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Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

I’m A Dating Machine

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on April 29, 2010 at 10:16 pm

Sometimes the uniqueness of humans is daunting. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear Yenta,

I am currently seeing 3 people, I like them all for different reasons, and I am having fun.   Although, I do feel cheap at times, and like I am using people.   I don’t know what to do. I spend a lot of time keeping these relationships going and am running out of my own personal time.   I would also get bored if I stayed with just one. I don’t want to hurt anyone and there has been no talk of commitment, but something just doesn’t feel right.  Do you have any advice.

Your avid reader,

Morgan

Dear Morgan,

Seems to me that there are two ways to approach this: 1) look at you 2) look at the people you are choosing.  You either choose people who are one-dimensional, and are therefore unsatisfying on their own, or you are diverting attention from yourself so you don’t have to be more than one-dimensional to begin with.

Yes, it is the dimensionality of this dilemma that concerns me.  There is no law about dating one person, and no law about intimacy being a must.  The only rule I would set for dating is your own happiness, and not harming others in that pursuit.  You sound unhappy and like you are harming yourself, using dating as a diversion from sitting still with your insides.

If you find yourself bored and feel cheap, thirsty, and like a user, then you are engaging from a funny angle.  Maybe it is the nature of engagement that is the trouble, and not the choice of partners.  Are you sleeping with them quickly?  Disclosing large secrets about yourself to each one?  Is it too much too soon?  Or are you running too hard towards each other, leaving not enough breathing room?

Dating is a matrix and only you know your own point of entry.  Take a breather, maybe a night off or a morning coffee break if you can’t handle life without the dates.  Look at the different components of this situation.  A)  Who are these people you are dating?  Do you actually like them?  B)  How do you engage them?  With your genitals? Your mind?  Your heart?  All of the above?  C)  What would your ideal partner look like, the person that wouldn’t leave you bored?  D)  What is wrong with you?  Seriously.  Why are you feeling so thirsty and at once so un-sated?  Are you maybe too old for “fun,” in the traditional lacking depth concept of the word?  What are you using these dates to avoid?

Just hunker down and figure your junk out.  It should be easy, then, to decipher a battle plan.  Maybe you need five partners, maybe you need none.  Maybe you need to talk more, hang out less, stop snorting drugs on your dates: change whatever it is that keeps things from feeling interesting.  When life gets dull there is ALWAYS a way to liven things up.  More often than not, though, that dullness comes from within us, a sounding board reminding us to stay on course.

Meditation could help, anything to assist you in turning inwards and finding your answers.  For more on dating multiple partners, click here.

Ask Yenta!  E-mail a question to merissag[at]gmail[dot]com directly, or using www.send-email.org to ask anonymously.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta
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Should I Tell Him I Have HPV?

In Dating, Health and Body, Sex on April 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Dear Yenta,

I went to get my PAP and check on my sexual health status.  I was told the doctor would screen for HPV but that at my age (late 30’s) it was to act as a screening for cervical cancer. I was told it might appear only later to disappear and that in my age bracket it wasn’t really anything to be concerned with, just that I would have to come back next year rather than in two years (I guess they only do an every other year exam now).  I went and did my AIDS test, and had abstained for a 8 weeks to make sure I was “all clear” when they did the exam.  I began a new relationship soon after, and felt great to report that I was healthy. A few weeks into the relationship my results came in saying my HPV test was positive, but not to be alarmed. The meds that are available are for twenty somethings…so I was not prescribed anything.  Now the problem is when I started to research HPV I found that I may have passed on to my lover – because one only needs to have CONTACT even with a condom on.

There was also mention that he could already be carrying it and not know as men can’t really be diagnosed with it. Of course fear struck that I might have passed along unwittingly….and reading more about it is anxiety laden.  Why didn’t my doctor tell me it was transmitable?  Does it matter? Do I tell him what’s up, wait for the results of next year? I know honesty is essential but will it matter if he knows? I feel like it’s my business and that since he wouldn’t know if he was a already a carrier or is one now, and it doesn’t effect his health than why bring it up?

Hoping To Soon Be HPV Free

Don't leave your man in the dark. He has a right to know what's happening down under. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear HTSBHPVF,

Oye.  I am so sorry for your troubles.  First off, yes, your doctor should have told you more about how contagious HPV really is.  Second, as much as I hate this fact, sexual health and education are also an individual’s responsibility.  When diagnosed with a disease, especially one down below, it is always good to research the wazoo out of it, just to be sure you protect yourself and others.

