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

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Hugged and kissed during niddah

22 May, 2022

Question:

Hi. I’m married for one year. My husband and I find keeping the harchokos very difficult, specifically my husband. At the beginning of marriage we sometimes hugged and kissed during niddah, but we never had intercourse. Then I became pregnant, b”H, so that stopped the issue for a while. Now our baby is 5 weeks old. Since she was born, my husband has come to me a few times and I pushed him away because I still feel very guilty. Today, two days before mikva, he came to me and I gave in and we hugged and kissed but didn’t have intercourse.

How bad is what we have done? And does it even help to do teshuva? Seeing as we keep falling again and again? What can we do to show how bad we feel?


Answer:

We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.

Keeping the harchakot can be difficult, especially for young couples at the beginning of married life. The harchakot can be even more challenging when the spouses relate to them differently, as seems to be the case right now with you and your husband.

A strong desire for affectionate touch from one’s spouse is natural, and often reflects positively on the couple’s physical relationship. Acting on it during niddah, however, is indeed prohibited. Rambam, and many others who follow him, view this as a Torah-level prohibition. Other halachic authorities, including Ramban, view the prohibition as rabbinic.

Doing teshuva has potential to be extremely helpful to the two of you and the most effective step that you can take to address your feelings of guilt on this issue. To undertake teshuva is to believe in the potential to grow, and to remember that God is forgiving.

Teshuva entails recognizing what we’ve done, regretting it, verbally confessing, and resolving to change in the future. In your case, this process will likely require you and your husband to have some important conversations about your relationship to each other and to halacha.

We suggest that you start by making a time to talk after your next mikveh night, perhaps even showing your husband the question that you wrote to us. The end goal is to work together to make a plan that will enable both of you to feel loved, respected, and comfortable with your halachic observance. Along the way, you may wish to review the relevant halachot together (perhaps starting with our site’s section on “Conduct While Niddah“) and brainstorm ways to handle the situation when harchakot feel too hard to keep.

God willing, you will find your way forward together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us again at any point in the process or with any other questions that arise.


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