Clean the living room, wash the dishes, take out the trash ... nag, nag, nag. The incessant nagging you do not only drives your partner mad, it drives him or her away and hurts intimacy. How can you learn to communicate more effectively and go from being a broken record to a poster child for relationship success? The first step, say experts, is to recognize that asking for the same thing over and over again -- believe it or not -- just doesn't work.
By Stacy WeinerYou don't have to change much. Here, surprising ways to feel better every
I'm a nonstop happiness seeker. On long drives, I don't ask my
husband, "Are we there yet?" I meditate on life and ask myself, "Am
I happy yet?"
Here's my happiness inventory: I have a great house, but the toilets gurgle
incessantly. My 9-year-old son is adorable, but has nerve-shredding sleep
habits. My husband of 21 years is worth at least his weight in Godiva, but I'm
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"Nagging takes the form of verbal reminders, requests, and pleas," says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, a marriage and family therapist. "You can say it in a number of different ways, but when you say it in a number of different ways over and over again, that constitutes nagging."
The Essence of Nagging
"If a person thinks, 'If I've said it once I've said it a million times,' or 'it's in one ear and out the other,' or 'I talk till I'm blue in the face,' this should be a strong clue," says Weiner-Davis, author of several relationship books, including Getting Through to the Man you Love and The Sex-Starved Marriage.
Strong clue or not, most naggers don't know they nag -- they think their nagging helps, explains Weiner-Davis. And it's not up to them to decide: A helpful reminder becomes a stinging nag when the person who is being nagged says so.
"It goes from a reminder to a nag when the person who is being reminded gets offended," says Weiner-Davis. "How the behavior gets labeled depends on how the person hears it, not on how the person who says it feels."
Feelings and emotions play a large part in nagging, which means that women usually play the stereotypical lead role.
"Women take on the lion's share of nagging," says Jamie Turndorf, PhD, a couples therapist. "Because many women find it difficult to directly communicate their needs, they fall into the fatal trap of whining and nagging about what they aren't getting rather than directly stating what they want, need, or expect from their partner. Unfortunately, whining and nagging doesn't put a man into a giving mood, and a vicious cycle is born: The more her man starves her of what she wants, the more she nags and the less likely he is to be responsive to her wishes."