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Women's Health

How to Stop Nagging

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

 

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."

 

Whether it's finding new ways to communicate, or seeking help from a therapist, nagging can be avoided.

 

"The key is finding alternative ways to reach your goals, and being more productive and more loving," says Weiner-Davis.

 

So how can you tell that you've become a nag? According to Weiner-Davis, here are a few key signs:

 

  • You're increasingly frustrated because you're not getting through to your partner, despite asking again and again.
  • Your partner becomes increasingly defensive each time you ask for something.
  • The things that bother you tend to grow in scope -- you're more bothered by more things, more often.
  • Your irritation is contagious -- the more irritated you get, the more irritated your partner gets.
  • The weaknesses in the relationship, such as what your partner isn't doing despite your attempts at effecting change, become the focus, rather than the strengths in your relationship.
  • The most obvious sign that you tend to nag: You've said the same thing five different ways, five different times, and yet you keep on going
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Reviewed on April 24, 2006

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