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Stephanie Shares Some Pearls of Wisdom about Nagging



A guest post from a sister in Christ, Stephanie. I’m so thankful we can share our stories as we learn together on this road:

We got married in 2007, and we were so young (I was 20 about to turn 21, he was only 23), and still in school. I was lucky that in our first year, I had a job at a Christian bookstore, so I had endless access to great marriage books that I read when the shop was super slow or on my breaks. I ended up buying a lot of the books, and they are still in our library now, although some I’ve given away to other women I was encouraging in their marriages. But it was mostly from these books and some books I brought from home when I moved out that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my communication style.

In that first year, I was taken aback by how my husband would wait to do chores, and wouldn’t do them when I thought they needed to get done (which was as soon as I wanted them done – no matter what else he was working on or focusing on). So instead of trusting him to get them done on his own time, I nagged him, and when nagging didn’t work, I’d get angry and start a fight. I’d nag more and tell him that he wasn’t helping me out and then I’d jump to the conclusion that he just “didn’t care about me!”

LOL it was a funny cycle that just repeated itself whenever I got fed up with not getting things done my way. Thankfully, since I was working at the Christian bookstore, I was already reading marriage books trying to learn about how to have a good marriage, and almost all marriage books cover a section about nagging, and explain why it doesn’t work.

  • Once I understood from reading a book about how to understand men, meet their needs, and communicate effectively with them – I started to simply just ask him to do something that needed to be done, and ask him in a respectful, kind way, and then give him the time and chance to do it.

If he procrastinated, he would realize it on his own a couple of days later, and then apologize to me and do it. He apologized and did it right away (faster than when I nagged) because he actually felt bad about not doing it when I had asked in such a sweet, kind, respectful way. My not nagging him (which was disrespectful) made him want to do things right when they needed to get done.

Now when I really need his help (which is a lot more often with two boys), he is so faithful and helps me so well and much more quickly than that first year when I’d nag and nag. The nagging created such a hostile, awful environment that I think it made him just drag his feet doing anything that I wanted to get done. But now he helps me immediately because I treat him with respect.

I realized that nagging him was actually dishonoring him, giving him the message that I didn’t feel like he was responsible enough to do and get things done on his own, without me standing over him. I didn’t believe he would be responsible enough to do things on his own. Nagging him was me treating him almost like a child, like an incapable man – that message was SO disrespectful!

There were also times when I’d just expect him to help me with something I needed to get done, or I’d be girly and feminine, and **hint** that I expected him to get something done by some vague time frame, and then I would get angry and even resentful when he didn’t do it. The marriage books I read in that first year also covered this topic of being direct with men, even though that felt masculine to me, and not like how women communicate with each other, it was actually what was needed for better communication in our marriage.

Being direct really is a more masculine style of communicating, so even though it feels awkward and unnatural for most women, it’s helpful to teach engaged couples or young wives that this is what their husbands will need from them. It’s not wrong, it’s not being demanding if you say it in a nice, respectful, gentle way.

Expecting our husbands to act more like a woman, to read our minds and understand our feminine hints concerning what we want, and then getting angry at them for not knowing, isn’t helping to create a healthy relationship within a marriage.

After we got those things figured out, we’ve still had tricky situations where I didn’t know how to breech a subject without sounding disrespectful, but now it’s MUCH easier to understand what each other needs or is thinking because we’ve learned how to communicate openly and honestly. It’s been a beautiful journey and I’m so grateful we’ve learned so much.


Let Your Yes Be Yes and Your No Be No

Healthy VS. Unhealthy Relationships

“Being Vulnerable and Direct Feels Wrong!”


29 thoughts on “Stephanie Shares Some Pearls of Wisdom about Nagging

  1. Wonderful post! Who knew nagging wasn’t one more way to try to control a situation, and how annoying is it to be on the receiving end? Kudos to Stephanie for being willing to learn and then apply the skills is putting a request out there then sitting back. Waiting is work, lol.

  2. If you’re interested in a guy’s thoughts:

    A key point mentioned in the post here is the direct vs indirect communication styles. Men do tend to be more direct, and women tend to prefer indirect. Not always true, but often enough.

