Nagging: "To be a persistent source of annoyance or distraction. To irritate by constant scolding or urging." That is the definition from Merriam-Webster. This is what an individual feels when they think they are being "nagged". Who wants to deal with the constant annoyance and scolding? Not any grown adult I know.
So what is the root of nagging? Depending on where you look, you may find different answers, but from what I've learned, nagging is a result of a lack of communication between two partners.
It is a way for one person to actually illicit a response from the other, albeit a negative response. When one partner feels like communication is failing, and they need some sort of interaction from their other half, they resort to any means necessary to get some interaction.
Nagging is one way to achieve this. They ride you and pester you until finally you retaliate with anger and frustration. It worked for them; they got you to say something. They now know you are listening to them, and that's really all they wanted. They wanted some attention, to know you hear them. What they hope for is a positive exchange between the two of you, but negative communication is better than no communication.
Everyone has a need to feel wanted, needed, and important to someone else. That is a big reason why we choose to be with our spouse in the first place. We love that they care for us, want to be with us, understand us, and want to grow with us.
When those feelings subside, we begin to feel very insecure. We miss the interaction, compassion, conversation and love that we grew so accustomed to. We crave that energy, and we want it back.
Instead of expressing that we need attention, we fall into the nagging phase. Afraid to rock the boat more permanently, we feel nagging is more short term. So we nag until we get the some response (attention) from our spouse. And this leads to a fight or argument, and snowballs the feelings of insecurity on both parties.
Can nagging, then, lead to an affair? The answer is absolutely yes! And the affair could come from either spouse. This is because when nagging occurs, it is a sign that the basic needs of husband and wife are not being met. You are not giving your spouse the attention, they need, the feeling of security, and so on and so forth.
Likewise, they feel that you are not providing them with those same needs, and thus they nag you until you come through for them. When basic needs aren't being met, physically or emotionally, a spouse will seek an alternate means to satisfy those needs. This is how affairs happen. If you fail to pay attention to your spouse, show sincere interest in them, and let them know how important you are to them, they will find someone who can provide these essential needs.
How can you overcome this? I suggest you each sit down (individually) and write down what "your" marriage profile is. A marriage profile is simply what you expect your marriage to be like. Start out from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Describe how your ideal day would go and where and how your spouse is included in that day.
Ask yourself these questions along the way:
Do you share a meaningful conversation with your spouse when you wake up or do you just get ready for work?
Do you eat meals together? Home or out?
Do you call your spouse throughout the day or just wait until you get home?
Do you think about your spouse during the day?
Do you plan what you and your spouse will do later during the day or week? Any dates with your spouse?
What do your conversations consist of?
How many minutes during the day are you sharing meaningful conversation with your spouse?
What activities do you do with your spouse?
How do you end your evening with your spouse?
Do you have meaningful conversation before bed?
How happy are you after this "ideal" day?
Writing these things out and creating a profile is essential to happiness. Now see what your spouse has written and compare. This type of activity will create meaningful conversation and bring back the spark you are missing. Constant nagging is a sign that something is wrong in your relationship, and you need to address it before one partner decided to either have an affair or get a divorce.
How To Motivate Your Family
Do you become frustrated trying to motivate your spouse or your children to do something? Do you keep getting fed up that nothing is happening? Are you tired of nagging, complaining, and being the bad guy all the time? Do you feel it is the only way to get anything done? Does it make you feel miserable?
Do you want to succeed and have a happy, loving family instead?
Why nagging fails and destroys marriages
Have you ever been nagged? Did nagging ever make you feel motivated? Did it ever make your heart leap for joy? Did you jump to your feet and work with joy? Did nagging ever make you want to do your job with excellence?
If so, you’re extremely unusual. And there are good reasons for that.
People don’t merely dislike nagging. They hate it. Nagging is the whip across the back of a slave, and nobody wants to be a slave.
Even when you feel nagging is justified and necessary, it never works for your good.
If you want your family to
- avoid you
- detest you
- hide things from you
- do their work bitterly and grudgingly
- lust for revenge to make you shut up and leave them alone
then nagging is the right way to go about it. I know that is harsh, but it’s true. They’ll
- stay in the office long hours
- hide out at a friend’s house
- turn off their cell phones and
- refuse to answer it when you call
- try to find out where you are so they can avoid you
And if you insist on staying on that path and escalating the fight to high heaven, it will escalate, and it will end up in disaster, and most likely someone will die and go to hell.
That probably sounds far fetched, but there are a million divorces per year, and one of the highest statistical correlations among all cultures is the relationship between divorce and suicide. It is that serious.
Another dark side effect of nagging
Adultery is never justified, and when one spouse commits adultery, it is never the other spouse’s fault. It is never the children’s fault. It is never the family’s fault or anybody else’s fault other than the ones committing adultery. It is a violation of one’s promises and is evidence of dishonesty and cowardice on the part of the unfaithful. Having said that, nagging often pushes a weak and tired spouse out the door into the arms of another man or woman.
