Help with nagging
It's a common topic we hear in counseling. The tension builds, the finger pointing won't stop, and the husband makes the dreaded plea "please help me deal with the nagging!" He's lost, he thinks he's doing everything he can, and she thinks she couldn't be more clear about what she wants, and yet they're both shaking their heads, helpless and frustrated. And by the way, it's not just husbands and wives. Any relationship with two partners can experience this same dynamic. Typically, one is more vocal while the other wants to flee.
What the heck is nagging?
Nagging is a consistent expression of dissatisfaction and request to meet needs. It's a protest. Think picketing without the signs, unless you're the creative type and that's how you role in your home. We don't suggest it. So let's take a look at nagging, how it becomes an issue, and what both parties can do about it.
OK, ok, I know, it's not a very nice word. No one wants to be called a nag, and you probably didn't sign up for the job in your relationship. Nevertheless, here you are. In your relationship, you became the vocal one who readily expresses yourself. Yay you! That's good, right? We say "YES!" But...there's a few things to consider.
Like, how it's done. And how often it's done. And then there's why it's done, what it's about, and when it's done (among other considerations). I mean, nagging loudly at a friends party could be a bit of a downer. But you know all this.
So you ended up filling this role, how? Because you care. You care about yourself, you care about the relationship, you care about follow through, you care about your kids, you care about order and reason, and well...you care about others caring too. IT'S A GOOD TRAIT! So first, pat yourself on the back and say "good job, you."
Seriously, you should give yourself some credit, first. And especially because, somewhere along the way, the more you protested, the worse things got, and the worse it got, the more you doubted yourself deep down. So... NUMBER 1, stop doubting yourself and know your worth. And NUMBER 2, when you share yourself think SAFETY FIRST. I'll explain more later.
"What's the bid deal?" You've probably said this to yourself more times than you can count. You don't get it, you're confused, the urgency doesn't compute, and you're lost and frustrated. We get it. Your reality is different. You'd prefer to be on a different time table, and not under the clock at home the same way you are at work. "Another deadline? No thank you!"
So you get the message...to clean up after yourself, help around the house more, put your phone down, pay attention, and the list goes on. And all you hear is "nag, nag, nag." So you grit and bear it. You make some progress, but you forget, or something else grabs your attention, and then you hear about it, and you find yourself thinking "what's the point?" So you try, but then you try less, and then you fire back, but that doesn't work too well either, and you find yourself lost. Sound about right?
"...caring for yourself too little."
So you ended up in this position, how? You might not be caring about yourself enough. "What did you just say?" You heard me. You might be caring for yourself too little. If you're too stressed and/or overworked, to the point that your engagement at home has idled, you may NOT be caring for yourself the way you should. We think it's time to care for yourself better.
"Sweet! You heard him, honey! He said I need a break." Wait, wait, wait. This isn't a license to disengage. It's an invitation to re-engage. The right way. This means scheduling more time to recharge away from work. Some with family, some in solitude, and some doing stuff you enjoy. And by the way, this goes for BOTH PARTNERS.
But here's the catch. It's gonna be hard to pitch, if you've been idling at home. You need a license to pitch, and it doesn't come without foresight and communication. You're gonna have to stay engaged (or re-engage), own that you've been idling (if that's you), share your plan to engage, and your plan to schedule better. It's all about building in SAFETY FIRST.
Building safety in your relationship
Without a focus on developing, or rebuilding the emotional safety in the relationship, it will be hard to make progress that satisfies both partners. Emotional safety is the bond beneath it all. The secure attachment that is felt between both partners that says "there's comfort here...I see you and care for you...you don't have to be perfect, and you're accepted and loved."
It's human to become the nag at times, and it's human to want to disengage from criticism. But finger pointing will always lead to less safety in the relationship. If you dig your heals in and stay committed to the idea that your partner is the bad guy, both lose. So how do you build emotional safety?
How to do it
If you'd like help with communication and building safety in your relationship, we're here for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment today. And feel free to read on about fighting fair in the relationship.
That's all for now. I better go. I think I hear my wife calling.