    Here is the problem – women often try to “hint” indirectly, and in doing so, they are thinking they are being less bossy and masculine than saying it outright. Seems like a good idea. However, this can be interpreted in guy world as a subtle attempt to manipulate, and further, it can make a guy a bit put off, because he believes wife thinks he’s too dense to see through her “subliminal advertising”.

    Of course, after lots of hints don’t work, out comes the direct approach, often with exasperation. Yikes.

    There is no easy solution. There is no reason that women should be the only side to have to change communication style. In fact, being feminine and indirect is a very attractive attribute, and we would hate to lose that aspect of a girl we love.

    The author of this post covered all the points I could think of regarding the topic of nagging, so I have nothing to add there.

    I wanted to bring to light the idea that:
    a) You might actually be nagging and not know it

    and conversely

    b) you might NOT actually be nagging but it is being seen that way

    Perhaps among the many premarital discussions about money, children, careers, and so forth, a moments might be spent discussing the couple’s agreed upon boundaries for “helpful reminders ™”. This goes for both sides, of course.

    Maybe even a safe word if the boundaries are approached. Ha.

    And as I said before, never an I told you so. In fact, it might be a good topic for a post-

    “The danger of a triumphalist mindset in relationships”

    1. “a) You might actually be nagging and not know it

      and conversely

      b) you might NOT actually be nagging but it is being seen that way”

      Solution — just shut up and forget about it. 🙂 Got to admit, it’s way simpler!!! 🙂 After nearly fourteen years, when I finally just limited my conversation to “good morning”, “hello”, “goodbye” or things like that, and answering any of his questions as succinctly as possible, life became more peaceful….very lonely, but way more peaceful. If I have a problem or need to confide in somebody, I talk to another Mom…..definitely not to Hubby.

      Just seeing that written gave me a headache……there are so many hoops to jump through, so many rules, that I can’t keep them all straight and it just isn’t worth it. Too exhausting to put forth any more effort here.

      1. zbexrel,

        I think that your situation is particularly difficult, my dear sister. I do pray you might be able to find a trusted, godly counselor in person to help you wade through the issues in your marriage. It seems to me that what you are dealing with is beyond “normal” issues. I pray for God’s wisdom for you! And for His healing for you both!

  3. Which brings up another point – when and if God uses us to be a voice of correction to another believer, this should humble us deeply, if you think about it.

  4. I have realized that it is all in the approach! If I am kind, considerate and courteous in the way I ask my husband to help me, I get much better results.

    For example, I will say things like, “Honey, would you mind doing this for me? I would appreciate it so much!” or “How do you feel about doing (request) when you have time?” Or sometimes I will just say, “I was going to do this project, but I am feeling really overwhelmed…what do you think? Does this need to be done right away or do you think it can wait?” Of course, I have to be prepared that it may not happen in my time frame, but as long as I give my husband the opportunity to either agree to do it or disagree, I keep the harmony and peace in the house. Besides, usually when he sees that I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed about a situation, he is more than happy to help, and gets to feel like the “white knight”.

    I feel that if we can be courteous to strangers that we may have to deal with day to day, we should be able to extend that same courtesy to the person we love the most!

  5. May I say from a guys side-it is not wrong to remind us, nicely.
    Before I continue I want to say thank you for your ministry to wives and husbands with being bold and putting your life and guidance out here.

    My wife has learned over the years that I would forget my head if it was not attached. I get focused on things and forget “the little things” like chores, or something small she asked me to do. She knows I love her beyond belief and my forgetting is not a lack of love- it truely is just forgetting (I actually forget to breath at times go figure).
    So It is okay to remind your husband when something needs done and you’ve asked- “Hey honey, I know you’ve been busy, but when you get the chance can you help with the _______ .”
    What most husbands will feel disrespected with is the “Honey I asked you three times already will you ____” approach.

    It goes both ways – patience with one another is so important in marriage. I ask when I need help and I don’t stress about it not being in my time. It will get done or it wont. I have learned after 20 years of marriage that no on e will die if it does not happen right now.

