It's May 30, 2015, and in two months, when glass is smashed underfoot, my fiancé and I will officially be married. And then everything will change.
At least that's what I've been told by my kallah (Hebrew for bride) teacher, a woman who advises brides-to-be on the traditional laws of Jewish marriage and sex. She tells me about how the laws keep that special spark between couples alive and help the relationship feel new every single month.
Every month, during the time that a woman is on her period and for a week after, married couples aren't supposed to touch. They can't lift a couch together, pass one another objects, share a slice of pizza (dammit!) or any other food, sleep together, and certainly not get it on. After the 12 or so days has ended, the woman goes to the ritual bath, the mikveh, and comes out shiny and newwwww. Like a virgin, touched for the very first time — in two weeks.
For people not living a traditional Jewish life, this may sound meshugah (cray-cray). But to me, it makes perfect sense, even from a secular perspective.
Hear me out. When you first get together with someone, your passion is off the charts. Your sex life is like a Bagel Bites commercial. Screwin' in the morning, screwin' in the evening, screwin' at suppertime — when you're with your boyfriend you want to screw anytime.
But after a few months or a year max, that starts to wear off. You become a little bit too comfortable with each other. There's no more mystery. You can be together whenever you want, however you want, wherever you want.
When you choose to get married, it's a sign that you and your fiancé are deeply in love with one another and committed. But it doesn't necessarily mean that you're very attracted to or lust after one another like you once did.
Our rabbis had the foresight to know that we're a bunch of filthy animals, and lust and physical attraction keep a marriage going. If they get stale, there are going to be problems in a relationship. The Jewish marriage and sex laws are an insurance policy for couples. When a husband and wife can't touch or be intimate for nearly two weeks, ideally, they'll start to crave one another like they crave a hot, cheesy, greasy slice of... man, there I go again.
During the two weeks, a woman can't walk around naked or sleep in the nude because it may entice her husband. That being said, it's a great opportunity to break out your fuzzy Care Bear onesie. In all seriousness, by keeping their bodies hidden from one another and withholding touch, the husband and wife recreate that initial lust that attracted them to one another in the first place.
Keeping the laws can be ridiculously hard for many couples, despite its benefits. It can lead to fights, withdrawal, and feelings of loneliness for either or both partners. But it can also cause each individual to regain a sense of self.
Plus, if you can't touch, you're forced to connect intimately in other ways. You may give one another gifts, have long chats, and schedule dates to feel closer. It's a time when you can use up your backlog of Groupons and go on a wild hot-air balloon ride or whatever. Just some nice PG fun before you get back to the R-rated stuff.
My kallah teacher once told me that after her friend returned home from the mikveh, she handed her husband a towel to dry his hands. She and her husband immediately felt a buzz and a strong connection. Through a hand towel. Have you ever wanted to jump into bed after touching a basic kitchen item? (OK, well maybe that pink KitchenAid mixer would invoke the same reaction. I know I've been lusting after one of those for years.)
Many married couples find that after a few years together, they just stop having sex. They make excuses — they're too tired, the kids wore them out, they're busy, I Am Cait is on — and they put everything else before sex.
When there is a special mikveh night, and only two weeks out of the month that you can make love, you bet your tuchus that a lot of traditional Jewish couples are getting together as much as possible. It's kind of like how married couples schedule sex, except that it's mandated by God instead of Google Calendar. If your wife or husband "has a headache," you could come back with, "Well, you don't want to go against the word of the Lord, do you?"
If you're a non-practicing Jew or not a Jew at all, and you want a better married sex life, I believe there are many principles of the laws that you can incorporate into your relationship.
For starters, it's crucial that each partner has his or her space. This space does not include work, children, or other obligations. It means that if your wife wants to go to Zumba and you have to watch the kids, let her go. When you want to chill out and binge watch House of Cards alone, she'll have to let you do your thing.
I am 100 percent for putting sex on the calendar as well. It may not seem romantic, but I'm under the assumption that sex is one of the most important factors of a marriage. You schedule everything else, so why not put sex on your to-do list? The time really does fly by, and you'll go weeks without being together before you even notice, sadly.
I think it's crucial that married couples don't just walk around naked, leave the door open when going to the bathroom, or let loose gas around each other constantly. How come in the first few months of dating, we care about these things, but once we're together for a while we stop? While it's important that couples are comfortable with one another's bodies, that doesn't mean being naked around each other all the time or popping each other's pimples (unless that's your fetish — no judgment).
Intimacy that isn't sexual also has to be included in your daily routines. You and your partner should have a deep talk, cuddle together on the couch and watch a movie, and go out for dinner, but with no pressure to have sex.
If it happens on its own, then mazel tov.