For information on your STD, click here.  For STD testing, click here.

That being said, I also understand shutting down when the internet spouts terrifying data and statistics.  What this all boils down to is the fact that you are at present a sexually active adult with a “lover.”  This means that this “lover” may take other lovers, and, unwittingly, spread HPV like wildfire.  While yes, our own health is our own business, when we bed another we are inviting them into our physical storm.

Ie, by sleeping with this man you exposed your health to his health and mixed accordingly.  Now your HPV is his potential HPV and his potential HPV is your HPV, etc., etc.  Even if you don’t transmit a disease every time you fornicate, you are ALWAYS taking that risk, condom or no condom.  Diseases are mean and they jump ship fast.

The way I look at it:  if you are mature enough to have sexual intercourse, then you are also mature enough to have a conversation about the realities laced therein.  Talk to your lover and ask him about his history, now is a good time as any, and tell him about your HPV.  At the very least, you are preventing the proliferation of a mean little disease.  At best, you are owning your body, your actions, and your sexual relationship and rising to the occasion like a proper fierce woman.

Click here for tips on telling your partner about your STD and/or  clickhere.

Merissa Nathan Gerson is a fan of
Ask Your Yenta

Radical Tutorial

In Breakups/Divorce, Mental Health on April 26, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Check out Phat Camp at NomyLamm.com.

Dear Yenta,

I grew up in Northern Montana in a small town and have lived here most of my life. I just left my husband of seven years and am feeling curious. He was so very straight and narrow. If my thoughts were ever too far out of his bounds, he shut them down fast. I am excited to be out in the bigger world and want to know about women-positive sites. Can you connect me to things he would have possibly hated?

Thanks,

Liberated

Dear L,

Kudos for leaving, for starting over, and for wanting the things you were told never to want. There is a giant world of feminism, alternative women’s media and more out there. I could probably write you for hours on sites and books. Maybe start by perusing my site, and the links/book list. Check out Bitch Magazine, Bust Magazine, VenusZine, Ms. Magazine and Jezebel.com to fuel your fire.

For some other out-there sites and voices by women/men/in-between choosing radicalism, see below. Again, so much admiration for choosing to walk in your own fire.

NomyLamm.com

DuckyDoolittle.com

LoriMetals.com

JigsawUnderground.blogspot.com

TheBumpideereader.blogspot.com

KnowingMeansSoLittle.blogspot.com

ElanasPantry.com

GossipyYouth.com

NoFauxxx.com

Condoms & Oral Sex

In Health and Body, Sex on April 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Dear Yenta,

Is it true that I need to use a condom if I have casual oral sex? It seems stupid and not fun to suck on latex. What is my risk factor?

-Blowing on a Balloon

Protect that pout. Bloody oral sores are not so sexy. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear BOAB,

What exactly does “casual” mean to you? Casually hanging out with your husband or wife on the couch while watching the Simpson’s? My guess is, no, presuming you are in a monogamous relationship with someone who is STD free. But if casual means doing it with a stranger in a subway janitor closet, or even someone you just met at a bar/party/football game, then yes, watch your mouth.

STD’s can hit you from all angles. It comes down to the mucus membranes in your mouth and the pre-cum, ejaculate, or vaginal fluids involved in oral sex that can penetrate those membranes. Combine the two, throw in a disease, and depending on the type, you got it, baby. For example, Gonorrhea and Herpes are easy to get in the mouth, and HIV too. For specifics on the whole array of STD’s and oral transmission, visit Avert.org. Yes, it is easier to get these through vaginal or anal sex, but that does not mean it is not possible to contract them in the mouth as well. For more, click here.

TheBody.com suggests you “Look Before You Lick.” Check that area before you get your face all up in it, some signs show, like open sores, warts, funny colored discharge, etc. There is also the “wrap his penis in vinegar” method that should coax undetected warts beneath the skin into visibility. Then again, STD’s often show NO signs at all for six months, sometimes even years. Your best bet is to get tested and then go down.

And if patience is not your virtue: USE PROTECTION. If you can’t handle using a condom, at least do your damndest to avoid pre-cum, cum, and/or vaginal secretion. Again, this method is faulted. You may end up with open mouth sores. Period.

Dental dams are SMART. Use one. Or, some tips from About.com on choosing a proper condom for oral sex:

1) Ixnay in the spermidice, it will taste like crap and numb out your tongue. Pregnancy, unlike STD’s, cannot be contracted from oral sex, so why bother killing the sperm?

2) Flavored condoms can be fun, but some are not actually going to protect you for shite. ALWAYS read the label first.

3) Those of you who read regularly know not to use oil-based food products with condoms. Oil and latex don’t mix. The oil causes the latex to disintegreate and ruins your preventative measure. Click here for a list of foods you can use with a condom that won’t ruin it.

4) Click here for tips on putting a condom on with your mouth to make the deed less difficult.

Yes, protecting yourself in this day and age can be exhausting. But truth be told, if you have the right attitude, even safe sex can be amazing, if not more so. Especially when you wake up without an itchy, scratchy, pus-filled wounded…GOOD LUCK!

Have a question? ASK YENTA! Write in to www.send-email.org attn: merissag[at]gmail[dot]com.

When You Love A Loser

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health on April 21, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Ike was feeding off of Tina's power.

Dear Yenta,

I recently fell in love again with the wrong person. This is a habit that now annoys me because I know what I am doing wrong and still do it. The man is wrong for me because he, quite honestly, is completely crazy. He is violent, irrational, sadistic, unkind and completely ruthless and unpredictable. You probably wonder why I am with him. I see so much beauty in him when he is not being mean. I don’t know, Yenta, what to do now because I am in this, and he has an effect on me that I can’t resist. Help. I know I am smarter than this.

-Self-Crucified

Dear SC,

My first questions for you would be to ask, how bored are you? How happy? How supported and how stimulated? When we take ourselves out of healthy living environments and live in places that draw on our weaknesses, it can be nearly impossible to resist temptation. Your job is to cultivate a life that easily yields healthy choices. And in the process, forgive yourself because self-sabotage is American women’s middle name.

One friend suggests Pema Chodron’s Getting Unstuck on ways to overcome and understand addictive life habits. While alcoholics and narcotics abusers are ushered into meetings for their addictions, women addicted to loving harmful people might not find their support group so easily. (See below for a list of support groups.) You have a problem. For whatever reason you are bending your power and walking towards these “wrong people” with an open heart. You need to face yourself, be honest, and do so with assistance.

Sometimes fierce and bored women choose men that are toxic because it is thrilling, stimulating, an exercise for the mind, body and spirit, a game of survival. Others choose these men because they can’t accept their own goodness, can’t stomach their power and brilliance. You know which of these you are. Work on finding the root to this action. Why would love look like this to you? Professional help could be a great avenue for finding those answers.

And finally, this love is not “love” as much as an addiction to a feeling, ie, “it hurts so good.” There is a rush that comes from being emotionally tortured, but not a lasting one. In that moment it is like when a cat is dropped from a high height and always lands on its feet. You sort of plunge yourself into the depths and get off on the test, finding your footing despite being tripped so hard.

So figure out what it will take to find that footing, that love, that peace inside without needing the eyes of someone with a critical voice and an unstable core. Stop “falling in love with their potential” as one friend puts it, and start being honest with yourself about the whole package. He is nice in the morning, but mean at night. Ok. So nice only comes then, in the morning, and you might need to seek the dude who is nice always, even when angry. Anger is fair, violence and cruelty are not. Advance accordingly.

Read Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood or
How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.

For help and/or basic questions, try an Al-Anon meeting in your city. While the program is designed for people who love alcoholics, the method of this group applies to people who love anyone addicted to self-abuse. What you describe is the pattern of a woman who might benefit from this support network.

In an emergency, or again, with basic questions/help contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

You can also create your own support group as I guaruntee you are not alone. Working with a group of friends to help support each other in setting higher love standards is effective, you can even create your own 12-Steps/Sponsor system where you work through your pasts together and choose people to be on call in dating emergencies.

Take this quiz, “Are You A Bad Boy Addict” from YourInspiration.info:

Are you a genuine Bad Boy Addict? Let’s see.

