Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One woman's story

I got an email from a reader who is having marital problems. She wants to share her story, and is looking for support and feedback.
As kallahs, we are told of the "male nature" and "a man's drives."
What happens if the man has very little "drive", and this was the reason you were not getting pregnant? How would you feel, coming home from the mikva, month after month, and have your husband reject you? He's had a long day, davening is so early, the mitzvah of mikvah puts too much pressure on him. He can't "perform" just because its a particular night.
You try and understand, be supportive. But when it happens month after month, year after year, and no babies...what are you supposed to do?
People give you broches, tell you about doctors, and assume that you, the woman, has medical issues. Inside, the pain is unbearable, the desire to scream almost overwhelming.
Divorce him? Who's to say I'd find someone else, or someone with different issues.

We do have relations later in the month, he sees a therapist, and we have also consulted with a rabbi (see below). The issue, which I had never heard of, seems to be mismatched libido.

Thanks for listening!
I'm moderating comments for this one.

My husband's (admittedly impractical) suggestion was to "fool" him into thinking she went to the mikvah earlier. I am wondering about medication that postpones ovulation.

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This blog provides support for women in difficult marriages. It is not meant to take the place of professional marriage counseling or halachic advice. When commenting, please choose a user name other than anonymous.


balt anon said...

Has this woman explored the possibility that her husband is either homosexual? or is a sex addict?

I wish her lots of Hatzlocha.

Anonymous said...

I knew a couple where they never had relations, because the man (unbeknownst to the woman) did not want to have children. Of course that was not the only agenda in that dynamic, and of course your husband said what he said in jest only, but while having children is clearly very important to the poster, it should take two consenting adults to make a baby.
The poster herself perceives this as a shalom bayis issue, not a getting pregnant issue. After all, they could also do an IUI with the husband's sperm if getting pregnant per se, was the ikkar, no?
good luck to you dear poster!
it can be (irrationally?) hard on one's self esteem to feel like your spouse is not as eager as you are; don't let it tear you down.
h.s. ema

KWampus said...

I can't believe how close to home your story rings. The worst part of the problem being, who the heck are you going to talk to about it? How do you tell ANYONE that your husband doesn’t want to go to bed, or that when/if you do, you just can’t get him to climax and it’s not for lack of trying? Unfortunately, so far I haven't found a solution. Right now, I’m still working on the being understanding and supportive. I make a point of not expecting anything and telling him I don’t, it seems to help a little.
The combined pressure of being “on cue” with mikva night and/or “I’m ovulating, GO,” just takes all of his drive and throws it out the window. When that pressure is gone, then he’s interested again, but the opportunity is gone.
We want another child, HE wants one, and I think that makes it even worse. He knows that if he doesn’t do his part then its not going to happen…but when is feeling terrible synonymous with amorous?
Chances are, he’s not really meaning to reject you, and I know that it hurts even more so because we don’t want them to feel bad either. My point is, while I don’t have any suggestions, I feel for you, and hope we can both find answers.
As for the well meaning people…have you tried a large wooden mallet? Could be fun...

mother in israel said...

My apologies for posting something as explicit as the previous comment but I feel it may help some people out there.

Kwampus, have you sought help? A doctor should be able to point you in the right direction, especially regarding retarded ejaculation.

Anonymous said...

is it possible to go through the artificial insemination route for the purpose of conceiving, and then having sexual relations, just for, well, fun? I know that's unusual, but wouldn't it put you both under less pressure? I have no idea what the halachic implications of this are, but the fact is you're not conceiving, and you know why, so it seems to me that there should be some kind of heter for this....I wish you much hatzlacha for this.

triLcat said...

I've read a lot on sexuality. It's pretty much a given that the biggest "sex organ" is the brain.

Something is happening in the husband's head.

Any solution should begin with open talking. This is hard in the religious community. Yeshiva Bachurim often aren't comfortable with the very words much less talking about the actions.

I heard a story about a bachur whose wife wanted him to talk dirty. His response was "mud, pig, dirt..."

Somehow, they're going to have to open the floor for this uncomfortable discussion.

Open communication and open touching - sexual and non-sexual, may take some of the extreme tension out of the mikva night situation.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same as the anonymous commentator of Oct. 10 at 8:04. But some poskim don't even consider children born not of the traditional route to be a fulfillment of pirya verivya, and some won't allow for artificial means.

If the husband is not willing to go to doctors or therapists, the writer has halachic grounds to demand a get.

Anonymous said...

