“Sorry, Honey. I can’t have sex tonight because I am lactating.”

Photo Credit: Flickr, AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES
Photo Credit: Flickr, AFP PHOTO/PHILIPPE DESMAZES

This article was recently brought to my attention, however it appears that it is 4 years old.  Since the first publishing Rabbi Shmuley has since apologized.  I address that at the end of my response.  No matter how old the article is it is still alive and kicking on the internet and doing damage to new and expecting mothers, perpetuating “booby traps.

Recently I read the article by Rabbi Shmuley titled “Moms, Don’t Forget to feed Your Marriages” which may as well have been titled “Moms, Screw Nature, Use a Bottle and Give your Husband a Blow Job.”

While I agree being a Mom sometimes makes being a Wife a chore, I think most husbands (good ones that is) will concede that taking care of your child is the priority.  This includes breastfeeding them for as long as the mother and child wish.  In the article, 11 months is thought to be too long!  11 months is a great acheivement, but not all mothers wish to stop there.  As much as my husband would have liked having me back 100% and our bed, he knew how much breastfeeding meant to my son and I.  Plus, he didn’t have to wake in the middle of the night to feed him.  PLUS, any time my son was cranky, I had these magic things that instantly shut him up.

Even if you take breastfeeding out of the parenting equation, marriage still isn’t easy.  Raising a child is a 24/7 obligation.  One that leaves little time for romance and sexy time.  Showering is a chore for most moms if they stay at home.  Then there is the constant house cleaning, dish washing, butt wiping, tamtrum handling, and toddler wrestling.  By bed time most days I just want to veg on the couch and eat ice cream, with or without my hubby.  He is also tired from his day job and night time toddlering that he appreciates the quiet time by playing video games.  These things make us happy, but don’t necessarily equal a candle lit dinner.

In truth, we have been trying to prioritize our marriage by going out alone at least once a month.  Somehow this keeps getting put on the back burner.  We have to find a sitter and arrange somewhere to go.

I am not even breastfeeding anymore!  But our lives are less than sexy sometimes.  The Rabbi wants to see happy, in love couples.  And breastfeeding supposedly makes that impossible.  Really?  Because even while nursing my husband and I took time to hug, to kiss, to cuddle, to say “I Love You” in front of our son, or not.  Being in love doesn’t mean having sex like you are teenagers.  Any married couple knows sex in college and sex after kids are not the same.  Being in love means loving each other even without the crazy drunk pre-kids sex.

Saying breastfeeding turns your husband off may or may not be true.  But that shouldn’t even matter.  I personally got to a point where I wanted my breasts to be left alone by everyone.  I assure you though, my husband never lost interest in them.  And my husband saw me give birth as well, and he still loves me!  He didn’t get “all up in that” but he saw things.  More things than I saw.  Yet we still managed to make another human baby, and I was breastfeeding then too!

Regarding nursing in public, the Rabbi has it all wrong there too.  Some men let their wives run around half naked for the world to see.  To each their own.  But when a mother has the top half of her breast exposed (or not even) this is considered indecent or overexposure?  This will extinguish the spark?!?!  Rabbi, do you know men?  Men get turned on by waking up in the morning.  I think they can deal with their wives feeding their own children on a park bench without a blanket over their heads.  You know what this made me think of?  This reminded me of conservative Muslim women who have to wear burkas in public and only their husbands can see their bodies, any of it.

Articles like this do a disservice to potential mothers.  Women who love their husband and want nothing more than to have a relationship with them even after the baby comes.  Will they choose to formula feed for fear of losing an intimate relationship with their husbands?  Maybe.  Is that necessary?  No.  Plenty of women breastfeed their children for 1, 2, even 3 or more years and still have a loving relationship with their husbands.  And plenty of women formula feed and don’t.  And Vice Versa.  I can’t say there aren’t men who fit this article.  But those men suck.  If your husband can’t be adult enough to get over breastfeeding, you don’t need him.

*** After I wrote this, but before publishing it, someone posted a follow-up by Rabbi Shmuley since he received quite the backlash from his writing.  The article orginally appeared 4 years ago and looks to have been recently republished on Beliefnet.com.  His response can be read on his website. Still, even after apologizing and back pedaling, the damage was done.  Not only to his reputation, but to potential influential readers of his old article.  His first article comes off as misogynistic which he acknowledges.  I understand the point he is trying to make, which is valid, but he did it all wrong. Still, I find the apology a small step compared to the weight and tone of the first article.

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  • excellent response. Thanks for sharing this!!
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..EcoMom Giveaway! $20 worth of Plum Organics and/or Revolution Foods =-.

  • I still felthis “apology” was just as rude. I’m thankful to have such a great husband…
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..Simple Wishes Hands Free Pumping Bustier Review & Giveaway! =-.

