Last week, I went to a sex shop.

Last week, I went to a sex shop.

This was not my first visit to such a shop, but it was my first truly enjoyable visit.

I’ve bought sex toys before. Usually from the internet. Usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want, and I would much prefer to shop from the privacy of my own home and without creepy sex shop owners knowing what sets me off.

This time, though, I was on the search for…something to wear. I wanted to buy a corset. This would require trying on and measuring and figuring out just which one I wanted. I could’ve done the whole thing online by buying a couple and then returning all but one–but that seemed to difficult. So, the husband and I set out on a sexy adventure.

Something close to the item I ended up buying.

We’d been to this particular shop before, and the last time, I really didn’t like it. The guy who owns the place was way too in your face. Even when we told him that we were “just browsing” and didn’t need any help, he stayed about 5 feet behind us and offered up his opinion on each product that we expressed even the slightest interest in. This time, though, we appreciated his wealth of knowledge about all things sex related.

He gave me something to try on. But then…he walked into the dressing room with my husband and I!! I was shocked by this. He explained this particular item and how to best put it on and what to look for when trying it on, and then he said, “I’m gay. Do you want me to be in here to help you try it on, or would you rather me wait outside?” I knew I wanted him to wait outside–just because I’m buying stuff in a sex shop (with my HUSBAND) doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of modesty–but sometimes I have trouble expressing my opinions if I think the other person will disagree with me. So, I was really proud of myself for saying, “I think I’d prefer you to wait outside”.

Here would be an appropriate place to talk about gay sexuality in relation to straight people. One of my best female friends is a lesbian. I have slept in the same bed with her, even after she came out to me. She thought that maybe I would be uncomfortable. Similarly, this man thought that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable with him in the dressing room with me, because he was gay. I see where they’re coming from, I really do, but, the thing is, I’m straight. I wonder sometimes if I’m too heteronormative, if I don’t want gay men to see me with my shirt off because I think that really this man might find me attractive, even if he says he’s gay. And conversely, there’s no way that my lesbian friend will view me as a potential sexual partner, because, hey, I’m a straight woman. But I digress.

The thing about corsets is that they have a very intricate way of lacing up in the back, so they usually require someone else to do the lacing. (There are videos and websites on the internet about ways to lace up your corset on your own, but I’m definitely not there yet. I can barely zip up the dresses with the zippers in the back on my own.) I assumed that would be my husbands job. But, alas, he had to learn how to do the lacing. Since I couldn’t show him, the shopkeeper came in to help him out. It was a learning experience for both of us.

Even after the corset was on, the shopkeeper stayed in the dressing room to help asses fit and sizing. He was completely, 100% professional. Still, it was weird that I was wearing something intended only for my husband in front of a complete, male, stranger. The shop owner was really, really helpful. He gave sizing and fit tips that I would never have received on the internet. He told us a lot about the background of the product, and storage tips, and even some usage tips. I keep feeling like, it was weird that he was there. I wonder if this comes from my orthodox perspective, that there were so many things “un-tznius” about that experience that it must have been wrong. And then I wonder if that’s a good thing. I’m glad I got this man’s help. I’m glad I bought the product.

I’m really pleased with my purchase. I love the way that I look in a corset. It shapes my body in a way that I’ve never seen my body look before. Suddenly, I have all these wonderful curved. Suddenly, I feel sexy and beautiful. I’m glad that I bought it, and I’m glad that the shop keeper was able to help us. But there’s this thought in the back of my head that it just wasn’t appropriate. I don’t know what to do with the thought. I mean, in the future, if I want to buy another one, I can purchase it online, now that I know what to look for and what size I am. But I wouldn’t have gotten there without the help of the shopkeeper.

I guess a lot of orthodox women have this issue, and I guess that they find ways around it. Even if they’re not buying corsets, they’re buying underwear and bras and have to be sized. And I guess they only use female shopkeepers. But what if the shopkeeper is a lesbian (not an uncommon situation for women who work in lingerie stores)? Is that a violation of tznius? What if it’s a male shopkeeper, but he’s gay? Does that make a difference? And if not, does that mean that in the eyes of tznius, there’s no such thing as homosexuality? Because thats a thought that I’m not comfortable with.

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My Thoughts on Pre-marital Sex

It seems like today was pre-marital sex day on the internet. The New York Times published this piece by a 35-year-old virgin considering her choice to wait for true love to have sex, over on FrumSatire blogger Heshy Fried wrote this piece about virginity and the orthodox community, and Shmuely Boteach wrote this piece positing that saving sex for marriage makes better sex.

