I’ve found myself over the years talking to couples about the dangers of nagging and its ugly effects on relationships, but not very sure if I’ve ever stopped to ask why people nag. It’s so easy to tag people ‘Nags/Naggers,’ we assume it’s a character flaw, a terrible attitude that needs to be dealt with and overcome and when it’s like changes are not forthcoming as expected, we despair, stop loving, complain and seek to abandon them. This may end up being a long journey but I hope you enjoy it as we are all involved and have the tendencies to nag or be nag victims.
It’s not my usual style to define things and dig into meaning of common everyday words but in order to understand why we do what we do, I had to explore sources to grasp the depth of the word ‘nag/nagging.’ There are a number of insinuations but I’ll just pick the ones that hit directly on our call.
The universal dictionary sees it as “to pester or annoy by constant scolding, complaining or urging.” Another source puts it as being “continually faultfinding, complaining or petulant,” “to cause pain, discomfort, distress, depression, etc.” In all these findings, I paid particular attention to this one: “Nagging is a form of pestering or otherwise reminding an individual of previously discussed dictates, advice or request/demand.”
Having gone through all these definitions you, will be comfortable to accept that both men and women do nag. My concern now is not to apportion blames and find faults or decide who nags more—man or woman, but to get really down to see why they nag and what we can do to help the situation.
Without any intention to insult us, there’s every possibility that we cannot be totally free from being part of the reasons our spouses nag. Somebody causes someone to be angry: or is there any sane person who would just all by he or herself get upset and start raging about what does not exist? I don’t think so. If you are a bit concerned about the point I’m making, ask yourself, ‘this same person, when he/she is happy do they nag?’ No, they laugh, giggle, make joyful sounds and really radiate love. How come you are surprised when they turn the flip side of life? It is a clear sign that something is not going right but in a bid to express their frustration, gain the undesired title Nag. From here, I can, in my own words, say that nagging is an inappropriate cry for help. We should understand that it is not the points they are making that is inappropriate but the manner they present it continuously, repeatedly, angrily, painfully and faultfinding. When next you switch off as your spouse starts expressing dissatisfaction over those issues you feel you have heard before, think twice because your snobbery isn’t going to help matters. Rather, the more you turn deaf ears, the louder they’ll seem to get. The nagger does everything to get your attention and when you are not responding, things can only get worse. We are going to see different reasons people nag and how it comes, but before we get there, I want to establish that nagging points to one obvious thing – there’s a communication problem in the relationship which needs immediate attention.
It may be that someone is not saying what should be said in the right manner or someone does not understand or not willing to do as told. When couples allow problems to linger, it gives birth to all sorts of attitudes in the union. People act and react most times as a way of telling you how they feel about things. If there have been a build up of resentment and nothing was done to rectify it, people will keep building on them and tend to over react in times of ‘little’ problems.
It was an unpleasant surprise when Tina, a young woman and mother of two raised her voice in a shopping mall against her husband, John. To him, he felt he was only trying to tell his wife which dress would fit her better but Tina understood and interpreted a different message entirely and she exploded; “enough of your controlling powers, I’ve really had enough of it. I will not have you ruin my life forever, when am I ever going to be given the chance to choose my own things? You bought an ugly wedding dress without telling me and forced me to wear it, you gave names to our two children without considering my input, brought your sister to live with us without discussing it with me, you always do what feels right to you. I have no place in your life, indeed, I’m tired and today is the end of that manipulation.”
Would you say that Tina was not over reacting? Of course she was, but like I said earlier, the focus is on why people nag. Here, according to her presentation, the husband kept hurting her feelings by doing things his own way and it got to this time she felt it should not continue. Although this outburst was a bit out of place, I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that to the one he/she loves. There is also a subtle truth that there is a limit to what people can condone and once they hit that limit, the unexpected can happen. I’m of the opinion that if John had listened to Tina at the very beginning of their marriage when she did not like the wedding gown he bought for her and rather asked what she would prefer, their relationship would have been on a better tract. Taking seriously your spouse’s displeasure and working together for positive results would always be at the centre of marital growth.
Back to the point of considering nagging as a form of pestering or otherwise reminding an individual of previously discussed dictates, advice or request/demand, we can infer that people nag when they feel their opinion or request is neglected or not taken seriously or given the attention it deserves. A man who walks through the lobby of his home with a scream may sound difficult to his colleague he came in with from the office, but the truth is that he would have been saying the same thing to his wife over and again without any sign of adherence. Now, he walks in with his colleague and is greatly embarrassed; the whole house is in a big mess. This makes him nag through the evening about how careless she’s been about the home? Whether it comes from a man or woman, finding yourself in the position to repeat what you’ve said previously in an angry manner puts you in the position of nagging. Mind you, the reason for nagging is to be heard and considered. If we learn to respond to the need of our spouses on time and show them that we respect their opinion and work towards meeting their need, peace will not be too far. But if you are asking what to do in a situation of unrealistic request which is out of this world, I’ll suggest you use your discretion; soft words, love and appeal, to reach a consensus rather than feel the other doesn’t care.