    1. Jerry Fox,

      This is awesome! Thank you for sharing your perspective. I agree most husbands will be receptive to a friendly reminder. Some will not be – so, ladies, be a student of your particular husband. But most husbands would welcome an approach like Jerry has shared. 🙂

      I’m so glad this ministry has been a blessing to you. Love to hear about your patience with your wife. That is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing a positive, godly example. 🙂

  6. From a guy in a 30+ year marriage;
    These are all good points. This blog here is good. But really, the church needs to address the consensus of disrespect that goes on in daily life here in America. Men get mad and get silent, stay at work longer and then both are mad. Women scratch their heads in wonder over the lack of men’s mind reading ability. My own wife often says that “I don’t get it.” On intimacy; the silence of “sexuality” issues creates a world of temptation that can easily be remedied by married couples who know of each others needs, if the wife can understand her role in it.

    Men are not that mysterious. We have skills and intelligence that can fight battles, earn money and fix stuff. Yet, we are looked at as beer and sex craving morons who can’t/won’t read a map! Our ego is big, but a smart woman can wisely use it to serve her needs by understanding the short list of wants and desires of her husband. Very few wives stop to consider this ego of a man and instead see his sexual desires as a sort of joke and treat him accordingly and then wonder why there are so many affairs.

    In our frustration of disrespect (leaving alone REspect), we become silent or say something nasty that earns us the dog house and then discover who will last longer without intimacy, the husband or the wife. For an immoral man who gives in to temptation, the results are bad. For a man like me in the past, I would apologize and get lectured, duck my head in shame and rush around doing what she asked. Other men turn to the smiling faces of porn models on the internet.

    The amount of marital conflict, adultery, divorce and unhappiness shows that the respect and love being shown in marriage is still in trouble and has much work to do.
    There simply is not enough people seeing this blog and other blogs similar to it. There are real people here and real lives with real problems and a few who improve themselves. This real-ness is better than a self help book on marriage.

    God bless this blog.

    as I said before, my wife will never see it.

    1. Jeff,

      Thank you for sharing a masculine perspective. I think this is a viewpoint that many women never see and can’t imagine. What a giant step it is toward healing the chasm between so many husbands and wives for us to begin to understand one another’s unique masculine and feminine needs, ways of thinking, and perspectives.

      It is my prayer that God will raise up men and women in every church of His around the world to teach and model these things and to disciple His people in His design for marriage, femininity, masculinity, family, and for the Body of Christ. I want to see God stop divorce and heal deep wounds and pain in marriages. I want to see His people living in ways that bring great glory and honor to Christ, with strong, vibrant marriages. That is my fervent prayer.

      I pray for spiritual healing for you and for your wife individually and as a couple, my dear brother.

      1. April, some of the people in our married group at church have been reading my blog for a year or so, and are now watching the videos I’ve been doing. It’s already helped one marriage from our church class to hear some of the things I talk about!

        Thank you for encouraging me in this, I do believe as more and more women and men figure this out and are bold enough to teach it to others, we can create small changes that together can help the next generation.

        1. Dragonfly,

          YES! My prayer is that God will raise up at least one man and one woman in every church of His around the world who can mentor and disciple the others, especially the younger generations, and who can live out God’s design and wisdom by the power of His Spirit to model this to the church. How can we live for Christ properly if we are not discipled and taught? What a blessing to watch others discover God’s design for masculinity, femininity, marriage, and submission to Him as Lord in everything! There is a ripple effect that God uses as He wakes up a few people to begin to reach more and more around the world.

          I praise God that He is using you to bless marriages in your church. God’s Word, His Spirit, and His wisdom are the key. So thankful you are sharing His love and allowing Him to shine through you. 🙂

    2. Men and women both have ego problems and both have fragile egos from time to time. The idea that either men or women are better/worse in this area is false.

      This is something else the church needs to get its courage up to discuss.

  7. Reblogged this on a holy hill and commented:
    I’m reblogging this because I think this is an area I’ve let *myself* fall short in lately!

    See…my Husband works extremely hard as a full-time mechanic at our local auto-repair shop, and his boss has structured a rather demanding schedule for my Husband to keep up with. They are very inconsistent with when they allow him to take his lunches, when he gets off every day, and even when he asks for time off in advance, they often conveniently “forget” and try to deny him his time off to spend with me.