I guess I ought give my two cents.

It’s no secret on this blog that I had sex before marriage. In fact, I had sex with three different partners before my husband: A long term boyfriend, a one-night stand, and a guy that I was dating casually but very much not in love with–I was just bored. Ironically I suppose, my husband and I agreed that we wouldn’t have sex until we were married, and that’s what we did.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to say on this subject, and I’ve got a few thoughts:

Prequel: This is not a halachic discussion.

I know there are those out there who will tell me that I shouldn’t have had sex before marriage because it is a violation of halacha. I know there are also those out there who are of the opinion that pre-marital sex can be done within the auspices of halacha. This is not a discussion on that issue. I fully believe mikvaot should have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding unmarried women, but beyond that, I don’t want to discuss the halacha. I want to discuss the mental thought process of premarital sex.

I will also note that when I was engaging in premarital sex, I felt a tremendous amount of Jewish guilt.  I read up on all of the opinions that said that premarital sex/mikvah usage was totally halachically appropriate, and yet, still, I felt like I was doing something innately wrong by having sex. Perhaps because my world viewed it that way. For this reason, no amount of halachic reasoning would have been able to change the guilt I felt.

1. I think the long term boyfriend and I dated longer than we should have, because of sex. 

This is important. This was the reason I didn’t want to have sex with my husband before we married. I wanted to be sure he was the one, and I remembered being blinded in this previous relationship. The relationship was very much over, we were in different places both literally and figuratively, I wanted to move forward with my life and he didn’t, we disagreed on some pretty important life issues, I felt like I couldn’t talk freely with him–and yet, still, we dated for several more months. The sex was good, and I think we were both just really afraid of sleeping alone.  I didn’t want this to happen again, so when I started dating the man who would eventually become my husband, and things started getting physical, I said “let’s take this slow”. As I started to realize more and more that I was falling in love with him, I told him, “let’s wait for marriage for sex.” This maybe was a mistake, because he was very strict on not letting me break the rules. I tried, oh, I TRIED, but he always found ways to convince me not to go the distance. Still, things worked out for us in the end despite us not actually having sex before our marriage.

2. I think having casual sex was very important for me. 

I learned a lot about myself when I was having casual sex. I learned what I liked sexually, and that’s huge. (Often, I hear people talking about waiting for marriage in a negative light, by positing that one takes a huge risk by not having sex with the one person that they will be having sex with for the rest of their lives. It’s a real concern, and I don’t know how to answer it other than by saying that with my husband and I, we had a pretty good taste of what the other was like in bed before we got married and before we had sex, because we had done “everything but”.* I’ve also never heard of any couples actually breaking up solely because they weren’t a good match sexually-unless you count the people who went from being gay to being straight or vice versa. I think that most of these “issues” can be resolved by honesty, communication, and a willingness to be adventurous.)

Having casual sex also gave me a huge self-esteem boost when I most needed it. I was in a bad place. I felt like no one could ever love me, because, well, I wasn’t in love with anyone at the moment. But then came my opportunities for casual sex. They thought I was pretty. They wanted to have sex with me. I liked that, a lot.

I felt empowered when I was having casual sex. I was in control of what I wanted. I could try out whatever I wished without scaring the guys away, because hey, there’s always a new guy willing to try new stuff with me. This was an amazing feeling that I think more people really need to experience.

3. Married sex is really, really, good. 

I guess I’m a little biased, because I’ve only been married less than 2 years. I wonder what we’ll say in 20 years. Still, there’s something  really amazing about having sex with someone who knows you inside and out, someone who cares more about your own pleasure than their own, someone who wants nothing more than to make you happy. I suppose these same things would apply in a long term relationship, but in my very limited experience, it was totally not the same. With me, there is so much more concern for the other in my marriage than there ever was in any of my long term relationships. That’s not to say there wasn’t concern before, but the level is just so much MORE in my marriage. To go off tangent for a bit, my co-worker was telling me about her thanksgiving plans: She lives with her long term boyfriend of seven years. Every year, they go to her family’s house and have a huge Thanksgiving dinner with about 35 relatives from all over the country. His mom usually spends thanksgiving with friends at the beach. This year, she decided that she wanted to stay home and have the couple over for dinner. My co-worker was feeling torn about the different options. One person suggested, “It’s just his mom? Why don’t you bring her to your family’s gathering?”. She responded that she didn’t think her boyfriend was ready to take that step yet. We all were a little surprised, I mean, you’ve been together for seven years, you live together, but you don’t want your parents to meet? I think it goes back to the fact that there is an inherently deeper connection within marriage than in any other romantic relationship. But that’s just me. To each her own.

