It seems as though everywhere you look, there's a joke about the nagging woman. From family TV shows to hip-hop anthems to SNL skits, nagging is in the forefront of our minds. But is it true? Are women really just big ol' nags? We sat down with YourTango experts Lisa Shield and Lisa Kaplin to get to the bottom on the debate and to learn what, if anything, can be done about it.
To begin, we should consider what nagging really is. Lisa Shield offers the basic definition: "Nagging is when one person keeps badgering another person to do something while the other person keeps ignoring the request, causing both people to become increasingly annoyed." She is quick to add that "men have been known to nag, but experts say that women tend to nag more because they feel responsible for taking care of household chores and they are more sensitive to problems in the relationship."
With more responsibilities comes more worries, right? Lisa Kaplin agrees with the sentiment that women nag more and adds that most women she talks to "will admit to more than a little nagging of her spouse or children." She adds: "Most women suggest that they nag about things such as messy rooms or things laying around the house or a partner who doesn't seem to be listening to them. Although the first two seem rather trivial and the second a bit more serious, maybe the underlying reasons for nagging are somewhat similar."
So, if women are responsible for the bulk of nagging, does that mean they are born with a nagging gene? Kaplin argues that we probably don't grow up hoping to be that partner but does admit it's "not too hard to fall into the pattern." Shield can relate. She explains that she decended from a long line of naggers and how it affected her own communication style. "My mother was a world-class nag. So was her mother before her. If I had the guts to look back, I am sure I would see that my nagging killed more than a few of my relationships. The most dreadful moment I can remember was when I nagged one boyfriend so much that he began backing out the door of my house shouting, 'Leave me alone! I can't talk about this anymore!' I literally nagged our relationship to death."
Is getting your way so important that it's worth losing your relationship over? Probably not. So why do we do it? Kaplin offers an explanation: "Maybe we are a bit controlling and we hope that if we keep up with our nagging, we will get what we want. My guess is that if you nag a lot, it's probably working. Yet, do you feel good about yourself and your relationship when you do it? Nagging can be effective in that the other person will do anything to get you to stop but I'd say that you probably aren't building much good will with your partner and nagging is probably only making your communication worse."
It's making communication worse, or as we've seen, completely eliminated in the form of a breakup. Before we can figure out how to stop, we need to figure out why we really nag. Shield and Kaplin offer six of the top issues that irritate women most and cause us to nag.
1. Forgetting important dates, like birthdays or anniversaries
Why does your wife get so bent out of shape when you forget to give her flowers on Valentine's Day or a card on her birthday? As women, we need to feel cherished and desired by our husbands. We also know that there are plenty of beautiful, single women out there who would love to get their hands on a good man. As such, we see these special dates as perfect opportunities for men to show us how much they care, and for them to reassure us that there's no one they'd rather be with.
2. Having bad manners
What do we mean by bad manners? Farting, burping, leaving the toilet seat up, throwing your dirty socks on the floor, seeing empty beer cans lay around… you get the idea. Look, we want you to feel comfortable at home, but we also don't want to be treated like your college roommate or your maid. If you act like an animal, we might feel compelled to treat you like one.
3. Checking out other women
This is one of those hot button issues and definitely a major nag-alert situation. But Shield doesn't care if her husband looks at other women. Heck, she check them out, too and also looks at other men. She explains that "It's hard not to look when a beautiful person walks by" but to "be discreet about it and don't gawk." When you ogle other women, it can trigger all kinds of insecurities in us. We aren’t stupid. We know that men are visual and that they think about sex constantly. While these are facts and we have to learn to live with them, if your eye is always wandering, we can only assume that your heart and mind will surely follow.
4. Not following through with commitments
One of the biggest reasons women nag is because men often don't deliver on their promises to us. Shield once read that many men don't like to disappoint women to their faces, so they often make promises that they don't keep. Other men intend to follow through; they just have a different timeline from their wives. Here's the deal: we feel extremely disappointed when you say you'll paint the fence, mow the lawn, or clean the garage and then don't do it. Taking care of the house is the same thing as taking care of us. We need to see proof that you're there for us when we need you.
5. Feeling a lack of intimacy
There is a saying that for men, foreplay is everything in the five minutes it takes for him to remove his clothes. For women foreplay is everything in the 24 hours leading up to sex. To feel sexually aroused with a long-term partner, many women need to feel emotionally connected first and foremost. Unfortunately, many women say that once they're in a committed relationship the romance dies. Men don't think it dies; they just don't think it's necessary. They feel that once they get the girl, there's no longer a need to send all those thoughtful texts or go out for candlelit dinners. Guys, we have news for you: women will never stop wanting to be romanced. We will also never stop wanting to hear how amazing the relationship is and how you can't live without us. If you don't give us this periodic reassurance, you can pretty much bet that we will nag you for it. Keep Reading...
More relationship advice on YourTango: