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How to stop nagging your man

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

Avoid being tuned out

Even with the best of intentions, suggestions and reminders for your man can easily turn into a drone that he ignores. No one likes to feel like they're being nagged! Find out how, when and what to bring up with him, and learn how your own happiness affects his.
woman nagging boyfriend

It’s natural to want the best for my man. I love him, and I want to see him healthy, fulfilling his goals, keeping his commitments and living a good life. Many of his actions affect my own happiness, so it’s fair for me to have a vested interest in what he does. But when do I cross the line from giving him gentle reminders to suddenly becoming that annoying bee in his ear, bossing him around for every single thing he does? Here’s what I’ve learned:

Preferences can be overlooked

Make the distinction between “this is how it has to be” and “this is how I'd like it to be.” I would prefer that he always pick up his clothes off the floor, and I’d like it if he would empty the kitchen sink of dirty dishes before we go to bed, but there’s no moral stand-off for these issues. If I treat everything that I want him to change with the same level of urgency, he starts to hear a whining radio -- and even if he doesn’t mean to, he tunes me out. If I can choose to overlook things that are preferences (clothes on the floor aren’t going to kill me, at least if there are no guests coming over) and bring up only the bigger stuff, he’ll hear me more clearly.

Explain how you feel, not how he’s wrong

A dangerously easy way to make a helpful conversation into a nag-fest is to turn my list of complaints into a list of everything that he’s doing wrong. “You don’t clean up after yourself, I’m always the one who cooks dinner…” Pause for a moment and call up your own list in your head. Now rephrase it by stating how you feel when he does these things. “I feel overwhelmed when I cook dinner every night after work, and it makes me too tired to do anything in the evening. Can we figure out a way to make this less stressful?” Here’s what I’ve learned -- although he won’t be very excited about responding to a bitter complaint, he will jump to rescue you when he sees your emotions and understands your needs. It’s literally in how you say it. “I feel…” instead of “You don’t...”  

Let him relax

Timing is huge. My husband can’t have serious conversations when he’s hungry. Dinner is a must before I can spring anything on him. It’s funny to think about, but we have a better chance of a receptive ear if he’s not distracted by fatigue or starvation. This waiting process also can help us prepare as we sift our preferences from our necessities, and find ways to state how we feel about the situation.

Take care of yourself

This one catches me by surprise all the time. If I’m unhappy at work, in life or my other relationships, my bad mood often makes me fixate on what’s wrong in my love life. Discontentment with your man can be a sign of unrest in yourself. Make sure to get your sleep, follow your own passions, and make time to feel beautiful. How you feel truly affects how you see him, because you view everyone through the filter of yourself.

Learning to talk to him without nagging is an endless journey for most of us. But as you try these out, you’ll see how much better he hears the important things you have to share with him.

More love advice

Is it time to start dating against-type?
5 Stupidest things to fight over
Mastering the art of rejection

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