The gist of Shmuley Boteach’s argument is that premarital sex destroys the pleasure of married sex. One hundred percent not true. I left my previous sexual partners for a reason–I didn’t LIKE them. I chose my husband for another reason–I really really DID like him. Further, I want to stress that just because my married sex is way better than any sex I’ve had before, it doesn’t mean that I’d advocate celibacy until marriage. It means that I’d advocate marriage. But, as noted, there were a lot of benefits I achieved by having sex before marriage, and I think those are really important. Going back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

4. Sometimes, I really don’t see the difference between “hooking up” and having sex. 

I should be clear here. When I use the term “hooking up”, I mean partners kissing and touching and being naked with each other and getting the other to achieve orgasm, but no vaginal sex. I know the term is used for a plethora of meanings, and as such, has become a word with no meaning, but it is the best term to describe the aforementioned acts. The New York Times article makes a point that I thought a thousand times when I was in sexless relationships. The author describes a religious muslim friend’s opinion that if you’ve had an orgasm, you’ve had sex. I know I wouldn’t go that far, I mean, my first orgasm occurred was when I was riding a horse, does that mean I had sex with a horse? But still, when you’re in bed with someone and you’re both naked and you’re holding each others’ genitals, I mean really what’s the difference in how the orgasm is achieved actually? Any sorts of concerns about being “blinded” by the physical would still be present. The New York Times author described the difference as being able to feel in control of when things would start and stop, but it sounds to me like she just needs to try BDSM. She also talked about not wanting to be in a place of emotional vulnerability, but let me tell you, you are emotionally vulnerable in ANY relationship where you find yourself falling for the other person. And conversely, the ability to have casual sex and know that it’s only casual sex gives over the same feeling of control that she sought by refusing to have sex.

5. Above all, I think the decision to have pre-marital sex or not should SOLELY be a decision by the individual. 

I think community expectations, one way or the other, are really awful for people exploring their sexuality.  I would never tell someone, you must have sex before marriage. Also, I would never tell someone, you should definitely not have sex before marriage. I feel like these articles all come from one extreme or the other, some being liberal feminists that feel like women in particular are missing out because they’re not having sex, and some from religious leaders who feel they have a divine obligation to stop the immorality that  comes from having sex before marriage. The key here, really, is that sex is a deeply personal decision, and as such, should be decided upon by the person.

——

*I cringe a little when I hear the phrase “everything but” used, because I often feel that people don’t really mean it. You did EVERYTHING but sex? Really? Have you SEEN the internet. I’m SURE there’s a lot you haven’t done. There’s a lot I didn’t do. What I mean by the phrase is that we had come SO CLOSE to having sex, that we were pretty sure what having sex with the other would be like: awesome. And so far, we’ve been pretty right.

Niddah Diaries: Harchakot

I have’t published Niddah Diaries recently, perhaps because I’ve gotten complacent in my niddah practices.

My husband and I have been (sort of) keeping niddah for almost a year now, and I think it’s working. So much so, that when I went to a Q and A session on niddah run by several yoetzot halacha, I couldn’t think of anything to ask, and completely forgot to bring up the issue of strictly keeping the harchakot. I can’t remember if I’ve posted here before about the distinction between the harchakot and other niddah practices, so I’ll give a basic overview.

The “harcharkot” are rabbinic laws made to ensure that the husband and wife don’t even come close to having sex. These laws prohibit certain “romantic” acts between the spouses. Some are more “understandable” and what I call the “big ticket items”, like not sleeping in the same bed, and not touching each other. Others are more fine tuned, the smaller ticket items, like not eating from the same plate, or sitting on the same couch.

Even my kallah teacher acknowledged that the smaller ticket items can be hard to keep sometimes (and frankly, the big ticket items and the actual item, the no sex rule, can also be difficult to keep). She told me “not to fret” if I mess up on some of the harchakot, because it’s going to be a new halacha that I’ll be keeping for the first time, and will take some getting used to.

I wasn’t so convinced, and after a few months of getting frustrated with the harchakot (see my early Niddah Diaries posts), I decided that those just weren’t for me. Pretty much all of them. Definitely the small ticket items, and definitely sleeping in different beds. But the not touching made sense sort of and my husband was more insistent that we don’t touch, so we don’t. Sometimes we slip up and do, but it’s okay. We try to be very strict about the not touching at least the last day or two before I go to the mikvah, so that we can have that “mikvah night anticipation” that we both acknowledge as beneficial.

