Latest update: April 2nd, 2012
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I am writing in response to the letter from “Losing It” (Chronicles Nov. 9) who writes regarding her inadequacies and feelings of hurt every time her husband looks or speaks to another woman. As I was reading the letter, I almost thought that I had written it. The majority of what she wrote reflected my past, and at times, current feelings.
Although I wish to rid myself of these same feelings, it was almost comforting for me to find out that I am not alone. I too have been married for a number of years and can B”H truly say that I have been blessed with a wonderful husband who loves and adores me for who I am. I am not the most stylish or up-to-date person, and though my husband appreciates style, he understands that I am who I am.
When I first got married, however, I was overcome with feelings of threat whenever my husband spoke to both single and married women, especially those who were prettier than me. To this day, I fear showing him pictures of my friends who are gorgeous. I know it sounds silly, but once these feelings come, they persist and become exaggerated.
So, “Losing it,” I totally understand . . . and hope that over the years, you will realize how special you are and how much your husband loves you for who you are, without being threatened by other ladies.
However, there is one thing that I must ask you, Rachel. Over the past year, I have heard stories of spouses abandoning their spouse for another woman/man. This is very scary and threatening for me and makes the above feelings very real and persistent. What can we do to improve our marriage so that this never, G-d forbid, occurs? Don’t such stories legitimize the feelings of “Losing it” and others like us who have these feelings in common?
I appreciate your taking the time to read this and am hoping for a response.
Almost losing it
The following letter chronicles another female reader’s perspective and strategy on this issue, virtually addressing your fear – as though she has read your mind.
I thank you both for baring your private pain so that others can benefit from your experiences.
I would like to give the woman who’s “losing it” some reassurance and chizuk. I, too, was going through a very similar situation at the beginning of my marriage. I was constantly insecure about my husbands’ interest in other women and would nag him with questions and comments like, “I saw you looking at that lady”, or “why were you staring at her,” or “do you think she’s pretty”…and so on. It would hurt my husband so much, and deep down I knew that he was loyal to me and would never want to hurt me. But I justified my stupidity with the fact that men are created with a strong animal soul which gets its satisfaction through physicality, to put it simply, and why would my husband be different. My thoughts would eat at me, yet I’d often keep my feelings to myself to avoid yet another argument which would cause heartache and disrupt our shalom bayis.
What I discovered was something very simple. I was able to alter these experiences and make lifetime changes. The reason I felt a lack of confidence in trusting my husband was because I was afraid he’d be more attracted to another woman since I wasn’t being the best wife that I could possibly be. To fix this I began putting a conscious effort into my physical appearance (which also boosted my self-confidence), and most of all in being the best loving wife a man can ask for. To put it bluntly, this means always being physically available and happy to be a participant intimately and cutting out the complaining about being “too tired” whenever love and intimacy come up. I felt more confident in my “wifely” skills.
Eventually, I built up enough trust and confidence in myself to ease up. It’s really that simple! We laugh about it now seven years later, and I’m happy to share my results with you. I didn’t suffer any abuse or bad experience in my childhood that could have caused this; I just needed to trust in myself more and believe that there really isn’t any other woman who can make my husband as happy as I make him.
I wish you lots of luck, and I’m sure you’ll end up looking back in a few years and laugh at this just as we did!
Losing it NO-MORE!
Overall your reply to “Losing It” was beautiful, warm, encouraging, seeking to support her self-esteem issue yet appropriately warning her that if she goes on and on doubting him with her anxieties, it may one day just be too much.
May the psychiatrist intervene, though, with one comment: From my perspective, perhaps you got drawn into her therapy-avoidance excuse too easily.
The answer to her question, “do others have this problem?” is of course yes, almost every other woman on this planet.
But there is no way in which this woman’s anxieties are going to lessen without her having at least a few months of weekly or more therapy with a good therapist.
Best Wishes, Dr. B
Dear Dr. B,
You know by now that I consider myself most fortunate to have made your acquaintance through this column. Ah, the marvel of electronic transmission! Your occasional personal comment and critique that trickle my way are always most welcome and enlightening.
I continue to respect your desire for anonymity but wish my reading audience to know that you are a distinguished professional – at the top in your field of psychiatry – and are guided by Torah wisdom.
Hopefully, “Losing it” is taking note of your sage advice.
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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