Yes, there are wives (and husbands) who are guilty of nagging. However, much of what is called nagging is not.
The dictionary definitions I looked up read something like:
annoy or irritate (a person) with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging
- Fault-finding is not constructive criticism, it is unwanted and often petty attacks on what a person does, how they look, how they speak, and so on. This is unkind, unhelpful, and pretty much everyone hates to be on the receiving end of it.
- Continuous urging may or may not be about something important. The problem is the continuous part – especially if it is brought up again before the person has had a reasonable chance to do something about it.
Bringing up big problems is not nagging. Telling him something is not working for you and there needs to be a change is not nagging. As long as you do not beat him with such things repeatedly, it is not nagging. If he calls it nagging that is more about him trying to manipulate you or make himself feel less bad about not doing something he knows he should do.
Of course, that is all well and good, but it does not help you.
My first suggestion would be to make sure you are not doing anything that really is nagging. If you are, then it is easy for him to lump everything he calls nagging into one category and feel justified ignoring all of it. By eliminating real nagging, you make it more difficult for him to tell himself you are nagging when you are not.
Secondly, learn how to discuss things with him in a way that works for his male mind:
- He likely is not as skilled at communication as you are; that part of his brain is smaller, and it probably gets less exercise. Avoid saying too much. Assume he can only hold so many words, and if you use too many he starts to lose some of it.
- He probably has a difficult time turning off one thing in his mind so he can focus on another. Trying to have a serious conversation during a commercial break or when he is working out a problem in his head is a bad plan.
- Avoid putting him on the defence before you even start. The infamous “We need to talk” is a sure way to have him ready to reject anything you say without really hearing it.
- He is far less moved by feeling than you are. He needs to hear about your feelings, but leading with them is not the best approach.
- He is geared to fix problems, so presenting things as problems to be fixed may help you a great deal.
- You can combine 4 & 5 nicely. Instead of, “I don’t feel you care about me” you could say, “I have a problem; I don’t feel you care about me. Can you help me see the ways you show me you care for me.”
- State your case, and then give him time to think about it. No one likes to be rushed, and when pushed to do something “right now” saying no is the easiest answer.
- Prioritize. If you give him too many things at once, he may decide it is too much and reject them all. If he does act, he may not act on the things most important to you.
By the Way: Rosemary had an interesting take on “nagging” recently on her For Better – Or What? blog. Check out Nag Me Some More