Midot Hayom: Day 11: Netzach in Gevurah
“Do not engage in too much idle talk with women.” How should one fulfill this? If a man was not treated with respect in the house of study, or he had a fight with a neighbor, he should not go and tell his wife: “I had a fight with that person, and this is what he said to me, and this is how I answered him.” For in doing so he disgraces himself and disgraces his neighbor and disgraces his wife. Avot of Rabbi Nathan 7:3
It is natural for someone to describe bad experiences to his or her spouse. The Sages are teaching us that we can affect our perception of someone else simply by using them as a sounding board when we need to get something off our chests. If a man returns home and describes a confrontation with someone else to his wife he not only risks speaking Lishon Harah and feeding anger and argument, he is speaking to his wife only for the sake of a lesser part of himself and can dilute the appreciation he has for his spouse.
This Midah instructs us to always speak to others with the awareness that we can change our perception of them simply by the way we speak to them. When we usually joke around with a friend, we are defining them as someone we do not take seriously. We can use this day of Sefirah to speak to others with respect for who they are at their best.