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August 15, 2014

How To Overcome Nagging

# 1. Try this exercise

Holli Kenley

This exercise worked really well with my clients! Once a week, sit down together and make a list of 1-5 things that need to get done for that week. Do not write down more than five items; and keep it shorter if some of the ‘honey-do’s’ are longer projects. Next to the project or item, write down the date and time that it will need to be completed or accomplished (during that week or another agreed upon time). Once the list is done, post it on the fridge or another visible place. No more discussion needed!

Women, by doing this you agree not to bring it up or ask anything about the item! Men, by doing this you agree to get it done by the date and time that was set! At the end of the week, when you sit down to do this again, women “Thank your guys” for what they did!! And men, “Thank your ladies for their respectful support”!

Holli Kenley, www.hollikenley.com

# 2. Be clear, soften up and acknowledge

Tara Gogolinski

As women, we are socialized to feel immense responsibility to manage and maintain our home and family. Thus, we often have a lot of wants and needs we attempt to communicate to our partners. Often the way in which these wants and needs are communicated is interpreted as nagging.

It is always okay to express a want or need. However, when you repeatedly request for something in an ineffectual way, the request translates into nagging.  Here are three ways to avoid nagging without compromising your wants or needs:

1.  Be clear – Tell your partner exactly what you need and why. Do not assume it is obvious to him.  Express the importance of your request. Do not assume that your partner doesn’t care/understand/listen; politely ask for clarification (e.g. “I feel like I might have been unheard when I asked you to run to the store because the TV wasn’t muted, do you need to know what groceries we need?”)

2. Soften up – Demands are met with defensiveness. If you need or want something from your partner, approach with softness; a sincere ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ goes a long way.

3. Acknowledge – It is important to feel appreciated when someone is asking something from you. You partner needs to feel acknowledged and supported just like you (e.g. “I know we’ve both been slammed with work this week, I’d really appreciate if you would please try to find a half hour to mow the lawn when you get home. I will bake the cake for the party tomorrow while you take care of lawn. Teamwork!”)

Tara Gogolinski, www.lifeandlovecft.com

# 3. Stop yourself, take a deep breath and think for a minute or two about what you really need at that moment from him or for yourself.

Traina Jackson-Clarke

Nagging is one of those behaviors that appears to satisfy an immediate need of yours but in reality causes more problems for you. When you nag him, you grab his attention and focus it on you. Nagging also provides you with an inkling of control over him or the situation for a short period of time. Truthfully, nagging covers over the hurt of being ignored or feeling that you’re insignificant by someone that’s supposed to love you. So, the next time you get the urge to nag him about something, stop yourself, take a deep breath and think for a minute or two about what you really need at that moment from him or for yourself.

If you’ve determined you were nagging him about a need that was not being fulfilled at the moment, ask yourself “what other ways can I fulfill this need”? If you do this instead of nagging him for the attention, you’re able to be honest with him and let him know you feel a need to connect or feel like you’re losing him. This type of reaction will create a better chance for him to actually hear what you want and keep him from ignoring your needs. Great relationships can last when you make an effort to communicate your needs to him in a straight forward manner rather than circling around what you really want or desire.

Traina Jackson-Clarke, www.progressiveawarenessmh.com

# 4. Uncover the underlying cause

Bobbi Jankovich

Chronic nagging can be one of the most destructive qualities in a relationship. If a person is ready to stop nagging, it might be helpful to get curious about what invites it. I would challenge the “nagger” to stand back in observance of the relationship and ask:

Does nagging work?

Depending on the answer, we might deconstruct that question with even more questions that hopefully open space for context:

• How do you feel when you nag?
• How does your partner feel when you nag?
• Does your partner generally surrender to the nagging?
• Is your partner’s compliance your goal?
• If your partner complies, is it good enough, or does it lead to more nagging?
• Is there a “culture of nagging” in your relationship?
• Is criticism a companion of nagging?
• How long are you willing to nag until you receive compliance?
• What are you willing to risk in your relationship to receive compliance?
• Does nagging improve your relationship? Does it make you and your partner feel more connected?
• If your partner generally surrenders to nagging, is there a larger, long-term effect on the relationship?
• If nagging didn’t exist in your relationship, what would be different between you?

