How to Stop Nagging -Ask Jenny From the Blog

In The Suburban Jungle’s newest segment:  Ask Jenny From the Blog, I answer important marriage and parenting questions with honesty, and wit.  Please do not hold me responsible for tantrums or divorce.

woman nagging man
Recently a friend asked, “How do I  stop nagging my husband?”  I used the decade of marriage as a basis for my answer and gave it to her straight, “You don’t.  You just learn to nag more efficiently.” The definition of nagging is to ask or criticize someone repetitively, to the point of being bothersome.  Well, if they learned the first time you said it, you would be a brilliant wife and he would be husband of the year.  Let me impart a truth I have discovered after a 10 years of nagging. You have to train a husband, which is not unlike training a puppy.   Except that a husband takes much much longer.  If you saw my 6 month old puppy actually chewing the wall, this truth could send you running for the hills.

The key is to open the lines of communication and reward rather than reprimand.  I know that sounds cheesy and Dr. Philee, but it is something you may not realize until you’ve wasted much time trying to mold your man through bitter seething complaints and snide remarks.

I am still training my husband… everyday.  If I had known when I was first married what I know now, I think I would be giving much less correction, and much more Snausages.  I remember the conversation that started a new path to less nagging.  It was not so long ago.  I said, “there has to be some word, some signal that I can give to tell you that I am about to complain and possibly correct something you’ve done.  The signal would imply that what I am about to say may be critical and will most definitely annoy the crap out of you.  I know that, but I must get it off my chest if I am to remain happy.   I need you to hear me without sneering, ignoring, focusing on a mindless commercial or diverting your attention towards the kids.

Seems easy right, asking someone to listen and absorb when alerted to do so?  Well, men are stubborn creatures.  So, to make it fair, I agreed that the signal could be whatever he chose, as long as he agreed to open his ears and keeps his eyes from rolling.  He decided I should say, “I suck and you are awesome.”  Please, is that the best you can do?  In return for your full attention, I would have said, “I’m a psycho bitching wife who doesn’t deserve such a strapping specimen of a man, while flashing you and doing a jig, but we’ll just go with your suggestion.”

This is your chance to set some ground rules and have some fun while doing it.  Pick a signal that is totally disarming and let him know that the only person who hates nagging more than he does is you.  Most importantly, when he does a good job, don’t forget the praise… and the Snausages.

Please send questions to

Disclaimer-  Jenny is not a trained professional!  Though you may find her brilliant and insightful, she has been called odd and insane.  Please keep that in mind when following any of her advice. Also, no animals were harmed in the writing of this piece (in case you were wondering.)

17 thoughts on “How to Stop Nagging -Ask Jenny From the Blog

  1. Tiffany

    So beating him is not the way to go? I will give your method a try. Apparently, my friendly text of “it’s trash night darling!” is too annoying b/c he says he doesn’t need to be reminded. Of course, if I don’t we start our own garbage site right in the backyard. God help us wives!

  2. cherie

    This sounds great. Very funny. I’ll have to give it a try, but I’m afraid of finding out what his trigger word would be. Hopefully it’s something like, I know you think I am the best wife in the world, but sometimes I have to prod you a little to get things done. (more like cattle than pets). But I could say something like Tony and Cleo think you are the best and for them you need to…

  3. Bari

    Jenny, your ideas on “man training” are completely sound. I located the research on the topic and found the new “bible” of training manuals. The title is: How to train your man like a Dog. Keep the advice comming. It’s timely, relevant and bound to help you create more female contacts. The men…not so much.

  4. Bari

    Oops Jen, I erred. When it comes to the men, your idea of a jig is a great attention getter and guaranteed to work!

  5. Sandy

    Even after 50 years of mostly happy marriage, my Mom is still training my Dad. I think she’d get bored if he were to ever be fully trained.

