by Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
This could mean that when you think you're innocently asking your partner do something, he or she may feel like they're being put in a lower position. Somehow inferior or capable of being bossed around.
"That's ridiculous!" you may say. "I have to remind him every time, he never does it. I'm not living in squalor." or "I just want her to get the receipts together for the tax return. I don't understand her problem, it's the federal law for Pete's sake!"
Logical reasoning doesn't apply to nagging. You may think that asking over and over for something would remind or motivate the person to do it.
How is that working for you? Not very well I bet.
The thing we want our partner to do is justified. Shouldn't it make sense to live in a hygienic environment or file the taxes in a timely manner?
The changes we want our partner to make are justified!
What is this really about? "Do I matter to you?" "Do you care about me and what I need?" "Will you help me so we don't get sick or in some kind of trouble?" "Will you listen to me?" "Will you care about what makes me feel good?" "Am I worth paying attention to?"
Sometimes nagging can be a way to get someone's attention, even negative attention. If you go overboard, you can get attention and engagement from another person all right! But it won't be a feel-good experience. Probably being yelled at followed by the usual punishments... withholding affection, sex, help and companionship, maybe the silent treatment or worse.
Asking for closeness by complaining is not particularly useful. Let's try something different.
Here are a few steps to get out of the relationship-sinking habit of nagging.
1. Make it your intention to create a positive feedback loop with your partner.
Do this by relaxing, meditating, and thinking about the kind of relationship you want.
2. Think about what you want more of, and what you like instead of focusing on what's wrong. You're trying to shift momentum. Put your attention on what is wanted. Don't put pressure on your partner to fulfill you desires for a while. Rather, work on your vision of how you want the relationship to be. How you want to feel in your relationship. Everything needs a vision, intention or blueprint.
3. Take the pressure off demanding or requiring anything for a while.
4. Focus on what the other person is doing right. Notice and comment, be appreciative.
5. Ask once and don't repeat.
6. Trust your partner. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Know that he is doing the best he can from where he's at right now.
7. Love yourself by telling the truth about how you're feeling, what you need and want without making the other person wrong. For example, "I feel so gross living in here with all this trash" is very different from"Why won't you do it! How many times do I have to keep telling you? You're such a jerk, do you think I'm your mother?!"
I can help you learn how to express yourself so you feel clear and free from pent-up anger and frustration. It feels good to express yourself well. It's a great thing to practice and helps us feel powerful and yet safe at the same time. It also makes others feel good, and replaces negative habits like nagging, complaining, manipulating, criticizing. It helps us feel better physiologically. Stuffing a lot of pent-up emotion isn't good for us. Fill out the contact form and we can talk about how this is affecting you in your life.
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