On mikvah night, my husband leaves me a present. Not every month, not all the time, lest I expect it and no longer appreciate it. He started over twenty years ago when we had just gotten married. I don’t know how he first thought to do it, but it’s so incredibly sweet and wonderful and makes me love him so much.
Two or three times a year, as I run out of the house, hair still wet, on my way to that secret, sacred space, a colorful bouquet is set on my seat when I open the car door. Sometimes, it’s a small box that awaits me on the driver’s seat, containing a modest piece of jewelry. We didn’t have the money for anything extravagant for many years and even now that we do, the gift is never over the top. That’s not the point.
Each and every time I see those flowers or find the box, my heart skips a beat. In this gesture, my husband tells me that earlier that day or week, as he was counting down the moments until he reunited with me, he took time out of his busy schedule to visit a jewelry store or stop by a flower shop and comb through their wares until he found just the right thing to make my face light up. (It works!) Then he kept his surprise under wraps and slipped away to my car to hide it at the exact right moment, so when I’d opened the door, I would know how much he had been thinking of me.
Whenever he does this, I call him on my way to the mikvah – he waits by the phone for this call. I can hear the smile in his voice when I tell him how much I love whatever it is he left me and how much I love him.
Is mikvah outdated and misogynistic or is it a monthly honeymoon? Depending on who you talk to, you will hear vastly different answers. Thank God, I was taught about mikvah from a kallah teacher who has a healthy approach to sex and marriage. Thank God, I have a kind and generous husband, who has worked with me, through our ups and downs in these last two decades and partnered with me to build a loving home and family.
Ultimately, in my personal experience and from speaking to my close friends about this I have found that mikvah has the potential to be whatever you make it.* If you are blessed to build a happy and stable marriage and intimate life, mikvah has the power to enhance it. If there is, God forbid, abuse or dysfunction, mikvah, unfortunately can exacerbate it.
May we all merit to build healthy and loving homes and marriages where mikvah is the icing on the cake. (Wives – be sure show this article to your husbands. Men – start planning your wife’s mikvah gift, stat!)
*Outside of some rare complications with spotting or other intimate troubles that could arise.