Taking Monotony Out of Monogamy

Taking Monotony Out of Monogamy
What is as holy as Yom Kippur, more spiritual than meditating and the best thing you can do for your love life?

You may not believe it, but the answer is THE MIKVAH - the ancient Jewish method guiding the intimate relationship between husband and wife.

Is there love after marriage? Is it realistically possible to maintain the excitement and passion in a one-partner relationship for more than a few years? How did the Jews acquire a reputation for warm, secure, loving families that for generations enjoyed an enviable longevity?

One of the most formidable challenges to the modern marriage is the tediousness of routine. Keeping the monotony out of monogamy is not easy - which explains why so many men can't commit - ("You mean only one partner for the rest of my life!"). No matter how adventurous your honeymoon, sooner or later boredon is bound to set in. Eventually, inevitably, we start taking each other for granted. Then we go looking for excitement elsewhere and before long it's downhill to the divorce courts. As for the many who stick together grinning and bearing it, all too often they end up living, in the words of Thoreau, "lives of quiet desperation."

It comes as a surprise to most to learn that long before Masters and Johnson, Dr. Ruth and Co., the Jewish ancients were promoting a Divine plan of quality control in marriage, which take proactive measures to prevent boredom from eating away at a good marriage.

In a nutshell, the Mikvah method, or Family Sanctity, works like this: At the time of month when a woman expects her period, she separates from any form of physical intimacy with her husband. At the conclusion of her period, she counts seven days and then visits the Mikvah for spiritual sanctification. The Mikvah is a clean, warm pool of water in very pleasant, private surroundings and is constructed according to rigorous halachic/legal standards. Following this total immersion, she and her husband resume their intimate relationship.

The Sages of the Talmud put it thus: Why did the Torah wish for a wife to be separated from her husband for seven days? To make her as desirable to him forever as on the day they wed. (Talmud Niddah, 31b)

Today's therapists are advising couples to "schedule time for romance". But ours it the rat race generation. Often both partners have demanding careers, professions or business commitments. (How about Thursday the 18th? Are you available?).

With the Mikvah system, there is a full week's advance notice of when intimacy will be resumed. Mikvah night thus becomes that pre-scheduled time for romance when all other commitments are rescheduled. Husband and wife have both been counting the days, waiting for each other, eagerly anticipating the moment of reunion. Libidos are in alignment and passions are reignited as couples enjoy a magical evening together.

Scientific research confirms that love is a vital ingredient in lust. For humans, intimacy is not quantity driven as in the animal kingdom, but quality driven. If there is little quality in the relationship, if intimacy is not the climax of an emotional bonding, there can be little satisfaction. There is no afterglow; no feeling of being loved and we are left emotionally empty, still hungering for the warmth and security we craved.

NURTURING INTIMACY

At least one respected relationship counsellor has gone so far as to suggest that the breakdown of boundaries in our uninhibited 'anything goes'  society, has seriously diminished our appreciation for the subtleties of intimacy. How interesting then that within the more 'controlled atmosphere' of the Mikvah plan, even a simple touch can become a beautiful, sensual act of intimacy.

Experience has shown that the regular cycle of intimacy and privacy allows us ample opportunity for spontaneity and complete physical gratification while protecting us from tediousness and the rut of routine. This is not to suggest that Mikvah is a panacea for all marital ills, but millions of satisfied practitioners the world over are proving that it really is possible for the luster of love to last a lifetime.

"BUT I'M OK."

As for those whose marriages are just fine, Mikvah still does much to enhance the quality of an already good relationship. When we are not constantly available to our parners at a whim, we are actually fostering a culture of mutual respect. We each need our own moments of privacy and individuality. "It reinforces my personhood," says one woman. "I am no longer a vassal, a mere object of desire. When I'm not available physically, my husband is reminded that there is an intellectual and emotional side to me."

Communication, too, is improved. If a man cannot talk with his hands, he is compelled to communicate verbally. Husbands of Mikvah-going women learn to articulate and express themselves better. And, it heightens male sensitivity during those days of the month when women want a little more emotional support. Men become attuned to their wives' biological clocks and are able to be more understanding partners.

SANCTITY AND SPIRITUALITY   

Although it's not as famous, religiously speaking, the Mitzvah of Mikvah is on a par with fasting on Yom Kippur. Traditionally, building a Mikvah took precedence over building a synagogue. While the synagogue represents the community, the Mikvah is a symbol of the family. We cannot build communal life before first securing our family life. One must flow from the other. Successful families make successful communities.

On a personal level, knowing that G-d, through the Torah, has shared a recommended lifestyle for our intimate relationships is very positive encouragement. Following a spiritual tradition in this most personal part of our lives can be quite liberating. Those who visit the Mikvah report feeling that G-d had given them the 'green light'. It removes a lot of the guilt we grow up with.

And there is nothing as deeply spiritual for a Jewish woman as the Mikvah. As sacred as the synagogue may be, the Mikvah is almost always the most meaningful spiritual experience in the life of a Jewish woman. As one woman put it, "Sometimes I feel my femininity and sometimes I feel my Jewishness. It wasn't until immersing in the waters of the Mikvah that I felt both simultaneously. For the first time in my life, I was a Jewish woman."

But aren't the rules and regulations of Family Sanctity inhibiting and onerous? To be perfectly honest, it does entail a sense of self-discipline. Don't all good things we want in life take discipline to acquire them? No one achieves success in any area without commitment and self-mastery.

After an initial adjustment, though, it becomes easily manageable and almost second nature. A personal counsellor will be happy to introduce the Mikvah method to you at a private, confidential consultation.   

THEY SAID IT

"Before we were married I was very wary of the Mikvah. The Rabbi said it wasn't compulsory but asked me to do the course. The more I heard, the more I was intrigued. Little did I know it was 3500 years old! When I did go before my wedding, it was so beautiful I didn't want to leave."

"I always thought it was only for very religious people. Could I really go to the Mikvah if I didn't yet keep Shabbos? When the Rabbi's wife laughed and said it was no problem, I was not only relieved, it felt like Judaism really belonged to me after all."

"There was no embarrassment whatsoever. The lone female attendant was so sensitive and gentle. It was the most beautiful spiritual experience of my entire life."

"I was married for 17 years. We were OK, but since discovering the Mikvah I feel a new awareness of my husband's presence every time he enters the room."

"The Mikvah taught me that in Judaism, my body and physical relationships are not dirty. They are blessings from G-d."

"For me personally, the Mikvah is nothing short of a Honeymoon a Month Club."

PLEASE NOTE  

The Mikvah is not only for brides, but for every married Jewish woman. It is never too late to embrace this beautiful Mitzvah. There are important guidelines to proper use of the Mikvah. To ensure that all preparations and the actual immersion are performed correctly, one should be advised by a reliable counselor. For a free and confidential consultation, please call 718-756-5700 or contact us online. 


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