Recently, Rabbi Mendel Lipskier of Sherman Oaks, CA spoke via conference call to newly married men about the first years of marriage. You can access the recording here.
Several questions came in anonymously after the call. Rabbi Lipskier has graciously agreed to answer them. Here are his brief answers; these should all be explored more in depth with appropriate parties.
Q: Once life gets a bit busy with children, Shlichus or work, is it right to set times to be together? Or does that make it systematic rather than emotional?
A: Make time. Schedule time. It may not be spontaneous, but it turns into something greater. The Rebbe stressed that the husband-wife unit must be retained in order to have a healthy family. The Rebbe suggested to his secretary, Rabbi Klein, that he take a walk with his wife once a week.
Q: What brings an emotional connection before intimacy? Is it long conversations etc? How do you speed the process and do it right?
A: Connect and show your care throughout the whole day. It begins with a sweet good morning. And genuine compliments during the day. A tea (or something that you both enjoy) in the evening. After a day of connection and care, the emotional flows faster.
Q: What if wife does not feel the pleasure of intimacy, and does not request/enjoy being intimate. We are intimate only when I request, and only once in a while.
A: Something seems off here and needs to be examined with a professional. It may be physical, mental or emotional shut down. Be compassionate through the process.
Q: All Sholom Bayis books are about listening to your wife, what if your wife is not so talkative?
A: Gemara says women talk. Either she has some previous issues. Or you may have shut her down or out. Don’t ignore it.
Q: My wife never talks to me, never has anything to share with me. Is there a way to get her to open up more? What can be the problem? It’s not like I try to solve problems, so I’m not sure why she would ever think I don’t listen or in tune to what she’s saying.
A: This needs some intervention, to learn skills and mindsets to really be present.
Q: If your wife is not responsible, how do you not show frustration?
A: Would you be frustrated at your child? If you love someone, you must learn patience. Help her learn by modeling good behavior.
Q: Is it appropriate to try to influence your wife in a positive direction in learning avodah, middos etc. Or does this compromise her personal and emotional space? How to find a healthy mashpia relationship?
A: Yes, this can be done. In the proper way. When you hold her high on a silver platter, then are gentle and supportive, she may be willing to see if she is really happy with who she is or wants to improve.
Q: What would you tell a husband that’s going through an unconsummated marriage for over a year due to vaginismus. They are going to therapy but the husband feels sexually frustrated?
A: This is URGENT. Find a real professional who specializes in this field. It could be one of a variety of things. Too often, it is misdiagnosed. There is some halachik advice, call a good rov.
Q: How to balance technology use, phone, etc. I work all day and don’t have opportunity to use my phone or technology then. I know that when I come home, it is important to spend time with my wife. So when do I get to check my email, whatsapps, and the rest?
A: Oy vay this one can really be a bad one on both spouses. Many women are also addicted to phone… First hour or two at home, Phone AWAY!!!