Shekker HaChein

by Twerski, Rabbi Dr. Avraham (See all authors)

Question:

I am currently struggling with lust and addiction. Not recovery, but continuously struggling. Some days are better then others. I need to work on myself and I know I have the wrong train of thought, but I am hoping that marriage will help change some of that lust into true feelings and meaning.

My reason for writing this is my concern in my impartial decision making ability. Specifically, I have been going out with a girl for a while now and I am deeply attracted to her personality. I enjoy our time together, our conversations of deep meaning, and I have absolutely no physical attraction to her. Maybe this is the way Hashem is trying to repay me but I am not sure what to do. Is vision of physical beauty something that is truly important. I tend to think that that is one of the most ideals of marriage; again I stress that I may may have my ideals distorted. How important is this? Is attraction that important? Can I overcome this and look at the big picture? Will this matter in 5, 10, 25, 50 years? I feel like no one will really understand how much this would really matter to me.

I look at my friends that are married and see them gawking at other girls. I ask them "aren't you married?" When I get a casual brush off like "I'm married not dead" or "I can look but not touch". I don't EVER want to be able say that. I want to be so attracted to my wife that I will have no reason to look anywhere else because I know that I cannot be satisfied in any other way. To have the mindset to know that I am in love with a beautiful women that lives me will keep me away from ever going off any cliff. THAT is what I feel I need to rid myself of this curse (along with Hashem and Tefilah).

So how can I entertain the possibility of continuing to date someone that I have no attraction to? Because I am inside the picture, and only someone that has lived inside this picture and now stands on the outside can give me a true meaningful interpretation and reflect the big picture that I am missing. Please offer some insight. (Preferably before the Shadchan calls me and tells me that it's time to propose).

--Yosef

Answer:

Let me share with you my observation of many years of experience.

My most valuable teaching in psychiatry came from a buddy, with whom I was discussing a patient. He interrupted me, saying, “Twerski, stop talking logic!” He was right. I was dealing with an emotional problem, trying to apply logic. Emotions are not subject to logic, nor are facts subject to logic.

You comment about friends who look at other women even though they are married. The fact is that their wives may be exceedingly beautiful, but this does not stop them from looking at other women. But if their wives are so attractive, why do they look at other women? That is a logical question. Whatever causes a man to gaze at other women is not affected by his wife’s beauty.

I had a case of a man who was married to a model of stunning beauty. He was attracted to other women and developed a sex addiction. On the other hand, I knew a man whose wife was terribly unattractive, but he was madly in love with her.

We are all subject to the influence of the yetzer hara, which is a powerful but totally irrational force. To repeat, if you have a tendency to look at other women, it will not be lessened if your wife is Miss America.. But why is that? Because the yetzer hara does not follow logic.

As far as your personal relationship is concerned, there is truth in the dictum, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” King Solomon was the wisest of all men, and he said, “”False is charm and vain is beauty; a G-d fearing woman is praised” (Proverbs 31).

We live in a society which emphasizes physical beauty. So many of the Hollywood beauties are unfortunately sick. The goddess of beauty, Marilyn Monroe, committed suicide.

If you will have a sincere love for your wife’s character and praise her for her personality and her relationship to G-d, she will be beautiful to you.

Books have been written about dealing with the yetzer hara. This is a life-long struggle with a force that seeks to destroy a person. We each have to search for ways to neutralize this destructive force.

Logic suggests that physical appearance is important. Experience tells us otherwise.