If your relationship isn’t improved with nagging, which I suspect it is not, then that needs to be seriously acknowledged. Something has become more important to you than the health and safety of the relationship.

The goal is to improve connection through healthy communication. If you find yourself nagging on a regular basis, there is another dynamic that isn’t being addressed. It is important to unravel that surface content (nagging) in order to uncover the underlying cause.

Bobbi Jankovich, www.bobbijankovich.com

# 5. Empathize with the naggee and get a better insight of the situation

Orly Katz

Nagging is a ritual that both partners contribute to. Nagging is a vicious cycle, where one partner asks or demands; the other dismisses, shuts down or responds angrily. Yet, the ritual continues and can create a rift between the partners. Not much is accomplished, until one partner gives in, feeling unsatisfied.

The first partner, the “Nagger” is hurt, feels dismissed, unimportant, and angry.
The other partner, the “Naggee” feels patronized, irresponsible, blamed, hurt and angry.

A three step approach to stop this cycle is for the “Nagger” to empathize with the “Naggee” and get a better insight of the situation:

Assess your role as the “Nagger” and your contribution to the cycle

Think about the underlying reason for your nagging; be honest and truthful with yourself

Are you trying to impose your way?
Are you trying to change him?
Are you taking on yourself a role that he is not comfortable with?

Imagine you are the “Naggee”

Put yourself in his shoes, try to respond to the nagger

What is your role in this situation?
Would you like to change?
Can you propose a compromise?

Find a solution.

Think about possible solutions

Can you let go, take a step back and let your partner deal with it?
Can you take charge and deal with it yourself?
Can you both come to an agreement on whose role it is to better handle the situation?

Empathizing with your partner conveys caring. Your partner will be much more motivated to compromise once heard and understood.

Orly Katz, www.orlykatz.com

# 6. Own up to it and make positive changes

Judith Fujimura

When you get busted for nagging, own up to it, and make positive changes, because nagging is more than just an annoying habit – it destroys heart intimacy, and can even destroy physical intimacy, making your marriage miserable. Nagging sets up a parent/child dynamic, the most unsexy atmosphere possible. It also denies your emotions as well as your partner’s, creating emotional distance between you. A partner will quickly tune out everything a nagger says, as a way to protect himself from failure feelings.

The first step is to think of nagging as an addiction. Doesn’t it make sense? You need to do more and more of it to feel normal. It’s affecting your relationship. You have trouble stopping, or cutting back. The second step is to check yourself in to “Nagging Detox”. Go cold turkey, but take it one day at a time. Try to get through just today, with ZERO nagging. And another day, and so on.

As the weeks progress, your brain will adjust to being calm without nagging. Your partner’s brain will adjust to remembering things independently. More emotions will surface for you and your partner to share. Treating each other as adults will restore your sexual attraction. Some important things will not get done, but the former nagger can learn to let the non-essentials go undone. Save your “helpful reminding” for life-and-death issues, such as getting a colonoscopy, or drafting wills and trusts. Then your partner will tune in to your needed advice.

Judith Fujimura, www.judycares.com

# 7. Ask yourself what is it you want him to do without making any assumptions

Jean Brennan

Nagging is a circular process that goes around and around, always remaining on the surface of the issue and never allowing the underlying issues to be addressed. It becomes a battle of wills or about getting things done. Nagging actually allows one’s partner to continue to ignore them by using the nagging itself as an excuse; “oh, she’s just on me again”.

The woman who nags first needs to ask herself what is it she is asking her partner to do. Is it to get him to put up the coat rack or is she asking him to change something that is inherent in his personality? Does she have a clue as to why he does not follow through? Talked to him or making assumptions?

Couples need to understand and accept that they have differences; in upbringing experiences and standards. Once they have that dialogue, the next step is “…now that we know how we differ, how do we come to the middle? How do we compromise? What is or is not a deal breaker?”

