Q&A Shmuley Boteach: Marriage needs lust
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, best-selling Kosher Sex author who is widely known as “America’s Rabbi,” will be one of about 50 speakers featured in the 15th annual Ideacity conference running from June 18 to 20 and streamed live from Toronto’s Koerner Hall.
The webcast of the conference, starting 8 a.m. on June 18 at www.ideacityonline.com, will be hosted by the New AM 740 – Zoomer Radio’s Dale Goldhawk and Ramona Pringle.
Rabbi Boteach spoke to The CJN about his new book, Kosher Lust, which explores the idea that a successful marriage is built on lust, rather than love.
Can you briefly describe what people can expect from your latest book?
The book maintains that lust is the most important ingredient in a marriage. The fact that we’ve gotten it wrong and made love so central is the principle reason we have an astronomical divorce rate. In other words, love is not a strong enough bond to keep a husband and wife together for the duration of their lives. Love is a warm, comforting emotion of partnership. Lust is a fiery, passionate emotion of erotic desire, and you’re supposed to be in a marriage because you desire the person with an electrifying gravitation that we call lust. Lust has always been kosher. Judaism always promoted lust between a husband and wife. It was Christianity that targeted lust for condemnation, which is why we have a negative view of lust. But look at the 10th commandment, for example… thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, which means, you should be coveting your own wife.
Tell me about the three components of a lustful marriage: unavailability, mystery and sinfulness.
Steve Jobs became the most successful marketer in the world – he didn’t want people to love his products, he wanted people to lust after his products. He wanted people to lust after an iPhone, the way Romeo lusted after Juliette, waiting outside her balcony. You’re waiting in line for five hours to buy a phone. How did he do it? First and foremost, through unavailability. He made it impossible to buy the phone. Apple has a policy with its new products that they only put 300 in every store per day. They’re sold out in an hour.
Can you tell me how people can inject mystery and sinfulness into a marriage?
Don’t walk around the bedroom naked in front of each other. Don’t over-expose yourself to one another… We tend to think that marriage involves no privacy and involves morphing into the personality of your spouse. I disagree with that completely. I think over-exposure of the body in marriage, for example, demagnetizes the body. We become bored of each other.
As far as sinfulness is concerned, we in the West live under the false assumption that men are much more sexual than women – that they have these elaborate sexual fantasies that women don’t have, that they’re much more interested in pornography. None of that is true. Women are much more sexual than men. They are multi-orgasmic, while men are uni-orgasmic. Many studies have shown that women have these very elaborate, very detailed sexual fantasizes about other men. They never tell their husbands, because they don’t think that the brittle male ego can actually handle hearing about these fantasies.
Sometimes we have to, like, scrape away the outer layer and get to the core erotic nature of our wives, and I think many people in marriage sanitize women’s sexuality. I even argue in the book that many husbands unwittingly extinguish their wives’ libidos. They transform them from women to wives, from ladies into homemakers, from mistresses in mothers.
You don’t believe that lust is a fleeting feeling or emotion that can’t be maintained longer than the honeymoon stage of a relationship?
I don’t believe that for a moment. The erotic mind can be easily influenced and manipulated through erotic principles. We simply have to understand it.
If it’s true that it’s chemical, how are the chemicals created? Why can’t we manipulate the mind into seeing a relationship as novel and new? Studies show that the first reaction by a husband, upon discovering that his wife has been unfaithful… interestingly enough, they want to have sex with their wives. They’re angry, but they want to have sex with their wives. Why is that? Because the woman who you thought was incapable of that kind of unfaithfulness, or wasn’t attracted to other men, or attractive to other men, she becomes something completely new right in front of his eyes. There is this sudden novelty. That’s a destructive novelty to be sure – I’m only using it as an example, but it’s a way of demonstrating that the erotic mind can be manipulated.
You say the question of “What do women want?” was one that even Sigmund Freud couldn’t answer, but that based on your counselling experience, you’ve decided that women want to feel desired by their husbands.
The words that I use in the book is that what a woman most wants – and yes, Freud couldn’t answer [French phychoanalyst] Marie Bonaparte’s question in 1938 – what women most want is to be chosen. In other words, if a woman wants to be loved… why did she leave her parents’ house? She’s never going to be loved more than by her mother and father who will love her unconditionally and never divorce her… Her parents can give her everything in life except one thing, and it’s the one thing she most wants. They can’t choose her. To be chosen is to be distinguished. It’s to be made to feel unique and special… But being loved in a marriage does not make you feel chosen. It makes you feel appreciated, it makes you feel protected, comforted, but it doesn’t make you feel special. I know tons of wives who feel loved by their husbands, [but] who aren’t happy. When someone desires you and pines for you, you feel incredibly special.
To paraphrase [Rabbi] Abraham Joshua Heschel, I always say that we want to be wanted, we need to be needed and we desire to be desired.