Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of incessant nagging? Have you ever noticed your own tendency to nag others?
Nagging is all too familiar
It's been a long, stressful day at work (maybe a long, stressful week or month), and you finally make it home from the office well after the sun has gone down. You haven't had any dinner, and you simply want to sit down, put your feet up and relax for a minute. Maybe you want to catch the last couple minutes of the big game or watch your favorite show to decompress. Just as you flip on the TV, in walks your spouse, and you are bombarded with questions like these: "Why are you home so late?" "Did you pick up the dry cleaning?" "I had to pick up your socks off the floor again." "Why are you always wasting time watching TV?" "Don't you have something more important to be doing?" "Guess what [insert problem] happened today?" "When are you going to fix that broken light?" Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.
Most of us are more than familiar with the term "nagging" and have experienced it many times. Maybe your boss is one of those constant nagging individuals who you can never seem to get off your back. Perhaps when you hear that word you think of your teenage years and the constant nagging from your parents to do your homework or to clean your room. Maybe you think of a coach, a sibling, a teacher or a neighbor. Maybe, you even think of ... your spouse ... GASP!
It's very likely that you've been on both the receiving and giving ends of nagging. Because of that, you've probably already observed the most important (and simple) fact about nagging: it never works!
In fact, rather than working to help you achieve your objective, nagging does the exact opposite-it creates conflict and annoyance and moves you farther from your ultimate objective of a happy and healthy marriage.
Nagging doesn't provide progress
If you're interested in an object lesson, then try this out. Ask your spouse to hold out their hands with their palms facing you. Then, hold up your own hands and place your palms against theirs. Now push just a little. No doubt, they'll push back-it's a natural reaction. Try pushing a little harder, and they'll reciprocate by pushing back harder.
This is what nagging does. It creates pressure, conflict and stress without providing any forward progress. If you're constantly nagging your spouse in one direction, they will undoubtedly push back in the opposite direction. Here's the thing about nagging: it's not that the nagger's intentions are bad. In fact, most of the time their comments may be be well-grounded, insightful and even well-meaning. But nagging isn't really about the underlining question or concern at hand. It's about communication and delivery.
Nagging drives people apart
Nagging is like a wedge that creates space between you and your spouse, pushing you farther and farther apart. Picture, for example, a wedge that's used to chop wood. In order to split a piece of wood, you put the wedge in the center and start tapping on it. The more you tap, the deeper the wedge goes and the farther apart the wood splits. So it is with nagging; the more you nag, the deeper the wedge goes and the wider the gap becomes between you and your spouse.
So, what should you do if you realize you are a nagger in your marriage? And, if nagging never works, what does? Find out by trying any of these 3 tips today.
1) Let it go
If whatever is bothering you is actually inconsequential in the bigger scheme of things, then let it go. There's no need to let molehills become mountains and ruin (or, at the very least, damage) your marriage. It simply isn't worth it. Just let it go.
Part of being married is loving each other ... warts and all. You have to pick your battles; and, let's face it, some battles simply aren't worth the fight. Sometimes you just need to keep your rose-colored glasses on, bite your tongue and let it go.
2) Utilize more positive and effective communication skills
Learn to communicate in more positive and effective ways. In no way am I suggesting that you should simply ignore problems or differences of opinion. But I am suggesting there are much better and more effective ways to promote change and improvement in your spouse than by constant nagging. For starters, check out these 10 tips to promote healthy communication. Any and every effort you make to improve communication between you and your spouse will pay huge dividends.
3) Be sensitive to your spouse's needs
It's so easy to find fault with your spouse or to only focus on the things they do that bother you. However, you are better than that. Practice being sensitive to your spouse's needs by paying attention to their emotional temperature. Care more about how your spouse is doing and how their day went, than all the other things that are bugging you. Catch your spouse doing good, and compliment him or her often instead of focusing on anything negative.
When you let the little things go, communicate in positive ways and truly care about how your spouse is doing, then nagging will fall by the wayside. Choose not to sweat the small stuff, and it will go a long way in helping you nurture your marriage.
This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.