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Mar 27, 2011

What do I Need?

"Everyone close your eyes."

It was a great way to start the lecture. I already felt a twinge of excitement about the forthcoming half hour.

"Gentlemen, if you please, raise your hand if you believe that you really need a woman."

I raised my hand dutifully, thinking about the things I value and look for in a woman. I don't just mean having a healthy, athletic, attractive wife at the age of forty/fifty and beyond, though that's a fantasy I can't shake off. I know that I need a woman -above and beyond sex and staving off loneliness -to build a home, a family, a life. I know that I'll need her femininity, her nurturing support to get through my draining and busy days, to give me strength so I can fulfill my life mission. I need a woman's affection and touch -things that I live without daily and pain me. I know that her soft touch will make my hard days much easier to bear, that shared pain is halved pain and that shared joy is double joy.

I know that without her, I'll never father children or create a lineage and I'll find myself lost over time. I know that the massive log we carry -otherwise known as "life" -will be a hell of a lot heavier without the support of carrying it together, and I'll get worn out younger. Without a woman, I won't grow nearly as much as I can, because through intimacy that opportunity opens up.

And then I had an epiphany at that very moment: I realized I can live and probably plow on through life myself, but that's not really living. I need a woman. Every fiber of my body was aware of that fact. I really need a woman.

"Thank you. Now, ladies -if you please -I have the same question for you. How many of you really, truly, honestly believe you absolutely NEED a man."

I kept my eyes closed, at the request of the esteemed lecturer. But I secretly hoped every woman in that room felt she needed a man the way I know in my bones that I need a woman. That's some recognition I sometimes feel is sorely missed.

"Interesting. Ladies, with your permission I will allow the men to take a peek."

And with that, we were invited to open our eyes. Out of nearly seventy women, close to ten of them had their hands raised. The rest sat with an array of expressions on their faces. Some defeated, some angry, some resentful.

The lecturer made an astute observation -and noted that this was often the case when he did such exercises with his audiences -that for some reason, while most or all of the men in the room felt they need a woman, most of the women did not express the basic belief that they need a man.

We spent the rest of that evening exploring such a fascinating phenomenon.


  1. Very interesting. This is because society tells women that it is important to be independent and it is weak to "need" a man. Largely this whole discussion depends on how one defines the word "need." Push come to shove, neither men nor women *need* the opposite gender- singles survive just fine. But like you said life is not the same without the other.

  2. I think we should admit more to that need.

    I also believe that when women develop the attitude or belief that they don't "need" a man when in a relationship with one, it can be very emasculating to him.

  3. I'm very surprised by this finding! Unless it was a secular lecturer?

  4. This is really fascinating. Could you elaborate more about this particular lecture? I know it's been a while since you wrote this, but I just discovered your blog (as my other comments demonstrate).

  5. It was given by a Rabbi, the crowd was Modern Orthodox (in many of its gradations) and was geared towards couples.

    It focused a lot on the changes in what women perceive they need men for, particularly since traditional roles are much less prevalent (though still more prominent in religious communities). With technology, women entering the working world and increasing their independence, there's much less teamwork, and our values in being with one another are shifting.

    It addressed issues on both sides of the coin, like how important it is for women that a man listen (really listen and remember) when she's talking, and how important it is to a man that a woman puts effort into maintaining her physique... though many women laughed, scoffed or waved that off. There were more than a few comments about how shallow or inappropriate that is. It was the first time I felt marginalized by a bunch of women, and looked down upon.

    He integrated a lot of Torah values -he was quoting from all over the place -but I don't remember all the specifics.

    He talked a lot about giving as the foundation of any relationship (many women were nodding their heads and shooting sideways glances at their husbands), letting go of pettiness, and gave a bunch of practical tips. Unfortunately, I didn't take notes so I don't remember all the details.

    I did, however, walk out of that lecture with some disillusionment, frustration and a sense that I had to work harder and do more to be worthy of a woman. I also realized that it is really important to find a woman that truly feels she needs a man, and to marry a woman who really feels she needs me.