VIDEO — It’s Not About the Nail

“‘Don’t try to fix it. I just need you to listen!’ Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.” These words are used to describe this great little video clip Jason Headley has created about the communication challenges in marriage.

As a potentially therapeutic video clip, I often refer my clients to this little gem, so that they can see in a humorous way the dilemma often encountered as husbands and wives try to communicate with each other. So, just case anyone hasn’t already seen this fabulous video I just had to share it here on my website.

My Thoughts about This Video and How to Understanding Each Other Better

  • Why does she need him to just listen? It’s true that women generally just want to be listened to and fully heard, as that is the way they best work through their own dilemmas and figure out a suitable solution for themselves. Women generally need to think outloud to help them process things, thus her need to simply be heard even if there is an apparently obvious solution to her husband.
  • Why can’t he just fix it? It’s true that men generally default to wanting to fix things. They have a hard time understanding why their wife would bring something up to talk about if she didn’t want him to help her resolve it. I often encourage wives to preface their comments with their husbands by saying, “Honey, I don’t need you to fix anything. I just want to talk about it.”
  • Women may not even realize themselves sometimes that they just want to share to connect with their husbands or to share to help her process, so the hope is that it will be a little easier for men to bite their tongue (as this guy does so wonderfully well) when their wives just want to talk.
  • not-about-the-nailI think my favorite part of this video is seeing the near torture on the husband’s face as he valiantly manages to restrain his default response to fix, and instead just hears her and tries validate her perceptions.
  • With men as natural fixers and women as natural think-outloud-to-process-ers you can see why there is a tendency for husbands and wives to NOT communicate real well when trying to discuss issues in their relationship.
  • One thing that would be helpful for both men and women to remember is that it is human nature to resist persuasion and pressure, so even if the husband has a great solution to her troubles, his wife very may not be terribly happy to hear it if she doesn’t first feel heard and understood. It goes back to one of Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People that we should seek first to understand before we seek to be understood. It also reminds me that the first skill a counselor learns in graduate school is to be able to “join” with the client, because until that happens there won’t be enough trust or connection (the therapeutic relationship) for the client to allow themselves to be influenced by the therapist. So, if a husband wants to be able to offer influence to his wife, he must first be sure she feels like he hears her and gets her.
  • It’s much more empowering when we feel like we own the solutions to our problems instead of someone else telling us what we should do. This is again why people do so much better when others will just listen and reflect and even validate what they might be thinking and feeling. That frees the speaker to think through their own situation and come up with their own best ideas. This way of communicating sends a message that says, “I believe in you to choose the solution that is best for you. I don’t have to do it for you.” It also says, “I don’t always need to be the fix-it guy or have all the answers.”
  • The one thing I don’t like about this video is that it’s certainly coming from a man’s perspective. It makes the wife look silly suggesting that women walk around clueless about something as obvious as a nail sticking out of her head. The reality is that there isn’t always an obvious problem or an easy or obvious solution to the many challenges women face. This video also suggests that women are just unreasonable, and that poor husbands have to just put up with them.
  • As I’ve mentioned above women process things differently (often by talking about them), and also don’t respond well to being told what to do anymore than men do.

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