Talli's blog

Intimate Judaism podcast season finale: Marital conflicts about religion

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 05/23/2019 - 16:36

What happens when couples disagree over religious observance? When one spouse decides that he or she no longer wants to be observant? Is there a way to reach an understanding? Join Talli and Scott as we discuss these issues on the season finale of Intimate Judaism! To listen to the season finale episode of Intimate Judaism click here


Intimacy after abuse

Submitted by Talli on Fri, 03/22/2019 - 17:23

Humans  long for intimacy and are wired to connect. Most individuals desire to experience a meaningful partnership that includes feeling secure, understood and loved. 


"Just relax." Meeting with trauma in the physical therapy setting

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 02/21/2019 - 15:27

In his seminal book “The Body Keeps the Score,” trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk states “the ability to feel relaxed in one’s body requires the emotional experience of safety.”  


How often “should" Orthodox couples have sex?

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 12/20/2018 - 21:27

I  recently received the following question from a therapist:


Marriage and the traveling spouse

Submitted by Talli on Tue, 12/11/2018 - 14:23

Tamar and Avi are an American couple in their late thirties who made aliya to Israel two years ago with their four children.  They presented to couple therapy in distress. They reported that they argued frequently about their children, their in-laws, household tasks and money. Tamar said she felt that Avi took her for granted and had no idea what her life was like.  Avi complained, “We hardly ever have sex.”


Tightly Wound: A review and social commentary

Submitted by Talli on Sun, 09/09/2018 - 15:53

Tightly Wound is a film by Shelby Hadden and Sebastian Bisbal that tells Shelby's story of dealing with vaginismus and her path to finding treatment.


The death of desire begins in childhood

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 03/08/2018 - 20:43

Above the drawing of four modestly attired girls in a supermarket is the caption “Modesty in the public sphere:  What immodest act is each girl in the picture engaged in?’


The M word, an addendum to raising sexually healthy Orthodox sons

Submitted by Talli on Wed, 01/24/2018 - 15:54

First published in Times of Israel


Sexual abuse with no abuser: guest blog

Submitted by Talli on Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:04

This guest blog was written by Elisheva Liss, LMFT


Why trauma survivors avoid sex

Submitted by Talli on Thu, 11/30/2017 - 19:23
 The following case illustrates how couples intimate lives may be affected by trauma. Baruch,  a 23 year old combat soldier recently married to Shira, served in the Israeli army. In the course of a mission, enemy fire injured three men in his battalion and two were killed. Baruch, who was inside his tank,  was physically unharmed, but the impact of the terrifying incident affected him intensely and he suffered from severe anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, and difficulty sleeping. After six months, Baruch was diagnosed with PTSD. He underwent a year of intense therapy that helped him learn to recognize his triggers, self-soothe, and learn to keep calm in stressful situations. He was taking medication to help with depression and anxiety and was also exercising regularly.  His wife, Shira, came with him to couples therapy, stating that while Baruch was doing much better, he was difficult to live with. He often became aggressive with her and avoided emotional or physical intimacy. When they did have sex, he would either not be able to get an erection, or become very quickly aroused and ejaculate prematurely, even before intercourse.  Therapy for Baruch and Shira included psychoeducation based on explaining to them exactly how his trauma affects sex. Sexual desire involves parts of the brain and release of brain chemicals that are similar to those involved in the stress response. Our excitatory mechanisms cause the heart rate to increase and the blood to flow but our inhibitory centers let us know that even though our body is in a state similar to the flight or fight response, we have nothing to fear. People with PTSD lack that regulation. Once they experience sensations and a physiological reality that mirrors stress, they may experience a heightened fear response. Because Baruch experienced these responses, he was holding back on allowing himself to become aroused, which accounted for his erectile dysfunction. On other occasions when he would become aroused quickly and ejaculate just as quickly, he reported that he didn't even feel anything. We understood that Baruch was simply disassociating from the act, though physiologically, his body was responding.In the course of therapy, it also became  apparent that Shira was anxious to become pregnant, and this was an additional source of stress for Baruch. Treatment for Baruch and Shira allowed each of them to communicate better about their feelings in the marriage,to understand one another better, and to create opportunities to improve emotional intimacy with compassion and empathy.  The sex therapy component was focused on restoring awareness of sensations and the experience of pleasure without demands on performance. After several months of therapy, while Baruch still suffered from the after-effects of his experiences in combat, he and Shira were able to recreate the intimacy that had been lost and enjoy making love, and not war. Join me in a two part online course taking place this January. This course will highlight the mechanisms by which emotional and sexual intimacy may be incompatible with PTSD. To illustrate this, studies linking PTSD to sexual dysfunction will be reviewed, aspects of the neurobiologies of PTSD and the sexual response will be elucidated, and treatment suggestions will be offered for promoting healthy intimacy in couples where one partner is challenged with PTSD. For more information and to register, click here