1. Are you always looking at the cocky, macho type guy who seems tough?

2. Do you want the guy who struts his stuff and exudes sexuality?

3. Will you have sex with a guy who obviously is using you for sex only?

4. Have friends told you that you let men abuse you?

5. Do you only want a man who is distant, independent, and very self confident?

6. Do you choose a man who will quickly physically fight to protect you?

7. When a relationship begins, do you think you can change your man?

8. Do you let a man hurt you physically?

9. Do you let a man criticize you, put you down, and still want him?

10. Do only players turn you on?

11. Are you always available for your loser lover?

12. Does your man always seem unavailable and unpredictable?

13. Do you want an edgy guy who is exciting and dramatic?

14. Do you let your man cheat on you , stand you up, and take it?

15. Has your ‘bad boy’ borrowed money from you and never paid it back?

His Dry Orgasm

In Health and Body, Sex on April 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Dear Yenta,

This is awkward, but I am 28 and I don’t seem to be producing semen when I come. At all. Help?

-Dried Up

Stifler heads to the sperm bank.

Dear DU,

Again, a reminder/disclaimer: I am not a doctor. But I do have some mad Google skills and can help you with this one. What you are experiencing is called “Dry Orgasm.” According to MaleSpermSpecialists.com, this condition is called “Azoospermia,” “the complete absence of ejaculate.” The Mayo Clinic explains that this is when “the semen goes into the bladder instead of out through the penis.” They say it is also called, “retrograde ejaculation.” Another good word for this, “anejaculation.”

In lieu of child-production and sperm, your lack of ejaculate could mean two things. Either 1) you are not producing any sperm at all or 2) you are producing sperm but it is mis-firing, ie, into the bladder or elsewhere.

What does this mean? You probably want to head to a doctor immediately. There is a chance you have a simple case of enlarged prostate, a valve issue, or some kind of blockage, but it could also be worse. There are a number of diseases and ailments ranging from cancer to a spinal chord injury that could be blocking your fluid flow. Diabetes is often connected to this issue.

Go to the doctor now, rather than later, because some of these issues can be remedied, upping your chances of a) thwarting the progression of a potential disease and b) possibly fixing the problem so you can, one day if you so choose, have babies.

For more details on examining and treating the issue, click here.

SM ISO Babysitter/Girlfriend

In Dating, Drama, Mental Health, Parents on April 14, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Mother, may I? No, thank you! Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear Yenta,

I am dating a man 12 years my senior, who is going to court soon to gain custody of his 6-year-old son. Though he previously had custody every other weekend, he has not had a relationship with him for several years due to difficulties with the mother. When he did have custody, he relied heavily on his girlfriend at the time to help care for his child (much to the chagrin of the birth mother). He has made remarks about me playing a similar role in his son’s life. He refers to his son as “the kid” or “the little crumb snatcher” and has nightmares about hitting or molesting his child (he was molested as an adolescent by his sister’s husband). My concern is this: while I don’t mind occasionally helping out & I am sensitive to his fears, I don’t want to be used as a babysitter and/or chaperone. I also think he should bond with his son without me there. How should I deal with this situation?

-Insta-Momma

Dear Insta-Momma,

Honestly, I think you should get out of this situation. It is bad news when a man with serious issues from his childhood chooses to pass off the hard stuff to his woman. This man needs to be in therapy to remedy his nightmares, face his past, and therefore step up as father of the year.

Children grow attached to people, like women who care for them. I think we forget this when we find single Dad’s sexy, that we are dating a man AND his children. If your boyfriend is pawning off parenting on his girlfriends, then his kids are finding attachments to temporary women. Are you looking for marriage? Is this a fling for a moment or an investment forever?

Motherhood is for life. It isn’t a job you get real vacations from, or sabbatical. It is a heart contract, an action contract, and a commitment between you and the children you choose to raise. For this, we have birth control, condoms and choices. Ie, to marry or not to marry, to date or not to date, to bring life into the world, not to bring life into the world. I am, as I witness the horror of shows like 16 And Pregnant, more and more an advocate of abstinence.

Since abstinence is irrelevant, as the children already exist, and since you will probably continue to date this guy no matter what I say, here are some options. For one, set limits. Let this man-friend of yours know that you are happy to be involved – to a point. Make those limits crystal clear and if he crosses your threshold, express it. Yes, how you need to treat this guy is a lot like PARENTING. This involves being clear and being firm so that the child/boyfriend is steered in the proper direction.

Also, a gentle suggestion that he seek a remedy beyond your arms for his nightmares would be a smart move. Not only for you and for him, but for those kids. Violence and abuse recur in cycles for precisely this reason. Fear of hitting someone often results in hitting someone, because the energy bottles up and the thought is planted. Chances are he will hurt someone at some point unless he battles those demons.

