A Naggy Anti-Nagging Nag for Women to Stop Nagging

It doesn't take a graduate of the Dr. Phil School of Pointing out Obvious Shit to understand that nagging can ruin a marriage. But did you know that, according to the Wall Street Journal, women are usually the ones who do it? Dear women: Stop ruining marriage. How many times do you need to be reminded?

Nagging — or persistant, repeated requests to perform a task or respond to a question, usually increasing in urgency as the task or question goes unfulfilled or unanswered — is a negative communication pattern established in relationships that some experts say can cause couples to fall out of love with each other. Some, like the University of Denver's Dr. Howard Markman, believe that it's as common a cause for divorce as infidelity or betrayal.

Both men and women are capable of nagging, but the WSJ helpfully points out that usually it's the ladies that do the bulk of the pestering.

It is possible for husbands to nag, and wives to resent them for nagging. But women are more likely to nag, experts say, largely because they are conditioned to feel more responsible for managing home and family life. And they tend to be more sensitive to early signs of problems in a relationship.

It's possible for husbands to nag, kind of like it's possible for a gorilla to learn sign language. It happens sometimes, but when it does, it's so noteworthy that National Geographic dispatches camera crews to the scene of the miracle! Fancy that! A man, repeatedly and annoyingly reminding a woman to do something. Nature is such a wonderful mystery.

But while women are busy being sensitive and responsible like a fun-hating harpy in a domestic beer ad, the nagee plays a role, too, right? Shouldn't the object of the nagging just answer the question or do what they say they're going to do? Kind of.

Sure, a husband might tune his wife out because he is annoyed; nagging can make him feel like a little boy being scolded by his mother. But many times he doesn't respond because he doesn't know the answer yet, or he knows the answer will disappoint her.

I love it when the sexes battle! It's like being inside an episode of Whitney!

As a case study, the article points to the case of Ken MacDougall and Janet Pfeiffer, a couple that has been married for decades and has long wrestled with the greased up demon pig of ladynagging. When they were newlyweds, Pfeiffer would remind MacDougall over and over again to do his required man things around the house, and he'd grow more and more irritated as she had to repeat her requests. She got angrier, he got angrier, and finally things came to a head.

But rather than just doing what he said he was going to do before the nag-o-meter went all nutty like the countdown in the hatch on the island in Lost, she was the one who adjusted her behavior by writing her requests down on post it notes and drawing hearts and smiley faces and stuff. Problem of nagging solved: if the man in your life hates when you nag him because it makes him feel like a child, then just draw him a pretty picture and cover it with stickers and doodles, maybe offer to buy him a new plastic dinosaur toy if he fixes the kitchen sink like a big, strong boy. This also saves the man in your life from the displeasure of having to look at your face when you ask him to do things.

"As long as I am not putting pressure on him, he seems to respond better," Ms. Pfeiffer says. Mr. Mac Dougall agrees. "The notes distract me from the face-to-face interaction," he says. "There's no annoying tone of voice or body posture. It's all out of the equation."

So, ladies, please, please, please don't forget to stop nagging. You've been promising to stop nagging for awhile now. If you need me to, I can write it down for you on a note, or send you a text at a certain time of the day or something. You've been saying you'd do this for weeks now. I'm tired of reminding you.

Meet the Marriage Killer [WSJ]