Perhaps you have seen the video “It’s Not about the Nail,” which has almost 5 million views on YouTube.
If you have not seen it, picture a couple sitting on a couch. She is telling him that she has this relentless pressure and pain in her head that won’t go away. As she is talking about how frustrated she is, the scene expands enough for the viewer to see she has a nail in her forehead.
He says to her, “You do have a nail in your head.” To which she responds, “It is not about the nail.” An argument ensues.
She says he never listens and accuses him of always trying to fix things when what she really wants is for him to listen. She continues to talk about how much pain she is in, how she is not sleeping well, and that every sweater she has is snagged. He looks at her and says, “That sounds really hard.” Her facial expression softens and she reaches out to touch his hand as she realizes he feels her pain. She leans forward to kiss him only to hit the nail in her head. “Ouch.”
He again tells her she just needs to get the nail out of her head and off to the races they go … again.
Sound familiar? There probably isn’t a couple on the planet that can’t relate to this scenario, hence the 5 million views. Men are notorious for wanting to fix the problem while women just want men to listen.
If you have something so obvious as a nail in your head and you aren’t willing to listen to your spouse, that is a problem, but not everything is that simple. Not everything sticks out like a nail in the head, but guys try to fix it anyway. There are many instances when guys really do need to just listen.
Believe it or not, there are ways to bridge this communication divide. Here are some tips to help you communicate with the opposite sex.:
* Stop trying to change each other. Men tend to communicate with a purpose to solve a problem. Women spend a lot of time communicating to bond and build relationships. Neither way is wrong.
* Before you get into the conversation with your husband, tell him what you want. Do you want him to just listen or do you want him to help solve the problem? Doing this could spare both of you a lot of agony.
* In general, men tend to think things through before they talk. Instead of saying nothing is wrong because you aren’t ready to talk about it, tell her you aren’t ready to talk and give her a time when you will give her the download. Women, this is your cue to back off.
* If you want to keep your husband’s attention, cut to the chase and be direct.
* Learn to listen. Listening does not come naturally. It takes effort to focus on what someone is saying.
* Avoid mind reading. Assuming you know what someone else is thinking can create a lot of unnecessary drama.
Men, learn to look past the proverbial nail in the head, and ladies, don’t be so quick to dismiss a potential solution to your problem. Instead of getting irritated because your spouse doesn’t communicate just like you, take it as a challenge to learn how to engage and understand each other’s point of view.
Julie Baumgardner is president and CEO of First Things First. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.