Category Archives: marriage

Blogging About Sex

Striking title, eh? I thought it would get your attention.

I am friendly with many bloggers from all walks of life, who blog about everything under the sun, and then some!

One married mom (and I am not mentioning names – if she wants to comment here she is more than welcome) has been blogging this week about her sex life. She is doing a Have Sex Every Night For Seven Nights* challenge, and is blogging about her experiences. I am sure her husband is ok with her publicly blogging this very private part of their life (I hope her kids never read these posts), but it makes me wonder.

In today’s day and age is there anything sacred any more? Are bloggers just being sensationalistic in order to just get page views (yes, I did it myself with this title) or can posts like these actually help people? Is my friend brave for telling it like it is? I think so – sex is still a taboo subject for so many people to discuss.

Yes I am very curious to read her daily updates, and laugh along with her. However, I could never ever see myself breaking the sanctity and privacy of our bedroom.

What are  your thoughts? And what do you think about the challenge?

*ETA: Excuse me, the challenge is actually a Seven DAY challenge. Nothing specified about timing.

The blogger herself commented below, and as a favour to her I am linking to her most recent post: Seven Day Sex Challenge Take 2

Had to Post This

Was at the store with Lenny (16.5) – he saw this sign and quipped “and this is why there is a shidduch crisis!”

Unwritten Husband Rules

One unwritten husband rule in this house, one that I did not agree to, is:

Thou shalt answer thine wife’s question with a question of thine own. From this we extrapolate: husband is not sure what the right answer would be and so therefore isn’t willing to commit to a response and be WRONG.

Does this rule exist in your house? What other rules seem to have ratified themselves?

*Disclaimer. This post is written tongue in cheek and no husbands were harmed in the writing of this post.

How do you explain PMS?

I got an email last night from a kallah (bride) who is planning her wedding. When you are dating and even engaged you can hide certain parts of your mood swings (if you have them) because you are putting your best face forward for the few hours an evening that you are spending with your intended.

She wanted to know how to explain her PMS to her husband-to-be without frightening him off. He only knows her as the perky happy smiley chick who he is marrying. He has never before come across her monthly grumps, moodiness, flying-off-a-handle-for-nothing-ness and however else her PMS comes across. Every woman is different. She wants to prepare him enough so that he is not freaked out that an alien has taken her over but not so scared that he runs for the hills.

So…. What advice would you give this young couple?

Accountability

One of the up-sides of being a single mom was the lack of having to account to anyone for anything. Well, yes, I do have kids, but they were not going to criticize how I spent my time or my money so long as they had everything they needed.

I knew what my budget was for everything, I knew my bank balance to the last penny. I knew what was going in to the bank and what ridiculously high percentage of that was going out to pay bills etc.

If I wanted to buy a pair of high heeled hot pink suede knee high boots that were on sale for a ridiculous price – if I could afford it, there was nothing stopping me. Those boots walked on home with me and had pride of place in my shoe closet.

In my first marriage I had a housekeeping budget. So long as I kept within my budget any extra was mine to do with what I liked. However, with 4 little boys there was not usually any extra. When there were other purchases that needed to be made (or that were a luxury not a necessity) it had to be discussed.

So having the financial freedom to decide how to spend my money was a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed not having to answer to anyone.

Here I am now, married to the most wonderful man in the world, and I have to readjust my thinking about spending. Again. And I am realizing that I am not handling it well. I get defensive if I am asked how much something cost, even if it’s just a little something that cost $3! I take it personally, as a criticism, when all the KoD wants to know was how much it cost. There is no hidden agenda, just open curiosity. The KoD is an awesome shopper. He knows prices like the back of his hand. He knows when we are being overcharged and he knows when he sees a bargain. Especially when it comes to grocery shopping. Food is his business and he knows it well.

Yet bring up how much something cost, and my hackles rise. It isn’t fair to him. But three years of not having to account for a penny to anyone but myself – well, I got used to that. I need to stop getting so defensive – it’s not like I am this crazy over-spender that buys and buys and has filled the house with unnecessary stuff. I am not. The KoD knows exactly how careful I am with money – so I should know that any question is simply that, a question, not a criticism.

How do I get over this? (Honestly, folks, the KoD is the most patient man in the history of the world. Sometimes I wonder how in heaven’s name he puts up with me). Logically I understand what I need to do, but emotionally – well, that’s a whole nother story…. Do any of you who were formerly single-parents but now remarried identify with my story? How did you handle this kind of situation?

