How to break the nagging cycle

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If you ask your partner to vacuum the lounge, and when they don’t do it straight away, you find yourself saying, ‘Erm, didn’t you say you’d vacuum the lounge?’, you could be accused of nagging. Somehow, we convince ourselves that by repeating ourselves our requests will sink in. But in reality we’re just nagging, and that’s irritating for all involved.

Unfortunately we tend to nag the people we love, causing rifts in our more important relationships. It doesn’t need to be this way though – here’s how to break the nagging cycle.

Don’t put a time limit on it
Imagine you’ve asked your girlfriend to do the dishes after dinner, and an hour later they’re still sitting there. Your anxiety rises, and the more time ticks away, the more anxious you’ll feel. The question is, why put a time limit on something that isn’t pressing? Yes, if you’ve got people coming round and you’ve asked your partner to tidy the lounge you’ve got more of a point. But ask yourself, does it really matter if the dishes don’t get done for a few hours while you watch an after-dinner movie? In fact, would the world end if she did the dishes in the morning? We thought not.

Ask yourself, who cares?

If your partner actually has no vested interest in the thing you’re nagging about, then why are you asking them to do it? For example, if you’re nagging your partner to tidy up the cupboard beneath the stairs when they really don’t care what it looks like, then why don’t you spend an hour doing it yourself? Pick your battles wisely.

Stop banging your head against the wall
If your partner doesn’t respond to your request for them to do a task, don’t assume that by asking them to do it again will result in a different outcome – instead, change tack. If they ignore your request to put out the rubbish, place the bag in their path when they leave the house in the morning. That way they’ll be hard pressed to ignore it.

Should you just do it yourself?
It’s worth considering that sometimes it’s better to just do things yourself. We’re not saying that you should always cave and run around after your partner, but if your partner doesn’t do things to your standards, it might be you with the problem, not them. If you need something done to precise standards, make sure you tell your partner exactly what you want doing. Don’t ask him or her to weed the front garden and wonder why they didn’t do the back garden too. Set them up for success rather than setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you’re still not convinced, see if you can remember the last time that nagging worked for you. And if it did, ask yourself if it was worth the friction between you and your partner. Also, consider the possibility that if you’re nagging your partner about small insignificant things, is it your way of ignoring a bigger problem in your relationship? Let the nagging go, stop exhausting yourself and your partner, and concentrate on what really matters in your relationship.


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