Niddah Diaries: Our Beds

In examining the search results that have landed you all to my blog, I’ve noticed that a good number of people want to know about sleeping arrangements of orthodox married people. I can’t tell you what everyone does, but I can tell you what I do.

The biblical laws of Niddah dictate, basically, that a man and a woman can’t have sex during the time that a woman has her period, and for a seven day “clean period” after that. Rabbis have extended that to include such prohibitions as not touching, not sleeping in the same bed, and not even coming close to touching by not sitting on the same cushion or not sharing food during “niddah” times.

The bed thing was a big deal for me. About a year before I got married, I bought myself a luxury full sized bed. I spent a lot of money on it, and justified spending that money because a good bed is an investment that will last at least ten years or so. What I didn’t expect was to get married and start keeping niddah to the extent that we had seperate beds. That just seemed so archaic to me. Problem was, it was important to my husband. He suggested we do as “most” (his wording) modern orthodox couples do, and have a king sized frame with two twin mattresses. We would put the king sized sheets on when we weren’t niddah, and the twin sized sheets on when we were. Plus, we would even buy this thing, which supposedly helps keep the mattresses together and gets rid of the crack between the beds when we’re not niddah.

It sounded weird to me. Married people are supposed to sleep in the same bed, end of story. Always. That’s what my parents did, that’s what I assumed I would do. Plus, this wasn’t even the sort of thing where we could try it out and see if it works and reevaluate later, because we were moving into a one bedroom apartment and wouldn’t have room to store my bed–I would have to get rid of it if we didn’t end up using it as our bed.

We went back and forth on this issue A LOT. It didn’t end until the person who was moving into my old apartment offered to buy my bed from me for 3/5 of the price I paid for it. That made me feel less like my purchase a year ago was a waste of money, and that if I wanted to buy a new bed later, I could.

We decided to buy the two twins and the king frame and the weird crack coverer. Let’s just say, the crack coverer didn’t work. I hated having two beds, during niddah but also not during niddah, since there was a very definite crack we felt like we had to sleep on only half of the bed. Additionally, every time I even remotely felt the crack I was reminded of how I gave up my bed for a practice I didn’t even want to do in the first place. It really upset me, and my husband could tell.

Eventually, we bought a three inch thick king sized memory foam mattress topper. We put it on top of the beds, and it stayed there–niddah times and not niddah times. We could no longer feel the crack in the bed, and the extra comfort that the mattress pad provided made the bed feel very similar to my old bed. I couldn’t stand the practice of having two beds while we were niddah, and so we stopped. When it comes time to buy a new bed (perhaps whenever we move into a two bedroom apartment or a new home), we’ll probably purchase one bed, no more of this two bed stuff for me.

I know that having two beds is not a big deal for most people, and a lot of people tell me they appreciate “having their space”. Others with kids who sleep in the bed tell me it’s easier to have two beds when the kid wants to crawl in. That may work for those people, but not for me. I want to sleep in the same bed as my husband all the time. I’m fine with (some of) niddah, but I want to see him breathing next to me. I don’t want to feel like I’m some unclean, forbidden object that he has to stay far, far away from. And he’s gotten on board with that, and my marriage is a lot better off because of it.

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3 comments on “Niddah Diaries: Our Beds

  1. FrumGeek says:

    “Married people are supposed to sleep in the same bed, end of story. Always.”

    You DO know that until modern times, that wasn’t true. The Imaos had their own tents. Queens had their own rooms, and only go to the king when called. This always sleep in the same bed thing is new, and regardless, you can’t just decide that whatever society deems appropriate is the right thing, the way things should be. People cannot decide morality. That always leads to terrible things. That’s why we look toward the Torah. Sure, you guys can sleep in the same room and whatever, there’s nothing wrong with that. But just remember that a lot of your feminist ideals that you think are write b/c of ‘society’ can lead down a dark road. The Nazi’s thought they were perfectly justified in killing Jews, and had science to back it up. It was moral to them. We have a Torah for a reason.

    Boy, did i get off topic.

  2. thesingledip says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I keep niddah as a single woman (kind of an orthofeminist myself). My boyfriend and I don’t live together, so we don’t have one bed, but we do sleep in the same bed when we spend the night together. And we’ll sleep in the same bed when I’m in Niddah and when I’m not in NIddah. Anyway, you can read more about it if you want to check out my blog: http://thesingledip.com

  3. IHateNiddah says:

    I hate Niddah. Like, I REALLY hate it. My wife just demanded we start keeping it, but she only wants to keep it “half-way”, ie sleeping in the same bed, and still touching.

    Before we got married, I made her promise we would never keep Niddah – it was detestable to me – that a husband and wife shouldn’t be intimate. But times change, and so did her opinion on the matter.

    Now I’ve decided that if she wants to keep Niddah, we’re keeping it all the way. Not sleeping in the same bed, no touching, all the chumrah’s from aleph to taph. NOW she’s mad about that, saying that that was not “her choice”.

    Niddah has hurt our marriage, because it was never something I agreed to (in my opinion, it simply halves the amount of sex you get to have in your life, which is CRIMINAL), but this is what we do for our spouses.

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