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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Feeling Hopeless’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/24/07

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax-deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

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Dear Rachel,

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

Dear Still,

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.

Dear Rachel,

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

Dear Trying,

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.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/29/07

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Feeling with “Feeling Hopeless” (Chronicles 5-4)

Dear Rachel,

After reading the letter from “Feeling Hopeless,” I was compelled to write. For I, too, was a girl form a religious home who married young (in the early 1970′s). From the beginning there was something wrong with the physical aspect of our relationship – the ‘norm’ for engaging in marital relations was once every six to eight weeks, always at my instigation. I had no clue as to what was wrong or how to fix it. In those days I had no idea of where one went to deal with a problem like this.

We went on to have B”H five healthy children (a nes in itself), but the physical relationship never got any better. My husband’s excuses were that he was too tired, too busy, the house wasn’t clean enough, he didn’t like my tone of voice, etc. It made for a lot of arguing. I talked my heart out and tried to explain that intimacy is the glue that holds a marriage together, but he didn’t want to listen. Magazines only spoke about men’s desires and how women should look to please them. Jewish publications extolled the mikvah system for keeping desire fresh between husband and wife. The overwhelming message was that men have desires, and if there was a problem, it had to be the woman’s. This only reinforced what my husband was saying, and I spent much of my time crying and trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

About 15 years ago, I heard of a frum sex therapist. I made an appointment and my husband came along, though he really believed the problem to be me – I was too demanding and expected too much. As in the case of “Feeling Hopeless,” my husband swore that SSA was not a factor. Things improved slightly but slipped back to where they were after a few months. This pattern continued for the next five or six years, through a number of other therapists. Finally, emotionally exhausted, I decided to see what would happen if I stopped being the initiator. All physical activity between us stopped, and that is how the situation has remained for the last ten years. Almost three years ago, I read a newspaper piece about asexuality and realized that this is what the issue has been all along.

My husband is a wonderful, generous man who loves to give gifts and can’t understand why that is not “enough.” His logic: Being a good provider and expressing his love with gifts should be sufficient. As he is getting older, physical problems are coming into play, but unlike other wives, I cannot mourn for what I never had. For me, the emotional wasteland is torture. Judaism recognizes the place of sensuality and sexuality in a marriage. It is the Catholic ideal that holds that celibacy is the norm.

Almost 40 years later, I feel that I have been cheated. The bedrock foundation of a marriage is the closeness between a husband and wife, and I feel that this has been denied me. My heart truly goes out to “Feeling Hopeless” because sometimes the loneliness, the need to be touched or hugged, is overpowering. To this day, this is not the kind of problem I could have confided to my mother or mother-in-law when they were alive, nor could I share this with my sisters, and certainly not with my friends. Neither am I aware of any support group that deals with this problem.

Two or three times a year I visit a therapist for a chance to express my profound sadness and sense of loss. Should “Hopeless” decide to stay in her marriage, she must be prepared for a very lonely emotional existence. There is only so much time and energy to devote to children or grandchildren; my sadness is always lingering under the surface. My husband does realize that if our problem had been resolved at some point, our marriage could have been a much happier one.

I wish I had an answer. I wish “Feeling Hopeless” luck and salute her courage in writing to you. I wish there had been a forum such as yours for me all those years ago.

Keep up your good work – hatzlacha!

Wishing it could have been different

Dear Wishing,

Your story is a sad one. G-d only knows how many of us experience this type of emotional anguish in our marital relationships and suffer in silence.

You went all out in trying to get your husband to understand where you were coming from – to no avail. Yet, when you went for therapy, there was some reprieve, some slight improvement. This would indicate that “asexuality” is a conditioning of the mind, as in ‘mind over matter.’

The human mind is a powerful thing – once set, it is not easily swayed. However, the sporadic upswings and your five beautiful children testify to your husband’s capability of exercising his conjugal rights, albeit with some prodding.