  • Bridget

    That guy is a complete tool. I can’t believe his comments about the husband seeing the wife as “the mother of his children” and how that’s NOT sexy. I’m sorry, but my husband is just as attracted to me now as he was before we had children…..if not more!! And he caught both our children, so he was “down there” quite close. No, our sex life is not what is used to be, but that’s because we both fall into bed exhausted at night after taking care of children/working all day. And yes I breastfeed, my husband is just as attracted to my boobs as he was before. He has been nothing but loving and supportive of my choice to breastfeed for as long as I want. “But those men suck. If your husband can’t be adult enough to get over breastfeeding, you don’t need him.” Completely sums it up!!!

  • Oh my goodness! I stopped reading as soon as he chastised the woman for turning her breast into a feeding station instead of a sexual object! They ARE for feeding! What an idiot! The sexualization of a breast is half the problem with public acceptance of breastfeeding. I don’t need to waste anymore time on someone that would write something so off base. That’s for sharing…it’s absolutely cringe worthy that anyone could be so dense.

  • He didn’t even apologize. I was just as offended by his second statement as his first. Any marriage that is floundering was doing so before one partner began to breastfeed. And any person “in the business of saving marriages and fighting the divorce rate in this country” who is worth anything should know that. Period. End of discussion.
    .-= pamela dayton time´s last blog ..is it just special for me? =-.

  • Kristin

    Lets all be thankful he is not our husband! And the second part about the husband not seeing the birth etc…I wonder what he thinks about male OBGYNs, then again maybe I dont want to know since he seems like such a pig of a man.

  • Christine

    You wrote a great response to his article. I was none too thrilled with the second half of his article and by the end was impressed that he’d managed to father eight children with his attitude. I agree with Amanda that the sexualization of the breast at the exclusion of its primary purpose, nutrition, has been part of the problem with public breastfeeding to begin with. As someone put it to me ages ago, “We can use breast to sell cars, but you can’t use them to feed your child???”

    However, and this is just me, but if you separate out the first half of his article from the second half, where he admittedly, goes off the rails, then he kind of has a point. It seems this couple’s marriage is in trouble and the husband is relegated to another bedroom while the mom feeds the baby every night. Families are a balance and while this woman’s decisions seem to be working for her and her son, they’re not working for their family as a whole. In my opinion, everyone needs to be on board with a parenting plan, including cosleeping, and if things aren’t working then everyone needs to be willing to give to make it work, including mom and baby. Eleven months old is not too young to sleep in a crib, nor is it too young to sleep through the night in a crib so dad can come back to bed with his wife.

    The rabbi’s comments were off base as he went along, but I think we all need to be mindful of maintaining our marriages through the tough years of having young children. My husband and I go out once a week (barring babysitting difficulties) and, even when I have to come home at seven to nurse the baby and put her to bed before we head back out, it’s really nice to get some adult time and it’s really helped our marriage. After two kids in less than two years, my husband and I were finding ourselves grumpy at one another and fighting more than ever. We were starting to wonder where we’d gone wrong. My parents were in town and put us up in a hotel for the night. We brought the baby over after an evening together and she stayed the night and my husband dropped her off back at home after her morning feeding in time for her first nap. We got to have breakfast together, we got to talk, we had time for other activities (wink) and after some time away we looked at each other and were like, oh, all that was missing was the ability to carry on a conversation, have sex and spend time together just the two of us. No big marital problems, just needed time. That’s when we started the date nights and it has been a real marriage saver.

    I guess this is just a long response to say, that although the rabbi sounds like a typical male jerk in the second half of his article, as moms and wives we should all remember that our marriage is essential to us and to being good parents and he has a point about needing to find what works for all the relationships in a family.

  • Katie

    In light of this article I thought I’d share something wonderful I just stumbled upon 🙂

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/48683858/boobie-beanie

  • The comment from Christine is right on. I mean, seriously…the article is a big load of something…I don’t agree with anything really that that man said.

    I think men SHOULD see the baby being born (unless he will pass out or something, lol). And cover your breast in front of your husband while nursing???? That is insane!!

    But…our breasts are sexual objects as well as nutritional. Period. You can’t get away from that. And if breastfeeding IN AND AMONG ITSELF is causing you to not have time/energy/desire to have sex then that is a huge problem. They should not be mutually exclusive!

    It is my hubby’s responsibility to support me in nursing, to help with the kiddos when he can, to give me a needed break from the kids, to run my bath for me while I nurse, etc. And it is my responsibility to be available for sex. That is a need of a man in a marriage much like emotional intimacy is for a woman. How would you feel if your sweet husband said “honey, I have a lot of respect for you as a mother, but I’m just too tired and busy to listen to you tell me about your day. I’m just too occupied with my job to care a lick about how you feel.” That is the same thing as when we say to our husbands “honey, I love you, but I just don’t have the energy to have sex…I’ve been ‘SUCKED’ dry.”

    There is a serious double standard when it comes to marital needs.

    So what I’m saying is…feed that baby whenever they are hungry, and if i’m tired, I’m not the only one…I might need some alone time, but my husband needs some booby time too. Who is to say that my needs are more important than his. Or that I don’t need that sex just as much as him. Marital intimacy should take ‘general’ priority over the kids (not in every moment…like baby is crying b/c he is hungry and hubby is in the mood). The good news is that I don’t really have to sacrifice one to take care of the other.