The Art of Beginning Again – Spiritual Waters

The mikvah is a necessary part of a religious married woman’s life. I must admit to loving the whole idea of ritual purification, of being spiritually cleansed so that I can “be” with my spouse on many different levels – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I appreciate the time I have to look within myself, to “fix” that which I believe needs “fixing”. To have some time for introspection. When Elul comes around, with Rosh Hashannah close by, we all are more or less shocked into similar introspection. Suddenly we have a year’s worth of self examination to fit into a month or less. I like to do this at least monthly (weekly or even daily introspection is great, but with a busy home life it is difficult to do), and my mikvah preparation time is set aside for physical and spiritual cleansing.

Since returning 18 months ago to the state of holy matrimony, I once again have the privilege of using the mikvah. I now bring a different mindset to the whole thing. Marriage takes on a different meaning once you have experienced the pain of divorce. Some people never recover enough to be able to trust again; I was so worried that I would be one of them. But once my new husband entered my life, he enabled me to trust again, he inspired me to be both a better person and a better Jewess. He renewed my faith not just in men, but in myself.

When I prepared for the mikvah before my wedding it was a true celebration – not only was I cleansing my body and soul in preparation for my marriage, but I also was renewing my sacred bond with the One Above, washing away the anguish, the sadness and the raw pain of the years that intervened between my last immersion and this one. I was always taught that the waters of the mikvah aren’t there to wash away dirt – for we are physically clean before we enter it – but that they are there to wash away spiritual impurity.

That night, the water awaited me, its surface still, like a sheet of ice, belying the warmth in the room. I had spent the last hour in mental and physical preparation for this moment. I was ready, in my body and spirit, to be renewed. My face and body were scrubbed clean, my long hair combed and knot free. I was without makeup, and had shed my tailored clothing – my personal truth revealed in my near-nakedness. My soul was ready – it was eager to be refreshed.

I knew that the next day I would bring myself to the chuppah, to pledge my undying love and devotion to the man of my dreams. This step was one of many to be completed before the wedding, but it was the most important one to me.

The attendant handed me a prayer that brides have said since time immemorial. As I recited it, I felt their bond, their sisterhood; I felt their arms around me, their wishes for a life of happiness and joy, love, and laughter.

It was time for me to immerse. The attendant turned away so that I could modestly remove my robe and descend the steps into the sacred waters. I allowed my mind to slip into a contemplative mode, and I felt the cool water lap against my shins as I slowly descended into the depths. Once I was in the water up to my neck the attendant turned to me, keeping her eyes on my face, wanting to spare me any feelings of embarrassment.

She nodded to me, silently communicating that it was time to start the immersion. All that I had learned weeks before in my kallah classes came flooding back to me. I briefly panicked that I wouldn’t perform the mitzvah correctly, even though I had performed it so many times before. Calm suddenly descended, and I felt my body suffused with confidence and otherworldly light. My soul, my very old soul that was at Mount Sinai, steered me in the right direction, as it has always done before.

I moved my body forward, diving gracefully into the water. The water rose up to close over my head as I quickly caught my breath. I remembered not to tense my body but to allow every part of me to be caressed by the blessed waters, to allow this water to cleanse and purify my spirit, to ready me for the journey of a thousand lifetimes.

I surfaced and recited the blessing – I heard my sisters around the world answer “Amen.” I immersed two more times, each time feeling layers and layers of doubt and uncertainty lift from me. As I entered into the elevated state of purity, I felt cleansed from my past transgressions and energized to fill the future with everything that is good and just in the world.

I floated out of the ritual bath on the wings of angels who the next day accompanied me to the chuppah, to the start of my new beginning.

This post is part of Jewels of Elul, which celebrates the Jewish tradition to dedicate the 29 days of the month of Elul to growth and discovery in preparation for the coming high holy days. This year the program is benefiting Beit T’shuvah, a residential addiction treatment center in Los Angeles. You can subscribe on Jewels of Elul to receive inspirational reflections from public figures each day of the month. You don’t have to be on the blog tour to write a blog post on “The Art of Beginning… Again”. We invite everyone to post this month (August 11th – September 8th) with Jewels of Elul to grow and learn.

No talking after mikvah?

From Hashkafa.com

Ever hear of a practice/minhag/shtick of not talking after mikvah until she gets home to husband?

I assume it’s a spinoff of sorts from the very real issue of seeing/greeting a nonkosher person. But what do you think of this practice of taking it to the next step of not talking, not to the mikvah lady, not to anyone in the waiting room or parking lots, not to the kids? I assume it’s to focus on the task at hand, so to speak.

Good practice? Laudable? Dumb? Worthy of others but not for you in your situation? An ideal? Over the top? Impractical? Nice?
Is this good for shelom bayit? indifferent?

I personally have never heard of this before. Thoughts?

How are wigs ok?

The other day I received this email from Chaviva.