So, basically, we pretty much don’t keep the harchakot except the not touching rule, and thats fine. We may go back and forth about whether we should or shouldn’t touch, but we never go back and forth about whether we can serve each other food or sit next to each other. I just don’t even think about those things as relevant anymore. And I think that’s helped.

Back to the Q and A session. Not a single person asked about harchakot. I’m curious if this is because as couples get older, most of them sort of fickle out the way we did about being strict about them, or if all other couples are super complacent in their practices that they don’t need to discuss the harchakot at all, or if they all just had other pressing matters on their minds.

I understand that Niddah is supposed to be a private matter, and specifically because it involves couples’ sex lives, people are hesitant to talk about it. Still, I wish there was more dialogue specifically about the harchakot aspect of niddah, because it can really make the difference in being able to keep niddah at all or not.

Niddah Diaries: Scheduling Sex

A frequent topic that arises when talking about niddah is the pros and cons of scheduling sex. Usually, though, this topic arises specifically in regards to mikvah night. Having to leave your house at a specific time on a specific day can certainly be less than easy. Then, coming home and feeling the dual strains of wanting to have sex but also wanting to finish up household chores, etc. can be strenuous to say the least. Thankfully, though, since I don’t have kids yet, this particular challenge is not as difficult as it could be. Still, some days are busier than others, and there was definitely at least once when it was questionable whether I should have gone to the mikvah either Tuesday or Wednesday, and I chose to go Tuesday [without consulting a Rabbi or Yoetzet Halacha], since Wednesday was a little hectic for me.

But, today I want to talk about scheduling sex on the bigger scale. This past week has been finals time for me. I’ve got papers to write and law school exams to study for, plus I’m still working part part time. I’ve been going to bed really late and waking up really early, using my keurig on an hourly basis.

I’ll probably get my period in the next couple of days, meaning that I won’t be able to have sex for the next two weeks. Knowing that, I want to “stock up” as much as possible, and utilize this time that I CAN have sex as best as possible. But, I’m tired. I’m exhausted. I’m worn out.

If I wasn’t constrained by Niddah, I’d say, great–go to sleep this week, but sex the night away after your finals are over! But, I can’t, because I’ll still be niddah for another week or so after the end of finals.

I’m coming to terms with this two-week on, two-week off thing. I actually might think that I kind of sort of like it. But, I still wish that I could PICK the two weeks to be on and the two weeks to be off. Now, I’m left with the choice of either foregoing sex for a month, or foregoing sleep during finals, neither of which is particularly ideal.

Birth Control: Fertility Awareness as a viable form?

About a year ago, I attended a lecture on the topic of halachik birth control. It was given by a Yoetzet Halacha and prominent kallah teacher. She went through the various forms of birth control and what halachik problems they raise, how rabbis have gotten around the issue, and when they might be appropriate for women.

My biggest concern with her lecture was that up there with pills, IUDs, and condoms, she included the Fertility Awareness Method. Another article I read recently about birth control in the Orthodox community also mentioned this method as part of a list of options couples have to avoid pregnancy.

The “fertility awareness method” is a way in which women can monitor their body temperatures, vaginal mucus, and calendar days to determine when they are ovulating, and avoid sex while ovulating.

The problem is, the “fertility awareness method” is not really birth control at all!! Planned Parenthood puts the efficacy rates for the method at only 75% when used “as an average person would”, with an average amount of mistakes. When used absolutely perfectly, the efficacy rate can go up to 90%. These rates sure wouldn’t satisfy me if I was looking for a way to prevent pregnancy. In comparison, most birth control pills have a 99% efficacy rate when used “as an average person would”, and a 99.99% efficacy rate when used perfectly.

The “fertility awareness method” is even less effective than the pull-out method. Pull-out, or withdrawal, also has studies showing that the method is 77% effective with average use and 96% effective with perfect use. The numbers may seem to indicate that with perfect use, pull-out, fertility awareness, condoms, IUDs, and hormonal pills are all approximately the same amount of effective. But do a google search for any of these methods. With fertility awareness and withdrawal, you’ll find articles about the methods, but under every article, you will find many women writing “I got pregnant that way”, “yeah, me too”. You won’t find such comments with pills, IUDs, and condoms. Of course, there will be the 0.01% that get pregnant on those methods and write about it, but those types of comments or articles are few and far between.

