanks for providing a forum for what’s “not supposed to be talked about…”
Still trying, with Hashem’s help
Kudos to you for staying the course despite the hardship involved. It must be said, however, that no two people are alike and what works for you may not necessarily work for another.
In the meanwhile, some readers have expressed an interest in connecting with the wives who first introduced this topic here (see Chronicles 5-4, 6-29). Regrettably, those letters were sent anonymously by regular mail, making it impossible for me to establish that link.
If these writers are amenable to being placed in touch with the interested parties, please feel free to make that request via e-mail to this column. Achdus is a potent force – sharing experiences can be therapeutic and work wonders.
Thank you both for caring and sharing.
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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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