Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nagging, the Marriage Killer

A teaser headline on this morning's Wall Street Journal reads, "Meet The Marriage Killer." As I picked up the paper at the front door of our office building, a co-worker and I started to guess as to what the article would reveal as this "marriage killer." Money? Kids? Sex? I then quipped that if you have two of those and lack one, your marriage is in trouble. We laughed. But we were both wrong. Turns out that the great marriage killer is... nagging!

So, I started reading the article, and the first example it gave was of a wife nagging her husband. Yes, it is true that wives nag more than husbands (read the article here). But I had to laugh again because I probably nag my wife more than she nags me. I think we are in the minority on that one, but the article did get me thinking - what if all of my nagging is really putting a serious drain on our relationship?

I apparently have reason to be concerned. Researchers are now referring to nagging as a "toxic" way of communicating that can cause serious relationship problems. As I reflect on this, I do realize that when I nag my wife about leaving clutter on the kitchen counter, or leaving dresser drawers open, or the various other things that annoy me, she does tend to shut down and feel as if I am focusing too much on things that don't matter.

Again, we are probably in the minority. According to the article (and most of the stories I have heard from friends and family), it is often husbands who feel as though they are being talked down to and harassed about stuff that does not matter.

And while I certainly do more nagging, the one area in which my wife has me beat is with, you guessed it, our son. Something tells me this may be fairly common, as moms tend to be more focused (on average) on the day-to-day care of kids.

She asks me to do this or that for our two-year-old, and if I don't jump out of my seat immediately, she thinks I don't care or am ignoring her. My defense is typically something like, "Does it really matter if I refill his juice cup right now or in 30 seconds during the commercial break in Jeopardy?" After all, I have to continue proving to myself how smart I am by answering as many Double Jeopardy clues as possible (with two witnesses in the room no less!).

The bottom line is that we both have to stop nagging each other because our marriage is too important (to our son especially) to be derailed by a stray paper towel or open sock drawer.

Tell us about the nagging that happens in your marriage. Who nags more, wife or husband? What do each of you nag about? Chores? Kids? And given the above, how do you plan on reducing the amount of nagging taking place? Let us know.


  1. I too am guilty of nagging my wife about things that later on have no real importantance but for some reason at that moment when I'm nagging her it means the world to me. This article has opened my eyes to the fact that I may be destroying my own marriage with this behavior.

  2. I agree, women are wired for certain behaviors that men don't and never will understand completely so we have to suck it up, swallow our ego and pride for the sake of the marriage. The things that bug us on a day-to-day basis are not why we married her.

  3. I have a nagging husband who nags the whole family constantly. We all avoid being home.

  4. I found the nagging article fascinating. My husband and I run a website called, which in many ways represents our strategy to end nagging in relationships. Our approach is a little different, in that we cater to the very sizeable community of men who actively seek female led marriages. In these relationships there is no nagging because there is no questioning the fact that her wishes are to be respected, and her requests are to be eagerly honored.

    While there are many websites dedicated to the fantasy of the dominant wife, ours is instead dedicated to the practical advantages of marriages where there is no ambiguity about leadership in the household. Ironically, our readers are almost exclusively men that seek this dyamic, but they do not know how to communicate their desire to their wives. We represent a resource for these men, and also a safe landing zone where they can send their wives to learn more about this dynamic.

  5. When the NFI acknowledges the gross sexism and injustices of the Family Law system, I'll quit nagging about it.

  6. I noticed that the more he bragged, the more I nagged. Or was it the other way around....

  7. i didn't realize how much I was nagging my wife. It's hard to see the truth, but I need to change for the surviving of our marriage. Thanks for "nagging" me to do it ;-)


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