Happy Marriage Tip: Nagging Doesn’t Work
You may or may not have realized this, but men and women are built differently, and I don’t just mean physically. By nature, we are innately wired to think and interpret situations differently. We react differently in a given situation and we prioritize differently. Today, in light of the never ending to do list that comes with the holiday season, I thought we’d discuss how the difference between men and women relates to nagging: i.e. repeatedly bring up what needs to be done and the fact that it hasn’t been done yet.
Men vs. Women
Women are like the energizer bunny. They can go for extended periods of time working to complete tasks without taking a break. We can be dedicated to a fault as we burn ourselves to the ground. We have difficulty relaxing in the face of our ever mounting to do list.
Men are far more balanced. They need breaks between tasks. It’s not being lazy, it’s in their nature. The throw themselves headlong into a task. While in the midst of a task they have lazed focus. But, once a task is complete, they need to relax and recharge for the next task.
Here’s an everyday example. My husband takes the kids out for the day. Upon entering the house, he puts the baby carrier down takes off his and T’s jacket, and puts something on so he can relax on the couch.
When I come home from a similar trip. I am unpacking the diaper bag of whatever got thrown in there during the day, finding places for any purchases, putting away jackets, putting the baby in her play pen, etc…
For my husband, the task is the outing. Once home, he needs to relax and unwind before proceeding to the next task. Whereas for me the task is not complete until all these other little tasks are done. My husband is “clean the whole house or don’t clean at all.” So he’ll wait til he has a full day off to devote himself to the project and then relax the next day. Where I am “clean a little each day and by the end of the week we have a clean house.” The end result is the same, a clean house at the end of the week. But my husband is rest, big task, rest and I am little by little it gets done.
How This Relates to Nagging
So while men are sitting on the couch watching a movie or playing video games, it’s not because they forgot what you want them to do. It’s also not about ignoring you or being lazy. They just function differently. They need to recharge after each task not just at the end of the day.
If you need your husband’s help with something write it down and tell him. If you have a deadline in mind, tell him. Sometimes they do forget, but more often than not, they just plan to do the task in their own time, not on your schedule. They don’t know when you need it by unless you tell them. For example you tell them you need the living room cleared of their things for the party on Friday. You neglect to say that once it’s cleaned you still want to decorate, put out food, and have time to do your makeup and get dressed for the party. According to your man, as long as it’s done before people walk in the door, they did what you asked. They do not understand your frustration that its not done Friday morning when people aren’t coming until Friday night.
So be specific about time frames for tasks. Trust that your husband will get it done by the time given. He loves you and he is not intentionally driving you crazy. He just might not see the urgency that you see. Inevitably, even though you know these things, you will become frustrated and nag your husband. Come up with a code word that your husband can use to clue you in to your behavior. Nothing passive aggressive or condescending. Try “I need to recharge for a bit, but I will get it done.” This will remind you that your husband knows what needs to get done and it will happen, in his time.
Test this out and tell me how it goes! Happy weekend!
Emily Bendler is a mom, wife, full-time insurance adjuster, professional dancer, dance teacher, graduate student, and founder of I Hope You Dance, Inc., a non-profit supporting youth dance. Read how Emily used her dance ambitions to become a time management maven. Feel free to send Emily a message using the email me tab above.