First of all, many people have had this difficulty and if one is aware of it, it is extremely helpful.
Quite often, we are very quick to do away with our thoughts as something that is not important, especially if there is no real chance of acting on it. However, thoughts are quite important, whether or not they actually manifest, as they are so powerful in their raw form.
This is so much the case that we are taught that there are three main times when a couple is not allowed to be intimate (outside of the times that apply to couples in general):
- If either partner is drunk
- If the couple is considering a divorce
- If either partner is thinking about someone else
This third aspect seems very strange that there could be a law regarding how we think. Because ideally, we are not sharing these thoughts with our partner. Yet, we learn from this that we are responsible for what we think, and even more importantly, that we have the power and ability to control our thoughts and to overcome them.
So, how does one rid oneself of improper thoughts?
It is very important that we realize how destructive thoughts can be, and just knowing this can help us redirect our thoughts. Generally, most people are only able to think about one thing at a time. That means, if we’re thinking about something we shouldn’t be thinking about, the first thing we should try to do is to replace the thoughts with something else. Sometimes that’s easy to do, at other times there is no other thought that can compete with the intensity of what we’re thinking about.
If that’s the case, we should try to find something else to do that requires complete concentration so that our mind doesn’t wander. If we have a lot of free time on our hands and we keep lapsing into these other thoughts, we should try doing something that will make us feel more fulfilled and productive. Perhaps we should do some volunteering at a hospital or an old age home. If we are busy thinking about others things and other people, we won’t be able to start thinking about ourselves and our past.
We should try to place more emphasis on the marriage and our partner. However, if we are truly unable to get away from our thoughts, perhaps it has come time to seek Rabbinical Counsel and to visit a Marriage Counselor who may help us with our difficulty.