If you’re in need of relationship advice to make your marriage more intimate and passionate, there are a lot of places you can look to teach you how to love your partner better.
However, one place to look for relationship advice might be a little surprising: Orthodox Jewish couples.
After all, where do you go for relationship advice? To homes of friends whose marriages seem solid? To websites that feature articles and TED talks by top therapists? How about to a kosher deli? (Yes, really!)
Believe it or not, Orthodox Jewish folks who dine there have a lot of great advice to share.
When comparing two national surveys, Orthodox Jews come out significantly more satisfied with their marriages than U.S married couples (74.9 percent vs 59.9 percent). Many experts believe that their secret to relationship happiness lies in their use of the ancient Torah-based practice of Taharat HaMishpacha, or “family purity.”
Couples who follow the guidelines of Taharat HaMishpacha cease physical contact with one another for a period of about twelve consecutive days each month, starting with the onset of the wife’s menstrual cycle. At the end of this platonic period, the wife immerses in a ritual bath, or “Mikvah,” and then the couple resumes their physical relationship.
As an Orthodox Jew myself, I can tell you that this practice has an amazing effect on a relationship. The time when you and your loved one can’t touch challenges you both to solve troubling issues by talking, which strengthens your relationship and problem-solving skills.
Best of all, the separation lights a fire under your physical yearning for each other, so when you finally resume intimacy … ooh, la, la! Fun!
Here are 3 tips from the practice of Taharat HaMishpacha you can use to enrich your relationship:
1. Schedule some time apart.
Don’t just casually ignore your sex life. Instead, set up a time when both of you deliberately choose not to do anything sexual and observe what happens.
Your attraction to each other will probably become more intense because you want what you can’t have. There’s even a marketing concept based on this notion known as the “scarcity principle.”
Here’s how it works:
Think about your relationship with chocolate. Maybe you buy a piece once in a while or keep a secret stash in your desk drawer. What would happen if you denied yourself chocolate for two weeks?
You would probably start to think a lot about it. You would notice chocolate in ads and shop windows. You would imagine yourself sipping hot chocolate or placing a decadent piece of Godiva onto your tongue.
The minute the two weeks ended, you would run to get some. When you take a mutually agreed-upon break from sex, the desire you and your partner have for one another can grow quite intense.
2. Invest in your friendship.
While apart, Orthodox Jewish couples actively engage in non-physical forms of intimacy that strengthen the friendship side of their relationships.
There are eight types of intimacy. These are social (going out together), non-sexual physical (playing tennis, going for walks), intellectual (discussing topics), non-sexual affection (giving compliments), aesthetic (listening or observing something beautiful), spiritual (praying or meditating together), emotional (sharing feelings) and sexual.
During your physical break, do some of these forms of intimacy. They can help you strengthen your relationship in a meaningful way.
3. Participate in “rituals.”
Research shows that families that create and participate in shared rituals grow closer. The rituals don’t have to be religious ones. You and your honey can enjoy a weekly Sunday brunch or play Jeopardy! with your Alexa each evening.
Any activity you do on a regular basis can become a shared ritual that enriches your relationship.
Finally, I’d like to invite you to try a modified version of Taharat HaMishpacha I developed for couples who are not Orthodox Jews. I’m recruiting for a one month study to test its effectiveness.
My strategy is great for all couples, but I can only use certain types of couples in my study.
Please contact me by email here if you are:
- Married (heterosexual) for at least 5 years
- Not pregnant
- Not currently in couples counseling
See what my version of Taharat HaMishpacha can do for your relationship. I look forward to hearing from you!
Janis Roszler is a therapist specializing in diabetes-related sexual and relationship issues, whose writing is intended to help transform romantic relationships. Read Janis’ book, Sex and Diabetes For Him and For Her, or check out her website for more advice.