    This is really frustrating for both of us, but lately I’ve felt like the *more* frustrated out of us two. I don’t know if this is due to my changing hormones as my pregnancy progresses, or a deeper underlying spiritual issue, but emotionally I’ve really been struggling with the inconsistency & unknowns of our daily schedule. It’s difficult for me to know how & when to have a hot meal waiting for him, if I never really know when he’s coming home!

    Unfortunately, instead of sitting down and explaining the way I’ve been feeling to him in a calm and respectful way, I’ve frequently allowed myself to just burst out in angry tears and frustrated yelling at the WORST possible times…usually over the phone, or right when he’s about to leave for work. I know this is wrong, and it always leaves me feeling terribly guilty and mopey at myself afterwards…but until now I haven’t been able to find the right motivation to *really* make some much-needed changes in how I approach the issue.

    This article really helped! From now forward, I’m going to be so much more careful with how my tone comes off to my Husband when I talk with him about my frustrations & struggles with his schedule. I don’t want to be that nagging wife that always has a sour, pinched expression on her face and a miserable Husband tagging along behind her, his face looking wearily resigned as he waits for the next inevitable outburst. I deeply desire to show my Husband the respect and reverence he deserves as my leader at all times….*even* those times that I feel frustrated with something he is doing or allowing!

    I acknowledge that he may not change a single thing, even if I completely change my approach and tone when speaking with him. Even if I request that he talk with his boss and take a firmer stand on dictacting his own schedule, he may not see this as something *he* feels he needs to do. He may not go about changing things in the way that I would prefer him to. This does not make him wrong, it makes him my leader, and he has the right to mange his work life on his own terms; even if I disagree with him!

    It does not mean he doesn’t care about me, or that he isn’t every bit as frustrated with the current situation as I am! It just means he can see some side of the issue that I as his wife cannot, and that he has made the decision he believes is best for both of us. I have to trust this decision, even if I do not understand it or agree. I have to trust *him* and his leadership, and that’s where it all comes down to the real issue at hand, underneath all the other surface issues.

    I have to learn the terrifying art of surrendering, trusting, and allowing someone else to lead. I don’t want to, but I must if I truly want to foster a greater sense of harmony and peace in my marriage. I have to learn that it’s okay if the food isn’t piping hot and fresh off the stove the moment he comes home…what really matters is that there is good food for him to eat, and it was made with a spirit of contentment and love instead of griping and complaining. The microwave is there for a reason, and I know he doesn’t mind using it to heat his food back up!

    See, the real issue isn’t his schedule at all. It’s my overwhelming, constant desire to have everything under control at all possible times that is the true problem. It’s a heart issue, not a work issue…and the problem lies within *my* heart. Not my husband’s. It’s not my place to have everything under control. It’s okay if he isn’t home on the dot at 5:30pm. It’s okay that he has to reheat his food. The point of our marriage isn’t to have everything always perfectly timed and predictably scheduled…the point of our marriage is to show unconditional love to one another in the way that Christ would have us do. If I can’t learn to love and respect my Husband even when life isn’t going my way and everything is spiraling out of my control (which, let’s face it, is how life usually goes for everyone!) then why am I even married to him at all?

    When I said “I do”, I recieved no guarantee whatsoever that from there on out, everything would be under my control and our life would always be on time and scheduled and predictable. That is NOT the kind of man I married, and I fully knew that going into the marriage…and in fact, I’m grateful he isn’t that kind of man! I love him for exactly who he is, and for me to try to change him is not only disrespectful and absurd, it’s plain wrong. It’s sin, and if our relationship is going to thrive, my first task is to learn to accept my Husband for who Christ has fashioned him to be as a leader and a man.

    My Husband has a lot that he can teach me, simply by being himself. And I have *so* much that I can learn from him, if I can just learn to overcome my desire to control and learn to trust and respect his leadership and his decisions. 🙂

    I’m sure I’ll be sharing even more thoughts about this subject later on in future posts… there’s so much I still have yet to learn! 🙂

    1. Salahgrace,

      LOVE what God is doing in your heart! WOOHOO!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy. 🙂 Learning to respect our husbands and have self-control with tone of voice and facial expressions is quite a battle anytime, but especially so during pregnancy or peri-menopause or PMS. If you can learn to allow God’s Spirit to control you in this way now, it will only get easier from here, in most cases! 🙂

      Thank you so much for sharing this post. What a blessing!!!!

