Guest Post: by Bunsa Bayis
Please excuse my nonsequitor, but in connection to a previous post several days ago, the term "force" was debated in respect to compelling a woman to sleep with her husband. The Torah teaches that a woman's desire is for her husband, and the Torah is emes. So I've been mulling it over and, excuse my impertinence, but based on my twenty years plus of marriage and a wide circle of talkative friends, I've come up with a list of reasons why a woman would refuse relations and possible solutions to the problems.
Note: NONE of the solutions include using force:
1) she feels physical pain before, during, or after intimacy = she should see a doctor
2) she has an aversion/fear of sex = she should see a psychiatrist
3) she is trying to manipulate her husband = he should see a divorce lawyer
4) she is angry with him = if it's a mutual quarrel, then he is forbidden to have relations with her anyway. If she's angry about something - whether its justifiable or not - she's probably not withholding sex as a means of punishment. She probably just can't bear to touch him in that emotional state. Remember, for women, the sex/love relationship is indivisible. First work out your conflicts, then get physical.
5) she feels hurt = if you know she's upset, then say the magic words. Something that seems small to you might loom large in her mind. It's not worth being insensitive. If you don't know that you hurt her feelings then she needs to learn a better way to communicate. But, "having a headache" may be her way of telling you that something is amiss.
6) she is exhausted = whether she works outside or not, the kids, the house, the mother-in-law.... Fatigue is the most common cause of "not tonight, dear", and it's legitimate = Use some sense. If she was up all last night with a colicky baby, don't take it personally if sleep is far more appealing to her than you are. If you can afford to get her cleaning help, then why haven't you yet? If you can, bring home takeout for supper once a week. If your budget can't afford it, then pick up a dishtowel or bathe the kids. I promise it won't emasculate you. Give her a neck-rub. Both of you get to bed earlier.
7) She doesn't feel romantic towards you= If the first quiet moments you spent together are when you get to bed, then you owe it to her to first connect emotionally and talk nicely to her (the gemara's words, not just mine!) and not about the kids or bills. Take her out to dinner once in a while. Flirt with her. Notice how she looks and compliment her. Give her a neckrub, or a spontaneous kiss when you're nowhere near the bedroom.
8) she's no longer attracted to you = well, did you shower and brush your teeth before you climbed into bed? Ask her to buy you a cologne that she likes. Make an effort to look good for her.
You see how many productive steps can be taken in a healthy marriage that don't require force? Just as a man craves respect, a woman wants to feel cherished.
I'll welcome any additions to my list but I'll bet there will be accompanying solutions that don't require force.