I have struggled with lust for many years. I’ve 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 have deep meaning. But I have little physical attraction to her. I am not sure what to do. Is vision of physical beauty something that is truly important? Will this matter in five, ten, twenty-five, or fifty years?
I look at my friends who are married and see them gawking at other girls. I ask them, “Aren’t you married?” I get a casual brush- off, like, “I’m married, not dead.” I don’t ever want to be able to 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 woman who lives with 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 tefillah).
Please offer some insight. (Preferably before the shadchan calls me and tells me that it’s time to propose).
Rabbi Twerski Responds
Let me share with you my observation from many years of experience. My most valuable teaching in psychiatry came from a buddy, with whom I was discussing a patient. He interrupted me, say- ing, “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 emotions.
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 lust 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.” Shlomo HaMelech was the wisest of all men, and he said, “False is charm, and vain is beauty; a God-fearing woman is praised” (Mishlei 31:30).
We live in a society that emphasizes physical beauty. So many of the Hollywood beauties are unfortunately sick. If you have
a sincere love for your wife’s character and praise her for her personality and her relationship to God, she will be beautiful to you.
Books have been written about dealing with the yetzer hara. This is a lifelong struggle with a force that seeks to destroy a person. We each have to search for ways to neutralize this de- structive force.
Logic suggests that physical appearance is important. Experience tells us otherwise.