Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Adjustment to keeping family purity

31 January, 2003

Question:

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?


Answer:

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. What is needed is calm discussion between the two of you so you can progress together on this important decision in a way that works well for you both.

The internal exams do take some getting used to, just like learning to use tampons or having gynecological exams. The exams themselves should not be painful. If they are, perhaps your wife is doing them too aggressively. If vaginal dryness is making them uncomfortable, then she can use a lubricant such as KY Jelly. Perhaps there is also room for her to do them less frequently. She can discuss the specifics of her problems directly (either via the website or via the hotline) or you can ask her what especially bothers her and relate the details.

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. One is not obligated to show underwear or bedikot to a rabbi if this makes your wife uncomfortable. If the results are clear, white, light yellow, then there is no need for a question at all. The role of the rabbi is to answer a question if there is a problematic color such as brown. In this case, it is often to the woman's benefit to ask a question as sometimes the answer is "yes."

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. This can be done either via the website or via the Golda Koschitzky Women's Halachic Hotline. Often "woman to woman" discussion helps find "tricks of the trade" that make this lifestyle easier.


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