      Much love to you!

    2. Thank you Salahgrace for sharing your experience. I loved what you said about it being a control issue, not a work issue, and that trusting someone else to lead is scary. That is my experience right now.

      April, I have a point of contention with my husband about managing our investments (401K’s). He is a smart and capable guy, and works very hard and does a good job of providing for us, and helps a lot with the kids. I know he is very tired when he’s home. He admits he’s been negligent about managing our finances. He doesn’t look at them for years at a time. And when he does look at them, he looks at the monthly balances and sees that they are going up. I try to explain that they are going up because of our monthly contributions, and that the returns need to be analyzed separately. He doesn’t agree with me.

      Anyhow, he frequently says that he will “look at them this weekend”. But napping and tv watching inevitably get in the way and it doesn’t happen. This bugs me to no end. I want him to be on top of our financial direction, to know whether or not we will have enough for retirement, when he can retire, etc. I have tried nagging him, which obviously doesn’t work. I have tried sarcasm “You don’t plan to retire, right?” “I do plan to retire” he says. “How will you retire with negative returns?” I will say. That obviously doesn’t work either. Any discussion we have on this topic becomes tense and unproductive.

      I feel all wound up and have silent fits of rage, which I know is sinful. I feel like he doesn’t love/respect me enough to address this issue that he knows full well is very important to me. This has bothered me during our entire 12 year marriage. I have offered to take over the finances, but he declined, saying that he thinks he should do it. But nothing is happening. It bothers me that we are not maximizing our returns and being good stewards, and I feel contempt towards him about it. The Bible talks about diligence in managing one’s assets. Is this something I should trust my husband (and ultimately God) to lead, even if it means he leads us to a place of being poor senior citizens? Should I just surrender and not worry about it, and be ok with being poor? Maybe I’m exaggerating the part about being poor, but I like to be financially secure, like most women do. I know you’re busy lately April, so I understand if you don’t have time to reply soon. Thanks,

      1. Update- God helped me resolve this. I felt so trapped by my bitterness and anger and prayed that God would help me get “unstuck”. And he showed me the next day at church how much my desire for financial security stemmed from idolatry, pride, and greed. And that Jesus + nothing = everything. God is my provider. My money should not be my refuge. My focus should be on my spiritual inheritance. While there is certainly a time and place to be diligent about stewardship of earthly finances, I sensed that this is not what I should be dwelling on right now, especially since my husband said he did not want me to take over. I will pray to God about my concerns and leave it to God to work in my husband’s heart. Thanks for your blog April,

        1. Karen,

          These are some amazing insights! So thankful you are seeking God above everything else. Praying for His wisdom for you and your husband – and for God’s greatest glory through this difficult situation.

          Much love to you!

  8. I reblogged this post, and also added a few thoughts of my own on how this helped me realize my own downfalls in the area of nagging… than you so much for writing this! It was such a tremendous help to me!


    1. Sam,

      It’s great to meet you! Thank you very much for your comment and for sharing your perspective.

      I agree that it is easy to blame men when they don’t meet our expectations and don’t do all that we want them to do or think they should do. I did that for many years in my own marriage. I was rather disrespectful and controlling about it. Turns out that my approach didn’t create more intimacy.

      I have done a lot of studying about men in the past 7 years – how they think, what speaks respect and honor to them, what makes them feel loved, how they feel… And I was surprised to learn that men often purposely don’t do things unless they are asked out of respect. If someone else is doing something or usually does that thing, a man may feel that he is being disrespectful to jump in without being asked.

      Lots of times our husbands are willing to help us – but we can help the situation be a win/win for us and for them if we approach them in a polite, friendly, respectful way.

      I know for me, when I spent all those years nagging my husband, telling him what to do, criticizing him often, being negative to him, and had a hateful tone of voice and a scowl on my face – I repelled him. But now that he has felt honored and respected for years in our marriage and he feels welcome with me and safe with me – all I have to do is ask him to do something once. Most of the time he will do it and do it pretty quickly. Not all the time. And that is okay. I don’t want to be a dictator anymore. But if he can help me, he will. He does SO MUCH MORE for me now than he ever did when I was condescending and demanding and resentful that he didn’t meet all of my spoken and unspoken expectations.

      Much love to you!

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