So, my mom has been emailing me … about you. She had questions about whether you’re observant (the wig confused her) and now she’s asking how it’s okay to wear a wig when you can easily look hotter than you might without it. I’m not sure how to answer her, as I’ve never really looked into the halakos of sheitels because up until recently I’d always been in the camp where I sort of get where she is coming from.

Thus, I thought I’d ask you, my yiddishe mama, for a good response to my mom on the whole being frum and sheitels and it being okay. In the process, it’ll be a learning experience for me, for my mom, and probably blog fodder for you 🙂

Chavi – I hope you direct your mom over here – I am going to try to explain…although this is an age old discussion….

This is an excellent question and raises an important discussion topic. I have often felt that some of the wigs worn nowadays (yes, mine included) defeat the whole purpose of tzniut (modesty) and kisui rosh (hair covering). I have, in the past, criticized those who wore awesome looking human hair wigs that totally looked unwiglike.

Then I bought myself one of them as I was so sick and tired of wearing synthetics that gave me constant headaches. Suddenly, covering my hair was a pleasure instead of a chore. Suddenly I wanted to cover my hair with my wig because I felt good in it.

In the community where I lived it was more common and accepted for married women to wear wigs. When I first joined that community, upon my first marriage, in order to fit in, I purchased my first wig. No one in my family had ever covered their hair before, let alone wore wigs. I desperately wanted to fit in to my new community. But I hated wearing it. I kept it for special occasions.

Over the years, whenever I got dressed up, I would wear a wig. I never felt, personally, that my outfit was complete if I was wearing just a hat or a headscarf. Now, when I hang out in my denim skirts and tees, I wear a bandanna or a mitpachat, or my braided tichels.

After my divorce, I uncovered my hair. It was something I did for myself. Read more about that here. I had many long talks with my Rebbetzin about hair covering and the whys and wherefores. She explained to me one time, that part of covering our hair when we are married is to remind US that we are married, not just to show everyone else that we are taken. When we have a hair covering on our head it makes us think twice before we do something we shouldn’t do.

The wigs that are worn these days by many of us, yes, they do kind of defeat the purpose. But nowhere does it say that we have to look ugly or less attractive just because we are married. I like to know I look pretty – not just for my husband, but for ME, for my own feelings of self worth. But I don’t know of one husband who wants to run his hands through his wife’s wig because it is so gorgeous. The real hair wins every time on that score. (My KoD says I look hotter without the sheitel, just FYI).

So to answer Mom’s question – is it ok? I don’t know. Is it done? Absolutely. Does that make it right? Hmmm.

If anyone else wants to chime in, go right ahead.

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New Rule – household help must be uglier than you.

A friend forwarded this link to me, and asked me for my thoughts. I had heard vague talk about it, but had no time to pay it any attention. Click to watch the video.

This is a video made for Aish by Lori Palatnik. In it she asks us women to do the sensible thing and make sure that the help we employ at home is not as cute as we are, not as skinny or skinnier than us, or as young. She warns us to not be stupid and to safeguard our marriages.

On the one hand I see the point she is making. Why deliberately put temptation in our husband’s way? That must be asking for trouble.

But on the other hand – are our husbands not grown men capable of knowing that it’s wrong to cheat, and that even if he sees a pretty young thing in his house, she is off limits?? Does he walk around with blinkers on, so that he never has to see someone who might look younger or cuter than his wife? Do we now tell all the bosses in this world that they are only allowed to employ ugly women lest a man might be led astray? Do we forbid our teenage daughters from bringing their friends home?

Why is she putting the responsibility on the women? Would it be our fault, then, if a husband cheated with the help? Or only if we hired someone pretty?

Most homes I have been in, when the help is there, the husband is usually at work. And even if he isn’t, he’s busy doing something other than ogling the help.

Has it happened that a religious man has cheated with the help? Absolutely! Has he cheated with his next door neighbour, his best friend’s wife? Indeed.

If a man is going to cheat, he will find someone to cheat with. No matter how hard the wife tries to keep all the women around him ugly (like it’s even possible) if he wants to stray, there will be no stopping him.

Lori Palatnik is a very learned woman, and I usually enjoy and agree with much of what she says. There is something to be learned from this video – yes a marriage is something to be cherished and taken care of. But it takes work from both. If a man cheats it is HIS fault not his wife’s.

Thoughts?

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Mikvah Tales….

I have written before about the Monsey mikvah and how skeevy I felt the first time I went there. This was how I put it:

What I wasn’t ready for was the mikvah lady to be intrusive and to check my nails so thoroughly. She came into the room, sat down, and like a manicurist, took out her clippers and cuticle remover thingummy and inspected my nails for minute traces of dirt, cuticles and polish. She did the same with my toenails. I felt weird. I know how to prepare for mikvah, I always do it properly. I don’t need some woman that I have never met before going over me with such a fine toothcomb. This mitzvah is between me and God. He has trusted me with the mitzvah of Taharat HaMishpacha – I don’t need some shnook of a woman telling me I am not doing it properly.

