Dealing with nagging can be really difficult in some homes. Constant low-level bickering and moaning leads to unhappy homes and unhappy relationships. It’s important to find out a way to find a way to stop nagging ruining your important relationships.
When we say nagging, some people might assume we’re talking about women. There is a sexist stereotype of “naggers” being wives or other female partners. That’s not the case – anyone is capable of moaning, regardless of sex and gender.
So learning to deal with nagging means acknowledging how much we nag as dads too. Finding out why we nag is important too. It’s not just dealing with our partners and other family members.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Nagging?
- Why Does Nagging Happen?
- The 5 Most Common Reasons For Nagging
- How To Deal With Nagging… From My Partner
- How To Deal With Nagging… From Me
- In Conclusion…
What Is Nagging?
The constant harassing of a person to do something
That’s the dictionary definition of nagging. Requesting and harassing another to do (usually) day-to-day tasks, like washing the dishes or taking out the bins.
Nagging – some men and women do it without even realising
But nagging is actually a range of behaviours. When we ask someone to do something, we’re not nagging. A second ask isn’t the first nag; it’s a reminder. When reminders are repeated over a long period, it becomes nagging.
Scientists have said that what we call nagging is a combination of actual nagging, complaining, griping, and scolding. Each of these is different from a linguistic point of view.
When we say that someone is “nagging us”, they could be moaning or simply telling us off. Because that’s how most people use it in their homes, that’s how we’re going to use it.
Why Does Nagging Happen?
There’s a surprising lack of research about nagging. Academic studies tend to deal with “positive familial behaviours” or serious, relationship destroying habits. As nagging is often just low-level problems, it hasn’t seen a lot of research.
But there are some key thoughts that come from researchers:
- Disapproving behaviours happen between people with an established relationship, who are unlikely to damage it.
- Scolding occurs between “intimates” of equal social standing.
We find nagging in close relationships. Those relationships are also long-term. Nagging doesn’t happen when people are in new relationships or unsure if it will last.
The 5 Most Common Reasons For Nagging
Exploring the roots of nagging can chase away those low moods
Nagging takes many forms. In a way, it’s a very personal thing. What you decide is nagging is really based on how you feel.
However, there’s usually some common forms of nagging. Our readers told us how they felt nagged by their partners and we’ve put a list together. Maybe you agree, maybe you don’t. Leave a comment below telling us how you feel nagged (or nag yourself!)
1. Dealing With Nagging… When Someone Is Lazy
We’re all guilty of being lazy sometimes. Life is busy, especially if you have kids. It can be tempting to leave the dishes for an hour. Or overnight. Or a day.
That can annoy others. We all have roles to play in our homes, even if they are “explicitly set roles”. Maybe dad always washes up the dishes while mum puts away the toys. Maybe dad hoovers as mum gives the kids a bath. You know your relationship, so you know your roles.
Failing to fulfil our roles and carry out our duties can be annoying. They let down the team. “I’m pulling my weight, why aren’t you?” can be a common thought. That kind of thinking can lead to long term resentment.
2. Dealing With Nagging… From a Control Freak
Control freak is a bit of a loaded term. It implies someone is doing something wrong. That’s not always the case, but it can seem that way to people who aren’t on the same level.
Some people like to be in control. That’s fine, but a need to lead usually comes with that. And for someone who isn’t a natural leader, that can see like bossiness and nagging.
Recently, it feels like I can’t do anything right in her eyes. I don’t [feed our son] fast enough, what I dress him in, what chores I do or don’t do, and it can get really depressing.
That’s a reader being very honest with us. Controlling and nagging behaviour can lead others to feel helpless. Useless. A bit of a spare part. That’s obviously not a good thing and can lead to unhealthy or failing relationships.
3. Dealing With Nagging… Caused By Bad Moods
We all get grumpy. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. As parents, our lives can be filled with stress and a lack of time to unwind. Sadly, that can mean that someone or something can end up in our firing line.
If you spend a lot of time with anyone, you’ll find yourself getting annoyed. Think back to our causes of nagging – it happens when relationships are solid and aren’t likely to fall apart over a bit of complaining. After years together, people will feel comfortable enough to let out their frustrations on those closest to them.
This means that nagging can be a sign of a bad mood. If complaining and criticism aren’t dealt with properly, it can cause long term mental health and marriage problems.
4. Dealing With Nagging… Because Of Miscommunication
The stereotypes go that men are famous awful for misunderstanding or miscommunication. Whether this is true or not, it was the bedrock of a lot of comedy in days gone by.
My wife came up to me and said I hadn’t listened to anything she says. “What a strange way to start a conversation”, I thought.
Whether that joke tells you something about your relationship or not is beside the point. When we fail to listen properly, our partners can get wound up. If we don’t understand something important, our partners can get wound up again.
Poor communication (even if accidental) can be the cause of a lot of nagging and arguments. It’s hard to actively listen, but that doesn’t mean misunderstanding won’t upset someone.
5. Dealing With Nagging… When Your Voice Isn’t Heard
Something a lot of people don’t realise is that nagging can come from frustration. It can start with not feeling “heard” in a relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean literally heard, but actually understood and respected.
