"It's Not About the Nail" is a short video that's been making the rounds. It takes a humorous look at the differences in how men and women communicate – and if you've been married for at least five minutes, you can probably relate to what the couple in the clip is going through.
The video works because it hits on themes and tendencies that are true. It's the classic tug-of-war between husbands and wives, something we hear about a lot at Focus on the Family. She wants to share what's on her heart and on her mind. She wants to be heard. Men, however, are generally wired to want to fix any issue their wife faces. He wants to make it all better – so instead of really listening, the husband often jumps immediately to a solution.
You can see why tension soon develops.
The wife becomes frustrated because she feels her husband isn't listening, while he feels like he's doing his duty of being Mr. Fix-It. The husband feels like he's being successful in his role, and she feels like he's completely failing in the "job" of being a good communicator.
What can we take away from this? I'd like to offer you three things:
1. Appreciate both sides.
Wives, it really is a good thing when your husband wants to help. Try to look beyond your husband's "fix it" mode and see what is motivating him – his love for you, and his trying to care for you.
Husbands, realize that while some things absolutely need to be fixed, very often your wife just needs for you to listen and even empathize with what is going on. Don't become so zealous in offering solutions that you miss out on opportunities to care. Besides, taking that first step helps prepare your wife to then listen to your suggestions on how to take care of the situation.
2. Watch out for your blind spot.
Sometimes, what we think we need isn't what we need most. We might be so entrenched in our own situations that we might miss seeing something that is as obvious to our spouse as a nail in the forehead – that's a blind spot.
What I am trying to get at is this: Who better than a spouse who loves us deeply and knows us better than anyone else to be the voice and perspective that allows us to see things differently. Instead of causing us frustration, we should rejoice in God's provision of someone who can so clearly help fill our needs. Within a safe and loving marriage, there is freedom to be this support for one another for the both exciting and sometimes difficult journey of life.
3. Assume the best in your spouse.
I think it was pretty clear in the clip that the wife just assumed her husband wasn't listening and simply fell into the Mr. Fix-It stereotype, which is why she was so resistant to his interruptions to point out the nail.
It was an exaggerated example to be sure, but the video demonstrated a fundamental truth for husbands and wives: We interpret everything our spouse says and does through a filter. This filter can either be positive or negative – but it will go better for our marriage if it is positive.
By assuming the best about our spouse, it will help ensure our filter leans towards the positive side and will make us more open to feedback, help and input. By assuming the best, we trust that our spouse has our best in mind and wants the best for us. To be sure, trust has to be earned. However, assuming the best in our spouse helps put us in a place where we can readily give trust.
Sometimes the issues we face in marriage are a lot less funny than what a viral video leads us to believe. That's why I hope these three takeaways will help you the next time you have a conversation with your spouse.