By: Jodi Wachspress, Couples and Sex Therapist
There are unlimited articles, blogs, teshuvot etc. addressing a woman’s experiences relating to mikveh in general and to the specifics of preparing for immersion. Many of the couples that I have seen in therapy and have taught before and after marriage, have noted that there is no such preparation guide/list for men…
Use this list to enhance your joint experience of mikveh night, or as a springboard for discussion between you to find a list that works in your relationship:
MIKVEH DAY/NIGHT CHECKLIST:
Chatzitzot – Barriers
In preparation for immersing in the mikveh, a woman is required to scan her body and remove any chatzitzot (external barriers) such as makeup, jewelry, stray hairs, and so on to ensure that all of her body comes in contact with the waters of the mikveh at the time of tevilla (immersion). To do so, she is instructed to clean herself thoroughly including folds and orifices. Not only does this process invite a woman to take time to unwind and refocus on her relationship with her body physically and emotionally, it ensures that she is clean from head to toe.
While your wife is busy with her mikveh preparations you can:
- shower: wash yourself well with soap and shampoo
- shave or groom your beard, hair etc.
- brush your teeth/floss (make sure you have fresh and clean breath)
- trim your nails (both finger and toe)
- apply aftershave or cologne (if you both enjoy the smell)
- dress nicely and comfortably (in whatever way you and your wife find most appealing)
Iyun – inspection
Iyun or inspection of the body is an essential component of mikveh preparation.
In addition to checking one’s physical body for chatzizot, there is an added level of awareness that is stipulated. This gives you the opportunity to re-examine your body and bring intentionality to the awareness of your body’s health.
To this end you too can:
- As you shower or immediately after; check your skin for any unusual blemishes that may need personal or medical attention. This may include setting up an appointment with a dermatologist or your regular family doctor. It may include a quick reminder to self to apply sun screen, moisturizers or ointments that have been prescribed or recommended to you.
- Perform a testicular exam: just as women are encouraged to do a breast exam on a regular basis (and preparation for mikveh is an especially good time), men are encouraged to check their testicles for any unusual masses or pain (and to follow up accordingly with a doctor).
While studies show that men are more in tune with visual stimulation when it comes to sexuality, women are more likely to be focusing on emotional intimacy, feeling loved, feeling seen and connected. To ensure a pleasant mikveh night experience, both you and your wife must take real life into consideration, and not use it as an excuse to put your needs for intimacy on the back burner.
What can you do to make mikveh night special for you as a couple?
An important aspect of women’s ability to connect and build emotional intimacy is having needs met – feeling connected/seen/heard. This can be facilitated by attending to whatever household chores you and your wife find necessary in order to create a relaxing and pleasant home environment. Being mindful of factors that elicit stress – such as juggling of work, kids, social events, sexual performance – and trying to find ways to mitigate that stress — can increase your likelihood of having a positive evening. While your wife is busy doing bedikot, preparing and going to the mikveh here are some ways for you to contribute to the house, which might also enable your wife to be more emotionally available and feel taken care of.
These are recommendations that have helped many couples, but we encourage you to come up with your own list:
- Prepare dinner – (maybe even make something special or treat yourselves to take out)
- Find a babysitter or come home early enough to take care of the children
- Dishes- make sure the sinks are empty and dishes are dried and put away
- Laundry – throw in a load, fold a load (most importantly, make sure there are no piles on your bed, or dirty socks strewn on the floor in your bedroom)
- Clean bedroom/change sheets
- Create a caring and loving atmosphere in your home/your bedroom. You will want to create a context that enables connection, togetherness.
Remember that foreplay begins with “good morning” and continues throughout the day. Sending loving text messages, leaving notes and quick phone calls simply to connect are all a great way to make the day exceptional. You can try to engage your senses in different ways:
- Scented candles – make sure you both enjoy the smell of the one you choose.
- Music – have relaxing or fun music playing, depending on what kind of mood you are both in.
- Lubricant – explore the kinds – both natural oils and manufactured – those that start solid or liquidy, those with smells, warm/cold sensations, and flavors.
- Awareness & Intentions – Take a few minutes to yourself to bring your awareness to what is truly important in your relationship and how your actions and your intentions can bring you closer.
- Contraceptive – If applicable, double check that you have a supply of your contraceptive of choice or fill a prescription.
Mikveh night is a special night, especially when we put in some work and intentionality to creating a loving, open, mutual space that is attentive and caring.
Next month I’ll add more about creating the emotional environment that enables mikveh night to be a positive space for both of you…