If you haven’t seen Jason Headley’s video, “It’s Not About The Nail” (have you been out of the country or something?) you should stop and watch it now… there are spoilers ahead. This video is hilarious and although there’s nothing worse than someone explaining humor it has already generated enough discussion that we think RingLeaders should weigh in.
On the surface, this video is funny because it’s so ridiculous. Most people seem to agree that it paints a humorous picture of the differences between men and women. Jim Daly of Focus on the Family wrote an article suggesting some marriage lessons that could be taken from the video. By recommending that couples “appreciate both sides” and “watch out for your blind spot” Daly offers the current, fairly predictable type of Christian marriage advice that minimizes the differences between husbands and wives. Just as predictably, several women offered comments on his article complaining that the video denigrates women. One woman said, “I am offended and disappointed in this video. It makes women look stupid and clueless…” While another added, “Shame on you, Focus on the Family”
RingLeaders takes a very different perspective. Meditation two, “Jesus has joined me to my wife as one flesh” emphasizes the unity of husbands and wives that is at the core of humanity. To a RingLeader, making fun of or criticizing women as a group makes as much sense as a bunch of left arms getting together to laugh at all the right arms. Christian marriage emphasizes oneness, not some sort of “healthy respect” for disconnected individuals.
“It’s Not About The Nail” is funny because it is a perfect image of what husbands feel like when we’re trying to respond to our wive’s needs. Remember what we learned from Deborah Tannen? Men naturally approach problems in an instrumental way. When a guy starts talking to another guy about a problem he’s having, it’s understood that he primarily wants some help or advice. As we have learned, this is not the same priority for our wives. Wives are often seeking connection and reassurance that she is understood. Knowing she is not alone in her problem is, in itself, very comforting.
The funny part is, because of our bent, we husbands find ourselves patiently listening to our wives’ sharing feelings while the “problem to be solved” seems so obvious! The visual connection Jason Headley makes to “hitting the nail on the head” only emphasizes the point. The nail only represents that seemingly obvious (to us as husbands) problem that we think she needs fixed.
Just last week a couple in my office were arguing about how he was responding when she talked about stresses at work. I was reminding him that his wife needed to know that he understood how she felt. He nodded impatiently and then said, “Yeah but when do I tell her the truth!” To us husbands, patiently listening and responding to our wives’ feelings can seem just like having to say “That must be hard” while we’re watching a nail sticking out of her head! Even when you’re doing it right, listening well can be a bit irritating or even feel dishonest; all because husbands are stuck in the male perspective.
The third meditation reminds us that, in marriage oneness, “to love our wives is to love ourselves; to serve our wives is to serve ourselves.” Meeting our wives’ needs sometimes means ignoring what, to us, seems so obvious. Watch the video again and, this time stop it right after she says, “It is. Thank you.” You have to admit it feels kinda good when your wife’s response shows that you have comforted her, even if you haven’t “fixed” the nail problem.
Next time you’re trying to really listen to your wife’s feelings and you think you can see an obvious problem that needs fixing right in front of you, just remember “it’s not about the nail!”