Project Genesis

Women's Issues

Ritual Purity

Rejuvenating a Marriage

I have been married for 15 years. And I do not feel the love we once had for one another, and I think that my wife feels the same way. The same goes for physical attraction. I would say we are somewhat indifferent to one another. We have 3 children all under 10 years old. Rabbi, I don’t want to give up on my marriage. How can I make our love bloom again? What does the Torah have to say on the matter and how can I make it part of our lives.

It was probably hard just to ask that question, but I wish you all the mazal (good fortune) in the world in finding answers to life issues like this.

From a Torah perspective we do not believe that a person can simply have his or her love for another increase over time without actively doing something to make it increase. The Torah has a built in system for this. This is called the laws of family purity. Imagine for a few minutes that you are at your wedding day once again. You are nervous, excited, happy, joyous, and you feel really great about whom you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with. As time goes on that feeling decreases because the relationship just “keeps going.” There is no renewal, nothing forcing it to be re-sparked every year, every month.

The Torah gives us a system that forces us to confront this issue from the very first month we are married and lasting for many years. The laws of family purity teach us that every month (according to the woman’s menstrual cycle) a husband and wife do not touch each other for a specified time. These laws are extremely complicated and I am not going to go through them in this venue, but suffice it to say that the results of doing this are extraordinary.

I will share with you what happens as a result of doing this: Every month the man and woman separate from physical contact. They prepare themselves during this time by talking, improving their relationship, maybe even meeting with a third party to discuss tools of proper communication. After some time of separation the couple can re-unite. (There are some parameters and details that I am leaving out for the purpose of this discussion.) That reunification is like the wedding night once again for that couple. Every month, month after month, there is a wedding night. When couples base their marriage on this model there is amazing power to that night. The reunification gives them strength and bonds them together in ways that cannot even be imagined. Of course, over the next few weeks things might go back to normal, but the process repeats. The goal is to constantly improve the relationship, so that there is love all the time.

I know a clinical psychologist who prescribes this (in part) to non-Jews who are having marital strife. It works wonders! The second piece of advise that this psychologist gives is to turn the TV off (or whatever is distracting in the home) for a specified time every day. That time must be relationship time. There are no exceptions and the two are forced to deal with their issues instead of letting them stir. I hope that these practical tools will help you to improve communication with your wife and better your relationship as a whole. If you are interested in the laws of family purity please feel free to write back or ask a local orthodox rabbi, who will be well versed in these laws.

Be Well,
Rabbi Litt

1 Follow-up »

  1. This approach is very interesting, for Jews and non-Jews alike. What about once a woman reaches menopause? How can a couple keep the spark alive once the time apart no longer applies because her menstrual cycle has stopped?

    I’ll just offer a thought that I had. There are obviously many ways to rejuvenate a marriage; otherwise, marriage counselors would be panhandling. Maybe G-d used the menstrual cycle breaks as a method to rejuvenate marriages in the earlier stages of marriage, when the couple’s relationship is less established. That’s when this method would be more crucial. Or maybe it’s more crucial when the couple is raising children, or when their natural desires for intimacy are stronger. Just some thoughts..

    Comment by ATR — March 22, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

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