«behold, you are fair, my love/ Behold, you are fair!»(Song of Solomon 4: 1)
One of the main sources of a woman’s self-esteem is her husband’s words of appreciation. This is why victims of domestic violence (including verbal abuse) have extremely low self-esteem. Demeaning treatment pushes people to feel humiliated, inferior, and to mistrust their own potential. In a couple’s relationship, it is up to the husband to strengthen and edify his wife or sink her into unhappiness through hurtful words.
It is not surprising that psychotherapists who work with couples who have problems in their relationships always include interpersonal communication techniques. Much of the success or failure of a relationships depends on the mutual messages that both members of the couple send to each other. Sadly, many husbands tend to lack words of honest praise toward their wives. In 1869, when women’s rights were hardly recognized, Ellen G. White advised a husband who had this very need: “You can help her and lead her along. You should never censor her. Never reprove her if her efforts are not what you think they should be. Rather encourage her bywords of tenderness and love. You can help your wife to preserve her dignity and self-respect. Never praise the works of others before her to make her feel her deficiencies. You have been harsh and unfeeling in this respect. You have shown greater controversy to your hired help than to her and have placed them ahead of her in the house.» (Testimonies (or the Church, vol. 2, ch. 42, p. 305).
Today’s Bible verse focuses on beauty. Physical beauty is a valued characteristic and it is part of God’s creation. However, there are other qualities that are even more valuable. Consequently, the Book of Proverbs tells us, «Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised» (Prov.31:30)
May today’s passage serve as a reminder to all of us—men and women within or outside marriage—that we have to use words of appreciation, encouragement, and approval toward others at the right moments. Song of Solomon focuses on the couple, but its message, generally speaking, could be useful in any interpersonal relationship. We should especially use words of affirmation when talking to our family and loved ones, since we tend to forget this principle when it comes to the ones we love.