After finally getting married at age 30, we waited to have kids. I gave birth to our daughter at 36. Our relationship has since fallen apart. My daughter is 4 now and we haven’t had sex in over a year. My husband has never talked to me about it. I don’t know what to do.
-STUCK IN THE MIDWEST
Dear Stuck in the Midwest,
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you–I’ve been swept up in yet another non-stop orgy with my wildly-erotic-and-always-eager-to-please-me Mr. Gefilte.
Yeah… not so much. Truth is, I don’t trust people who say they’re having sex all the time with their spouse. Especially after a kid is introduced into the picture. Stuck, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. And I’m so grateful you reached out, because I think sex and faith are the two most deliciously scary ideas we as humans can explore. I don’t speak gerbilese, but it looked so much simpler when the gerbils in my first grade classroom just mounted each other in a bed of woodchips and did the nasty while we had snack.
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Then again, gerbils don’t make mix tapes. Or remember you like the smell of cinnamon. Or know how to hold your hand and say, We’ll get through this.
Stuck, does your husband do any of these things?
Before you answer, let me tell you a few classic Gefilte moves in the sex department that could make you feel better about your track record:
1. I was sure my first kiss had to be accompanied by the song “Lady in Red” by Chris DeBurgh. Or else in a rain-soaked gazebo like in “The Sound of Music.” Neither of which happened, of course. Which may contribute to the fact that my first kiss was a dare from a frat boy in my second year of college. He had squirrels chasing each other in his roof, and when I agreed to sex, he decided he actually was in love with someone else.
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2. I’ve been in relationships that were very steamy. I’ve been in relationships that reeked of desperation. I stuck it out with someone who wanted to watch “Regis & Kelly” instead of sleeping with me, and another who liked things like high heels and dog collars in bed, followed by apple pie. Neither of those guys said goodbye when they left.
3. When Mr. Gefilte and I tried to dim the lights a few months/eons after I gave birth, I thought it would be hilarious to compare the size of what went into my lady parts with what had come out. He did not find this so hilarious.
Do I regret any of these sensuous mistakes? Nah. But I do regret that I never just came out and said what I truly wanted. I have hungers, urges, desires, fantasies. Some of them make me so embarrassed I hide in my jar for days. But they deserve attention and fulfillment. And I wouldn’t be a true fish ball if I didn’t mention that the Book of Exodus (21:10 for those following at home) says marital intimacy is required by the husband. The Talmud even breaks it down by profession. A man of independent means has to do his “conjugal duty” daily. Donkey drivers, once a week. Sailors only once in six months.
Moral of that story is live inland.
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Stuck, what do you hunger for? Is it really just the sex drought that makes you feel undone? Are you and your husband connecting at all, or just talking about pre-K applications? Forget about waiting for your husband to start this conversation. If it’s going to change, it has to start with you saying what you need.
Sex is just a physical exchange, if you’re a gerbil.
But for us Homo Sapiens and Animalia Gefiltimus, asking for sex takes on epic proportions of vulnerability. It’s terrifying. Asking for intimacy is the hardest task we are challenged with (besides Irish Step Dancing and acceptance of death).
So Stuck, this is your challenge. You have to start talking about it with your husband and tell him how and why and where and when you want it. Maybe with a couples’ counselor present.
Or a bottle of Manischewitz.
I’m rooting for you.
With love and schmaltz,
Have a question for Gefilte? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might just get an answer.