“Are you going to do the dishes?” Pause. “You said you were going to do the dishes.” Minutes later: “What about those dishes? Whether you see yourself as just giving a friendly reminder to get something done or you’re hoping that by consistently repeating yourself the idea will somehow sink in, nagging can cause your partner to feel judged and get defensive while leaving both of you irritated.
We tend to nag people we care about, but the ultimate problem with nagging is that it just doesn’t work. You may think your request is a simple one, but when your partner tunes your persistent demands out, you’re left frustrated. Leave the nagging behind and learn the tools to get what you want by communicating the right way.
Don’t Insist on a Schedule
When you nag that something just must be done today, such as doing the dishes, you’re setting yourself up to fail or succeed on a timeline. The closer it gets to that deadline, the more anxiety you’ll feel about failing, which will cause you to nag your partner again in hopes of succeeding. Ask yourself if the task you want done really needs an arbitrary end time or if, in fact, it doesn’t really matter whether or not the dishes get done that evening or even the next day.
Is the Source of Nagging a Priority for you or for your Partner?
Why nag your partner to make the bed if it’s a task that bothers you and not the other person? If your significant other doesn’t mind a messy bed, there’s no use in wasting energy and causing frustration when you can easily spend a few minutes of your day to make your own bed and make yourself happy. It’s important to weigh the importance of the task with the outcome that nagging about it could produce.
Don’t nag your partner by continually assigning the same task. For example, instead of telling your partner over and over to take out the trash, ask once; if you don’t get a response, suggest the task without assigning it again by leaving an empty trash bag on the counter.
Are you Asking for the Impossible?
There’s the saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” If you nag your partner to get the kids dressed in the morning but then chastise him for the mismatched outfit he chose, he isn’t going to want to take on the task the next time you verbally remind him. Be cognizant of what you are nagging your partner about. Be sure to communicate what exactly needs to be done by directly stating what you want so you can set the other person up for success.
The more you nag, the less responsive your partner is going to be to your requests. Look back to the times when you asked for a task to be done and it was completed, and remember how you communicated with your partner to elicit the successful response. Are you nagging over something insignificant when what you really want changed has something to do with your relationship’s bigger picture? Be direct with your partner and stand up for what’s important to you in your relationship, but leave those annoying nagging pleas behind.
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