One Tip for a Happy Marriage; Thou shall not be nagging!
Oozing positivity, I figured the 31 km trek could be done in 1 day, besides I had my camel pack, 4 muesli bars and sunscreen. Burke and Wills wouldn’t have packed anything else, or not? Yeh, they would have chosen good shoes! I’d my old trusty sneakers, and had never noticed that every time I stepped, my toes would gently hit the shoe. That wasn’t a problem until 20 km into the hike. The constant impact of my toes caused them to bleed and by the last 10 kms, every step involved searing pain.
So I’m minus two toenails-well, one is off and the other? That’s not purple nail polish. This incident reminded me a lot of nagging. The definition of nag is “to annoy someone constantly by complaining about his or her behaviour or appearance”. Once in a while we can cope with a comment or two, in fact we probably don’t even notice it! But imagine living for 30 years with someone who nags constantly? That’s gotta do something to your soul, and just like walking with ill fitting shoes, after some time it takes it’s toll.
Some examples of nagging…
Reggie suggests to Pearl a romantic drive and picnic in the countryside. As they get ready, Pearl gives Reggie the once over, and spots a fashion faux pas, “You’re not wearing that old shirt again are you? I hate that shirt, I’ve told you that heaps of times.” mmm passion killer.
Peggy makes Frank a lovely roast lamb dinner, with candlelight and their best crockery. Frank sits down to eat, and comments, “Gee love, how many times have I told you about your weight? You’re looking pretty big you know, why would you cook this fatty lamb?” Yeah, that’s not gonna work.
Why do we nag?
Maybe we nag because there is a power imbalance in the relationship, and we think it’s the only weapon we have. But it can be deadly in a marriage; akin to terrorist activity, subtle and subversive it shoots the partner when they’re least expecting it.
Maybe we nag because we’re selfish, and are only considering our needs and wants. Or maybe we don’t even know we are doing it!
There’s a great book by Ed Wheat called ‘Love Life for Every Married Couple’. It’s unlike any other marriage book I’ve read. Other books on marriage tell us basically, “Do the right thing, then your partner will eventually come around.” But what if he/she doesn’t? Will you give up and move on?
The big difference about this book is Ed tells us, “Do the right thing, because God says to.” I love that. This keeps us in the game! We do the right thing, regardless of our partners response, that way we never give up!
Years ago, I remember listening to a talk on marriage, and the speaker asked us to write down what we don’t like about our husbands. Then he read them out- anonymously. One of the complaints was, “I wish my husband wouldn’t get drunk all the time and wet the bed so much, that we have to throw out the mattress.” Boy, did I get a reality check! Yes, give me socks and undies on the floor any day. From that moment on, I made a decision not to complain about those little things again! And boy, was that worth it!
Nagging is like putting a magnifying glass on minor faults, blowing them all out of proportion and disregarding the weighty matters of faithfulness, being a good provider, integrity and honesty. I choose to love by not nagging about the small things.
God even mentions nagging (well, it says quarrelsome, but that sounds like nagging to me!) in Proverbs 4 times:
Proverbs 21:9 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Proverbs 21:19 It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.
Proverbs 27:15 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike;
Proverbs 25:24 It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Ouch! Those hurt!
But while we’re bleeding on the floor, let me just turn the knife just a little tighter, with a quote out of Ed’s book, ‘Love Life for Every Married Couple’
“Nagging is basically a woman’s weapon used against the man in marriage. The recurrent irritation of nagging is designed to get the wife what she wants. When her husband surrenders out of exasperation, he secretly hates himself for doing it, then sets his feet a little more so, so that next time around she has to nag a little more than before to accomplish the same purpose. This state of affairs continues until finally the woman has formed a pattern of nagging, nagging to get what she wants. She really is achieving a selfish purpose at the expense of her marriage, while she obtains immediate satisfaction of her ‘want’, she sacrifices something very valuable in the relationship.”
So how can we avoid nagging?
Get a broader perspective, stop looking through the magnifying glass at the detail, and start looking through a wide angle lens at the positive points of our partner; see the big picture of loyalty, provision and honesty.
Practice not complaining. Make yourself an agreement not to complain about something. For example, I get hot flushes from time to time, the world, or my family does not need to know this every time I get one! There’s no point in complaining anyway, no one can do anything about it! So I practice not saying anything. Now I hardly even it notice myself!
Try it! If we bite our tongues before we nag, our relationship will start to strengthen. We’ll start to live freer, happier lives and those irritating small things won’t even bother us. We’ll be content with what we have.