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Wednesday, November 09, 2005



Pesach several years ago, beautiful hotel, in the middle of nowhere, only a few locals looking at us with a million questions but unable to communicate them, and nothing to do but eat and sleep.
I was bored a lot of the time, luckily for me however I got to know some nice people with whom I proclaimed I was going to stay in touch with, but never did.
One of the guests was a young man I knew that had recently gotten married.
As far as I knew he was an ok guy, not noted for anything special neither from a positive nor form a negative outlook.
He left his mark on the hotel and its guests however by something that was noticed by everyone present, he never let go off his wife, very literally.
Whenever they were together he touched her caressed her and held her hand.
Now assuming she wasn’t a Niddah, there’s absolutely no Halachic(Jewish Law) problem with this behavior as far as I know.
And therefore I’m not criticizing his conduct.
On the other hand this is generally not done among heimische (modern orthodox/orthodox) people.
It’s well known that intimate gestures between spouses, however small, are strongly encouraged, but only in private space.

You may agree with this or disagree, you may find it archaic and fundamentalist that’s not the point, the fact is that many (most?) modern orthodox couples will make efforts to behave modestly in public areas.

I was reminded of this story when a friend told me that at a Shevah Berachah(one of the 7 meals after a wedding) he had attended, he sat at a table with two or three couples that couldn’t stay off each other. His wife and himself have always made efforts to conduct themselves with dignity and modesty and consequently he felt a little embarrassed and uneasy at that table.
This led to a discussion about the issue, and he confided that what he had witnessed had made him self-conscious about his own marital situation.
They seemed so in love, so attached to one another, and while proud that he didn’t stoop to imitate them he was slightly jealous.

At this point I’d like to clarify that it is not the objective of this article to debate whether intimate and kind gestures are appropriate for frum people in public.

Rather I brought it up, because to reassure my friend and because I wonder whether there’s isn’t a particle of truth to it, I told him that while practically making out in public or not letting go off your spouse may seem like an indication of a perfect relationship, it could equally be the work of oscar-deserving actors.
After all, as I said, this is generally not done in heimische circles. Why do they try so hard? Who are they really trying to convince they are happy?
I know many couples that are very happy together yet you don’t see them holding hands on the street, you do however notice the gleam in their eyes and the genuine shared smiles passing between them. That is real!
At some point I was wondering that perhaps those who make such efforts to be noticed are really the ones that are insecure about their relationships.
They overdo it to show everyone that they’re happy, but it doesn’t emerge as naturally as it does from authentically happy couples.
So this is my question to you bloggers, considering you will attract attention, is acting this way a result of insecurity and a need to prove something? Or is just a natural consequence of deep affinity and love.

its an act of insecurity
This ties in to what I responded to a comment on my blog about the lack of infatuation between my friend and her chosson. I believe those with overdone public displays of affection are actually overcompensating for what is lacking in their lives. They need to show that they love each other perhaps because it is really lacking. There is no need to prove that you are in love by being all over each other in public. As YY said, its insecurity. It may also be some kind of rebelliousness. I think hand-holding should be the extent of it, thats just my opinion.
YY and Frumgirl-Thanks fore commenting, I'm relived my theory wasn't as farfetched as it sounds.
I'll just tell my friend that some other "friends" have agreed with me.
I think this link was already posted by Normaljew, but for those who missed it:
A hilarious parody of "I will survive"
Rav Avigdor Miller claimed:
If when you have an argument, you do not take it into the bedroom behind closed doors, then if you do not show any acts of love and emoition, your kids will end up seeing only the arguments and never the love.

Of course he wasnt talking about being mushy in public.

I heard of it only second hand, and I think he specified kissing (as the act).
I never liked excessive displays of PDA among frum couples in public. Never mind the Tznius issue, it is very cruel and painful
for older single girls to have to observe. It just rubs their nose in their misery and makes them feel worse.
Many of the modern orthodox couples I know are affectionate in public. I don't think it is so uncommon. But I do think it is an act of insecurity. I know more than a few couples who were all over each other in public at the start of their marriage, but as they got more comfortable with each other and secure in their relationship, and started to have kids, the public displays stopped...
Moochy-it seems like a wise concept. I know someone who learns every day an hour at home. He wants his kids to SEE their father learn, not just tell them he did.
Semgirl-That’s a terrific point, I always tell my wife not to repeatedly call me honey or sweetheart when we have single guests over, there's no point in rubbing it in.

Mcaryeh-it just reinforces my theory, thanks for sharing.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I've often heard of cases where people (in the non-religious world as well) who were very touch feely in public, turned out to have troubled relationships. Maybe it's a way of over compensating...or maybe it's immaturity. and i agree with semgirl - makes it difficult for both single men and women.
i recall going out with a guy about 7 or 8 years ago and while we were never demonstrative in public per se, i do recall being with him once and seeing another couple on the street practically slobbering all over each other. okay, granted, they weren't jewish (well, they certainly weren't heimishe at least) so maybe that invalidates the argument, but ew--they were just so revolting to watch. i mean, we were downright embarrassed, for ourselves and for them.
I have heard that in the Breuer's community the older (and younger) married couples walk holding hands because this was advised by Rabbi Hirsch as a reminder that G-d does not frown on love and affection, only that it has its context.

This is of course different from other physical gestures. I was at a buffet style meal over the last days of Yom Tov where a married couple were kissing intimately in public. The only word that comes to mind at the moment is yucky.
I don't think you can make a blanket stmnt that all signs of affection in public are insecurity. I honestly don't see why it's so incredibly wrong for frum couples to hold hands in public. Anything more than that, well lets be honest, innocent bystanders shouldnt be subject. But holding hands? i dunno, mayb im just old fashioned.
Mata-I never realized how right I was about my theory; you’re the 10th person agreeing with it.Thanks.

Erica- Exactly it can be embarrassing for the onlookers
Thanks for stopping by:)

Rabbi Neil-Holding hands is very debatable, yet it still draws attention. Kissing intimately is inappropriate whichever way you look at it.

Lost-I have nothing against holding hands, it’s cute as a matter of fact, and while this is included in what I wrote, I was also referring to more intimate gestures
my wife and i just have a great love and a great deal of respect for each other.We are in no way insecure in our love .Its just nice to show each other affection ,we do this for ourselves not anyone else .We have a full life which we want to enjoy together and its nice to see our oldest daughter has the same type of relationship with her partner .I can see some peoples public affections may have a little bit of insecurity,which is very sad.
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