It sucks, royally, when people we love were hurt in their pasts. But unless you truly love this man and want to weather many storms, remember that his past is his and you shouldn’t be the one shouldering the pain of his torment. That pain is his to resolve, and yours to know of, to rub his back, to support him, but not to carry as your own.

For parenting/step-parenting resources, see below:

Package Deal: My (not so) Glamorous Transition From Single Gal to Instant Mom by Izzy Rose

BecomingaStepmom.wordpress.com

The I Hate Being a StepMom forum.

TheStepMomsToolbox.com

An Interview With “The Forward”

In Career on April 12, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Lifted from Sisterhood.Forward.com, the Sisterhood section of The Jewish Daily Forward.

April 11, 2010, 10:02pm
Merissa Nathan Gerson: A ‘Yenta’ for a New Generation
By Michael Kaminer

By her own admission, Merissa Nathan Gerson’s qualification as an advice columnist is mainly “10 years of talk therapy.” “Add a few rabbis, a Buddhist-inspired education, monks, stupas, shrine rooms and the like, stir, and you get a 28-year-old Yenta,” writes the former farmer, waitress, teacher, lamp-maker, and creative writing teacher at a juvenile detention facility. But bona fides aren’t the point of her burgeoning site AskYourYenta.com. The site riffs on traditional advice columns to provide distinctly feminist perspectives on local, global and personal issues. Gerson answered the Forward’s questions via email from Johnson, Vt., where she is at a writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

AskYourYenta.com

Michael Kaminer: The site says AskYourYenta.com is a “self-help resource hub masquerading as an advice column.” Can you explain?

Merissa Nathan Gerson: Yes. I don’t just give advice. For a lot of questions I supply resources, from books to magazine articles, Web sites, stores and hotlines. Sometimes I need to do research for a question, but more often than not I know a book title or a support group that could help my readers. My life experience somehow tacked resources on to my repertoire daily. … It is as if I have been soaking it in for years and this site is a collection of all I learned, for everything from how to find a BDSM support group to locating a meditation center in your community.

A recent question for the Yenta comes from a woman who apparently upset a friend by going out with a guy the friend had her eye on. What other kinds of questions are you getting? What was the weirdest?

I get all sorts of questions, everything from “Help, my boyfriend wears a sock on his penis when we have sex” to “My roommate washes his hair in the kitchen sink with MY shampoo.” I do know what “weird” means and what it looks like in theory, but I don’t think there is a “weirdest” only because if I judged people as weird, I would not, honestly, be able to answer the questions to begin with. At this point in my life, nothing fazes me.

Your site cites “wise people” from Joan Nathan to Martin Buber. How do they figure into the Yenta’s advice?

From the long list of Jewish wise people, everyone from Allen Ginsberg to Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi, it is funny (and perhaps a veiled endeavor) that you happen to pick these two from the list. Ms. Joan Nathan figures in quite heavily, since she clothed, fed and bore me into this world. I quote her every now and then, and learned a lot of social codes from watching her.

People like Martin Buber shaped me in my understanding of my own self, the world, and my view of other human beings. He also molded my pride in being Jewish, unfolding a whole beautiful side to the religion for me. He, along with a yeshiva student, helped answer one question from someone asking what they would be when they grow up. If I am not quoting him, you can bet, in my purer advice-giving moments, that if I am being nice he may have something to do with that “I-Thou” relationship.

It was a little disturbing to see some of the definitions of “Yenta” on UrbanDictionary.com — “Meddler, gossiper, meddlesome, busybody, nuisance. Mostly Judaic and female”, was one. Another: “1) Yiddish word which describes an old woman who is a matchmaker. In modern use the meaning has become that of an annoying old hag.” How are you reclaiming the word?

I am reclaiming the word with humor. Think Heeb magazine and Bitch magazine. Neither hates Jews or women, instead they are imploding a word saying, “See, this is what we are. Is this really something to hate?” It is tongue and cheek, but also making a point. I am taking the Yenta veneer and imploding it.