Something for the poster to consider is that she could be physically set to conceive on nights other than her mikvah night. I believe there are ways of testing this (which some Catholics rely on for their family planning). So if it is only the mikvah night that poses a problem, she could find out when else is a good time for conception and try a soft approach then.
But her husband certainly seems to have issues that need to be resolved with the help of a trained professional.

PsychoToddler said...

I think the first commenter had two good points. Other things to explore:

Low testosterone levels: assuming he's not gay, and not having an affair or addicted to internet porn, he may just be suffering from a very common and easily treated medical condition and should see a doctor.

Maybe he is either not attracted to his wife or doesn't like her for some other reason. Marital problems can stem from sexual issues but can also be the cause of sexual issues.

Either way, he should at least see a doctor.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...


"As for the well meaning people…have you tried a large wooden mallet?"

a friend of mine became tired with well meaning people and began to respond to them with question of a personal nature in a "well meaning" way.


if he were gay, having an affair, etc., why would he be interested in her later in the month (as she describes). wouldn't he then not be interested in her at all?

shavuah tov

PsychoToddler said...


Making excuses about sex with your spouse is one of the classic signs of either condition.

It means he doesn't really want to end the marriage but is either more interested in men or getting his action elsewhere.

But again, it may be totally innocent and a medical condition too.

Mo'ah Kemo Efro'ah said...


i understand that. but then why would the problem manifest itself selectively at the beginning of the month only. she does state that they have relations later in the month.

Anonymous said...

I recently had a friend who divorced her husband after a year and a half of marriage - they never consummated their marriage, not even the wedding night. What would I have done in the same situation? Im not sure but the cause of their divorce was not the problem itself, rather the lack of the husband's interest in getting therapy etc? Mismatched libido is y a common condition - in all social groups and religions. I personally cannot see why anyone would talk to a rabbi about this but I have never relied on rabbis to give me life advice in this way. I do not think throwing in the towel and demanding a get is the answer either - everyone has nisyanot and just because its an awkward issue it doesn't make it any less painful than a chronic disease for example.

I would also not advocate bringing a child into the world just for the sake of getting pregnant by artificial means - clearly the marriage is unstable - having a child would compound the problem not solve it.

If you have a good and supportive gynecologist/familky doctor I would make an appointment for you and your husband to speak with her. She may refer your husband to a endocrinologist to make sure that it is not medical. A good couples therapist could also help you talk through the issues.

One thing I might work is take the whole issue of ovulation and having children off the table altogether for a given period of time - say 6 months or even a year. Take that energy and reinvest it into your relationship, enjying each others company without this thing hanging over your head - god willing you should resolve your issues and may hshem bless you with a child (in the right time).grlex

Miriam said...

okay, after reading about your husband's suggestion, I don't feel bad that that was what I wanted to suggest. Not letting the guy know the ovulation time.

Also, as you know, or will know soon, i'm a big advocate of Miriam Adahan's awareness, so, i'd say I think this guy may be a ONE or a NINE. I wonder if he learned more about himself and even learned the value of 'faking' interest for the sake of the woman (at least in the begginin) if that wouldnt change things later.

Balt Anon said...


I'll echo PT in saying that sexual intrest fluctuation are classic symptoms of homosexuality in married men or sex addicts. Both would also exibit mood swings.

Sex addicts may not be interested on Mikvah night because they used alternative outlets to release their rising sexual frustration/tension during the Niddah period. FYI-not all sex addicts engage in intercourse outside their marraige; they may use other means (print, online, masturbation.)

I'll also echo everyone else in saying that it seems that a (large) component of the issue is mental and needs to be addressed with a mental health professional.

Ahavah said...

I would guess your husband has an intense fear of fatherhood - he probably thinks he can hardly handle the stress in his life the way it is, and a child would only make things worse. That's why he's ok (or at least "works" a little bit better, that is) with having relations after he knows you are most likely too late in your cycle to become pregnant. You need to talk to him frankly about this.

Anonymous said...

I have to say that it's not necessarily all the man's fault and that you're only getting one half of the story here.

It is as difficult for men to 'perform' on cue as it is for women, perhaps more so since the woman can fake it to preserve shalom bayit if she so wishes, but the man cannot.

My own wife is only interested in sex with me maybe once every couple of months or so (and I mean once) and it is then difficult for me to be too enthusiastic on demand.

There is always some excuse when I try to initiate things so now I have given up and just wait for her to be ready and hope that I can do the necessary.

And no, I'm neither gay nor a porn addict as some other writers here have suggested as possible causes.

Anonymous said...

i think every ones initial reaction is that the guy is homosexual.she should look into it somehow.