It seems that every time I have returned to the Viola mikvah, it has been the same story. Apparently their policy is to check the fingernails and toenails, even if you politely ask them not to. The balaniot (mikvah ladies) were gruff and abrupt – they totally hindered my enjoyment of the fulfillment of this mitzvah.

After the last time I went there I told the KoD that I needed to find another mikvah to go to. There was no way I was ever going back to the Viola mikvah. I felt that the balaniot had gone out of their way to make me uncomfortable – I am not a recalcitrant child who needs to be bullied into submission. They did NOT actually bully me, but that’s how I felt. My experiences at this mikvah took away from the joy I used to feel at keeping this mitzvah. When mikvah time was coming up again I didn’t want to go. Honestly. I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it was going to be uncomfortable and I would rather stay home with a good book than subject myself to someone else’s fine toothcomb.

There are other mikvaot in Monsey, but the Viola one is close-by and gorgeous. KoD convinced me to try it out one more time. I tried explaining to him what it’s like to be standing there and have another woman, one much more clothed than you, examining you and your body for irregularities. Yes it’s only the fingernails and toenails, but still, it’s invasive. I don’t mind the checking for hairs so much – that’s something I need help with. The rest of the checking makes me uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to put it in terms that the KoD would be able to relate to, but he boiled it down to this – it’s only 2 minutes of your time – grit your teeth and bear it, if you can, otherwise speak up and tell them you’re OK, you don’t need to be checked. Somehow speaking up in this situation seems tougher than it sounds. Sigh.

I promised him I would give this particular mikvah one last shot, even though I really didn’t want to. On the appointed evening I prepared myself at home – I wanted to be at the mikvah for as little time as possible.

I drove there, and sat in the parking lot. My evil inclination was arguing with me. I really didn’t want to go in. I really didn’t want to subject myself to inspection. I just wanted to be done with the whole thing. Sitting there in the car a little voice was telling me – “KoD won’t know. Just pretend you went. Your hair is wet – how will he know the difference?” That voice was making it sound just so simple. There was a problem – I didn’t want to go in, and there was a solution – so don’t.

I sat there for 3 minutes in the parking lot debating with myself. It took tremendous strength of will for me to get out of the car and walk into the mikvah, pay my $23 and go do the final preparations. As I was getting ready to press the button to summon the balanit, I felt so uneasy. I so wanted to enjoy this experience yet I felt dread in the pit of my stomach.

The aura around the balanit that arrived at my door was different than those of her coworkers that have attended me before. She just seemed to be of a much nicer disposition. Cheerful. Chatty. Non-intrusive. Yes, she checked my nails, but somehow I didn’t mind it quite so much (that plus the fact that I have gel nails, so there is less to check). The toenail thing bothered me, but she was brief – not like the others taking time and cutting stuff that wasn’t there….

She walked with me, instead of ahead of me, to the mikvah, chatting all the way, really putting me at my ease. She gave me privacy to remove my robe and descend into the ritual waters. Every time I dunked and raised my head out of the water, she sang out “KOSHER” – with such joy! Seriously. Like she was happy to be part of my mitzvah. She helped rekindle the inner light I used to have when doing this mitzvah. As she walked me back to the preparation room, she was playing Jewish geography with me, after I told her we are from Montreal. Playing Jewish geography without sharing one’s name is a little different, to be sure.

I was glad that I overcame that momentary temptation to not go in to the mikvah. I am still upset that I felt that unenthusiastic about the whole experience. I know that there must be some women who would have taken those negative feelings and just stopped going. The KoD trusts me 100% to fulfill this mitzvah. He trusts that when I go to the mikvah, I do it properly. How could I not have gone in? How could I have lied to him after not going in? I know there are women that do that, but how can they live with themselves? What is the point of Taharat HaMishpacha if you aren’t going to keep it properly? I have heard some women say that if a husband sleeps with his impurified wife it’s his aveirah (sin), not hers. But the decision between right and wrong is taken away from a husband who is not aware that his wife has lied about her immersion in a mikvah. Yes, fine, the wife technically does not commit the same aveirah (if indeed this assumption is true) but she has sinned by lying to him. There is no place for lying in a marriage. None at all.

The KoD knew how I struggled with the mitzvah of tevilah on this particular occasion. But he encouraged me and supported me, validated my feelings, and eventually it worked out well. I returned to my husband’s embrace knowing I completed the mitzvah in the right way.