The problem is, of course, no one is perfect!! Professionals should not be counseling women to use fertility awareness because the chances are likely that a woman using that method will become pregnant. This is how accidents happen.

The other, more systemic, problem, is that when methods like the above gain such widespread notoriety, rabbis and other religious leaders can use this information to downplay the need to find halachik methods of birth control. No, you can’t use the pill or any other birth control forms, but don’t worry, there’s still a way to prevent pregnancy, just track your menses. It is the same problem with the availablity of reconstructive therapy for homosexuality–since it’s available, rabbis can use it to downplay the problems faced by homosexual individuals. No matter that the general mental health profession has dismissed such therapy as being completely ineffective–they just haven’t found the right doctor/patient match yet.

It is also troubling to me that I heard this from a yoetzet halacha. The Yoatzot program was designed to counter the problem of uninformed men discussing and ruling on women’s issues. It’s much harder to tell if blood is menstrual blood if you’ve never experienced menstrual blood. While the Yoatzot technically have male rabbis making all the official halachick rulings, women are trained to make factual rulings. The problem is, here was a woman standing up and telling all these other women that fertility awareness is a viable method of birth control. They are making the same mistakes rabbis make when looking at the facts and not the situation as a whole.

Fertility awareness may be appropriate for those couples in very insular communities that have completely rejected all traditional forms of birth control due to halachik issues, but in a society where rabbis are willing to consider the possibility of birth control, withdrawal and fertility awareness should not even be on the list.

Niddah Diaries: Beginning of Marriage

Clearly several months have passed since I last posted, and clearly some big events regarding my niddah (or pseudo-niddah) practices have occurred–specifically, I got married approximately four months ago.

I doesn’t seem practical to continue writing about niddah on a month by month basis, as I only sporadically have have time to post, so I think I’ll change the format to posting about niddah whenever I have a chance, rather than feeling glued to the every single month format. I know the every month format is preferable in terms of being able to see my development with niddah, but at this point in my life, it’s just not practical.

This post is actually part 1 of 2. I think that since I last wrote about keeping niddah as a single person, and now I am married, I should write about the transition in going from single person niddah practices to married person niddah practices. In my next Niddah Diaries post, I’ll write about how my niddah practices have evolved each month since we’ve been married.

When I first got married, people kept asking me “So, nu, how’s married life??”. I didn’t really have a good answer for them. Of course it was fun to move in to a new apartment and spend lots of gift money furnishing it, and of course it was nice to NOT have to deal with the stress of wedding planning anymore, and of course it was nice to never have to worry about making shabbos plans ever again–but those things all seemed trivial. I knew what the Yentas were really all getting at was “So, nu, how is it living with a BOY?”. I didn’t really know how to answer that question. I mean, my husband and I spent a heck of a lot of time together before we were married. He’d usually come to my apartment straight from work, we’d eat dinner together, hang out, and then when it was time for him to catch the last bus of the night, I’d go to sleep and he’d leave to catch the bus. Sure, actually going to sleep next to a person is totally different than having said person tuck you in and then leave, but could I really share such a distinction with the Yentas? The real distinction in married life came with the way we practiced niddah. As a dating couple, we essentially decided to be full shomer negiah during the time which I had my period. No touching, but also none of the harchakot–we’d sit next to each other on a couch (even on the same cushion), we’d pass items back and forth to each other, we’d share food with one another, there were even a few times when  we’d intentionally use an object (see day 5 here) to touch the other person.

In the months leading up to our marriage and the weeks afterwards (Iook for another post on my thoughts about sheva brachot niddah practices, but suffice it to say we were only keeping niddah in public at that time), we spoke about niddah A LOT. I was insistent that whomever we found to teach us the laws of niddah should teach it to us as a couple, not to us individually (And look out for another post about that). We found someone, and every time I left her house, I’d express frustration with each thing she taught us. My husband seemed lessed phased by it–to him, he wanted to learn what the halacha was and keep everything, because that was the halcha. He was open to digging deep into the halcha and looking for original sources or other explanations, but at the end of the day, he wanted to keep halacha because God said to. That wasn’t my opinion. It goes back to my deeper issues with halacha, but for me, “because God said to” wasn’t enough. It has to also satisfy meet the “because it’s good for me” test, or at a minimum, “because it’s not bad for me” test.

I was, and am, able to accept that some level of Niddah is good for relationships–hence this blog. I’ve written several times before that I do think absence makes the heart grow stronger and some level of separation is important in a long term relationship. However, I thought, and still think, that one really has to evaluate each aspect of niddah practice, and determine if it works for them.

