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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nagging is Never the Answer

As a wife, I am learning how to relate to my husband and how to communicate to him.  That includes how to ask him to do things for me.  There are several good and bad ways to do this, but one very bad way is to nag.

What is nagging?  Asking or saying the same thing repeatedly, often in an irritating manner, to attempt to accomplish a desired result.  That's not Webster, that's me.  Literally.  I have a rather bad habit of nagging, myself.

Proverbs 21:19 (NIV) says this:
"Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife."

Ouch.  If my poor husband would be better off in a desert than living with a wife who nags him and is unpleasant to live with, then I have got to figure out a better tactic to ask him things!  And this means I need to learn the way he thinks.

Men think in "boxes."  They focus on one task or subject at a time, and do that one thing very well.  But they need to really switch gears mentally to start talking about a different topic or doing a different task.  When my husband is doing homework, playing a video game, or watching a TV show, I can't just walk into the room, start talking, and expect him to hear anything I say.  He probably won't, and it won't be his fault.  Here's what I need to do (and you too, because your husband is male and this is how they work):

Get his attention.  Say something like, "Honey, can I talk to you for a couple minutes?  I have something to ask you."
Wait.  Generally I have something I want to tell him right-this-instant, so I have to wait, literally, a minute or two for him to pause the movie or the game or stop thinking about the paper he's writing.
Simplify.  He doesn't need all the details.  If I want him to go to the store to get milk, I don't have to say that I'm in the middle of making supper and just realized that I'm out of milk and I really need it for the meal I'm making but I'm in the middle of working on another dish and I can't just leave it so will he please go to the store and get milk for me?
That will NOT work.  All I need to say is, "Sweetheart, will you please go to the store for me and get milk?  I need it to make supper."  That's it.
Make sure you communicated clearly.  Sometimes it works to have him tell you what you just told him, but don't treat him like a child.  Do make sure you get a response beyond "mm-hm" so you know he was listening and knows what you asked.
Expect the best of him.  Do not expect him to forget right away what you told him.  Men are smart.  And they are usually far smarter than we give them credit.  If he doesn't leave for the store in the next fifteen minutes, I might say something like, "Honey, I need the milk soon.  Could you please go get it now?"
Treat him with respect.  Don't snap.  Don't whine.  Do NOT order him around like a child.  You're his wife, not his mother, not his three-year-old daughter.  Treat him the way you want to be treated: with manners (please and thank you!), with kindness, with love and with respect.
Don't expect him to always do every little thing you ask him.  You CAN dry the dishes yourself.  You CAN run down to the basement to grab a jar of peanut butter off the shelf.  You CAN carry the towels back upstairs yourself.  Don't expect your man to always be at your beck and call.  When he says, "Hon, not right now, I'm in the middle of a project," or if he JUST sat down to his video game or movie after a long day, it's okay if he tells you no.  Be a big girl, don't take it personally (he doesn't mean it personally!), and do it yourself.  And next time he does do what you ask, thank him with a hug and a kiss.  He will be more likely to help you out next time (trust me.  This works!). :)

Linking with To Love, Honor and Vacuum, Messy Marriage, Graced Simplicity


  1. One can be assertive without nagging, wonderful post on the subject.

  2. To know this at 21, less than two years into your marriage ... a gift! To do this ... a miraculous blessing and work of God in you!

    And after 25 years, I seek grace to remember and live this out as well.

    "...each of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." - Ephesians 5:33

    1. Thank you, Mom! We are blessed. :)

  3. I have a friend who will ask her hubby to do something and he will immediately agree...but he never intended to do that thing right then, as she expected. He just meant he'll do it sometime...someday...maybe 3 years from now.

  4. I guess I learned a long time ago that nagging is NEVER the answer (I used to do it to my parents ALL THE TIME), so that hasn't really been a problem for me. But a reminder is always good! I laughed pretty hard when you said that "you're...not his three-year-old daughter" because that is the age when nagging your parents is like the biggest thing ever, haha. Not that I know this from the parent point of view, but I have been around enough little kids! Great post. :)

  5. GREAT post!! My husband tells so many wives when we're counseling or teaching "no woman ever nagged her husband to Jesus"...or to do anything else well! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. These are great insights, Jaimie. I love how you've compared the negative "nagging" way with the positive way and explained the rationale. We truly are different creatures, as women, and must learn to relate to the way men think. Thanks so much for sharing what you're learning. It's a much-needed word of encouragement that we all would do well to heed. :)

  7. This was an awesome post! I needed to hear this. I take advantage of my husband's patience far too often, I'm afraid.


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