One woman recently defined a Yenta as someone “who minds other people’s business.” Isn’t that exactly what is happening here? Me minding their business? There seems to be a generational gap in the understanding of this term. Jewish women in their fifties and sixties are generally repulsed when I mention the title, whereas Jews in their twenties and thirties always chuckle knowingly. People have called me a Yenta for years, based on my ability to see through people’s masks, straight to what is ailing or moving or exciting them. At times I was a nuisance, a gossip, completely meddlesome. And now I have made a life out of it, only in a purer form without hurting others (I hope). The key to my post-nuisance Yenta-ing is that people invite me to meddle in their business.

In the age of Oprah and reality shows, what makes a Yenta’s advice different?

A Yenta, I don’t know. This Yenta is like a Jewish Oprah with a feminist, Buddhist, pop-culture, youthful spin. The point is 40% entertainment and 60% begging my generation to raise their personal standards. I want people to be happy and healthy, to dream way bigger and to have the tools to do so.

Can you tell me a little about your Jewish background?

Yes. I was raised in a Conservative Jewish home. We had Shabbat dinner at my father’s parents’ house every week. After they passed away, we continued the tradition at home. Jewish food was an integral part of our existence, to say the very least.

Post-college I was a farmer for a summer and read a lot of Martin Buber on the beach and spent a lot of time in silence picking beans. That was when I started going to synagogue regularly and began taking pride in my Jewish identity. I think that was the first time I connected to the religion without obligation, wherein I discovered a softer more readily accessible side. Mystical thought explained my understanding of the world far better than the angry wrathful god and religious shame so often interlaced with synagogue in D.C.

No matter where I go now, I always find a Shabbat. I have been to Chabad in Salvador, Brazil, Eugene, Oregon, Venice, Italy and Santa Fe, N.M. I made challah in a township in South Africa, did Rosh Hashanah with ex Umkhonto weSizwe [resistance fighters], and found a tiny chapel full of middle-aged Jews in the middle of Eastham, Mass. Once I had Shabbat in Panama City. and was amazed by how much everything sounded smelled and tasted like my grandmother’s Friday nights when I was little. That was priceless, finding those memories so far away.

The more I learned to love Judaism for the religion, not the warped politics, the more important it was to tag myself as Jewish, and in this case, a Jewish Yenta.

6 Years, Sexless Marriage

In Breakups/Divorce, Marriage, Sex on April 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

According to the sages, marriage takes work. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Yenta,

Is there anyway to fall back in love with your husband after 23 yrs of a roller coaster marriage? Would it better to move on and try to build a new life at 50. If I we’re to try and make it work, that’s assuming he still wants to get w me, how would I go about having sex with him again after 4-6 years?

Signed,

Desperate for Directions

Dear DFD,

For you, I consulted two Rebbetzins, ie, the wives of good Rabbis. According to the first wise woman I asked, “I do think with a history of 23 years it is possible to fall back in love, its worth seeking help for this. Alone and single at 50 is not as simple as it sounds and the chance of meeting someone is not huge… I know too many women here who are still single at 60 and 70 etc and really regret it. I would say try every option first.”

As we discussed this dilemma we concurred that marriage counseling is in order. That, and upping the communication between husband and wife. Have you talked about your sex life openly with your husband in six years? Have you directly addressed the issues that are mushrooming between you? Communication builds intimacy; intimacy builds trust; trust builds safety; safety yields the possibility for wild sexual expression. Follow suit.

Later I contacted AskMoses.com, where there are live people with great Jewish knowledge waiting online to help people with their questions. I asked the woman there about your dilemma and she immediately said, “I certainly DO believe people can fall in love again…though it takes work. There are many many good books and counselors who can help a couple rekindle what they believe is lost.” (See below for titles.)

“Would you agree?” she asked me. “Yes,” I answered. Adding my own two cents I went on, “I agree. But there is something sad to me about a woman who is beautiful, alive and intelligent trying to make it work with a man who might not be good for her. I have faith in marriage, and respect its sanctity, but also know that we die one day and only live once. So to invest a lifetime in making a dead relationship alive again could be a gamble.”

Together we decided that you need to remember why you married this man, remember what held you together on that roller coaster for 23 years. Yes, it sounds like you had dips and whirls and nausea and everything that goes with a ride, but it also sounds like there was a proper seat belt keeping you alive, close to someone in the seat next to you, and possibly, a thrill.

Or, you held on for the sake of the kids, or out of fear. Or, you married out of obligation, or ignorance, or need. Do you love him? Do you want it to work? Are you staying only because you fear starting over again? I ADORE the brave women I meet in their 50’s and 60’s who did the hard work of leaving a bad thing and finding themselves all over again. Why? Because leaving the man they were with for 30 years and starting over leaves them at a virtual age 28.

