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.