I told my husband that I didn’t think the harchakot would work for me, I didn’t think that they would accomplish the goals that I had identified as my reasons for wanting to practice niddah, and that they were more detrimental to a relationship than helpful. He reminded me that I felt the same way about keeping our version of niddah when we were dating, but in the end, appreciated the practice. We agreed that the first month, we’d try it completely and take it from there to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. We also made it very clear (this was something he feels strongly about) that the niddah laws don’t apply when one of us has an overarching emotional reason for needing niddah. Just like the laws of shomer negiah don’t apply when a member of the opposite sex is physically injured and needs assistance, the laws of niddah shouldn’t apply when one’s spouse is upset or hurt and needs physical touch.

During that first month keeping niddah, we did everything as we were supposed to. We changed the sheets on our bed (two twin size mattresses on one king size frame, we used king sized sheets during non-niddah times and twin sized sheets during niddah). We didn’t touch. We sat far away from each other on the couch.

The hardest thing for me was the sleeping. We were used to cuddling with each other to go to sleep, and it became really difficult for me to fall asleep without him cuddling me. I hated looking over and seeing him sleeping a distance of approximately two feet–but what felt like a mile–away from me.

However, despite the little inconveniences, mikvah night was INCREDIBLE! All that desire that had been built up inside of us for the past two weeks was released with a vengeance! It was so, totally, completely worth it. Even beyond that night, that energy and desire we had kept on going.

I thought I could handle niddah, and I thought it was working for me. But in subsequent months,  I realized I couldn’t take it. I also realized that the energy and passion we had on mikvah night that first time might have simply been the result of being newlyweds, and it might have been there just the same if we hadn’t done niddah. I had two and a half weeks to think about how I wanted to handle niddah next time.

Niddah Diaries

This is a very personal topic to be writing about, which is why I have chosen to share it via an anonymous public blog.

As those of you following me may know, I broke up with the old bf about 4 months ago. I have started dating a new guy, and we have been together about 2 months.

We are not having sex. Due to both mine and his negative experiences with introducing sex early on in a relationship, we have decided to wait. However, we are still somewhat physical with each other.

He and I are both marriage-minded. If this relationship goes well, we would both like it to end in marriage. We are also both Orthodox Jews, and believe in keeping the Jewish sexual laws known as niddah.

Niddah, in it’s strictest biblical interpretation, forbids a husband and wife from having sex while the woman is menstruating. Rabbinic decrees have stretched this to include 7 days after the woman stops menstruating, and to prohibit all types of touch, including hugs, kisses, etc. During the middle ages, under the influence of Islamic neighbors, these rabbinic decrees were even further stretched to prohibit such activities as passing an object directly to one another, sleeping in the same bed, and eating off the same plate.

Additionally, as part of these laws, many believe that since an unmarried woman is considered a “niddah” (menstruant) until she purifies herself in the mikveh, which only happens after she is married, an unmarried woman and man may not touch each other at all.

Needless to say, we don’t keep all of these restrictions. We touch, sometimes. However, it is important to him that, since eventually he does plan to keep the niddah laws in marriage, some form of niddah should be observed before marriage as well.

We decided that, while I am menstruating, we will not have any physical contant. No hand holding, no hugging, no soft arm stroking, and certainly no kissing. I told him I’ll try. I’ll see how I feel about it.

I have always been ambivalent about niddah. On the one hand, it seems so restrictive. Why can’t I have sex with my husband when I want to? Particularly in marriage context, when kids are involved and the couple is often tired and exhausted at night, if there happens to be one day where both spouses are up and ready for it, why should the fact that the woman only stopped menstruating 3 days ago be a hinderance? And what if one spouse had a particularly trying day? The other can’t come home and offer a hug of support?

On the other hand, long term monogamy is scary. Am I really expected to have sex with the same person year after year after year and still have that same spark of intimacy and excitement and arousal? Niddah, supposedly, is a way to combat that. By creating a distance between spouses for a certain amount of time each month, there is a certain excitement that, supposedly, returns when the couple can reunite physically.

I have heard vehement arguments from both sides of the spectrum. I haven’t yet decided how I feel about it.

And that’s where this project comes in. I have decided that, in order to sort through my feeling on niddah during this experimental time, I will write my thoughts and feelings down on this blog. I welcome your comments and input, particularly those of you that have some experience with keeping-or not keeping-niddah.