Relationships need two people to work. Those two people need to work hard and work together. As with any team, all teammates must feel respected and have a part to play. If they don’t feel like that, they feel out of control.
Feeling out of control and that we’re wasting our breath is a common root cause of nagging. No one wants to be a nag and no one wants to moan. People do want to feel heard. If we don’t feel respected, we can start saying things that are unfair or hurtful just for a reaction.
How To Deal With Nagging… From My Partner
Your partner is their own person. You can’t change the way they are. Hopefully, you love and admire the aspects of them that makes them them. But nagging can be difficult to deal with.
Focusing on the positives in your relationship and finding out how to make mum feel appreciate is key. Mutual respect and support are the cornerstones of successful, nag-free relationships.
Here are some tips for helping them out.
Help Them Relax
Think about what your partner enjoys. Baths, music, or just time alone.
Maybe it’s a little naive to assume that all nagging comes from stress. But stress definitely doesn’t help. If we are already stressed and our home lives make us more stress, we are more likely to nag.
Give them time to themselves. This can be for their hobbies, extra time for work projects, or just to relax in the bath. You will have time to finish chores and do the boring stuff and your selfless act shows them that you listen.
Improve Your Active Listening Skills
What did you say?
Active listening is a skill. We need to practice it and be conscious of it. If we don’t practice active listening, we will just spend conversations waiting for our turn to speak.
When a nag begins, listen to what the other person is saying. If you’re not sure how to, you could use these three questions:
- What is the problem?
- Can you identify what started the problem?
- Do we have any solutions?
Nagging is a form of conversation, even if it is based on frustration. Engaging with that conversation and trying to find solutions to problems could stop the nagging and improve your relationship.
Find Time For Some Quality Time
You might not get much time together, so make it count
A lack of quality conversation and time spent together can lead to negative emotions. Tiredness, lack of engagement, grumpiness, even isolation. Negative feelings lead to negative behaviours, like nagging, complaining, and moaning.
Take some time every week to spend some time together. It’s easier said than done. Life can get busy and working parents can be short.
How To Deal With Nagging… From Me
Maybe you don’t realise you’re a nag. It’s possible you’re not even a nag, but just occasionally moan. That’s normal, but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t hurting your relationship. Moving past the sexist trope of the “nagging wife” is important for all dads.
Here are some tips on how to cut down on nagging behaviour and general self-help. Mental health problems can be a serious route cause of nagging behaviour – if you feel you nag a lot, it could be a sign of something more serious in your life.
Ask… Literally, Ask
If you don’t know if you nag, ask.
Are you worried that you’re turning into a bit of a nag? If you’ve noticed your partner is dealing with your nagging, it might be time to sit down and have a full and frank conversation about it. These conversations are positively correlated with successful, long-lasting marriages.
Just like you don’t know what’s going on inside their head, they can’t telepathically read every one of your thoughts. Open up to your partner about your frustrations, worries, and gripes. They could be in the relationship, with friends or family, or at work.
You might not know that you’re nagging. A simple question like “do I nag a lot?” can really take the bite out of the situation. Then you can both work together on your nagging and any problems that are causing it.
Create A Frustration Diary
This one’s similar to just asking, but you can do it on your own. All you need is something to write in and your thoughts.
Creating a diary of your frustrations is good for people who feel stressed often. You can write down your thoughts and externalise them. This can actually just feel good – you nag to your diary and not to your partner.
It’s also a good self-care tip – learning to express your feelings in a healthy way can rely cut down on larger mental health problems arising later. Timely reviews of your diary can show you if you always feel angry on Tuesdays or someone isn’t doing their chores correctly that causes your anger. Then you can make plans for overcoming these triggers.
Even if you do decide to write a frustration diary on your own, it’s a good idea to share what you’ve written with your partner afterwards. This could lead to a conversation about how to cut your frustrations and nagging down.
Mindfulness and meditation can improve a relationship
Mindfulness is in vogue right now. Based on Buddhist teachings, we learn to use metacognition and meditation to control and regulate our feelings.
Great question. Metacognition is thinking about our thinking. We don’t just focus on our feelings, but why we have our feelings and what causes them.
When we engage with mindfulness, we can learn meditation and self-control techniques that help us cut down on the negativity that leads us to complain, moan, and nag.
Learning how to be a mindful person can help your relationship in the long run. As meditation is an easy hobby to pick up as a couple. Even using mental health apps has been found to cut down on depressive, anxious, and stress symptoms.
Nagging isn’t inevitable, but it is common. It can come in many forms and have many causes. If you don’t learn to deal with nagging, it could cause long term problems for your mental health or for your relationship.
Finding out why you or your partner nag is important and the first step to healing the void. When you can do this, you start to make changes in your lifestyle(s) that will cut down on stressors and, hopefully, nagging. This requires teamwork, so be ready for the challenges ahead.
Also, remember that nagging often gets attributed to women. Men can nag just as much. Be conscious of your own prejudices about nagging, housework, and similar topics. You could even find that you need to make changes in your own thinking to help maintain a healthy relationship.