7 Reasons Nagging Doesn't Work

7 Reasons Nagging Doesn't Work

Trying to get your husband to take out the trash? You might not be asking the right way.


By Judy Koutsky

You’ve asked your husband to take out the garbage three times already, but it’s still sitting at the door. Want to bet it will be there in the morning? According to experts, nagging – or reminding your husband constantly to do something – just doesn’t work. Here’s why you shouldn’t do it.

1. Nagging creates resentment. Nagging almost always produces an angry response in the other party. “The task you are nagging about becomes the last thing they want to do,” says Robert Myers, a clinical psychologist. Resentment then builds on both sides and nobody is happy.

2. When you nag, you’re not being heard. Nagging is unpleasant and repetitive, so your husband will soon tune you out. “The more you nag, the less he hears you,” says Myers. Instead of telling him what to do (“Take out the garbage,”) try having a conversation about what you want done (“Can you help me with a few things around the house?”) and asking your husband how he would like to pitch in. Maybe he hates taking out the garbage but doesn’t mind the doing the dishes.

3. Nagging makes your spouse want to dig in his heels. When you nag, you can make your husband feel controlled and manipulated, says Myers. And nobody likes to feel that way. Even if he were going to do the task, he’s more apt to not do it just to get a rise out of you.

4. You don’t want your kids to model nagging behavior. If your children see you nagging your husband all the time, they may either resent you (you become the “mean” parent) or end up modeling the same type of behavior, in the form of repeated whining. Either way, the result isn’t good.

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5. Nagging nurtures the negative. Nagging focuses on negative words and lack of actions. Instead, when your spouse does the dishes, say something nice in return. “Tell him what a load that takes off you. Let him know you appreciate his help, as it creates more time and energy for other things, like date night,” says Marianne Clyde, a marriage and family therapist and author of Peaceful Parenting: 10 Essential Principles.

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6. Nagging shows a lack of trust. By constantly reminding your mate to do something, you’re essentially saying you don’t trust him enough to remember to do it on his own. “If there is an expectation that he is trusted and will do what is asked, there is a better chance he will do it. If you expect him not to comply, he will meet your expectations every time,” says Clyde.

7. Nagging can lead to fighting. What starts off as a request can quickly turn into a heated debate or fight. Emotions then start to run high. So take a different approach. “By being calm, specific, positive, and clear, you increase the odds that you will be heard,” says Carrie Krawiec, a marriage and family therapist and executive director of the Michigan Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Do you find yourself nagging your husband?


Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/Spiderstock


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