Print Friendly, PDF & Email

QUESTION

I was was sexually abused as a child by my father. Working with a therapist, I am working through the process of consciously remembering and trying to heal the trauma. I have a supportive, understanding husband who understands when I don’t want to or am not able to have sex, but I love him and don’t want to always say no to him even when that would be my preference. Is it ok to take Valium before sex so I can tolerate it as a gift to my husband?

ANSWER

Let me start by saying how my heart goes out to you for what you have suffered. May you continue to draw on your own inner strength, and the support of your therapist and understanding husband, so that you can further the healing process and find some degree of peace.

It sounds to me like your question is less a halakhic one and more one that you should be discussing directly with your husband or together with a therapist. Would your husband want you to take Valium so he could have sex with you? How would that impact the dynamics of how you were having sex? Would you be able to feel connected emotionally? I think these and similar questions are ones you would have to talk through first to determine that this is something that you both would want to do.

Regarding Halakha, it is important to remember that one of the strongest demands that Halakha makes in terms of how a husband and wife are having sex, is that it be ברצון שניהם ובדעתם, with both of them as willing and active participants, and that it be in the context of connecting to one another, and not using the other person. A man is not allowed to have sex with his wife when she is sleeping or drunk, for example, because she is not truly present in the act. If you were to use Valium, you should make sure that you are still able to be present when having sex. I am sure that this is something that you would both ideally want as well.

It would also be worth exploring if there are ways you could be having sex that would work for you without your feeling that you would need to take Valium. For example, what about having sex without vaginal intercourse, such as oral sex, or using your hands? As we discussed above in the question on condoms, there are poskim who say – and this is my pesak as well – that there is no halakhic problem for the husband to ejaculate outside the wife’s vagina in the course of sexual activity between the two of them. Given that, I would explore if oral or manual sex would be an option that would work for the two of you. Perhaps it would work for you in one direction (who is providing and who is receiving), but not in the other. Either way, this is something for the two of you to explore.

I wish you strength and perseverance as you continue to work through the healing process with the help of your therapist and your husband.