As a kallah teacher, before the wedding I make sure to discuss the wisdom and challenges of the dramatic ‘on-off’ shift the halakhic framework creates. We discuss common physical and emotional obstacles created by the laws, negative behavioral patterns to avoid and positive ones couples should cultivate during these challenging weeks. For the first niddah period after the wedding, I even provide suggested activities for them to stay busy and distracted from what for many couples becomes a traumatic experience of immediate separation.
Despite this preparation, I sometimes receive calls from brides (and friends) soon after the wedding voicing their struggles with the newly “inflicted” rubric of hilchot niddah, often feeling broken by the physical and emotional distance put upon them by these laws. I felt utterly abandoned, as if I was a newborn left to impossibly fend for myself, relayed one bright, resourceful, and mature new bride. I do my best to listen intently and validate their feelings, assuring them that time often acts as a healant in this case by giving the couple opportunities to learn how to live with the law. But the conversation always leave me shaken long after the young woman has hung up. After being married for a good number of years and the mother of children, the deepest parts of myself identify with their distress. [Read more…]