“Oh you, who linger in the garden, A lover is listening: Let me hear your voice.” Song of Songs 8:13
Judaism has always viewed sex and sexuality as both a blessing and a mitzvah. Each month Halachkinky will offer sex positive and medically accurate answers — written by a Certified Sex Therapist (and former seminary student) — to your questions about all things sexual, social and sacred. You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or submit them anonymously here.
My partner wants me to tie him up … Is that weird?
I feel like I start out many of these letters with the reassurance that the writer is perfectly normal. And I’m okay with that – because ninety-nine times out of a hundred? They are! And so is your partner.
The experience of being restrained is one that feels really good to lots of people. Some enjoy the tight squeeze that comes from being tied up. That constriction can subconsciously replicate the same comforting sensation that we experienced when being swaddled as babies. It’s a deep, prolonged hug. Others like to be restrained because they enjoy the experience of losing control, being helpless, or having someone else dictate what’s going to happen. Or they just enjoy the creative experience of having sex in a new and novel position or way. This is so common, in fact, that roughly half of Americans say they’ve experimented with some form of bondage in the bedroom.
For most, this takes the form of fuzzy handcuffs or a necktie around the ankles. Those who make restraint a more frequent part of their intimacy may invest in specialty rope made from cotton, hemp or jute. If you’re interested in learning more about how to indulge your partner’s request for restraint safely -- because, yes, there are unsafe ways to tie someone up – I highly recommend Midori’s book The Seductive Art of Japanese Rope Bondage and Showing You the Ropes: A Step-by-Step, Illustrated Guide for Tying Sensual and Decorative Rope Bondage by the Two Knotty Boys.
I’m eight months pregnant and having a hard time maintaining intimacy with my husband with this giant belly in the way. I very much want sex still, we just can’t figure out the mechanics. Help?
A new baby is such a blessing! The final weeks of pregnancy are filled with anticipation, excitement — and perhaps some anxiety as well. I’m glad that you and your husband are still looking for moments to connect with one another physically in the midst of this momentous relationship transition.
Jewish law encourages you and your partner to maintain your connection as much as you’d like in the days leading up to your delivery. Many women experience a change in libido during their third trimester. The rush of hormones produced can cause a spike in desire for some. Conversely, physical changes and the discomfort, fatigue and embarrassment that these can produce may cause some pregnant people to avoid sex with their partners.
It’s great that you are still interested in sex right now because some studies have show that sex late in pregnancy can help prevent early labor and help you carry to full term. Knowing sex is a good thing (in many ways) and feeling capable of making sex happen are two different things, however, and your question asked about the latter.
Here are some suggestions to help, as you phrased it, with the mechanics:
Sex from behind, or what the ancient Rabbis used to describe as “turning the table” can be a great position for late pregnancy. When you are on your hands and knees, you’re able to create space for your belly and prevent it from becoming a physical barrier to penetration. That said, depending upon the size of your fetus and how they’re sitting within your body, this position can feel like an uncomfortable pull on your sensitive ligaments.
If you find this to be the case, try lying on your back at the very edge of the bed and having your partner stand. Like turning the table, this can help avoid putting the pressure of your partner’s body weight on your belly while also facilitating easier penetration. This position is best for quickies — approximately 10 minutes or less. We don’t want pregnant folks lying on their backs for too long later in pregnancy because your belly weight can compress the vena cava and cause dizziness, nausea and other less-than-sexy symptoms. If you find that this is the only comfortable position for you, be sure you put a pillow under your bum to change the angle of your hips and reduce the compression.
One last position that works well for many (particularly those without a significant height differential between themselves and their partners) is the side-snuggle. Lying on your left side (the safest side for you during pregnancy), you can ask your partner to spoon you. Penetration in this position can feel cozy and connective- as well as easy on your ever-changing body.
Best wishes for you, your partner, and your new family!
Stefani Goerlich is a Certified Sex Therapist and Master Clinical Social Worker licensed in Michigan and Ohio. The founder and Clinical Director of Bound Together Counseling, PLLC, Stefani specializes in working with gender, sexuality, and relationship differences. She is the author of The Leather Couch: Clinical Practice with Kinky Clients and it’s forthcoming sequel, Kink-Affirming Practice: Culturally Competent Therapy from The Leather Chair.