  6. Jai

    what I have done is allow him to witness in full effect of the consequences to his non-behavior. As long as it isn’t life threatening or anything. I discovered that I had this habit of asking for him to take the trash out. But when he did not, I would get up early and haul garbage out and keep the garage clear and smelling reasonable. Then one day, I decided to not take it out. It is “his job” and he doesn’t like the “nag of a reminder,” right? So since he knows what he is supposed to do then he should do it. I dont say another word and I don’t take it out. Well, he clearly sees the evidence as it piles in the garage, small animals forage, and he has to park on the street. It works wonders also when the “underwear fairy” no longer picks up the dirties off the floor and magically clean and put then in the drawer 😉

  7. Barry

    Time to set you straight. I’m a husband/nagee. You’re fighting a loosing battle. The king of the Naggers has you beat. We guys have a hidden technique. We’ve learned, out of neccessity, “Convenient Hearing” the king of the Naggers, I should say Queen, has been on our case since we were born. MOM. By the time you started we’ve already been nagged by the pro–Mom. You’re too late. You’re chasing your tail. We’re immune. We patronize you guys. We’re no longer trainable. Ha ha!! What you see is what you got.

  8. Melinda

    I like to add in a lot of I told you so’s, the contant reminder that I’m always right causes for less stress and more agreeable behavior 🙂

  9. rachy

    personally, i believe persistance is the best approach. and, with that, a variety of presentations of the request/nag is fun, and add some creativity to art of the nag.

    i like the subtle reminder at first. maybe a friendly text message when you’re sitting across from each other watching tv. once in a while, some justified rage can be effective: “how can you stand living in a place like this! come on! you gotta [fill in your nag]. and another time, just give “the look.”

    this variety keeps the nagee off guard!

    but i do believe that barry tells the truth about all nagees: selective hearing. or diversion of the eyes….to the tv, to someone else in the room, to my endowment (guys are genetically wired to look there instead of into you eyes, i believe).

    but we’d all be living in absolute pig styes if not for the nagging? am i correct?

  10. Noel

    A guy here. Just for balance, my first marriage ended because of my wife’s incessant attempts at control … and of course the accompanying nagging. It doesn’t work. Trust me.

  11. Gary

    As I sit here writing this, I’m being “reminded” of several things. Thank goodness I’m reading this column or else I might hear everything!!! Nice job, another entertaining column.

  12. Joyce

    Creative nagging is interesting but, sometimes, nothing beats yelling at the top of one’s lungs at one’s partner. Sometimes, that is just way more fun. Yup, I’ve been married 20 years and expect to be married at least 20 more. Still…

  13. Kay Lorraine

    Sorry Jai, but if your “witness in full effect of the consequences to his non-behavior” technique works for you, you’re lucky.

    I once announced that I was no longer going to pick up the dirty dishes from all over the house and carry them to the sink. I would wash anything that was IN the sink but I wasn’t going to play “maid” any more. The result? Dishes piled up all over the house. Food began to smell. I kept my own personal plate, silverware and glass which I washed and then locked up for my next use. When the dishes ran out, he bought paper plates. After nearly a month of this insanity, I blinked. He won.

    Did I mention that we’ve been divorced for a long time now? The next one was somewhat better. But only somewhat…..

  14. Patty K Mooney

    I don’t nag my guy because a long time ago we divided our chores up as follows: He does the outdoors, the yard, the cars, the house repairs, etc. I do the inside. We don’t have kids, thus no distractions from enjoying each other’s company. We’ve been enjoying OTHER people’s children and then when we want, we just say “C-ya.” Not everybody wants to or should have children. But if you do, just remember that you’ll have far greater challenges, and thus the nagging.

  15. Petula

    I love this, but I’m divorced so maybe I should have nagged more. LOL… No seriously, I live with my BF and I reward him for his good behavior. AND the other day I sweetly told him while we were cuddling and he was enjoying feeling me up that I wanted this place to be ours and for him to be comfortable and he could knock down a wall if he wanted. Then I said, “You know, just do things when you see them not feel like I have to tell you.” Today he took the trash out without a reminder. 🙂 He forgot to put a garbage bag back in the trashcan, but hey that’s 1/2 the battle. LOL


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