Most Read


I Can’t Take My Spouse’s Criticism!

How to give or get criticism from your spouse

King Solomon said; “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.”  Death is not in the hands of someone holding a gun and life isn’t in the hands of the inventor of a wonder medicine. Both life and death are in the power of the tongue.

A person who speaks appropriately, complimenting people at the right time, encouraging, sharing in the pain of others and finding the correct wording for criticizing intelligently will create a pleasant atmosphere around him. Life with him will be more pleasant. But someone with a sharp tongue always delivering his words like barbs including insults and unrelenting criticism of those around him but at the same time stingy with compliments will find he created and is leading himself to a life bitter as death.

This principle is true not only for communicating with your spouse; it is universal for all human interaction: parents and children, workers and employers, neighbors and even total strangers. But when it comes to your spouse your words carry the most weight.

When you check couples who reached the terrible stage of divorce, what was the cause? The answer is the tongue, their words! Are you surprised? Think about it, if they would have talked to each other properly most of the time they wouldn’t have slid down the steep slope leading to a painful divorce.

Because we are human there are bound to be differences of opinion between two people, for ‘just as their faces are different so too their mindsets are different’ (Midrash Tanchuma Pinchas 10). But you must know how to express your criticism when you do have a difference of opinion and the other side feels hurt.

The general rule is to talk about what problem is disturbing you without belittling or lowering the other person and without starting a fire through saying it angrily.

Likewise you need to learn how to conduct an argument. Spouses should remember that whenever there is tension between them, they should remind themselves that even in international forums there are rules to war.  All the more so when it comes to a husband and wife who love one another and are not enemies. They chose to live in harmony to build their home together. So they need to put it in perspective; it’s only an argument, not a war!

A couple arguing must honor themselves with proper conduct, not like those who are polite when arguing with strangers and outsiders, but at home alone by themselves their behavior goes down and their voices go up to loud shouting with harmful language and a mutual lack of respect.

Our sages taught us from the Cohen Gadol, the high priest who wore bells on his garment when coming into the holies (to make a noise when coming in) that a person should announce when he enters his home so as not to startle the people at home by coming in too suddenly. Our sages also say that the table we eat on at home is similar to the altar in the holy temple. Why again do the sages compare our home and our conduct to the temple and the high priest? What does one have to do with the other?

We can see that our sages considered our homes to be miniature holy temples. This perspective comes from see the world in its true light where they saw great spiritual meaning that exists in the house and on the table of every Jew. the house a Jew lives in is a temple where Israel serves G-d and his table where he eats to have strength to serve G-d is like an altar that consumes the meat of the sacrifices.

Now a husband and wife can ask themselves “if I were in the temple or even in a synagogue would I raise my voice and say all my “pearls of wisdom” that I do when I argue? My home is a holy temple!”

And if this couple is blessed with children they should feel like a camera is focused on them when they talk. After all, their children will copy over every detail of their parents’ behavior. A parent should even be careful of what facial expressions he or she uses just as when a camera is focused on him.