WiseWords #7: on Intimacy, Sex and Marriage
In week seven of our #wisewords series, London-based sex and relationship therapist Rima Hawkins shares with us the books she recommend to her clients, or find specially powerful on the subject of therapy or wellbeing.
Newlywed Guide to Physical Intimacy: Essential Guide for the Groom and Bride by Jennie Rosenfeld and David Ribner
This book is a concise guide to sexual intimacy for religious Jewish newlyweds who are expected to have no sexual experience before marriage. The authors are not shy in explaining sex, intimacy and love and have not avoided the difficult and sensitive questions about halachically-sanctioned sex. There are excellent teaching tools at the back, a rarity in a book explaining sex and intimacy from a religious point of view. Most importantly, the book endorses that sex is primarily designed to enhance human pleasure and happiness and celebrates the sexual act of both genders rather than saying it serves strictly as a vehicle for procreation. The authors write about the two weeks of abstinence, and consider that it may enhance marital relations or be highly problematic and maximise tension between couples. It is a refreshing read for sex and couple therapists working with intercultural couples. As a sex and relationship therapist, I pleasantly found some of the issues could be related to other religions too. My clients loved it.
In Quest of the Mythical Mate: A Developmental Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment in Couples Therapy by Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson
This is a very handy book for couples therapists written in the 1980s, which focuses on the role of development in relationships and not on pathology. The developmental model of couples therapy compares adulthood development of relationships to childhood procession through typical developmental stages based on the work of Margaret Mahler. According to the model, it is natural for relationships to change as partners spend more time together and develop as a team. Because partners do not always change in the same way or at the same time, potential challenges and conflict may develop over the course of the relationship, which the couples are not able to manage. The book explains diagnosis and treatment for all combinations of developing stages which is a real help for therapists working with couples who respond to a development approach.