  • I’m just glad he apologized at all. At least that is a step in the right direction and he clearly stated he was wrong. I nursed for 18 months and never gave my daugther formula. I consider that to be one of my life’s greatest achievements!

    I still don’t understand why some nursing women would rather prepare a bottle than nurse in public (although I always used a nursing cover because it made me more comfortable). I just don’t get it. I can’t count thenumber of times people asked me about my nursing cover and I considered it my own little crusade when I talked about it!
    .-= Madeline´s last blog ..Menu Plan Monday =-.

  • Kellee

    This article is nothing short of an outrage and his “apology” was in NO WAY apologetic. As if breastfeeding wasn’t hard enough already, you’ve got guys like this making you feel like your hurting your marriage by feeding your child. I struggled so much with breastfeeding the first 4 months, but through sheer stubborness and a lot of support from my husband I was able to reach and surpass my breastfeeding goal. It was so hard at times. It was draining and I felt like an unattractive cafeteria! However, it was the BEST thing for my child. After the first 4 months, I grew to love nursing. I’m so glad I did NOT have a Rabbi Schumely in my life. Breastfeeding can be extremely difficult, but the benefits FAR outweigh any drawbacks, and for heavens sake it’s just for a short time. Suck it up men, support your wives, help them, tell them they are beautiful!

  • Ashley

    My husband prefers my breasts while I’m pregnant or breastfeeding…because they are so much bigger! :o)

  • Heena

    I discovered you website fairly recently and have found it quite helpful before and after the birth of my daughter, so thanks, Kim!

    When I read the title of today’s post “Sorry, Honey. I can’t have sex tonight because I am lactating”, I smiled because currently my breasts belong to my little girl and knew this would be an article I could relate to. Then I saw a picture of a Muslim woman in full niqab (covering), and thought the title and photograph did not correlate. Of course, this only increased my interest in reading the article.

    I had not read the Rabbi Shmuley article until after this, but I definately echoed your opinion on most of your post. I have received tons of dirty/uncomfortable looks when breastfeeding in public even if I am using a nursing wrap or shawl. And the one I use, you cannot even tell I am nursing until I pull the baby out from underneath so why are people appalled when they figure out I was nursing right in front of them but they were just not aware. [BTW, unrelated, if you are doing or perhaps have already done a review on nursing wraps I found one I love http://www.busybabywraps.com].

    But then, I came to this part of your writing: “I think they can deal with their wives feeding their own children on a park bench without a blanket over their heads. You know what this made me think of? This reminded me of conservative Muslim women who have to wear burkas in public and only their husbands can see their bodies, any of it.”

    And then, the fan of your website in me felt like it had been sucker punched. In the next, paragraph you state that articles like the Rabbi’s do a disservice to potential mothers, but, Honey, your post (with the picture) just did a disservice to Muslilm women. Kim, you minored in religious studies so you know and understand the difference between religion and culture. So it isn’t the religion that mandates the wearing of “burkas” in public, and I am assuming you are defining burkas as the photograph you headlined with your blog.

    Yes, Islam preaches conservativism as a form of feminism and respect for the female body. It allows a woman to be judged on her mind, her personality, and what she knows and not have her be sexually exploited in the misogynistic world that we all quietly live in. We allow our fellow women to objectified for the sole purpose of making more money, but we look down upon a Muslim woman who may choose (yes, religiously her choice!) to cover as a form of liberation, feminism and high self worth.

    Kim, you write a great blog and run a fantatstic website that assists many women with raising their children with ecofriendly options and promote attachment parenting, but don’t disservice the many Muslim American mother’s who may frequent your sight. I associate with a group of intelligent, beautiful, strong Muslim mothers who do wonderful things for their families, children, and communities. Not enough people know about or understand Islam, and so small, misleading, negative comments (especially when there are pictures attached) can have huge impacts. The media negatively targets Muslims enough, and with your site being about good parenting…I don’t know, I guess I just expected more from an educated women and mother.

    • Jessica

      Thank you so much for this comment Heena. I love Kim’s blog, but as a Muslim woman who covers because I believe it is best for myself and society this blog article felt like a huge slap in the face to me. I don’t feel a connection between covering in front of men you aren’t related to and hiding feeding your child from your husband at all. I hope from now on this blog takes a more respectful approach for women, regardless of their degree of modesty.

  • Thanks for the great comments. I think everyone can agree breastfeeding is best!

    @Heena While I definitely didn’t mean to offend anyone, Muslim or not. I know there are women who would rather not cover up but have to. Just like women who are forced to cover while nursing in public because people are judging them or are told to for other’s comfort. Obviously not the same, but in context of what the Rabbi said referencing a woman covering to protect themselves from being seen in public and to cover in front of their husband, this is what came to mind.

    I do really appreciate you sharing your comment with me and helping me understand another point of view.