When it comes to relationships, many men will say that nagging is the number one relationship killer. And no woman likes to be called a nag either. Yet the nagging cycle continues even though both parties want it to end. So how does one stop nagging? Realizing you are doing it is the first step. Following that, some suggestions and replacement behaviors are all you need to nip your nagging in the bud.
• Use a tactic called “carefrontation.” This tactic is the opposite of confrontation and is a term coined by Dr. Stratyner, a relationship expert often sought by the Oprah Winfrey show. It’s about reminding your husband or boyfriend that you still think of him as that, not as an underling who can’t get anything right. When you go into it anticipating a fight, that’s exactly what you are going to create.
• Explain how you feel, not how he is the bad guy. Make a joke about it to lighten the mood even. “Honey, I fear for my life and drowning to death every time I go after you leave the toilet seat up.” Or “It really stresses me out when I have to cook every single night after meetings that don’t end till six. What can we do about it?” When people feel like the bad guy, they aren’t looking for ways to help or make it better; they are looking for ways to escape the situation.
• Remember that you are on the same team. He’s not leaving the toilet seat up because he is on a personal mission to drive you nuts, it just is what it is. Addressing it in a way that shows him you know you are in this together, and even offering up a compromise of your own, will cement the notion in his head far more than, “For God’s sake, the toilet seat? Again? What’s it going to take?”
• Give him a timeline, and a proposed solution. Let’s say it’s the lawn you are nagging about. Let him know, as kindly as possible, that Thursday would be a good day for that, because you are having people over this weekend. All you need to say is, “If you can’t squeeze it in this week, love, just let me know and I’ll call the landscaper in for Friday.” You may well get the response, “Probably better if you do that, this week is nuts.” Or, “No, too expensive, don’t worry about it, I’ll do it tonight.” But you won’t have a fight about it, and you aren’t going to spend the entire day stressing because you just know the lawn isn’t getting done.
• Tell him you think it’s sexy when he does *insert chore or nagging item* … but then follow through. Pavlov was no fool. If he knows he’s getting some just for leaving the toilet seat down for you, congratulations, you’ve just retrained your husband.
• Try understanding, rather than assuming. There is always a reason for his behavior, and for yours as well. If you are appreciative of the fact that he’s just too busy to get the lawn done, rather than assuming he’s just being lazy, the problem will get solved much quicker.
• Let him understand as well. Women make the mistake of thinking their husbands and partners are mind readers. They cook every night even though they are exhausted and stressed about it, but never once have they sat down to say, “Honey, I’m sorry but this just isn’t working for me.” He won’t know stuff like that unless you tell him. As important as it is for you to understand him, it’s equally important for him to understand you, but don’t assume that he does unless you know you’ve already told him.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line when it comes to quitting nagging is to understand that communication barriers are the key to it all. Not communicating properly with your partner will lead you down the nagging path. It’s about remembering that you are on the same team, and that he is not your underling. Using the words that brought the two of you together when you first started dating, and getting back into that swing of communication you were once so good at, is all that you need to do to stop nagging for good.