Go on a nag-free marriage diet

Dec 27, 2011 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Think nagging your partner will help you get what you want? You might want to rethink that one, ladies!

Woman nagging her husband

The family budget is squeezed to the limit. It seems you're forever overdrawn or maxed out, and savings? Huh! Who has savings? It's long gone.

Your husband says, "Don't worry, I'll ask for a raise. I know I'm overdue for one. Should be a piece of cake."

But the days go by, and he doesn't come home with the rapturous news of "Honey! I got the raise!" Instead, he comes home with "Sorry, the boss was in a cranky mood today," or "I just had too much to do" – what seems to you to be just one excuse after another.

You respond by:

  1. Nagging: You make it your daily drill to remind him before he leaves for work, "Gonna ask for that raise today?" and call/text/tweet him at least several times during the day to do more of the same.
  2. Yelling: You figure if he isn't responding quickly enough, maybe it's because he doesn't understand how important it is that he ASK FOR THAT DARN RAISE ALREADY! So you make sure your voice level conveys the urgency you feel.
  3. Demanding: Ok, enough is enough. You adopt your best drill sergeant mode and bark orders at him: "Get the raise. Now." This, of course, is in addition to the aforementioned nagging and yelling.

Nothing changes. Your husband still hasn't asked for that raise, although your voice is getting hoarse and you've gone from annoyed to downright mad.

Of course nothing has changed! Nagging, yelling and demanding simply make people cower, not cooperate. If your husband is finding it difficult to ask for the cherished raise, your job as a loving spouse (remember that? Loving?) is not to berate him into it, but love him into it.

Think about how you'd resolve a problem with a co-worker or a family down the block. You wouldn't scream, yell or demand. You'd listen; you'd do your best to put yourself in the other's shoes; you'd seek to understand the situation from their point of view. You'd look for rational solutions, as neutrally as possible. You would brainstorm, go back and forth with ideas and finally agree on a plan.

Your husband deserves no less than what you'd accord other people. If anything, he deserves greater consideration. That's where the love comes in. Give your husband the benefit of the doubt. If he's not asking for that raise, it's because something is getting in his way. Help him figure out what that is. Now, together, you can come up with a solution – one that doesn't require any nagging, yelling or demanding.

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