Thursday, January 21, 2010

Marital Intimacy Volume One

Marital Intimacy: A Traditional Jewish Approach by R. Avraham Peretz Friedman is a sensitive and honest book that describes a Torah outlook on marital relations. When I mentioned to a synagogue rabbi that I was reading the book for the first time, he was surprised. It is, he said, a classic that is regularly read by engaged couples. However, he said in the frustrated tone of someone who has counseled many couples with troubled marriages, the book doesn't say anything.

He wasn't, of course, speaking literally. In fact, and I am sure he wouldn't disagree with this, the book is very good at what it tries to do. It eloquently advocates an attitude that encourages marital pleasure as a form of developing an intimate relationship. Based on traditional texts, the book describes a complete outlook of proper relations that will strengthen and deepen a marital bond. It is a beautiful picture of a meaningful and rewarding system.

Click here to read moreHowever, the problem is that the book is not something you would hide from children. While you certainly wouldn't give it to them to read, you need not fear that it is so explicit that it will end their innocence. And that explicitness is precisely what the book needs.

Good yeshiva graduates enter marriage with no physical experience, rightly so. They don't understand how the bodies of the opposite gender work. They need guidance. They need diagrams. They need explicit instructions in what marital intimacy entails and how to deepen their relationship through physical bonding. It isn't intuitive and too many marriages suffer because one or both partners simply don't know what to do.

Marital Intimacy is a great book for teaching a proper and healthy Torah attitude towards marital relations. That's volume 1. Volume 2 -- the kind of book you only get just before your wedding and you don't fully understand until you have some experience, the book that explains in detail to Bnei Torah what to do in marital intimacy, the book you hide so your kids never see it, the book that helps well-meaning people do what is proper and healthy -- has yet to be written.

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