Rabbi Shmuley Boteach explains the problem with marriage today. Boteach is the author of Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (http://goo.gl/JJDngA).
Shmuley Boteach: Well marriage seems to be a crumbling institution. In the 1950s, 75 percent of the population was married. Today you have a majority of people who are single which is astonishing when you think about it because it means that in a free country people are choosing to be by themselves because they don’t find marriage compelling. In places like Western Europe it’s far worse. Countries like Iceland have a 20 percent marriage population. France, Russia – these are all seeing a decline in marriage, a significant decline which is also leading to significant decline of the population. They’re experiencing negative population growth. If not for immigration these are countries that might soon disappear and they’re actually worried about it. That’s why in places like Russia you have National Love Day where you get a paid day to go home and make a baby. Because marriage is losing its passion.
And in an adrenaline-fueled 24 hour economy I think people are gonna make choices that give them excitement and give them adventure. And they don’t feel that marriage is giving that to them. Coupled with that is something that we never expected and that is the sexual famine that is to be discovered in marriage. Some statistics have the monogamous marriage at about one in three here in America. Even those who disagree say that it’s about one in five. Now think about that. You could be a couple in your 20s, a married couple in your 20s, 30s and every night you go to sleep together, sharing a bed, man and woman, no clothes on and absolutely nothing happens. That’s astonishing. And I think the ones who are really paying the price are the wives. I think in our culture we suppress and deny a woman’s true erotic nature. We seem to believe that men are the really sexual ones and women kind of put up with sex in order to get romantic love. It’s summed up in one of those humorous quotations where marriage is the price that men pay for sex and sex is the price that women pay for marriage.
There is no truth to this. There’s no truth to the stereotype of a husband saying to his wife, how about some sex tonight honey. And she turns back and says, not tonight, I have a headache. And yet the husband can have an axe lodged in his head and he’s still ready to go. Precisely the opposite is true. Women are much more sexual than men. Men are uniorgasmic. Women are multiorgasmic. Women have a much more deeply erotic nature. Think about it. Women seem to have their emotions deeply connected with their sexuality which makes it like rocket fueled. And the suppression, the denial of a woman’s erotic nature, of a woman’s sensual nature is something that is depressing the heck out of a lot of women which is why we’re suddenly discovering the emergence of the genre of bestselling books like 50 Shades of Grey. No one can explain why women in a liberated feminist age are reading a trilogy about a guy who takes a liberated college student and gets her to agree to be a submissive to his dominance.
In fact, Newsweek magazine did a cover story about this on why are women reading this. And the only solution they came up with which just shows you how shallow we are in our approach to the erotic mind, they said people are reading 50 Shades of Grey because women are so overscheduled today with a job at work and then the domestic chores at home that they love the novel because they wanted to give up choice. They liked the fact that Anastasia allows Christian Grey to make all her decisions for her in order to – so that she’s less scheduled. So I said to myself, gosh, I’ll sell more books by writing a book about a woman who has a phenomenal housekeeper who does all her work for her. The reason why women are reading 50 Shades of Grey is that for many women, for many American wives that book is about the only time they’ve witnessed raw lust incarnate. They’re not seeing it in their marriages. Women today are loved but they’re not lusted after. They’re appreciated but they’re not desired. They’re complimented but their husbands aren’t ripping their clothes off.
And we need to go back and understand why. How is it that three, four decades after the sexual revolution we’re having less sex than ever. Something went wrong and we have to be courageous enough to understand it. Because without that I think marriage is gonna continue to decline. Because all marriage can provide right now for most people is stability. But it cannot provide electricity. Now if we were an age that sought out stability then marriage would be thriving. Marriage would be the place where you settle down. It’s where you have the domesticated bliss of raising children. But if you live in a society where on the contrary, three 24-hour news channels are competing against each other for headlines, people have disposable income to go on exotic exciting vacations and all marriage can provide is security and stability. I’m not sure that people are going to continue to marry. At most they’re going to engage in serial monogamy – I love those words. Serial monogamy. They’ll be in a relationship for as long as they think the emotions can sustain them.
But they’re gonna reject the overarching institution that we call marriage which solidifies the commitment. The commitment is gonna be more emotional. It’s gonna be why should we force ourselves to remain together after the passion is worn off. Maybe humans are not really made for a 50 year commitment. Maybe they are biologically programmed to have only an 8 or 10 year commitment. And we’re hearing more and more scientists make that argument as well. By the way, it’s an argument I completely reject because I actually think people are intimacy seekers. I think what we most seek is someone to know our depth and that’s not gonna come from a casual relationship. But marriage is in crisis. I believe it’s primarily because of the loss of erotic lust and erotic desire. And it’s time that we began to fathom the erotic mind in order not just to bolster the institution of marriage but actually bring back a certain electricity to the rest of life as well.
Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton