A few weeks back a reader wrote a letter that assailed my new book Kosher Lust, in which I argue women want to be desired even more than they want to be loved. Women don’t want to be objectified, she said. Shmuley is a male Neanderthal who has little understanding of women, she continued.
Women want to be appreciated, cherished and respected, not hungered for.
It’s attitudes like this that are ruining marriage. More and more women are staying single because the stability of marriage is not what they’re looking for. They have jobs. They earn their own money.
What they seek is passion. They want romance. They want to be wanted. Need to be needed. Desire to be desired.
People can attack me till they’re blue in the face. But here is the undeniable truth from which I will not waiver: Women are not looking principally for love in marriage.
They are primarily looking for lust.
She wants to feel that there’s a man who has an irrepressible, magnetic attraction to her, that makes her the center of yearning.
It’s easy to prove.
If a woman wants to be loved she will never leave the comforts of her parents’ home. Her parents won’t divorce her.
They won’t cheat on her. They’ll always love her unconditionally.
So why is it that by the time she’s a teenager her parents have to threaten her to stay at home? When her parents tell her she’s the prettiest girl in her class she just rolls her eyes; they’re not objective. But when a man says that to a girl she feels special and unique. Her parents can give her love but they can’t give her the one thing she really wants: to be chosen.
Eve experienced the same dilemma in the Garden of Eden. Adam tried to give her everything, yet still she was unhappy enough to serve as a target for the seduction of the serpent. The reason: since she was the only woman on earth Adam could love her, but could not give her the one thing she craved most: to be chosen.
If women want to be loved then why are they reading Fifty Shades of Grey which is a story of lust bereft of love? What happened to the Harlequin romance novels? If women want to be loved, why are more and more women with rich husbands risking everything to have affairs with men who make them feel desirable? Some husbands are troubled by this truth because of what’s called the Madonna/ whore complex: The Madonna can’t be the whore. The woman who is the mother of your children is someone with whom you can’t express your full sexuality. You can’t share your deepest erotic fantasies.
She might think there’s something wrong with you. Besides, the Madonna is sanctified.
She’s above sexuality.
As a result of this and other factors, the modern wife is currently living through a sexual famine with her erotic needs scarcely addressed. Married to a husband who often dozes in front of the television and stumbles into bed after she is already asleep, her options are often pitiful. She can either choose to have an affair, which she is loathe to do, or go quietly into that dark, lonely night, which makes her old before her time.
How many married women look in the mirror and wonder where their passion went? What happened to these women? Marriage happened. Their husbands happened. Eroticism is allowed to exist in the degradation of porn but never in the sanctity of marriage, which we have sanitized to the point of being squeaky clean.
Yet, the Talmud says that “stolen waters are sweet.” The most passionate marriages are sinful ones, in which husbands and wives overcome inhibition to reveal dark fantasy. The Torah purposely makes a wife sinful to her husband by making her forbidden for 12 days of each month so he will learn to hunger for her anew.
One of the most erroneous ideas about marriage is that husbands want sexually adventurous wives, wild seductresses with powerful libidos. The truth, however counterintuitive, is that the average man wants a safe and domesticated partner who shores up his fragile ego rather than a sexually voracious woman who will make him feel insecure.
Many husbands subconsciously extinguish their wives’ libidos, all but guaranteeing that the men themselves will have to turn to porn, affairs, or selfish fantasy for their erotic thrills. A man complains that his wife is no longer interested in sex.
But wasn’t he the man who transformed his woman into a wife, his lady into a maid, his mistress and lover into the mother of his children? Why did he not accentuate the totally non-practical aspects of her womanhood? In a tragic twist of paradox, the grand extinguisher is often the wife’s own husband.
Financial instability, moral uncertainty, consumerism and shifts in the essence of masculinity have led husbands to exchange the untamed sensuality of a woman for the predictable safety of a functional wife. In an attempt to maintain control over an uncontrollable world, the husband’s need for order, predictability and a sense of competence has been superimposed on to his wife and he has reduced and contained her in an attempt to forestall his fear of confusion and inferiority.
The result is a wife who meets his basic functional needs but whom he finds fundamentally uninteresting.
The wife is trapped in a double bind. If she acquiesces to what her husband wants of her, she becomes unappealing to him and a shell of her true self. There is little room for her to express her authentic sensuality.
There is little room for her to flourish, explore, or self-actualize. Is she forced to choose between marriage and selfhood? The individual psyche of the woman is particularly important to her expression of sensuality. To be desirable, to desire, she must be separate from her husband.
She must have a sense of self. Too much familiarity, too much functionality is antithetical to lust.
To be sure, marriage makes love-making legal. But a woman wants not just kosher sex but especially kosher lust.
The writer, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 30 books and has just published Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.