The husband who ignores his wife’s requests may be doing so because it is easier to do that than to tell her he does not want to do something, or he does not agree with her. He is being avoidant without expressing his true feelings and wishes.

If a reasonable request goes unmet, let your partner know its importance to you and ask him to tell you why or how is it that he is not taking you seriously.

Jean Brennan, www.jeanbrennan.net

# 8. Identify the driving emotion

Karla Lawrence

Nagging, is essentially an ineffective approach to communicating a need. In order to address nagging, a more effective way of communicating your needs must be identified. To do this, you will first need to identify the emotion(s) that are driving your nagging. Ask yourself, what is really bothering you? Specifically what your partner’s lack of action is causing you to feel. Once you identify the emotion, you can communicate this to your partner in a more direct way.

For example, you may experience frustration after coming home and seeing that your partner hasn’t taken out the trash. Your immediate response might be, “You never take out the trash!” This is an indirect way of expressing your frustration and will likely cause your partner to become defensive. A more effective response might be, “Sweetie, when I come home and see the trash sitting in the kitchen after you promised to take it out, it makes me feel frustrated.”

In this example frustration has been expressed more directly. Speaking about your emotions versus what your partner didn’t do, creates space to have a more productive dialogue instead of an exchange of words arising from defensiveness. By speaking with your partner instead of talking at him, you might find out that he was just taking a moment to decompress from a hard day of work!

Karla Lawrence, www.creativecounselingandconsultation.com

# 9. Working on changing your mindset

Jeannie Dougherty

Often nagging occurs because one is feeling frustrated and overwhelmed with tasks, duties, and responsibilities. Our partners may respond in kind but more often they just ignore us. Which then leads to more nagging.

Before you speak breathe and remember your tone. If you are already annoyed and frustrated then that will come across in your tone. If you ask three times for your partner’s help and no response, then asking seven more times isn’t going to necessarily work for you or your partner. You end up in a nagging pattern.

I suggest my clients begin to work on changing their mindsets before they speak to their partners. I have them listen to their favorite song (s); change into something fun and perhaps even alluring like their favorite shirt, or envisioning the encounter while being successfully heard.

If you have tried your best and no luck you still feel you are in a nagging pattern then there may a couple of things to consider. When are you encountering these issues? Timing is the most overlooked dynamic in relationships. When timing is considered then you can create options with your partner, which is why your partner may not be responding in the first place. They want another option, which doesn’t mean it all, must fall on you. So if the issues center around daily duties and you and your partner works long hours and comes home late, a maid maybe needed, certain days designated for housework, or adjusting your expectations for perfection.

Nagging is showing you the cracks in your relationship communication, which can be repaired. Never let your nagging patterns run your relationship.

Jeannie Dougherty, www.jeanniedougherty.com

# 10. Concentrate on daily positive interactions

Shelby Riley

Most couples have little faith that their marriage can be amazing. And yet they expect near perfection on a daily basis. They point out each and every little thing they don’t like, hoping their partner will learn to live life according to their rules. I often ask coupes to reverse this thinking: Hold out hope that your marriage can be phenomenal, and lower your expectations for daily perfection. Expect flaws and give grace.

A great way to show grace and still have a voice in the relationship is to concentrate on daily positive interactions, and choose one weekend day to have a calm, short conversation about the top one or two things you’d like your partner to focus on to be a better spouse. Be open to hearing his top one or two things for you to focus on, too. If you have a great memory, especially for your husband’s annoying habits and relational failures, you will find the dirty socks on the floor and the dishes in the sink may not seem as important to change as him speaking to you in a respectful way or being home in time for dinner with the family.

When you highlight the positive all week, it’s easier for you to be forgiving of small things, and easier for your husband to hear what concerns you have and feel safe and loved enough to want to do better by you. If you have a bad memory, keep a list of the things you are annoyed by, and pick the top two on the weekend to address. Fillings your days with warm, positive interactions is a great way to avoid nagging, and a great way to build a relationship where you actually want and need to nag less.

Shelby Riley, www.shelbyrileymft.com

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