It Isn't About The Nail


I have become a little obsessed with this video. In fact, I could say that it is one of my favorite films even though it only lasts only a little over a minute and a half. The message is layered and the acting is superb. The filmmaker really hits on a topic that confronts every couple, but uses humor to get the message across. And isn't humor best when you can relate?
The woman begins by addressing her pain, particularly the pain of not knowing when the pain will end. The man responds by pointing out the obvious, she has a nail in her forehead, yes a real nail in her forehead. It seems simple enough, let's get the nail out.
This seems logical enough, yet the woman says "It's not about the nail." How can it not be about the nail, when the solution is right there in front of us (literally). The answer is that it is not about the nail, but the pain she is experiencing. She is searching for empathy, not a solution to the problem.
The man persists in his rebuttal that the pain will go away if the nail is removed, but he misses the mark and is reminded that it is about her pain not the cause of the pain. Then he shifts and sees the problem through her eyes and reassures her that "it must be hard." She immediately shifts into an affectionate tone, touches his hand and lets him know she is feeling soothed.
Men naturally (as in how their brains are programmed) want to remove pain from their partner, particularly if they have caused the pain. Men do not like to listen to pain - in that way, they tend to be more sensitive than women. Men move beyond pain for survival while women respond to pain with a desire to nurture for survival (again, their brains are built to nurture children).
Never the less, the way you respond to your partner is behavior that can be shaped. The film shows that behavior can change. In this case, the woman seeks to be nurtured and finally receives it. The man fails to negotiate her to understand how difficult it is to see that nail sticking out just ready to be pulled out of her forehead.
Couples can have it both ways. Men can be more nurturing to the woman's pain while women can be more understanding of the man's desire to remove pain (and a variety of unpleasant feelings) through problem-solving. Too often men and women insist that the relationship will be better if it is done their way, when the truth is that the relationship will be better if you are sensitive to your partner's way, even if it seems like you only have to get the nail out.

For further inquiries:

Check out Lee Horton, Ph.D., Psychologist, at

Phone: (901) 818- 5450