Adjustment to keeping Taharat HaMishpacha
31 January, 2003
We are new to the rules of family purity, although we have been married for a while. My wife is willing to go to the mikveh but finds the rest of the rules, especially the bedikot, disgusting. She is upset that a rabbi has to decide when we can have sex, and overwhelmed by all the details. I love my wife but also want to keep these rules. This is stressing our marriage. What can I do?
Changes in the routine of a couple’s life are difficult, whatever their source. This is even more true when issues of intimacy are involved. Calm discussion between the two of you can help you progress together on this important decision in a way that works well for you both.
The internal bedikot take some getting used to, just like learning to use tampons or having gynecological exams. The bedikot themselves should not be painful and should be done gently. If necessary, bedikot can be made more comfortable by dampening the cloth or by applying a water-based lubricant to the area a few minutes before the bedikah. It is also possible to reduce the number of bedikot. It would be best for her to discuss the specifics of her concerns with a Yoetzet Halacha directly, either via the website or via the hotline, so that we can help her find solutions that work for her.
It is not the rabbi who is deciding when you can have sex. The rules have a divine origin which has been passed down through the legal tradition known as halacha. When there is doubt regarding the color found on a bedikah cloth, there are ways to ease asking halachic questions so that a woman can remain feeling independent and retain her privacy. Today there are also many Yoatzot Halacha who can address questions and check colors.
This area of Jewish law does have a lot of details. Dealing with them generally gets easier with practice. Sometimes people who teach these rules teach the “maximum,” which makes it more confusing than necessary. The basics are often more clear cut and simple. This is another reason that it might be good for your wife to discuss her frustration directly with us. Often “woman to woman” discussion helps find “tricks of the trade” that make this lifestyle easier.
This response was update 3 August, 2023.
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