Ask for It. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

December 7, 2015

in Uncategorized

So we’re sitting with a couple and he says, “I wish she would just tell me what she wants.” And she screams and runs from the room.


Okay, I made that up, but it could happen. I often hear men complain they have no idea what their wife wants, and I hear from women he doesn’t listen when they try to share what they want.

  • Some of this is male/female communication differences.
  • Some is because she hints and he’s not good at picking up hints.
  • Some is he’s only half-listening and doesn’t retain what she says.
  • Sometimes her words don’t express the real need. What she needs is behind the words and he only gives her what she said.
  • Other times he thinks he hears something behind her words and gives her that – when in fact she asked for what she wanted.

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Regardless of why this happens, the solution is repetition. I’m not telling you to say the same thing over and over. Look for different words, word pictures, and real-life examples. Maybe one of them will catch him. Maybe he will connect the variety of ways you share and get the point. Maybe he just needs to hear it a dozen times before it gets deep enough for him to do it.

What about nagging?

If you ask for something you want or need and your husband doesn’t do it or tell you why he can’t or won’t do it, I think you have every right to ask again. Actually I’d go so far as to say you have the responsibility to repeat yourself.

Nagging comes in when you ask again before he has had a real opportunity to meet your need. It’s also a problem if you ask for things he can’t reasonably do, or ask for far more things than he can do. 

As long as what you ask is reasonable, you have a right to expect him to care about it and do what he can. A decent, emotionally healthy man will be all about meeting such needs.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I love it when my wonderful wife tells me what she wants and needs.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn December 7, 2015 at 2:40 am

My husband defines nagging as ‘when I tell him something he already knows’. Which is actually a pretty good definition, but on the other hand, what do you do when he knows it and he needs to do it but he doesn’t? (It wasn’t a marriage issue per se, and I try not to mention it any more.)


Paul Byerly December 7, 2015 at 9:24 am

@Lynn – I was just reminded of the joke “When a man says he will do something, he does it. He does not need to be reminded every six months.”
The goal would be to be able to discuss it together. Not ask yet again for him to do it, but discuss why he has not been able to do it. Maybe he is really unable due to being too busy or not having what he needs. Maybe he is emotionally unable to face the task. Of course being able to admit that last one is difficult, but when a couple can do this safely it’s a wonderful thing.
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Eliza December 10, 2015 at 7:16 pm

What I do when my husband knows what he needs to do but doesn’t do it is leave it up to him to do it when he does it. He doesn’t tell me to do what I know to do.
Sometimes, he needs a block of time set aside to accomplish a task.
Sometimes, I need to break a task into steps so I can accomplish those steps when I have 5 minutes to contribute to the task.
It turns out we tackle projects and tasks in different ways; but, since we aren’t each other’s parent, we don’t have to retrain or remind each other.


Paul Byerly December 11, 2015 at 9:32 am

@Eliza – Different, not wrong is always a good thing to understand. Likewise for not being their parent!
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El Fury December 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Sometimes the person being asked just needs to get better organized. My wife and I have a to-do list on gmail and a shared calendar that we use to keep track of things we need to get done.
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Paul Byerly December 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm

@El Fury – I like it.
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Eliza December 10, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Good idea!


1980B.C. December 11, 2015 at 1:16 pm

I define nagging similar to micromanaging. Trying to control how, when, and what I do. As such, nagging doesn’t even enter the picture when discussing asking for what you need. Nagging isn’t the same as persistence. Nagging is about the power you have over them. Persistence is about not giving up on your needs despite the power they have over you. It’s the difference between offense and defense. Now, just be careful not to be like the students in that Educashun youtube video that claim they have a right to attack you in self defense.


Paul Byerly December 13, 2015 at 9:34 am

@1980B.C. – Interesting perspective. I do think nagging is usually about power. Sometimes it’s a way for the one nagging to show power, while other times they nag because they feel they don’t have power.


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