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There's times when women I'm attracted to visit our home or are friends of my wife and I don't feel comfortable completely ignoring them or telling my wife to not invite them. I'm not sure how my wife will react to raising this issue. Any ideas how to present this or avoid the issue?

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Honestly my first reaction is "tough luck, the world doesn't revolve around your thoughts." Rav Moshe Feinstein allows a man to take the subway to work every day, even if it means occasionally unintentonally (and I mean really unintentionally) bumping into a woman. "What if it causes thoughts?" "Just move on." "What if it causes an anatomic reaction?" "Shame on you, if you're busy with work, kids, mortgage, minyan, it shouldn't; but if so, you need to find another means of transportation." –  Shalom Jan 6 at 18:03
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@Shalom Regarding incidental contact on the subway, R' Moshe wrote (Igros Moshe, EH 2:14): "But if he knows that he will experience hirhur, he should avoid going then if it is not pressing for him to do so. But if he needs to go then for work, it should not be prohibited to him under the circumstances. And he should make efforts to redirect his thoughts, and to focus on Torah.... But if he knows that his nature is bad and that he will experience kishui eiver as a result, it is even forbidden for him to travel then for work purposes... –  Fred Jan 6 at 18:31
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"... But Heaven forbid that a person should be like this, and this [character flaw] derives from batala (as is mentioned in K'suvos 59 regarding a woman, and the same is true for a man). And he must delve into Torah, and then he [eventually] won't have this [problem] at work." –  Fred Jan 6 at 18:33
    
explain to your wife that it is quite normal for a man to be attracted to women he sees and try to work something out. even kol isha is erva, i.e. it arouses a man's yetzer hara –  ray Jan 6 at 19:08
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ray, my wife knows this and I'm sure many wives do, but they are generally very sensitive to anything hinting that their husband might be attracted to anyone besides them. I don't think you can simply say that you can explain it to your wife. –  AkivaK Jan 7 at 18:51

4 Answers 4

First things first, You're human. You can't help being attracted to women, Gd made you that way. Only the whens and wheres are your responsibility. Also remember that this area is a very difficult one to conquer, so don't get down on yourself if you fail to climb Everest the first few, or dozen, or hundred times.

Getting a warning beforehand helps, so you can get your game face on, but that may not always pan out.

Learning Torah out loud works wonders, whether you're in the same room as the women or somewhere else. It puts you on in a different mindset, working with your brain instead of your body. The Talmud discusses this as a first line of defense against sin. For back up in case you can't find a sefer or don't have one, learn something small by heart; A mishnah or passuk, (preferably mishnah), that resonates with you to recite, or think to yourself if you are self-conscious.

Brachos 29a Gives more valuable advice. Never trust yourself. Assume, know, that at the first opportunity you will stare, flirt, etc. Act accordingly. Look at them once, warmly. Give them a big ol' smile, welcome them, and that's the extent of your job as the host here. They aren't here to see you and if they are you have other problems. Don't look at them again, you know what will happen if you do, don't rationalize. If they address you directly, glance at them to indicate that you heard them, then look at your toes while you answer. The gift of bad vision can help here as well as attractive women can become hazy blobs by removing glasses. If you're really having a tough time, look at your beautiful wife, and appreciate what she's doing for you here. She's your lifeline!

One more thing that has helped me is to get to know husbands. Talking about Torah with them for even 5 minutes will bring you closer. Then, only think of these women in the context of their husbands, your friends who you respect and care about. For example I have my friend Ploni's wife's number in my phone. Her name is Rena, (translates roughly in to Joy). I've known them both since high school and I care about both of them very much. Her name in my phone is "Ploni's Joy".

Taking this one step farther, at the risk of sounding like a chauvinist, try thinking of all women as vital parts of their current, or future husbands, instead of just as women which in your mind will almost always lead to sexual objectification without you even realizing it. This intellectual exercise can stave off the thoughts and feelings that are often invoked by attractive women.

I wish you much success in this. We can't ever beat our Yezer Harah completely, the important thing to remember is to remain vigilant and never give up. To quote Mickey Goldbell, there's always "One more round!"

