Take the 14 Day No-Nagging Challenge

By Sarah Logan, Contributing Writer

Here’s a true conversation that happened a few nights ago:

Sam: I love you.

Me:  I love you too.

Sam:  Now why would that be?

Me:  Because you don’t nag me…anymore.

Sam:  But I used to – how long has it been?

Me:  Oh, a number of years, I can’t remember.  What happened?  How’d you quit?

Sam:  I gave it up for Lent.

Me:  Really?!!  Are you serious?

Sam:  No, of course not!  (We both laughed!)

Me:  Well, how’d you do it then?

Sam:  I quit judging you, that’s all.

 

Take the 14 Day no-nagging challenge!

Some of us are more prone to nag than others. People tend to think it is usually women who nag – and in my experience that is true. However, in our marriage it has been the opposite – where I am more prone to be nagged than to nag. Let’s define our terms to begin.

Nagging. Even the onomatopoeic utterance causes one to cringe. It means to banter, make repeated requests, constant reminders, use verbal cues to elicit response or action. At its core is impatience and a need to control. The goal of the nag is often to make another person do his/her bidding. It isn’t subtle – it is more overt in its attempt to manipulate.

Needless to say, it is toxic to marriage - or to any relationship. And often people resort to nagging because they just cannot figure out how to get someone else to do something. “But he won’t…” “She won’t…” Unless I nag.

I’m not going to argue with you. You may be right. Maybe your husband won’t take out the trash unless you remind him constantly. Maybe you’ll be living in absolute squalor unless you heap complaint and requests upon your spouse. Maybe you just can’t accept living with a messy and so you use nagging to accomplish your Will.

You may be right. I’ll bet the trash would sit for longer than it should. Dishes will sit unwashed longer than you’d like. Things will be messy, more than you’d like. Oh well. You choose. Would you rather a strained relationship that lacks life and love and joy and a clean kitchen? Would you rather have your spouse cringe when you enter the room, waiting for the onslaught? Or would you like to enjoy a warm, accepting relationship where you work together as a team?

I know what I’d pick.

Sam no longer nags me. He used to. Some of my habits were (are?!) annoying. Some of my lackadaisical approach to life is trying for those living with me. I’ll admit it – I’m a work in progress. I don’t proclaim this proudly – I fail on a regular basis. You may notice I don’t write posts on how to keep an organized house or how to run your calendar efficiently. Someday, maybe I’ll arrive at a modicum of ‘normal’ in these categories. But until then I’ll stick with writing on topics of marriage stress!

I only say this because I want you to know I am writing from the perspective of one who has lived with nagging and has seen it dissipate and leave room for my own growth (though slow) and a revived, warm, partnership with my husband. It IS possible to quit nagging!

I want to challenge you to take the 14 Day Challenge: To lay aside every gripe, complaint, request and effort to change your spouse. Maybe doing this for a lifetime sounds daunting. Don’t worry about the lifetime part. Just do it for 14 days. My bet is you’ll see changes you never knew were possible in yourself and your spouse and you may just want to continue the experiment.

That’s it?  No – you can’t just quit saying things that are so used to rolling off your tongue.  The challenge is, every time you’re about to say something that is pushy, forceful, discontent, complaining or whining, zip your lips and quote Ephesians 4:29 to yourself.  I said ‘quote’ because in time, you will know it backwards and forwards.  Go write it down on a small card and stick it in your pocket.  If you can’t remember the words just whip it out and read it over to yourself.  Your spouse may think you odd for having halting speech and pulling out a card now and then, but just do it.  Don’t tell him/her you’re doing this project.  Just take the reigns of your mouth and turn the bit a bit (!) until you have your tongue more under control.

But the challenge doesn’t end with just biting your tongue. Biting your tongue is painful, tiresome and difficult. It requires more of us than we may have strength to muster. So the goal is to NOT have to bite your tongue.

How so? Does that mean you get to go back to nagging?!! NOoooooo…..

It means you need to address your heart. Biting one’s tongue is difficult because we all have the urge to speak what is within us. I’d like to challenge you to take the second 14 Days to another challenge – no longer will the rule be: “No nagging.” But it will be “No thinking disparaging, complaining thoughts of my spouse.”

Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. Let’s go ahead and apply that, shall we? Here’s what it looks like:

(Thinking to herself…)
1st Thought: “Hmmm… he must not care about me. If he did he would know how much it irritates me that the toilet paper isn’t replaced at the end of the roll. I’ve told him a gazillion times!”
2nd Thought: “Well, that was downright negative of me! Quit it, brain. That thought isn’t helpful, loving, kind or productive. Let’s take that thought to the mental trash bin.” (Mentally clicks on the nasty thought and drags it to the mental trash bin).
3rd Thought: “Lord, thank you for loving me in spite of my negative outlook. Help me to love him in a way that would honour You.”