I know that women are strong and can endure things for the sake of holding a family and children together. I also know that women make mistakes in choosing partners. But 23 years is a long time. Six years is too. So before you quit, put your heart into this like a brave warrior and see what it yields. The woman at AskMoses reminded me that the Mishna teaches, “according to the toil is the reward.” “In other words,” she explained, “the effort she invests in her relationship will reward her as they can grow to feel intimate (emotionally and otherwise) once again.”

Places to seek help:

Find a marriage counselor, stat, to see what is keeping you from getting intimate with the man you once loved.

For a Jewish spin on marriage and working with it, check out Can This Marriage Be Saved? a blog hosted by Chabad.org. This week’s feature is on what an empty nest does to a marriage.

I do wonder, do you have kids? One thing that happens as children age, is that couples can no longer deflect their issues into caring for their offspring. Once the kids become adults, the parents are left with each other again. In those years of child-rearing it can be easy to lose touch with one another, burying issues under soccer practices and birthday parties. Now you have to sweep up shop after all that production.

Also check out creepy but brilliant John Gray, author of Women are From Mars, Men are From Venus. His website has a whole arsenal of marriage-saving resources including Online Counseling, the How Do You Rate In The Bedroom Quiz, or the Monthly Romance Planner.

Or, check out the even creepier Surrendered Wife for marriage-saving ideas by Laura Doyle.

And finally… “As for her question on physical intimacy,” wrote the AskMoses.com operator, “I think she can invite him for an evening of long overdue romance and do all the classic things, music, candles etc., to get things rekindled that way.”

Or, try reading Kim Catrall’s book, (although she did write it with her EX-husband) Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm

Forcing Dogs On The Phobic

In Drama, Mental Health on April 10, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Sometimes our vision warps thanks to past traumas. Photo courtesy of Victor Jeffreys II, phiary.com/diary/victor.

Dear Yenta,

I had some bad experiences with dogs when I was younger and prefer not to be around them. A lot of my friends have been getting dogs lately. Jeesh! You would think these dogs were their children! Some of them cook special vegetarian meals for them, dress them in sailor outfits and when I come to visit, they talk to the dogs more than me. Everything seems to revolve around the canines. A lot of them are ill-mannered and misbehave. I have actually been bitten by one, and my friend hardly acknowledged the event.

I love these friends and want to spend time with them but I don’t want to
hang out with their dogs. And please don’t say “meet them out somewhere”
because they’ll bring their dogs with them!! Any ideas on how to handle
this situation?

-Enough already with the dogs!

Dear EAWTD,

If you had been gang raped recently and then went to your friend’s house for dinner and she insisted on inviting large groups of strange men to join you, it would be rude. Yes? Yes. When you have been traumatized and the choices of your friends retrigger your trauma, it is something you should feel safe addressing. You need to be honest with these people, not about the humanization of animals, but about how uncomfortable you feel in their homes.

It is not a matter of sequestering the puppy, I understand that fear. People often grow protective, sometimes even defensive and vicious on the topic of wanting you to love their pets. I had one friend with a cat who would force me to pet and love it because she insisted the cat could sense my apathy towards it. It is weird and slightly controlling to presume everyone will love your newly purchased dog. Approach this friend knowing that they like mothering a bitch. Ie, be cautious with your approach and make it as about you as possible.

“I love you and I love coming over to your house, but when I was a teenager three dogs attacked me and tore off my missing pinky, the one you always ask about. Anyway, it is really hard for me to be around animals now, could we maybe keep Fido in the other room when I come over?” If they can’t honor your feelings when stated in such a way, a way that doesn’t sideline the dog and highlights your sensitivity, then maybe take a break from spending time together while they are honeymooning with their K9.

All in all it boils down to asking for what you need. It is impossible for people to resolve all their traumas at once. This looming one is one you should handle with care by finding a way to spend time with these people without inducing a panic attack. In the meantime, on your end, maybe consider this plethora of dogs as a calling to your fear, reminding you that there is something inside of you that might need conquering.

Check out this article on helping kids overcome their fear of dogs, the simplicity of her advice might be easiest to apply, or read this article on releasing yourself from this fear. You could also visit Phobia-Fear-Release.com or try buying this hypnosis video.