Sex and the Married Woman
The rules and regulations of sexual intimacy between a Jewish husband and wife are many and are meant for their mutual benefit. Of those laws there are specific ones in regards to what is not acceptable. This includes exploitation, rape, incest, coercion, or subjugation of another person.
Sex within a marriage is considered sacred. Jewish teaching says that it is a sin not to enjoy sexual intimacy within marriage.
If we can collectively agree that the need to practice self-control is a given part of man’s nature – and we are specifically speaking about “man,” then wives should feel an obligation to at least consider ways in which their denial of sex puts undue strain upon the expectation of a husband’s fidelity. While this does not give a man freedom to place blame on a woman for his infidelity, it does make it necessary for a woman to take responsibility for her decisions regarding withholding sex in a marriage.
The sexual revolution screamed for women to take control of their bodies, to no longer be tied to one man, to have control over their sexual reproduction. When a woman responded to the sexual revolution with an attitude that her body was specifically hers to give or keep, all else became secondary. Most specifically, this attitude ended up in the marriage bed where a woman was now “expected” to withhold herself even if it was just to make a statement. It was all about “her” and not about “them.” Women were now “in charge” of everything and men were on their way to paying the price for whatever role they may or may not have had in the repression of women. Emasculation began in full.
Let’s say this same woman, who no longer gave freely of herself in bed, was married to a man who woke up one Saturday and said, “Honey, I need a break today. Is it okay with you if I don’t cut the lawn?”
All other things being equal – meaning we assume this husband is responsible and a good husband and father – this wife’s response will be something like this, “Sure! There won’t be any problem if it waits till next week.”
The week then passes and Saturday morning the wife fully expects that the lawn will be cut because now it is getting a bit long and the neighbors are eyeing it. The husband wakes up and stretches his arms out and says a bit sheepishly, “Gee, it was good to take a break from cutting the lawn last week. What could another week hurt?” To which the wife’s dismay may be seen on her face but she is willing to let it slide.
By the third week the husband no longer cares about the lawn. The wife could hire someone to cut it but the husband would be furious and she is left seeing her husband in a less than stellar light. This continues and then begins to affect additional aspects of how each views the other. This was a conscious choice of the husband’s, not to cut the lawn. It wasn’t something that was out of his control. This isn’t to say that he was always in the mood to cut the lawn but that, regardless of the mood, it was something that he should be doing.
Is it ridiculous to expect the husband to cut the lawn? I think not.
Is it unreasonable for a wife to give herself to her husband even is she is not “in the mood?” I think not.
But this brings us back to the point where there has to be a common understanding that the union of a husband and a wife is a gift from God. Both ought to come to a place in their marriage where they see this union as a way for them to grow and develop together. Whether they are in the middle of child-bearing years or at a time when the union itself offers an intimacy that can only be had within that union, a married couple should see their sexual relationship as holy and sacred. A husband should learn ways in which he can romance his wife and put her in the mood while a wife should learn ways in which she can still give of herself when the mood doesn’t manifest.
It is not right for a woman to expect faithfulness from her husband and yet stack everything against his being able to be faithful. It also is not right for a husband to always expect his wife to be intimate as her emotional and physical make-up is different than his and requires different stimulus, so to speak. However, and most importantly, it is not right for either a husband and a wife to believe that “duties” are not part of the marriage.
I know a woman who, for physical reasons, began abstaining from relations with her husband. The reasons were legitimate, her ailments real. But as time wore on, and the reasons for abstaining from a sexual relationship began to wane, the physical intimacy did not get re-established. In the interim, her expectations of her husband’s patience for the situation continued to mount. “If he loves me,” she would say, “he will know that I just can’t.” And, of course, he did love her. He loved her tremendously, but his ...
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