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October 20, 2013

Nag Me Some More

It is a familiar scenario. Your partner asked you to do something, and you said you would do it. For some reason you haven't done it. Your partner asks you about it. Maybe the inquiry is made calmly and respectfully. Maybe it is made with impatience or anger. Possibly you feel a little guilty, but mostly you feel pressured, pushed and resentful. Maybe you say, "I said I'll do it, and I'll do it." Or "I'll do it when I get around to it." Or "Stop nagging me!"

Maybe your partner continues to wait for you to keep your promise. Maybe he or she can't wait and ends up doing it without you or getting someone else to do it. Maybe you finally do the task, but instead of properly appreciating it your partner grumbles because it took so long. Now you both feel resentful.

The next time this scenario comes up, he or she says, "You always do this!" or "You never keep your promises!" That isn't quite true, because sometimes you have done exactly what you said you would do. But never and always describe how it feels to the other person, who doesn't feel able to count on you. Your partner nags you with increasing frequency in an effort to get you to do things, and to do them on time. You become more and more likely to ignore or delay those tasks because you don't like being nagged and rushed, and you definitely don't want to be bossed around. As the arguments become more frequent, you both become more and more resentful of each other's bad attitude and obnoxious behavior. Your satisfaction with the relationship is going downhill.

Maybe what you are thinking sounds something like this: If you nag me, I won't do it. You're trying to control me!

But what if you thought something completely different: If you nag me, it means you need this. You're depending on me!

Consider the possibility that your partner's nagging is nothing more than a request for help, even though it may not be expressed in the way you would prefer. The apparent irritation and impatience are masking deeper feelings, the anxiety and insecurity that ask, are you there for me? Are you really there? When you show your partner that you are reliable, you provide reassurance. You build trust. You make it easier for your partner to cooperate with you. You both feel like you are building a life together.

What if, instead of seeing nagging as a sign that you are unappreciated, you saw it as evidence of just how necessary your contribution is?

2 fabulous comments:

  1. Reliability and consistency are right up there with fun for me. What a wonderful mate retention tool it is to establish with your love that you will be there to help - every time. And if not, then one will have a damn good excuse. Taking action prevents nagging. I always suggest to my students how nice it would be if I were unable to boss them because they did what I had or was about to ask.

  2. What a beautiful way to look at nagging, Rosemary. I am a recovering nagger and bossy one. While I do think that switching your interpretation of the nagging can be very helpful in preventing negative feelings, I do know that CJ and I get along much better when I refrain from nagging. Perhaps that's because we really do share the load, and he knows I wouldn't ask unless I needed it. I'm not sure.

    I think this is great advice and will remind myself of it from time to time when I get my bossy pants out and think about putting them on.


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