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How to Stop Nagging

Find more effective ways to communicate in your relationship, and leave the nagging behind.

Making Change

"How a woman presents her 'beefs' determines whether or not her partner will be responsive," says Turndorf. "Modern danger is no longer the ferocious tiger, it's the angry wife or girlfriend. When she comes at him baring her teeth, berating him with criticisms, and nagging his head off, his body sees danger and switches into the fight-flight mode. Since he doesn't want to fight her, he flees instead."

 

Before your partner grabs his golf clubs and heads for the door, not to be seen until 36-holes are under his belt, turn the temperature on the nagging down a bit.

 

"The way out is what I call 'climate control,'" says Turndorf. "Women need to learn how to properly communicate their needs, and it begins with calmly stating what was said or done and how you felt about it."

 

Another tactic is to take action, instead of getting on the soapbox.

"Skip the nagging, and try taking action," says Weiner-Davis. "Skills like active listening allow couples to learn how to talk to each other in such a way that they are heard. Too often, when couples talk to each other about heated issues, they are too busy defending themselves to hear on a deep level what their spouses are saying and feeling. If they can learn the tools for fair fighting, then both spouses can be heard, and nagging isn't necessary."

 

When the urge to nag strikes, Weiner-Davis suggests focusing on the positive experiences you've had in the past with your partner, when something other than nagging elicited the response you were looking for.

 

"Think about a time when you asked your partner to do something, and he did it, and then think about what you did differently that worked," says Weiner-Davis. "Learn from that situation, and change future situations accordingly so you don't need to nag."

 

For the partners of people who nag, some of the responsibility for improving the lines of communication falls on them as well.

 

"Start out by doing what your spouse is asking to you to do -- that might nip it in the bud," says Weiner-Davis. "Another alternative would be for the person who is getting nagged to avoid getting angry or nasty, which doesn't work well. Instead, have a heart-to-heart about what it feels like to be constantly hounded about something, but in a loving way, instead of a defending way."

 

When these techniques fail, or when nagging consumes a relationship, therapy might help.

 

"Try a marriage education class," says Weiner-Davis. "Or find a good marriage counselor -- anything that will help you find better means of communicating."

Life Beyond Nagging

"Bottom line: Good relationships are based on mutual care taking," says Weiner-Davis. "You really have to look out for your spouse. You have to put your spouse's needs before your own -- and that might mean doing something you're not really crazy about doing. And when you have to nag, that's a sign mutual care-taking is not happening."

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