Authors note: Exclusively on Balaboostas.com Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch along with Dr. Rivkah Friedman, a physiotherapist who specializing in sexual pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, pregnancy & postpartum related issues, will be writing a new column answering questions from readers concerning sexual dysfunction. If you have specific questions, please submit them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In his new book “Getting Closer—Understanding and Treating Issues in Marital Intimacy: A Guide for Orthodox Couples“, Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist, aims to remove the shame and isolation felt by Orthodox couples dealing with sexual dysfunction.
In this book, Rabbi Schonbuch, who is known for his success as a marriage therapist in New York City, explores various aspects of sexual dysfunction including:
- Low desire disorders
- Internet addiction
- Unconsummated marriage
- Dyspareunia & Vaginismus
- Sexual abuse
- Fear of intimacy
- Postpartum Depression and more…
The book was edited by two leading medical experts in gynecology, including Dr. Heather Appelbaum and Dr. Robin Bliss of the NorthShore Long Island Jewish Medical Center, with a preface written by Dr. Heather Appelbaum, who is also an Associate Professor of, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine, Hofstra University.
“I wrote the book because I noticed that some couples will attend several counseling sessions to resolve their emotional difficulties, but never report that they are having a sexual problem. I have worked with couples who complained about their finances, children, and their in-laws, but avoided discussing the most painful part of their marriage—their lack of intimacy”, says Schonbuch.
According to Schonbuch, there is not only a lack of understanding of how common sexual dysfunction actually is, but also that it is a very common issue for young women. “It has been found that sexual dysfunction is highest among younger women, with 21 percent of women aged 18 to 29 reporting physical pain during intimacy. Twenty-seven percent report experiencing non-pleasurable relations and 16 percent reported anxiety relating to intimacy. Additionally, many couples struggle with intimacy after pregnancy, internet addictions, sexual aversion, or infertility issues, and they don’t know who to turn to for help.”
In Getting Closer, the author provides couples with a powerful roadmap that shares compassion, deep insight, and proven interventional strategies that have helped hundreds of couples to resolve issues in marital intimacy that may have been left untreated for years. The book also examines the connection between personal attachment styles and intimacy.
“I base my work on something called Attachment Theory created by Dr. John Bowlby. It describes why some couples have an easier time getting closer, while others tend to fight a lot”, explains Schonbuch. “There are three types of attachment: secure, anxious, and avoidant. Secure individuals are comfortable with affection and giving to one another. Anxious individuals tend to crave closeness but may overwhelm their spouse with their fear of not being loved. Avoidant individuals are not comfortable with closeness or intimacy, and tend to avoid talking and close contact.”
The book includes a quick attachment style questionnaire that helps readers identify their own attachment style and how this may be affecting their relationship with their spouse.
“In my book, I aim to normalize the issue of sexual dysfunction by explaining that problems in the bedroom are very common and need to be treated, since they can have a lasting impact on the quality of the marriage. For example, even if a man had PE once or twice, or a woman found relations to be painful, it can create distance between the couple who may spend years avoiding closeness or fighting about secondary issues that have nothing to do with their real problems”, says Schonbuch.
The book is divided into three sections: “Emotions, Desire, and Intimacy,” “Guide to Sexual Dysfunction” and “Finding Solutions”. Throughout its pages are detailed descriptions of dysfunctions and disorders, interweaved with real case studies of how Schonbuch helped couples through Emotionally Focused Therapy. By relaying case studies of couples dealing with sexual dysfunction in their marriage, he illustrates how through focusing on the emotions a couple is feeling when they’re quarreling, they come to realize what they’re truly feeling.
“I trained with one of the most successful marriage therapists in the world, Dr. Sue Johnson. She was the cofounder of Emotionally Focused Therapy which helps couples expand and reorganize important emotional responses, creates secure relationship bonds, increases intimacy, and shifts each spouse’s position towards positive interaction”, say Schonbuch. “During each session I help each person express what are called primary emotions such as fear of being alone, being unlovable, or not measuring up to their spouse’s expectations. I also created a highly empathetic environment where spouses turn towards one another and learn to validate what they are both experiencing.”
Schonbuch believes that individuals may feel ashamed or live in isolation when dealing with sexual dysfunction. He therefore wrote “Getting Closer” as a form of “Biblio Therapy,” where couples can read the book, reduce their discomfort on the topic, and allow them to further discuss these issues with or without a therapist.
Getting Closer is available in Jewish bookstores, amazon.com, in ebook formats and is recommended to couples, chosson and kallah teachers, therapists, and rabbis and rebbetzins, who encounter these problems frequently and now have a resource to address those difficulties effectively. For a free preview of the book, click here. This book was released only yesterday, you heard it first here!
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializes in marriage counseling for Orthodox couples. His relationship-based approach to counseling has helped hundreds of couples improve their marriages and resolve issues in marital intimacy. His new book, Getting Closer, explores various aspects of sexual dysfunction. You can view more about his work at: www.JewishMarriageSupport.com.