Understanding men and women: Is that a joke?
Rabbi-seminar leader adds smiles to realities of couples' relationships
by Deborah Silverthorn
Special to DJW
Monday nights at The Improv comedy club in Addison are usually reserved for defensive driving courses. but on Monday, Dec. 9, more than 300 men and women came to learn how to steer their way through their marriages or relationships with the help of Rabbi Aryeh Pamensky, an ordained rabbi who has taught personal development seminars for the past nine years.
Malkie Schick, host of the radio program "Jewish Living Today" which airs Sundays on WRR-101.1 FM, introduced Rabbi Pamensky. "This is such a great venue in which to discuss our relationships because at a comedy club we can break the barriers," said Schick. "Everyone can laugh and learn and there is something for each of us to take away."
Rabbi Pamensky speaks around the country at events such as this, sponsored by the Dallas Area Torah Association and Discovery Productions, in an effort to eradicate divorce. Discovery Productions is a New York-based non-profit Jewish outreach organization that produces educational and entertainment programs nationwide.
"There is a 50 percent divorce rate in this country and many of the marriages that stay together are dysfunctional," said Pamensky. "If you can teach a couple the tools to build a close relationship, then the ripple effect to their children and the community is huge."
"There are three parts to every relationship," said Pamensky. "The man, the woman and the relationship itself."
Laughter filled The Improv as with almost every piece of advice or commentary, Pamensky received numerous responses of clapping and chuckles. While the correct answers to his question "What are the three 'A's that make a woman happy?" are attention, affection and appreciation, he noted that a New York audience responded with "American-Express, apologies and alimony."
"Husbands, if you give a woman all the attention she needs, the affection she craves and the appreciation she deserves, you are sure to make her happy," said Pamensky.
"Women use words as part of a relationship and men use words as words," said Pamensky. When you ask a man how was his day, and he says 'fine,' that's just what he means. When a woman says 'fine,' it usually means a whole lot more.
"When a guy calls home to talk to his father, the conversation is 'Hi Dad, how are you? Work's good. Kids are fine too. I love you.' When a woman calls her mom, the 'Hello' usually takes longer than her spouse's entire conversation."
Women speak with lots of details and the husbands are usually waiting for "the point." According to Pamensky, "the details are the point" and husbands need to learn to hear. "Remember, guys, your wife is a 'GIRL.' 'G,' give her gratitude, 'I,' let her know she's important, 'R,' show respect, and 'L,' understand the language. Your job," Pamensky reminded the men a number of times "is to make your lady happy."
On the other side of the coin, Pamensky asked the women in the audience if each of them took the time to find a "great guy" to marry, then why do they all want their men to act like women? "Men are giant egos with legs," said Pamensky. "Their egos need to be stroked 'when they do their job', and just when you think you've stroked their ego enough, double that."
Pamensky reminded the women that the men in their lives will never fully understand them, that women are "just too complicated," and so that "when your man doesn't 'do his job' all the time, give him a break." That received a resounding applause from the manly side of the audience.
"Humor really opens your mind," said audience member Alan Press who was there with his wife, Susan Skibell-Press. "Rabbi Pamensky really taught a lot of Torah values tonight, without the audience realizing it at the moment, and it all makes sense."
Pamensky, who has just completed, and looks forward to the publishing of, his book, "A Happy Wife is a Happy Life; Every Man's Guide to Marital Happiness," has himself been married for 12 years, has six children and in addition to traveling around the country, teaches an eight-week course based on the subject in his hometown of Toronto.
"People believe that if men acted more like women, and if women acted more like men, everyone would be happy. But what makes a woman tick and what makes a man tick are two different things," said Pamensky. "I have a taken a 3,500-year-old model of relationships and put it into modern language to give people a really user-friendly road map to relationships."
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, December 19, 2002