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Mikveh night starts in the morning

For orthodox Jews, that moment when intimacy is permitted can be the least romantic time of the month

It’s mikveh night! That much anticipated renewal of physical intimacy after a two week hiatus -or is it?

It’s 8 pm, the baby won’t go to sleep, the dinner dishes are piled in the sink, the 4 year old has a fever, there’s a file to be dealt with before work tomorrow, hubby isn’t home, it’s the youth movement’s chodesh irgun month and no babysitters are available, and the mikveh closes at 10.

Waiting for your turn, final preparations, and then, the mikveh experience itself which can be fraught with emotion, for some draining, others exhilarating. On the way home eagerness may be growing. Or maybe it’s anxiety. Young couples who aren’t quite used to physical intimacy and are still shy and unsure may feel anxious about the renewal of intimacy. Older couples have anxieties of their own over performance or body image. And, maybe, things haven’t been so enjoyable or there are kinks in the relationship. Couples with a “commuter spouse” have extra challenges reconnecting.

Walking in the door and BAM the baby is still up, the dishes as they were, and hubby is home…asking, “What’s for dinner?” You finally make it to the bedroom, push aside the pile of unfolded laundry on the bed, lock the door and pray the baby doesn’t wake up or the teen doesn’t start clumping around the house. How much anticipation, eagerness and desire for physical and intimate connection are left?

This is why I say mikveh night starts in the morning. The night before with a good night’s sleep. Two weeks before with a heart-to-heart chat and planning session.

Calling all husbands: mikveh night is not only your wife’s “thing”. Remember the children’s story “The Little Red Hen”? If you aren’t going to help with the preparations you don’t get the goodies at the end. Make it a point to come home early and take over the supper-bath-bedtime routine. (Yes, I know lots of men do this all the time. Others don’t.) Help with the math homework and do the dishes. Buy or prepare something yummy for your wife to eat when she gets home, because by the time she’s done at the mikveh she is starving. A bouquet of flowers can’t hurt either. If you’re on a budget a “husband coupon” for a foot massage can go a long way and may ease your transition.

And, wives, men enjoy a flirty text or two and a mikveh day treat. Everyone wants to feel thought about and desired. Write up some coupons of your own.

What is more important than all these suggestions? Take some time to think about what you need and want and translate ideas and feelings into concrete suggestions. Then talk about it with your spouse. Not on mikveh day when sexual, and, maybe, other tensions are running high. Choose a time when you are both receptive and able to work out a mutually agreed upon plan.

Discuss what each of you needs and wants in order to make mikveh day and night a satisfying and anticipated experience. Mikveh day sets the stage for mikveh night. Foreplay takes on a whole new meaning.

About the Author
Curiosity about what makes people tick, fascination with relationships and a strong reflex for helping led Ellen to individual and couples coaching and to be a Jewish marital intimacy counselor certified by Mercaz Yahel. Born in Chicago and living in Israel since the ‘70’s, Ellen lives in Beit Shemesh with her husband and semi-empty nest of kids and grandchildren.
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