Have you ever heard your partner say that you nag too much? If you are nagging, you are trying to communicate something to your partner. However, if they have said you are nagging, this is a sign that what you are trying to say is not actually being communicated. Or, if it is being communicated, it’s in the wrong way. So, how do you know if you are nagging too much? And, what can you do if you are nagging too much? Check out these tips to communicate in a way that won’t drive your partner crazy.
1. Has Your Partner Ever Implied That You Act Like A Parent?
Nagging often comes across as parenting. Think about it. When you were a kid, did your parents ever nag at you to do your chores, do your homework, or do something that you just didn’t want to do? Or, were you nagged for HOW you did these tasks? Oftentimes, kids ignore their parents’ requests because they don’t see the value in what their parents are saying. Now, what about in your relationship? Do you ask your partner to do things and then they ignore you? If your partner has ever implied that you are acting like a parent, it’s likely because you are not communicating in a way that is respectful to them. In the moment, think about what it is that you are wanting from your partner. Is it for them to pick up their dirty clothes, do the dishes, help out around the house, etc? When you are requesting something from your partner, communicate in a way that isn’t belittling. Ask them in a polite manner, tell them why this would be helpful for you, and know that if your partner says they will “get to it”, your job is to trust that they will do it.
Now, saying this as a therapist, a common response to this advice would be, “but my partner never actually gets to it”. If you have been belittling to your partner, it’s no surprise that they haven’t “gotten to it”. Start showing your partner some trust, show them that you aren’t trying to parent them, and, if it’s a task that has a timeline, make sure to communicate that to your partner. But again, ensure that this is being done in a respectable way.
2. Does My Partner Ever Hear The Good?
When couple’s get caught in the nagging cycle, it is common for the focus to be on negative aspects of the relationship or your partner. What about the times when your partner accepted your requests? Or even better, what about the times when your partner took initiative and you didn’t have to ask them to? May be these situations were long ago, but it’s likely happened at some point in your relationship. If you nag to your partner too much, your partner feels that they can never do anything right and that you are “always upset by something”. Change this cycle! Challenge yourself to only focus on the good in your partner and start to say these strengths to them. You’d be surprised how your partner will respond when they feel that they are accepted and that their efforts are being acknowledged.
3. Do I Feel Like I Everyone is Doing it Wrong?
No one ever likes to admit to this one, but in all honesty, most people like to have control. And at times, too much control. If you’ve ever heard your partner say that you nag too much, this could likely be because you are being controlling. This comes up frequently when you ask your partner to do something but then you find yourself complaining at them because it was not done in the way that you wanted it done.
For example, maybe your partner didn’t load the dishwasher right. So, what do you do in this situation? Do you tell your partner that they loaded the dishwasher wrong? That if they were to put it the way that you do, they could have fit more dishes in there. If this is the case, it is time to look for the positive intent in your partner. Your partner’s intent in loading the dishwasher after you asked them to was to fulfill a request that you made. If they did it, accept that! Express your gratitude for your partner fulfilling your request. Your partner did not intentionally do the task “wrong”. And ultimately, there is no right or wrong way of doing things. Letting go of control can help both you and your partner to feel respected.
So, now that you have read this article, do you nag too much in your relationship? If you do, there is hope of change! Talk to your partner in a respectful manner. Communicate what you need from your partner, acknowledge the good, and let go of some control so that your partner can take initiative.
Amanda Cummins is an associate therapist with The Marriage and Family Clinic. She focuses on working with couples in distress as well as families and children in transitions. As a Denver Native, Amanda enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family.