When my frum therapist advises me to carry out my fantasies of female domination, when my wife's therapist agrees, when our couple therapist advises me not to fight against my inclination but to work this out with my wife, when the halacha allows it, when my love for my wife thru domination has never been so high, what should be the attitude of a frum Jew? Is it better to be machmir and try to be like everybody else, or to listen to the therapists who know me and my wife? What would Jewish values say I should do? Thank you for your answer.
From an orthodox perspective Halachah is the primary guide in all matters. Since you posited your question on the condition that Halachah permits sexual play with female domination fantasies, I see no reason for disallowing such activity. However, you add the concern “ to work this out with my wife”. Your wife's total consent and comfort becomes a major issue in terms of Halachah and couple's therapy. If she is in anyway uncomfortable with this type of sexual play, this discomfort can lead to obstacles in your relationship r and would create in my opinion a Halachik concern. Nachmanidies (the Ramban), from the verse “and they shall be as one flesh” posits that the closest human relationship is (or should be) that between husband and wife. I would add that anything that gets in the way of that relationship including children and in-laws contradicts Torah Hashkafah (philosophy). Therefore, sexual play that is uncomfortable for one of the parties should be discouraged; but sexual play that enhances the relationship for both parties is acceptable.
Question: When my frum therapist advises me to carry out my fantasies of
female domination, when my wife's therapist agrees, when our couple
therapist advises me not to fight against my inclination but to work this
out with my wife, when the halacha allows it, when my love for my wife thru
domination has never been so high, what should be the attitude of a frum
Jew? Is it better to be machmir and try to be like everybody else, or to
listen to the therapists who know me and my wife? What would Jewish values
say I should do? Thank you for your answer.
Answer: Another questioner might dispute the characterization of these
aspects of intimate behavior between a consenting husband and wife as
objectionable. But another questioner is not struggling with the issues
that this questioner is. My answer is intended to be both halakhic and
therapeutic, and to speak to this questioner directly:
As the questioner, being an observant Jew, almost certainly knows, the Torah
commands us to care for our health zealously. All the medical professionals
whom he has cited agree that the particular behavior he is resisting would,
in his case, be supportive of his mental health. So why is he resisting the
consensus of their advice?
The answer is obvious. The questioner has also absorbed a sense of
appropriate male and female roles, perhaps from Torah culture, perhaps from
secular western society; but whatever the source, the questioner feels,
intuitively, that such behavior would be morally objectionable.
I write these words, to reassure the questioner that he may follow the
therapists' advice without guilt. Let me remind the questioner of what
Maimonides has written in the Hilkhot De'ot (Laws of Ethical Conduct) 2:1.
"For those who suffer from bodily ailments, the bitter may seem sweet and
the sweet may seem bitter."
While others would disagree, let us stipulate that the questioner's desires
represent an ailment, or at least a variation of normal that the questioner
himself regards as an ailment. What his therapists are trying to tell him, translated
into Torah terms, is that, for him (and with the willing participation
of his wife), allowing these expressions of intimacy is simply the medicine
that he requires. Medicine that is appropriate for a person dealing with a
condition would be inappropriate for a person not dealing with that
Hence: As long as the questioner is in his current state of mind, he
may-and what is more, he ought to-- engage in this form of allowable
intimacy, of course, with his wife's consent. If a day should arrive when
the questioner no longer desires that, it will signal that he has reached a
different mental state, and at that point, he will naturally want to
discontinue this behavior.
One final point: the questioner does not know what happens in the privacy
of other people's bedrooms. It goes beyond the evidence to say that, if he
desists from acting out his intimate style, that he is being "like everybody
Let the powerful rhetoric of Moshe Rabbenu be the last word: Ha-nistarot
lashem elokenu, v'haniglot lanu. Let the hidden things be dealt with by G-d
alone; for us and for out children the obligation is to deal only with those
deeds that are revealed to people. (D'varim 29:28)
Rabbi Michael Panitz
5 Adar II, 5744/ March 7, 2014
You have already set the deck for your own answer; you want to follow your own “inclination” and seek validation from what you consider a Judaism that allows domination. That “inclination” could easily be the “yetzer harah”, the inclination toward the negative, the egotistical, the narcissistic. Traditional Judaism allows for a protection of the woman by the man, not the domination that seems to manifest itself though overpowering in a sexual or emotional context. If your couple’s therapist suggests that you allow your fantasies of domination to become real, notwithstanding this idea that you can “work this out with my wife”, I believe that you are not listening to your therapist but listening to what you want to hear. And I hope that your “frum” therapist is not advising you to carry out fantasies and use “halachah” as the excuse. First find out what your wife feels and needs. Talk to her to see where you are in common, both in and out of the bedroom situation. Judaism looks to the mutuality of the relationship: guf ne’heneh min haguf/the one body deriving pleasure in sync with the other. She is not there to work out your particular fantasies. Rather you should be working in partnership, finding out what is important to each of you as equal partners in your marriage. And please, do not twist halachah to fit into your definition of halachah.
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