An excerpt from my upcoming book “I Like Long Forks”. This excerpt is 1,200+ words so the button below will send it to your Kindle if you want to read it there.
(This has not been edited in any way so please just read and enjoy. Editing always comes after production and reflection.)
Your wife did not marry you so she would have someone to nag. Nagging is not an initial action. By initial action I mean that it’s not the lead move or first step. When you see someone you know shaking their hand isn’t the initial action, seeing them is. When your wife nags you she is not initiating the action. It’s a response to you not doing something. I am not giving your wife license to nag you but I want you both to understand what nagging is and how to stop it. Nagging isn’t healthy or effective for the wife and forcing your wife to nag shows a lack of health in you.
Most people would agree that women talk more than men. I can have a phone conversation with most guys I know that will last less than 2 minutes and feel totally caught up on his life. That would take most women an hour and then they have to talk about whatever they called each other about in the first place. The joke goes that women use an average of 30,000 words in a day while men use 15,000. The reason women have to use twice as many is that they have to repeat everything to their husbands. Funny and usually true. It’s true in my home.
My wife is not a “nag”. A nag is someone who no longer speaks in a kind tone and has instead tweaked their nasal cavities to give a tone of impatience every time they speak. In addition naggers only know how to speak in sarcastic tones and always assume that something is not done. They also have the gift of remembering the last date, time and location that you did not do something. It’s a lot of work to be a nagger. Many wives are naggers and I think it’s their husband’s fault. Sorry guys.
Your wife did not marry you so she would have someone to nag. Your wife married you so she would have someone to communicate her needs to and so she could help meet your needs. Marriage originates from an agreed shared need for one another. The exchange is equal. Then you actually get married and the husband stops trying as hard to meet his wife’s needs. At first your wife may let you slide. She may forgive you for falling short and not fulfilling your role as husband. She should forgive you because to expect perfection isn’t realistic. When she runs out of forgiveness she begins to directly confront your short-comings and broken promises. This is where it can all go right or all go wrong.
A humble husband will accept responsibility for his mistakes and try to change his behavior in the future. He’ll screw up again and again and again and again but if he’s trying then his spouse will and should offer grace and patience. The same is true of the wife screwing up but lets focus on us guys because we’re a mess. If you accept responsibility and your wife sees you making an effort to change she won’t nag. Nagging is the last step before giving up on you. You don’t want your wife to give up on you. If your wife has stopped communicating with you then you’re not lucky, you’ve lost her trust. If your wife is nagging you incessantly it is likely because you have stopped listening consistently. It’s time to start listening and this is the key, taking action immediately.
This is elementary really but when we stop doing elementary things consistently the effects can be profound. Imagine if you stopped showering. It’s a simple thing right? Imagine if you stopped wearing socks. It’s a simple thing right? When we stop doing the basic stuff right our lives quickly become complicated. It’s a running joke that women are complicated. I believe that most of the time but it’s not really true. Are women more complicated than men? Yes, but women are more complicated than men like a piece of concrete is more complicated than a rock. They have more components but in the end they’re the same as us. The truth is that women seem more complicated because men are so dense that we can’t understand their basic needs.
If your feel like your wife is nagging you then she is. It may not be her intent but it is her delivery. Delivery is what matters. I may not mean to bump into someone’s drink and knock it off the table but my intentions don’t matter when their drink is on the ground. If your wife is nagging you stop trying to change her behavior and start changing yours.
A simple process
1. Don’t tell her to stop nagging you.
She won’t stop because you tell her to. She’s nagging you because you earned it by not following directions and doing your job in the first place.
2. Listen hard.
Whenever you hear her speak listen hard for something you can do to help. Don’t just listen for instructions. Listen for emotions. Listen for something you can empathize with or encourage her about. Listening is work. I repeat, listening is work. You cannot passively listen. It’s like doing passive dentistry. It’s not a good idea and someone will get hurt as a result. When your wife speaks tune out whatever you’re doing and tune in to her.
3. Look for stuff to do.
Wives, you are guilty of expecting your husband to know what you are thinking. That’s not fair. We’ll usually do what we’re told as long as you use short words or better yet make a numbered list. Please stop doing that. Husbands, we can help end the “I expect you to be psychic” madness by looking for stuff to do. Look for clothes on the ground, poop in the yard, unmade beds, soap scum on the shower, a dishwasher that needs emptied or a bill that needs to be paid. Look for stuff. If you are at home stop reading, look up and look for something to do. You’ll find something. There’s almost always something to do and your wife knows it. Help her. Help her. Help her. Look. Look often. Look up and down (seriously, if dirty clothes were poisonous snakes I’d be dead by now because I don’t see them unless they’re at eye level).
Don’t tell her to stop nagging you. Earn that joyous silence. Your goal is simple. You should be able to ask her, “Is there anything I can do for you right now?” and her answer should be “No.” That sounds like Heaven to your wife and to you because at that moment all things are right in the world. The alternative is you being a lazy jack*ss who expects her to do everything unless you’re implicitly instructed to do so. Put some effort into your marriage dude. Bonus tip involving more sex: When you’re doing your job as a husband and she says there’s nothing left you need to do you can suggest something to do. Just saying.
You didn’t marry a nag, you turned your wife into one. Turn her back into a happy wife. You made her mad. You can make her happy. Go do something, it’s what you signed up for.
Learn anything? Thoughts to share? Leave me a comment below.