Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

One Sure Way to Sink Your Relationship

You see it in sit coms. The “I don’t have a clue” husband whose wife is constantly telling him what to do or reminding him what he seems to be not doing. While we may laugh at this comedy routine, there is nothing funny about it in real couple relationships.

Nagging is a relationship killer. Nagging works this way. You make a request, the request is ignored and you make it again. But the more you badger the person to do what you want, the more he or she withdraws. Repeated asking doesn’t work. It usually ends in more distance between a couple. Yet many couples are locked into this pattern.

What Dr. Markman at the University of Denver’s center for Marital and Families studies found was that when couples start fighting about the nagging and not the issues that created it, couples are in danger of divorce. Nagging is part of an overall negative communication pattern.


So if you find yourself nagging and the other person ignores you, stop the pattern. It leads to lost love. Listen to the tone of your voice. Check your body language. Begin a request with a softened tone.

Figure out what is behind the nagging:

Are you afraid you won’t get what you want from your partner?

Are you overloaded with too much to do?

Are you overly obsessive about things getting done immediately?

Are you expecting your partner to think and be like you?

Are you Type A living with Type B?

Understanding what prompts you to nag, may help you take a different approach. You and your partner can talk about these issues. Then look at whether or not the nagging actually works? If not, it is probably setting up a negative cycle of communication that leads to resentment and pulling away.

  • Linda Mintle

    Debbie, A polite request is not nagging. And asking a person in a household to do something more than once i not nagging. Nagging is involved in a pattern in which a person continues to badger the other and the other ignores–it is this pattern that creates negativity and leads to problems.

  • Pingback: One Sure Way to Sink Your Relationship | Dr. Linda Mintle

  • http://Nagging? Debbie

    Expecting a grown, mature? man to complete tasks he’s responsible for in a family unit is not, nor should be considered nagging. If he continually resists honest requests to help out within the “family unit” then perhaps he needs to get a divorce and/or get a mother. Too many women find themselves married to men who believe they got married for strictly the benefits of laundry done child rearing by women, home cooked meals, etc. etc. When the polite requests come, i.e. nagging, to complete such tasks deemed by most marriages to fall into the “male” category it is now deemed as nagging. Perhaps women should really give a “truth serum” test to many men prior to marriage that they will not be expected to become their husband’s mothers, but will still be the man they are believing themselves to be marrying!

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