Each partner in a marriage has an obligation to satisfy the other’s need for intimacy. (Of course it helps when a husband and wife are on the same page regarding the various nuances that come into play…) Even with the interference of advanced age and illness, how much exertion is required of a spouse to express his affection by way of a touch or a hug?

Granted, being a good provider is important. And gift giving is an endearing bonus. But the true essence of love cannot be measured by currency. When two hearts connect and the two halves of a soul come together, the desire to be one – imbued in us by G-d – is exhilarating. What a pity to shun this beautiful gift from our Creator and forgo the ultimate in marital harmony!

Thank you for sharing. Maybe, hopefully, your heartfelt words will steer a misguided soul in the right direction.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/22/07

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

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Dear Rachel,

Being a young married woman myself, I was taken with “Feeling Hopeless” (Chronicles 5-4) and the situation she finds herself in. She is questioning her “endurance” as she waits for her husband to take the initiative in the bedroom.

I take issue with her husband for not recognizing his wife’s legitimate needs. When a man shows no interest in or desire to be close with his wife, he is in essence belittling her and conveying the message that he does not love her.

Let’s face it: We are human, and many of us are overworked and stressed out – so that often when our spouses reach out to us, we would rather just be left alone. The ramifications of rejection, however, may not be worth the trade-off. Husbands and wives must allocate time to be attentive to their spouses, even if this means summoning all our resources to demonstrate our caring.

The husband of “Feeling Hopeless” is displaying immaturity in his stubbornness not to go the extra mile for his wife, whom he claims to care about. This is not to imply that “intimacy” is about sleeping together 24/7. But to show your love to your spouse about two or three times a year – well, he sure is testing her endurance.

I also beg to differ with their therapist’s prognosis. In our religion there is no such thing as “asexuality” between husband and wife, who are clearly commanded to cleave to one another.

I would advise Mr. Blasé to get his act together if he places any value on a future surrounded by the warmth and love of a family. He is lucky to have a wife who craves his attention, and he is playing a dangerous game.

Young but Wise in the Ways of Love

Dear Young,

Wise you are, and I could not have said it better myself. The same people who have little energy for their spouses seem to have no problem going all out to prove their strength and virility in the work world – leaving their most important relationship undernourished.

Unfortunately, spouses often tend to take one another for granted. The problem of the husband in question however, seems to be of a more complicated kind. Professional therapy, according to the wife, did not garner any positive results.

It would be a mistake for this couple to give up trying to get help. They should seek another perspective – advice from a different channel of counseling, such as from a rabbinical source.

Your valuable input is much appreciated. Hopefully “Feeling Hopeless” and her husband are tuning in.

Dear Rachel,

I think both you and “Put your spouse first, not last” (Chronicles 4-20) are taking a very one-sided, myopic view of the pre-Pesach situation. “Put your spouse” feels that he is on the bottom of his wife’s priority list before Pesach. But where is she on his priority list at that time?

Does he come home after a hard day’s work, eat a good dinner, which she prepared, and then plant himself on a comfortable chair and read the paper or watch TV, while she is busy slaving in the kitchen after an equally hard (if not harder) day? Or is he in the kitchen beside her, helping her so that she can finish her work an hour earlier, less stressed and tired, so that she can be available to him?

If he will be available to her in the kitchen, she will be available to him in the bedroom.

Let’s be fair

Dear Fair,

Though your sentiments echo those already expressed by readers in a previous column (see Chronicles 5-11), I am printing your letter because the message bears repeating – and to highlight the different challenges that couples must strive to overcome.

Your letter addresses the man who felt his wife was attentive to everything and everyone but him, while the first letter deals with the topic introduced by a young woman whose husband is indifferent to her needs (or seems to have difficulty in satisfying them).

While the circumstances do vary from one to the other, they share a common thread. The moral derived from both is applicable to every married pair:

If you take your spouse for granted, you’d be wise to search your soul. For your approach to life is slanted – you’d best re-evaluate your goal. Your husband/wife is number one and you’d do well not to forget it. If you wait till all your chores are done, ’tis you who’ll live to regret it!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-65/2007/06/20/

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