I have noticed that the more my husband and I strengthen our marriage, the better we are getting at fighting the addiction. I do not think this is a coincidence.
Today we're going to address the topic of nagging. I hate the word. HATE it. My husband knows that there will be hell to pay if he even jokes that I'm "nagging."
Merriam-Webster defines "nag" as "to find fault incessantly," "to be a persistent source of annoyance or distraction," and "to irritate by constantly scolding or urging."
Ladies (and gentlemen), the topic of nagging has two sides to it.
(For simplicity's sake, we're going to assume that the ladies are the ones doing the "nagging." I know it goes both ways.)
So let's concentrate on the ladies first since it is healthy to find the beam in our own eye before criticizing the mote in others'. Are we constantly finding fault in our husbands? Are we always annoyed with them? Do we feel like they aren't pulling their own weight? Do we have real conversations with them about interesting topics or do our interactions with our husbands consist solely of logistical matters?
- Hey--have you had a chance to ______?
- When you're done doing that, can you _______?
- Don't forget to _______.
- Um, did you do anything while I was out?
- Seriously? You still haven't ______?? You have been saying you'll do that for weeks!
- I swear it's never going to get done. Why do I have to do everything myself?
- Have you been doing your scripture study? Have you talked to the bishop lately? What did you do with your time today? Why did you spend so much time watching TV? You need to get out and exercise. Why do you stay up so late?
Let's look at the other side of this "nagging" coin. The connotation of the word takes all the responsibility off the husband and makes the wife look like the bad guy. The persistent source of annoyance.
Do you know what the common use of "nagging" really refers to? Reminding someone to do something that should have already been done. I am very straight forward with my husband. I once told him, "If I remind you to do something, it's because you already agreed to do it and you haven't yet. It is not my fault you haven't gotten it done. I am not the bad guy for reminding you. Reminding is not nagging."
If he takes responsibility for his tasks, I do not have to remind him. The choice is up to him.
So how in the world do we make this work?
A friend once told me that studies had shown that couples are happiest when the roles of each partner are clearly defined--not necessarily evenly divided, but clearly defined. (I have no idea if this was an actual scientific study or not, but the concept is good.)
The key is to sit down with your husband and talk it out. Who is in charge of what? Which roles are we sharing? Is he assuming you're going to do the laundry? Are you assuming he's going to take out the trash? Have you ever asked him if he wants to be in charge of taking out the trash? Has he ever asked you if you want make dinner every night? Talk about what roles you normally hold. My husband and I recently decided that I am in charge of making sure we read scriptures together. He is in charge of making sure we pray. Do you know what? We are reading and praying together more than we ever have before. There is no resentment that I'm always the one suggesting we read. I'm not "nagging" him to read scriptures with me. We decided together that that was going my role.
This goes for things related to the addiction as well. Decide when you will discuss it. We designated Sunday evenings after the kids go to bed. We talk about how the week went, how we're doing emotionally, and what our goals are for the week. This way I don't get angry if he goes all week without wanting to talk about it. I know the time will come, because we designated a time together.
Sit down with your spouse and talk about these things. Of course, not every role has to be divvied out. My husband and I actually share most roles and chores in our home, but those tasks that end up being sources of contention should be sorted out. And when the roles are defined, let him be in charge of his tasks. You are not his mom. He is an adult. If you weren't in his life, he could probably handle taking out the trash without you reminding him ten times. Let him be an adult. And if he slacks off, let it go. Do your tasks happily and let him do his.
Then have a real conversation with him. About something interesting and fun.