How can I say that? When people have their self-esteem torn down, they often seek to rebuild it through other means. One way is to get away from the offense, and in this case it is nagging. Another way is to work elsewhere in a place where accomplishments are rewarded, recognized, appreciated, and respected. And another way people try to heal from an injured self-esteem is to seek recognition and appreciation and love and respect from another member of the opposite sex.
Many affairs do not start out as affairs. They start when two people begin to meet each others’ desperate need for self-esteem. At home, their self-esteem is torn down, so they begin to share with someone else, and they begin to comfort each other and build each others’ self esteem. And in that situation, it is hard for them not to become attracted to one another. Sometimes this can turn into a heterosexual affair, and sometimes it can turn into a homosexual affair when one spouse feels they’ve discovered they are gay. Most likely, what happens is they have become hurt by rejection from the opposite sex and a person of the same sex has made them feel good about themselves.
But, the only reason I go into this is to make it clear where nagging can lead. Either end the nagging, or plan on ending your family. The choice is yours.
Why do people react so bitterly to nagging?
Nagging insults them. It tells them you regard them inferior, unable to manage their priorities as well as you. People don’t want to be around someone who regards them inferior.
Many believe people love those who make them feel good about themselves. But, this does not come through empty compliments and coddling. It comes when a person perceives he is able to start and complete a respectable goal and when that success is recognized by God and by others.
When you nag someone, you steal from them their opportunity to serve. You deprive them of success. If they do any work at all, it is to your credit and not theirs, so they feel they are working only to build up your pride while you tear down theirs.
Some people react to nagging by doing the job half way or poorly. Others don’t take offense. Perhaps they are strong in character and personality and can take nagging as nothing but a reminder to do something they intended to do in the first place. Others will halt in their tracks like a stubborn mule and refuse to budge. They may undermine your efforts and fight against you with all they are. And if you are so full of pride and virtual strength that you overpower them, they may fight to find some way to make you regret for the rest of your life with all you are that you overpowered them.
Have you any doubts that nagging is harmful in a relationship?
Solution – Motivate family by keeping your eyes on what they do right
When you respect their right to set their own priorities and make their own decisions and accept responsibility for the outcomes of those decisions, then you have given them a great gift and a great reason to respect and trust and love you in return.
Instead of being on the lookout for their failures, why not be on the lookout for their successes? It is a widely held belief that what gets attention gets done. So, if you pay attention to what they’re not doing, they will not do more. If you pay attention to what they do do, they will do more.
When loved ones encourage them and cheer for them as they take their first steps into something new. It comes when the compliments are for sincere reasons. It comes when someone is not nagged but rather takes hold of a responsibility or a goal and pursues it on the value of that goal and succeeds.
Slaves have to work. Servants get to work. And the difference is huge.
What if you stopped nagging and it didn’t work?
First, by ending the nagging, you are making a substantial investment in the quality of your relationship. Furthermore, you are giving your loved ones the opportunity to own their own successes and failures. It is a loving thing to give them a chance to succeed and go through life with hope and faith and love and happiness.
Furthermore, you are making it possible for your family to love you and want to be around you again.
If you have been nagging them for years, they may be hurt severely. They may recoil every time they get around the duty or responsibility that had been the source of their misery and failure and low self-esteem. They may have phobias that have to be overcome, and it won’t come about through nagging.
You may need to take responsibility for your actions and help them learn to trust you again. You may have to swallow your pride. But, you should probably wait until you are up to it. You would not want to apologize halfheartedly with no true conviction and then come back angry and nag them again later. So, if you are not convinced in your heart this is the right thing to do, it may help to wait until you are. But, it would be best not to wait too long to give up nagging.
1. Nagging, nagging, nagging. We know about the squeaky wheel, but complaining loud and long gets you only short-term gains and builds up powerful discontent on your spouse's side.
2. Blaming, criticizing, and name-calling. These tactics belittle the person you promised to love, honor, and cherish; let you play angel to his or her devil; and don't address the responsibility you both share for your marital happiness.
3. Bullying, rudeness, and selfishness. These ugly power plays tell your partner that he or she doesn't count at all in your eyes.
4. Peacekeeping and passive placating. A "whatever you say, Dear" attitude may keep your home quieter but leaves you in the martyr's role. You'll end up angry, defensive, and a drudge. What fun is that?
5. Deploying logic all the time. Life isn't the starship Enterprise; playing the dispassionate Mr. Spock not only cuts you off from your feelings but also subtly tells your spouse that his or her feelings don't count either.
6. Throwing up distractions. You're just having fun, right? Think again. Being hyperactive, fooling around all the time, and refusing to focus -- in conversation or in life -- often is an attempt to avoid intimacy or difficult issues, which can be horribly frustrating for your mate.
7. Stonewalling. Another stall maneuver, stonewalling stops arguments and constructive discussions cold. Not much can happen when one spouse just won't talk about it.
8. Making unilateral decisions about the big things. Sometimes you have to pick the bathroom paint color on your own. But if you're making major decisions about your money, your time, your kids, and your family life, you're acting without accountability and cutting off the possibility of joint decision-making and deeper intimacy.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA