Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Says Self-Satisfaction ‘Is Not the Solution’
Dear Rabbi Boteach,
The issue that I need help with is as follows: I have been married for two years, and my wife complains that I don’t last long enough. Now, it has reached a point where she doesn’t want to have sex anymore because she says it’s not worth her while.
I realize that I may have a premature ejaculation problem, but I don’t know how to cure it. She suggests that I masturbate say an hour or two beforehand so that I will last longer during the act, but this seems problematic to me from a halachic point of view. On the other hand, one has to satisfy his wife, too. This has led to tension between us as she says I am choosing halachic doctrines over her, etc.
Are there leniencies in cases such as this? Are there other methods of solving the problem? What advice or help can you offer?
I have read some of your books and think it’s great that you have written about such topics. It’s truly difficult to speak to a “regular” rabbi about these issues.
Thanks in advance.
Rabbi Boteach replies:
Thanks for your kind words.
Sexual passion, intimacy and erotic joy in marriage are crucial components of a strong relationship. So you have to take this issue, and your wife’s frustration, very seriously. But your wife’s suggestion, even if it were not halachically problematic, is not the solution.
As I wrote in “Kosher Sex,” the reason why Judaism opposes masturbation is that it depletes a husband’s desire for his wife. The more we release our sexual steam on our own, the less we can employ it to connect with the person we love. Simply stated, the sexual pleasure we derive in marriage should come from our spouse.
I counsel many husbands who are addicted to pornography. I explain to them that the main sin of porn is not even a sin of commission, doing something wrong, but rather a sin of omission, failing to do something right. In these instances, you have a husband who, rather than making passionate love to his wife, is finding erotic thrills with fantasy women on the Internet. That can’t be healthy for a marriage.
Whereas other religions see the principal purpose of sex to be procreation, and modern secularism sees sex as being principally recreational, Judaism posits sex as the main means by which a husband and wife achieve intimacy and are sewn together as bone of one bone and flesh of one flesh. So it’s got to work.
And you are correct, Judaism is insistent that a wife’s pleasure in sex is not only central to the act, but must even precede that of her husband’s.
There are many remedies that can be employed for premature ejaculation, and to be honest, you don’t need a rabbi to advise you, as there are many books available and sometimes even medical remedies. You are correct, however, in trying to marry said remedy to Jewish law because these laws are designed to ensure that the intimacy of sexuality is never compromised by its other essential component, passion.
One suggestion that immediately comes to mind, however, is not to define sex as being strictly about intercourse. You can, of course, give your wife great pleasure through long, erotic massages that she will no doubt enjoy.
Finally, you and your wife must learn to communicate about sexual matters. I fear that her refusal to have sex over something that may be slightly outside your control will leave you feeling emasculated. So, yes, she must enjoy the experience, but no, neither you nor she should give unilateral ultimatums about sex when it comes to matters that are not intentionally selfish. Rather, talk about it, work it, and go and seek counsel if you need to.
I wish you the two of you a blessed life together.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the host of The Learning Channel’s “Shalom in the Home” and the author of numerous books, including “Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery,” “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments” and “Judaism for Everyone.”