Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Don't Jail Your Spouse [Post For Married People Only!]

Think about the following scene: A man comes home one day and locks the door. His wife says that she needs to go to the supermarket because there is no food in the house, so she asks if he can he give her money.

He refuses. 

He then tells her that he is not letting her out of the house. [He has both sets of keys in his pocket].

She doesn't understand. He explains that food is expensive and he doesn't want her to spend the money on food. Besides which he doesn't want her to leave the house. A woman's place, he explains, is in the home. Also - he is not in the "mood" for her to go out. He wants her around in case he wants to talk to her.  

He is not hungry for he just ate. But she has been waiting all day for him to come home and give her money to buy groceries and is famished. [No credit card. He keeps it for himself]. 

But no go. He won't budge. She considers escaping through a window but  they live in a Manhattan skyscraper - 68th floor. Not a good idea. She is hungry and while jumping out the window would solve that problem - it would present other problems....

Cruel - right? Lock 'im up.  

OK - Let us use this analogy to explain another MUCH MORE COMMON scenario.

The husband desires intimate physical contact with his wife [or vice versa - this is just for illustrative purposes]. He is a guy. He has strong urges. He works in the city and all day long he is surrounded by attractive, well dressed and well put together women. He is very careful to try his best not to look or talk to any of them unnecessarily but he is just a guy. Can't fight nature. The very same nature that compelled him to find a wife and incur all of the expense and hard work of being married is drawing him to other women as well. But he is a good, honest man. He will not have any type of relationship with any other woman besides a stiff, formal working one. 

So he comes home from work - hungry [not for food]. He knows that it will make him feel good, calmer, loved and cared for if he gets what he needs and craves. He also wants to show his wife that he loves and appreciates her and this is his way [besides everything else he does for her].

She is NOT interested. She is dressed in her shlumpy house clothing and is washing dishes and folding laundry. He tries talking to her but she is not really in much of the mood to talk. When he asks if she has plans for later she says "Yes - to sleep. I'm zonked". 

He tells her that he wants to be together. She gets annoyed, tells him that all men think about is ... and that he should leave her alone. She had a long day. He empathizes with her struggles, offers some help around the house, she tells him what to do and goes to bed. When he finally gets to bed he finds his wife in a deeeep sleep. 

He is feeling frustrated, rejected, unloved and uncared for. 

This scene repeats itself TIME AND TIME again. The only time she is willing is mikva night - and even then she is just going through the motions.

She is essentially doing to him what the man did to the wife in our first illustration. He is LOCKED IN. He has no other outlet. What is he supposed to do?? The desire for sexual relations is stronger than the desire to eat [although OF COURSE one can live without the former and will die without the latter]. Men don't get aroused every time they walk by a hot dog stand or fancy restaurant but far more often they do when they see an attractive woman [or even when they don't see her].  

But she doesn't fell like it [time and time again]. What is he supposed to do? Many men in such a situation find other outlets and while it is despicable and indefensible - it happens for a reason.

I often wonder - One learns through the mesechtos in Seder Nashim and there is no talk of romance. [There is actually no word in Biblical or Rabbinic Hebrew for romance.] It is all about money, responsibilities and legal questions.

Where is the LOVE?? Isn't that what marriage is all about???

OF COURSE that is what marriage is all about. Love is what ALL OF LIFE is about [see Shabbos 31 - The rest is commentary]. But that is not the starting point. We begin with OBLIGATION. There are mutual obligations whether there is love or not. This person needs you and you have to make sure to be there for them regardless of how you are feeling.

Love is the outgrowth. Each person properly fulfills their obligations to the other and over time love and appreciation are cultivated. It is NOT about feeling. 

She doesn't feel like have sexual relations? OK - He doesn't feel like giving her money. He isn't "feeling it". She doesn't feel like taking care of the house [and they can't afford help]? OK - He doesn't feel like giving her attention and is always busy with his iphone. 75 emails an hour to check...

A husband has to know EVERY DAY of his life that he is TOTALLY obligated to be there for his wife in every way possible. And the wife has the same obligations towards the husband. Feeling shmeelings. 

I have never heard of a [normal] woman who said that she just "doesn't feel" like taking care of her kids very often so she neglects them. The is a very strongly, rooted motherly feeling of responsibility to her children. There must be a similar sense of obligation to her husband. The husband can't wake up one morning and say that he is just not interested in being monogamous anymore. He married his wife and that effectively barred him from ever again having serious relationships with women - regardless of his feelings on the matter. 

Obligations sweet friends.

Then love. 

וידעת כי שלום אוהליך!!!