In the Sheva Berachot, the seven traditional blessings recited at every Jewish wedding, our tradition elevates the importance of two aspects of marital connectedness. The first of these sacred connections is re’im (friends). The second kind of connection is ahuvim (lovers). A couple’s ability to nurture both of these sacred relationships is essential in maintaining a healthy marriage.
As couples step away from the chuppah on their wedding day, these seven blessings are intended to launch them into a new life with shared hopes and dreams, where passion and friendship form the foundation of a long and healthy marriage. From that point forth, it is up to each member of the couple to nurture both aspects of marital love.
For newlyweds, this task is an easy one. The early years of marriage are usually filled with a sense of shared excitement, joy and adventure. Yet, as time goes on, it is not uncommon for couples to experience an ebb to the excitement and passion which brought them together in the first place.
As couples age, the “friendship/companionship” aspects of a marriage may continue to flourish, but the “lovers” aspect of the relationship can often wither. Left unattended, time can become corrosive to the shared, passionate excitement that is central to the “ahuvim” aspects of marital love. The monotony of daily existence and the pressures of life often compromise the erotic chemistry once shared in the early years of romance leaving one or both members of the couple unfulfilled, resentful and longing for more.
This decline in physical and emotional intimacy may have many causes, but the result is always the same – marital distress. Roughly, 30% to 60% of all married individuals will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage, and the most common reasons identified for infidelity has to do with dissatisfactions in sex and/or emotional intimacy. Additionally, the rate of sexless marriages has been estimated to be 15-20%. These statistics are the result of variety of factors, many of which involve emotional and/or physical dysfunction.
Part of our challenge as a society in general and as a Jewish community, in particular, is that we do not know how to talk about sex, and we do not know how to nurture the sexual aspects of our relationships over the course of marriage.
In an effort to improve marital communications around sex and intimacy and a desire to rekindle the chemistry of romance, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism will be offering four workshops on ways to keep marriage sexy. These workshops have been generously underwritten by funding from the Twenty-First Century Fund of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation.
The workshops will be led by Rabbi Gross, Dr. Bradley Frank, PhD and Beth Liebling, the owner of Darling Way, an adult store nestled in The Heights that strives to promote love, bolster confidence and nurture romance and intimacy. The goal of these workshops is to give people the information they need, the encouragement they deserve and the inspiration necessary to maintain a healthy, strong, passionate connection together throughout their lives. The first three workshops will be taking place on October 17, November 7 and December 5, so save the dates on your calendar.