Parshat Yayishlach: Communication- The Key to Intimacy.
By Sherrie B. Miller
“And Yaakov commanded his messengers saying: This is what you should say to my master
to Aisav. This is what your servant Yaakov said: with Lavan I have dwelt and have
been delayed until now.” (breishit 32:5)
HaRav Zelig Pliskin, in his book “Growth through Torah”, quotes the Ohr Hachayim
who explains that the added details given by Yaakov to his brother are intended
to infuse a sense of brotherly love into their unfortunately strained relationship.
Sharing one’s personal and innermost feelings as well as expressing the ups and
downs of one’s life creates a special closeness and emotional bond between people.
“The three most important words for a successful relationship are communication,
communication, and communication.” Increasing the level of intimacy in a relationship
will depend on the quality of one’s styles, patterns and skills in communication.
Good communication is comprised both of the ability to express oneself by putting
one’s feelings into words, and by the skill of active listening, not just hearing
but understanding what the other is saying and lies beyond the words.
Unfortunately, men have been trained by society to inhibit their emotions for fear
of being labeled “sissies” or “effeminate”. Modern research cited by renowned psychologist
and author, John Gray, asserts that the apparent difference in communication styles
between men and women is simply a result of the way our brains are wired. Men are
more fact/information and solution oriented, while women have a greater capacity
to think and feel simultaneously.
Women have been taught by their mothers that if you want a guy to be interested
in you, be interested in him. So women tend to ask many questions on dates, trying
to uncover the depth of the person sitting opposite them, while guys do all the
talking. She thinks that he is “full of himself” and he thinks: “she has nothing
to say.” This can wreak havoc in the early stages of dating leading to termination
of the relationship even before it begins. Awareness of these natural physiological
differences can alleviate many doubts and uncertainties that develop in the early
stages of dating as a result of misunderstanding.
“We were born with two ears and one mouth. That ought to tell us something.” (Bits
and Pieces 1997). Usually, we prefer and find it easier to speak than to listen.
Listening seems to take more effort. It is being in a state of temporary and complete
identification with another human being, in other words, attempting to be “in his
shoes.” Since, we are naturally an egocentric species, this is a most difficult
thing to do. It requires putting my-self aside and “holding” an-other person within
Often in dating, we are impressed with the bubbly, talkative type; yet we fail to
take note of their capacity to listen beyond the words, to the feelings and sentiments
behind the words. For intimacy to be achieved there must be a desire to uncover
the “golden nuggets” embedded within each of us by engaging in deep and meaningful
conversations that evoke genuine emotions. Superficial, light conversations will
not give us a true reading of compatibility even though they seem to flow effortlessly.
(For additional practical tools on active listening, refer to my article: The Art
The three most common styles of communication are “passive”, “aggressive” and “assertive”
corresponding to sardines, sharks and dolphins. Dolphins or assertiveness represent
the preferred “golden path” for its high level of efficacy. When two people can
express what they would like and what they need in a deferential way, then they
achieve a win-win outcome and nurture a vital and growing relationship.
Finally, by paraphrasing the sender’s message to ensure that he/she was understood
will alleviate misunderstandings and enable both receiver and sender to feel comfortable
and satisfied in their ability to communicate meaningfully.
Communication is a skill that can and must be learned and practiced in order to
build a loving and successful relationship!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai
and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She received her counseling degree from the Michlala
in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Touro College. Sherrie is certified
by Midreshet Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital
couple’s counselor and Kallah teacher.
This Jewish Dating Column is brought to you by SawYouAtSinai, the Jewish Matchmaking
service. Articles are often written by Jewish matchmakers, to help Jewish singles