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Very sound advice and I really look up to you for the steps you've taken. –  AkivaK Jan 7 at 18:53
    
steps I try to take :) –  Baby Seal Jan 7 at 22:13
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"look at your beautiful wife, and appreciate what she's doing for you here" - דיינו שמגדלות את בנינו ומצילות אותנו מן החטא - Yevamos 63a (+1) –  YeZ Mar 24 at 3:34

The commandment to avoid negative reactions is on you, not your wife nor her friends. Of course they shouldn't be deliberately provocative, but if, for example, a normal conversation held in one part of your house bothers you in another part because of kol isha, or if the visitor is dressed appropriately and you are still distracted, this is largely a problem for you to solve. That's not meant to be unsympathetic; I'm just saying there's a limit to what you can ask your wife or her friends to do on your account before you have done everything you can at your end.

It's not unusual for one member of a couple to have friends independently of the other. In that situation there's nothing wrong with saying "hello" and then retiring to some other part of the house (or they retire instead). Unless you have a tiny apartment you should be able to separate yourselves without raising eyebrows -- they visit in the dining room while you study in the living room, or they visit in the living room while you go to your office to do stuff online, or whatever. Unless you're dealing with frequent surprise visits, you should be able to discuss plans with your wife to work out something that works for both of you.

I don't care to spend time with all of my husband's friends (and vice-versa). Our conversation usually goes something like this:

A: I'd like to visit with so-and-so this week sometime. Is there a time that would be particularly good for you?

B: I have a class on Tuesday so I'll be out of the house then; would that work?

A: I'll ask. If not, do you mind if we do Wednesday during your World of Warcraft game?

B: Yeah, I'd totally ignore you then.

The key is to talk with your spouse about the visit beforehand. You both want what's best -- she wants to visit with her friend, you don't want to be uncomfortable, and she doesn't want you to be uncomfortable either.

For drop-in visits you can exchange basic pleasantries and then retire with something like "I'm sorry to not stick around, but I really have to (do something)" or "...I was in the middle of (something) and need to get back to it" or the like.

Yes, this may sometimes be inconvenient for you, and that's unfortunate. But look at it this way: you are getting the merit of fulfilling a commandment, and sometimes that involves a little inconvenience. I hope my suggestions are "managable" levels of inconvenience.

None of this requires that the friend know anything at all about the feelings she's causing in you. If the problem is frequent (your wife's best friend wants to visit a couple times a week, say), then you can talk with your wife about your discomfort and she -- who knows her friend better than you do -- can decide what if anything to say to her friend.

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I would go a step further and say that under no circumstances should the friend know at all about the feelings that she's causing in you. +1 –  Baby Seal Jan 7 at 0:29
    
@BabySeal I'd say that's generally the case, but I don't know that I'd go as far as "under no circumstances". I'm imagining myself in the position of the friend: if I'm very close to my friend (the wife) and something I'm doing is trivial to address and totally unintentional/unknowing, I would appreciate a gentle, private word from my friend about it so I could address the problem. But when in doubt, don't go there! –  Monica Cellio Jan 7 at 0:34
    
I guess I was trying to say that if at all possible the problem should be addressed without the husband's being mentioned. At most you'd wanna say "It makes my husband uncomfortable when..." –  Baby Seal Jan 7 at 1:28
    
@BabySeal oh I see. Yes, I agree with that. The wife owes a duty not to put the husband in an awkward place, after all. –  Monica Cellio Jan 7 at 3:11
    
Excellent thoughts on the matter and I really appreciate hearing what the wife and friend might be feeling in this circumstance. –  AkivaK Jan 7 at 18:58

Great Question I have found that being open and honest with your wife without being insulting and derogatory to her and the other woman helps the most. That helps foster a healthy and open communication, and in the end she will respect you for it.

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First of all is to make the same 'harchaka' or whatever you want to call this procedure for ALL the women that come visit. Besides for this being more in tune with all the advisc and halachos Chazzal ever gave on the subject (for instance yichud is yichud no matter what - how old or degree of attractiveness), in this way the uncomfortable situation of discussing with your wife which one of her friends are too attractive to come visit can be avoided. You don't want this to turn into a situation like an amusement park admission sign saying 'you must be this unattractive to enter.' And can you imagine if the women started picking up on this? Imagine the catty insult 'Oh, she is still allowed to go visit. Ha ha ha.' Ok this is all an exaggeration but that's the gist of it.

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