Every kallah teacher grapples with what to teach her kallot about intimacy and sexuality. What does a kallah need to know at the beginning that will take her into married life in a positive way, and lay the foundations for many years of a healthy intimate relationship? As a sex therapist and a veteran kallah teacher I want to share my thoughts on the 12 most basic and important things that I feel are fundamental for any kallah to know, which also set the tone for building a healthy relationship that can withstand the ups and downs of life.
- Take it slow for the first time. Don’t force intimacy and just get it over with. Forcing it can leave a bad feeling about intimacy, even trauma. And trauma and intimacy do not go well together, nor does the Torah want a woman to feel forced or obligated.
- This is a learning process. It could take a few weeks to learn how to be together. Please understand that’s normal, and just enjoy figuring it out together.
- Ask for help if anything is difficult in this area, such as figuring out how to have pleasure. There’s no shame involved in reaching out to make sure you start your married life off well.
- If intimacy is very painful, do not force it and get help. It may be vaginismus. Speak to a doctor and a Rav for solutions.
- Consent is crucial! You can say no. Both of you can say no if it isn’t good for you at that time. Always try to do so kindly.
- Learn about intimacy together from an experienced resource. (Not a friend)
- People have interesting ideas about intimacy. If your spouse wants you to do something you do not feel ready for, or are not interested in, let them know. You can add that “I’m not ready now, but maybe at a future stage I will be.” On the flip side, it’s okay to try different things as long as they are consensual.
- Using different positions is halachically fine.
- Being an active partner is correct. It is both partners’ responsibility to create a fun and happy atmosphere.
- Teach each other how you would like to be invited to have intimacy. As with all aspects of sexuality, communication is the key. But the way your partner invites you also can ignite the passion within you.
- Some people like planned intimacy and some like it to be spontaneous. Figure out what’s best for you. It’s also okay if you do different things at different times.
- If intimacy is less than 20 minutes, someone won’t be happy. Women take time to warm up. The husband has to figure out how to take it slow.
Lizzie Rubin is an American certified sex therapist with a Masters in family therapy. She has a private practice and also teaches sexuality in the post masters therapy clinic in Neve Yerushalayim. In addition, she has facilitated many Balanit programs all over the country for The Eden Center, trained the staff of the Ani Ledodi intimacy helpline and gives a course on how to teach intimacy for Kallah teachers.