16 Sivan 5779 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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The Language of Love    

The Language of Love

Speaking skillfully can have enormous impact on our deep relationships as well as on our casual interactions. A sincere word of encouragement can be a real gift to the recipient...


The power of words cannot be underestimated. Speaking skillfully can have enormous impact on our deepest relationships as well as on our casual interactions. A sincere word of encouragement or thanks can be a real gift to the recipient and the person giving that word reaps benefits as well.


Being able to communicate effectively can also create a safe and loving environment within your marriage.


In this article, I want to talk about compliments. Compliments are a major ingredient for happiness in the home and love between man and wife. Children thrive on sincere compliments and friendships are enhanced by positive feedback. Vocal appreciation can grease the wheels of anyone's day, the clerk, the taxi driver, the dentist, the dog.


The first step in giving sincere compliments is developing a heightened awareness of the people around you and a sensitivity to the good they do. The second step is learning to articulate your observations.


I have been working with a man named Jeff who wants to improve his marriage. He loves his wife but he damaged their relationship by becoming angry and using harsh words against her. After studying the books Garden of Peace and The Trail to Tranquility and with the guidance of an Emuna Therapy Coach, Jeff has learned to respond differently to disappointments and stress. With the awareness that everything comes from God and that we are here to perfect our personality traits, his worldview has changed. Jeff is more positive and feels less victimized. He no longer lashes out at his wife when things don't go his way.


Jeff is working to replace his old way of speaking with a voice of humility and gratitude for all his blessings, one of which is his devoted wife.


Jeff mentioned to me that he was trying to give her compliments but she didn't seem very moved by them. I asked him to give me an example.


Saturday night Jeff had turned to his wife and said, “Thanks for a beautiful Shabbos.” Nothing wrong with that, right? Well actually, yes. It's a good start but as a compliment, it is pretty general. There are no specifics and it conveys no personal feedback. To make the compliment more meaningful he might add:


“That chicken soup was heavenly. I like the spices you added.”


“I really enjoyed that couple we had over last night. I'm glad you invited them.”


“It was nice not having any guests for a change. I liked spending time with just you and the kids.”


“That was a great idea to take a walk after dinner; we should do it more often.”


These compliments are specific, informative and can more easily lead to a conversation. Above all, they show Jeff's wife that he is paying close attention. He is aware of the efforts she made to provide a nice Shabbos experience. There is nothing more complimentary than that!


I taught Jeff to back up any compliment he gives to his wife with specifics. For example when he tells her that she “looks nice”, he can add a detail such as, “I like the color of your blouse,” or “Those earrings look good.”


A compliment like this lets her know that he is really seeing her and noticing her efforts to look pleasing.


When he says, “I love you,” he can list five reasons why. How wonderful for a woman to hear some of the reasons her husband finds her so appealing! A wife can do the same with her husband. It's a beautiful and easy way to increase loving feelings between them.


Above all, a compliment must be genuine. If you don't mean it, don't say it. The idea is to pay closer attention to your spouse and deliver a sincere compliment, not make up something that sounds good and makes you look gracious. By searching for things to appreciate you will be pleasantly surprised to discover how much there really is to praise about the person you married!


In summary, when paying your spouse (or anyone else) a compliment, be specific, be real and be lavish. This is the language of love and with a little effort, you can learn to speak it fluently.



* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen began her career as a Crisis Intervention Counselor in Silver Spring, Md. in the seventies. After moving to Israel, she worked as a marital mediator and social skills instructor for kids. Following the death of a son, Rebbitzen Channen became a certified bereavement counselor and worked with young mothers who had suffered loss. Most recently she worked at the Melabev Center for the memory-impaired, as an activity director and group facilitator for families coping with Dementia.  The Rebbitzen has written for numerous magazines and newspapers and recently led an interactive creative writing course called Connective Writing. Yehudit Channen is the wife of Rabbi Don Channen, Rosh Yeshiva of Keter HaTorah.  They are blessed to have nine children and many grandchildren and live in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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