Take 5: How to Stop Nagging Your Spouse

By Tammy Skipper, Contributing Writer

Have you ever finished speaking to your spouse and had the sudden realization…

that you were nagging?

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After nineteen years of marriage, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t done it myself. I wish I’d learned even earlier in our relationship how to recognize it and how to communicate in a more effective manner. Nagging is simply the adult version of a whining toddler. It often surfaces when we are tired and frustrated. Ever put one of those whiny toddlers in time out? The strategy works well for us as well.

Take 5: How to stop nagging your spouse

1. Stop 

Sometimes the most effective strategy to end nagging is to just. stop. talking. Do you give your little one the toy they want in the store with a willing spirit because they pitched a huge fit in the middle of the superstore? Don’t give your spouse a reason to feel that way towards you.

2. Breathe 

Deep breathing is effective in bringing calm and focus during childbirth, which is much more painful than a disagreement with your spouse. Reap the same benefits when you find yourself harping. Take a slow, deep breath by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.

3. Pray 

Ask God to give you perspective and change your own heart if needed. This is the hardest one for me because if I’m nagging, I usually think I’m “right.” That means the last thing I want to do is consider that I might be “wrong.” The problem with this thinking is that someone has to lose, and that someone would be your spouse. Consider the following verses.

Matthew 19:5 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

1 Peter 3:1 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives”

Matthew 20:28 “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

4. Act 

Nagging often happens when I want my spouse to do something. It might even be something he truly intended to complete. If I am the one who thinks the task needs to be done and I am able, doing so is much better for my marriage than inviting a disagreement.

5. Explain

The difference between explaining and nagging can be a fine line, especially for someone like me! I find it usually comes down to the amount of words I use. If I make a request using more than three sentences with my husband, he’s already stopped listening. Nagging. If I tell him in one sentence why something is important to me, he almost always acts on my request. It might not get done my way or in my timing, but we are communicating.

What strategies have you found helpful to change your words from the negative tone of nagging to one of love?



  1. I actually just wrote about this today! I find it helpful to assume the best of my husband (he doesn’t need me to keep telling him over and over to do something); to keep an attitude of respect toward him versus treating him like a child (he ISN’T); and as you said, to sometimes just do myself whatever I’m asking him to do. Thanks for this!! :)

  2. Thanks for this! I needed to hear/read it. I’ve found that during these disagreements w/ my husband, even though it can be VERY hard to do, praying is the most help at softening my heart and calming me down. God is good!

  3. YES! Wonderful encouragement!

  4. I haven’t quite arrived when it comes to nagging…it’s a big problem for me, because my husband tends to do things the “dirty” way – washing dishes with a sponge I used to clean the sink and leaving big chunks of food on them, not considering that I work full time outside the home so I don’t always feel like jumping right into bed when we get home from work….leaving the bathroom door open while he uses the bathroom….picking on me for little things…..so I have found that regular communication about these issues doesn’t do the trick…only when I nag do things get changed. I hate nagging though , because I know it isn’t right. He picks at me a lot, and makes a big deal out of little things I do “wrong” (or that he thinks is wrong) which is really the correct, safe, or best way to do it. Example: folding clothes when they come out of the dryer, not piling them up in a hamper to get wrinkled to fold later. Sorry! So I have taken over the laundry, dish washing, cleaning, and a lot of other stuff even though we both work outside the home (no kids, newly married, I’m working for now because I have to so we can pay bills). I want to honor Christ, and I have prayed hard about this, because I want to be what I am supposed to be…it just seems impossible sometimes…..

  5. First of all, congrats on your newlywed status! Second, I have felt many of those same emotions through our years together, especially since I am the oldest child who often took care of household chores in a single-parent home growing up. I often believe I truly know the ‘right’ way to do things and even hear myself using that phrasing with my kids. It sounds like both of you are learning a lot about how you each complete those household tasks and which things are of the most value to you at the end of a long day. There is no quick fix but I believe there is a huge opportunity for both of you to grow together as you learn what works for your new life together. Remember that ultimately you can focus on changing only your own behavior. Here are some scripture verses I find worthy of considering on this issue. I hope reading them will remind you of what is true and important as you work through this issue together. Matthew 19:5, 1 Peter 3:1, Matthew 20:28. Remember, the entire team here is praying for you!

  6. I love when God stirs up our hearts toward the same topic, I believe it shows how we are willing to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is true we do not want to treat our spouse as a child, I doubt we would appreciate it if the situation was reversed! Blessings to you and in your marriage.

  7. I’m glad it was encouraging. I am almost afraid to write sometimes because often God allows me to be tested in the area which I’ve written about. Just last week God worked to mold me even more in the image of Christ over this very issue. Let us continue to be willing to grow in Christ for the sake of our marriages.

  8. I so appreciate your response, and thank you for the verses. I will examine them and study them and thank you so much for your prayers. I know I am not always right, and I think it’s sometimes a pride issue, or fear that something bad will happen. It’s just “easier” if I do it my way, you know what I mean? Thank you for taking the time to write back.

  9. I used to be a huge nagger but learned that it just doesn’t work. I have the opposite problem. I live with the nagging spouse. We have a blended family which makes it that much harder. His daughter can do no wrong and mine can do no right. He doesn’t nag his daughter, only mine. He doesn’t nag me much either. I believe he is resentful of my children bc of have relationship they have with their dad that he lacks with his own children and also bc I get along with my ex and we parent our children together when needed. He can’t have a civil conversation most of the time w his ex. My reactions are bad when he nags. I pray about this a lot and we’ve seen out pastor about it. It’s to the point where I’m much happier when he’s not home. I want to change my reactions to him when he nags the kids, I Just don’t know what to change them to. Right now I start yelling at him and saying mean things. Which isn’t right and I want to change that. I don’t know what will have a positive effect. Any advice will be appreciated.

  10. I’m sure almost any advice I would offer would be inadequate after sharing just a few words here, but I do want to encourage you! I have not walked in your shoes as a wife, but I was the daughter in a blended home so I can only offer that perspective. As natural as it seems, it’s very difficult for kids to hear themselves referenced to as ‘his’ or ‘hers.’ We often just want to be ‘yours.’ You mentioned you thought your own reactions could use some improvement and I have found that is often the only place I can start as a wife. When I take true joy in living obedient to God’s design for marriage, my happiness and emotional management are not dependent on whether or not my husband has done what might seem like his ‘share.’ I’m far from perfect, and this doesn’t always help when I’m frustrated, but it helps me gain perspective most of the time. Maybe you can start by journaling at least one thing every day that you love about him. I know I want my own husband to focus on my strengths and not my faults, I’m sure they appreciate the same. Blessing on your family!