The Undeniability of Denial
May 11, 2017
My daughter sent me a video with this question for me, "Married men: Do you agree with this video?"
The video features a husband and a wife working their way to figure out the problem, it goes with:
Wife: It's just, there's all this pressure and sometimes it feels like it's right up on me and I can just feel it, like literally feel it in my head and it's relentless and I don't know if it's ever gonna stop.
Husband: Yeah...you do have a nail in your head
Wife: It is not about the nail
Husband: Are you sure? Because, I mean I bet if we get that out of there...
Wife: Stop trying to fix it.
Husband: No I'm not trying to fix it, I'm just pointing out that maybe the nail is causing...
Wife: You always do this! You always fix things when all I need is for you to just listen
Husband: See I don't think that is what you need, I think what you need is to get the nail...
Wife: See you're not even listening now
Husband: Okay fine, I will listen. Fine.
Wife: It's just sometimes, there's this achy, I don't know what it is. And I'm not sleeping very well at all, and now my sweaters are snag, I mean al of them.
Husband: That sounds...really hard....
Wife: It is. Thank you.
It happens to many couples some of the time, and to some couples, this happens most of the time.
Since it is not about the nail, then what is it really about?
Is it about the man not being empathetic or about the woman's stubbornness?
Or is it about the right way to communicate? Conflict resolution? Denial of fact? Or denial of denial?
What do you say?
I responded to my daughter; with 33 years of marital experience behind me, I do not necessarily agree with the simple suggestion that it is not about the nail. My wife and I do have such conversations, but very rarely in recent years compared to the early days of our marriage. We have made significant progress and have found ways to handle such conversations well enough that they not get their airtime with us anymore.
We realized that, truly, it is about the nail and much more than that.
I have identified the following lessons that we have learned in our journey. I hope that that you can benefit from our experience:
1. Be aware of gender differences.
- Man naturally gravitates towards logic while woman are mostly emotionally inclined.
- Man wants to, and assume that he is expected to solve the problem. Woman just want to be listened to.
So, be conscious of this and then give leeway to your spouse when having difficult conversations.
2. There must be connection before any correction can be effective.
Empathetically agree with your spouse - be the attentive listener first. It soothes the troubled soul.
Find the right time to point out the fact (the nail...) It may well be another day. Your spouse be so distressed that he or she merely needs a shoulder to cry on, an ear who would listen, and a body that gives an assuring embrace.
Seek to understand before expecting to be understood. It is not about your view nor your spouse's view. It must be about how both of you can move closer in love even in the difficult situation.
3. Eliminate obstacles to a good relationship.
Denial is an obstacle to change. Learn to accept facts. Be bold and honest to address your weakness and seek help.
Facts may be facts but there is little use to mention them when your spouse is hurting and simply needing your assurance.
4. Deliberately loving each other.
Accept each other fully, including differences.
Conflict resolution is both a process and an art. So practice it regularly.
Now the question I have for you is this, "Do you agree?"