Nagging has always been around, but recent research says it's a primary reason for marital discord.
I have never met anyone dating a nagger. For some reason, the nagging doesn’t exist in the dating world. Since nagging is generally a female quality, I sometimes wonder if this is part of the man’s reasoning for being reluctant to get married. Men most likely grew up watching their mom nag their dad or some other guy, and understood this was part of her marital right or obligation. Women who don’t think they nag are often the worst naggers. They do what I call, “secretly nag.” It’s a bit more clandestine and cute, but their man recognizes it and labels it as nagging.
Nagging has always had a negative, somewhat humorous affection until recently. Research has boosted nagging as a primary reason for relationship discord. That’s a big deal in my field of trying to promote healthy relationships to see something as simple as nagging be elevated to such a stance. We do, after all, all nag. Even we professionals, who tell our clients the perils of nagging, nag our husbands when we get home. In fact, we professionals may be the worst nags because we know how to sneak it in, wrapped in sweetness. I could write a book about “How to Nag,” but I think it is wiser to write about how not to nag and still feel like your partner is listening. This is, after all, why women nag. Women nag because they aren’t sure their man heard them the first time.
Women who nag have a nag enabler at home. This enabler has a keen sense of how to ignore the nagging. Watching the couple, you may surmise that the person being nagged enjoys it. He usually tunes it out, tells her angrily to stop nagging or withdraws. All of these excite the nagger, and actually produce more nagging. What would stop the nagger dead in their tracks (of course you would have to do this every time you were nagged which would require your time), is to take their hand or their face in your hands and say, “Honey, I heard you, and I will try to get that done as soon as I can.” The nagger would feel heard, loved and would let go of the request (naggers have long memories though, so you better make sure you follow through with the task). Since nagging is learned by watching your parents model it, it is difficult to extinguish it completely.
I do have some suggestions if you are a nagger or live with a nagger that may help decrease the nagging.
1. Don’t let nagging destroy your relationship. It doesn’t really require a counselor either if you are ready to talk about it with one another. Begin by being aware that it is happening and is a cycle.
2. Stay calm and try to look at the funny part of nagging. Getting angry and exploding about your partner nagging you or your partner not listening to you will only make the nagger more likely to nag.
3. Make a list of your requests that you would normally nag about, and put a priority number on them. If your partner is too busy to complete the really important ones, hiring someone to complete them is worth the strife it will cause on your marriage to continue nagging your partner (the first thing I look for when I move to a new house is a great “handyman”). I have been happily married a long time, need I say more?
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