Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lust vs. Love

This is a profound post from Dov. If you're married, I suggest printing it out and reading it slowly, at least twice.

by Dov (See all authors)

Dov-In-Israel writes:

Let's assume a guy marries a VERY attractive wife - the top, model quality! How long will she remain attractive to him? (should we ask Tiger Woods?)

The Torah teaches us, that which a person lusts after, he comes to hate. (See the story of Amnon and Tamar).

Rabbi Arush in "The Garden of Peace" points out: Treat your wife like a queen, and she will become as beautiful as a queen to you.

Dov-Not-Yet-In-Israel replies:

Yow, I hear all of that!

My lust is simply about putting me and my inner experience of pleasure at the center of the relationship I have with my wife. (And at the center of everything else, ultimately.)

By definition, an inner experience of pleasure can't actually be shared. I can describe it to you, but we can't ever feel my feelings together. (Our personal experiences are always going to be a bit different, besides.)

Therefore, lust has no shaychus to true Connection, or to true Giving. It therefore has nothing to do with the real middah of Yesod, at all. (The Middah of Yesod - which represents sexuality, is all about "connection" and "giving"). Lust is about taking. It's like a virus that takes from it's "donor" and throws it a bone to keep the pipeline open.

So when I use lust in my marriage, r"l, I am saying to my wife:

"Once I am 'done', my dear overused and bewildered wife, you are useful only inasmuch as you may help me keep getting more of what I want. So, I'll work hard for that. But if you 'catch on' to my self-centeredness and immaturity, you are worse than irrelevant... So please ignore my behavior, or else it'll be so much harder for me to get that 'sholom bayis' (= cooperation from you) that I need so much! After all, how much manipulation can one man do? Give me a break."

If I see my wife this way, it won't be pretty. And that's exactly how I saw and treated my wife in one way or another for 11 years of marriage. I didn't make it appear that way - even to me - but that's what was going on inside, and she knew it. It's a miracle she could take it, at all.

Amnon was disgusted with Tamar - not just because she was his lust-object - but because she was not happy being a lust object. She had a vision for life of kedusha, and she couldn't have had that with him, her half-brother! She couldn't fulfill his needs - because lust needs bittul from the subject in order to work... hence Amnon's intense hatred. Bittul to me and you is where schmutz-women excel, of course! Real relationships are a quite different matter.

Love is about giving, and finds it's fulfillment through Yesod: Connection. But true Connection requires individual Freedom. Freedom to be myself - even to leave, if I wish (i.e. not to be dependant on the other). Addicts don't like that freedom very much. They become dependent and demand dependence so their lust can last.

When love fills my heart, I am saying to my wife:

"What can I, a free and valuable person with gifts, do for you? If you like what I can give, perhaps we can stay together and accomplish something useful! I like your gifts and they can help me to feel good and to be good. Just remember that I am here for you more than anyone else in this world, forever!"

Now, that's a marriage! And if I screw up sometimes, why hide it? From my life-partner?! Shtuyot! We support each other... It can be hard sometimes and there are bumps on the road, but that's the general idea.

When my wife loves me and I know it, she is pretty in my eyes by definition. Looks are not relevant when I feel true love and devotion coming from her. There is nothing more attractive to me than the eyes of the person who truly loves me: for who I am, and who wants to be connected to me more than anyone else in this world. And that connection is forever, not just in this world.

I believe that it's natural to react that way.

Why do you think Hashem's response (through the neviim) to our horrible backsliding was most often: "But I love you!, Ahavas Olam ahavtich. Yechezkel (and others) are packed with this cry from Hashem. He knows that once we actually know and accept that He looks at us with such a true love - truer than any other love ever - and that He wants us to be with Him forever, not just in this world... then nothing will stop us from running after Him as hard as we can, for that Connection.

I'm not denying the power of "Isha y'fas mar'eh" as a positive thing in a marriage relationship. But do you hear me? It's a subset of love, not a cause for love. And all the looks in the world are a far, far cry from love itself.