That’s what taking thoughts captive looks like.

Now, go try it. Let me know how it goes!

Comments

  1. Wow, thanks, I can do that! You really broke it down for me, so I can see what I’m doing wrong. Amazing, can’t wait to tell you in a couple of weeks, how it’s working :)

  2. I can’t wait to hear how it goes! Thanks so much for chiming in here!

  3. Sarah, I like this, but my question is; how do you confront the things that must be addressed, that go beyond annoying to offensive? I tend to either nag or avoid, both of which are non productive and non Biblical. I’d love to hear your input on this. Thanks. Debbie

  4. Hmmm, that’s a good question Debbie. There is a way to confront – and confrontation is often needed. You are right that nagging or avoiding don’t get to the root of the problem. Usually there is a root problem – selfishness, laziness, irresponsibility, lack of self-control, you name it! I don’t have a pat answer, or a formula to tell you – do a), b), and c) and your problem is solved! Here are some beginning pointers:
    1. Pray about the matter – Seek what God would have you do.
    2. Find a neutral time to bring up the matter – address it simply, plainly and without emotional heaviness. I would say something like, “There is something you do/don’t do that often frustrates me. I need to know if this is an area I simply need to work on growing in patience or take over doing myself or what… I would really like it if you could help me – here is what I wish for – (explain what you wish would happen/not happen) – but I don’t want to nag you about it, so I am just going to mention it so you are aware.” Seek not to criticize or lay blame, but to share your concern.
    3. Wait and watch and continue to pray. Release yourself from the burden. You cannot control another person.
    4. If nothing happens or changes, there is a time to bring in godly counsel or help from a trusted leader/shepherd.

    But I do think your question deserves greater thought – those were just off the top of my head. So, maybe this will be another blog post in the near future!

  5. Also, I wouldn’t repeat step 2. for as long as possible – in some cases, never again! Your spouse does have ears, and sometimes needs emotional space and time to make even minimal changes.

  6. So I haven’t nagged in about a year. Great, right? Except my husband has started to complain to me that because I’ve stopped nagging he thinks I love him less. He is so used to the nagging from all the other women in his family (mother, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, etc) that when I stop nagging, he becomes confused because he doesn’t understand a life without nagging as his family considers it a sign of love.

    Also, since I’ve stopped nagging him to do things, I have to do all of them now, he no longer does anything for the home except complain about the stuff that isn’t getting done because he is too busy having a party with his friends. Everything is left up to me to do because it will otherwise sit forever (maybe not forever but after about 3 months of waiting,is about all I can handle). Stopping nagging has proven to be physically exhausting for me as it adds to my already heavy load (I work full time and he doesn’t). It is also difficult for our relationship because I simply can’t keep up with him because my work load is exponentially increased. Yet I fear that if I start nagging again, we will go back to having those unnecessary arguments that no longer exist.

    When is it no longer worth it?

  7. Oh my, Gigi. You are certainly in a difficult spot. If I were you, I would clarify to him the reason behind you stopping the nagging. Assert that you DO love him and that you are desiring to grow in a godly love for him and that the patterns of the women in his life are not good and healthy expressions of love. Tell him you are trying to begin a new model of relating – one based on respect and not nagging. In fact, because you respect him so much, you are going to treat him like the grown adult he is (or is meant to be). Grab the book Boundaries (there is probably one specifically addressing Boundaries in Marriage) by Cloud and Townsend. This book radically changed my life because I, too, grew up in an environment riddled with lack of boundaries and as a result, nagging was common.

    I would find a good time to sit down with your husband and address certain concerns – not to nag, but to be up front and honest: ‘I need you to know how difficult it has been for me to quit nagging you. I was hoping you would appreciate my efforts and take upon yourself, without my urging, some of the tasks of life that are necessary. I realize I haven’t fully respected you by picking up the slack. I am happy to do the following things as an act of love and service to you: ____(fill in blanks)____. But I cannot do it all on my own.’ Rather than tell him ‘here’s what I expect you to do…’ I would just leave it for a while and quit doing all the things that you are doing that are out of your realm. I have a friend with a very healthy, loving, strong marriage who will just push all her husband’s loose stuff (clothes etc) over to one side of the room. Yes, it’s a mess, but she moves it to where it isn’t in her way. When he decides to deal with it, that’s when it gets washed etc. You may consider doing something similar, whatever your situation is.

    Again, I think the Boundaries book would be a help. But let me know how it goes either way – I’m curious.