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.
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 Jenny@thesuburbanjungle.com
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.)