Guest Post:  The Art of Effective Nagging

Guest Post: The Art of Effective Nagging

by  Blessing of Working Mom Journal

Cartoon courtesy of Everyday People

First off, I would like to correct the notion that only women nag. I have seen instances where men nag to the world of no return and come back all sweaty and tired. I have found myself in this annoying state, where I persistently find fault, complain, demand and even sometimes act forcefully. Most nagging stem from chores, parenting style and finances. Today, I will focus only on chores.

Most couples have problems figuring out who is doing what. They constantly try to instill their domestic values into the other in the hopes that they will wake up the next day a changed person. When my husband leaves the refrigerator door open, piles up laundry on a corner of the bathroom floor, or leaves a snack bowl in the living room overnight; I would flare up. I was raised in Africa, where we sweep and clean three times a day. We wash our clothes with our bare hands, dry them on ropes, and fold them immediately they get dried so someone else can take their turn on the rope. We didn’t have reliable electricity, so we cooked our meals for a one day consumption, clean out the pots and pans, and store every kitchen accessory in a cool dry place. Why would I suddenly become unconscious of these domestic duties now, I asked myself. I raised hell everyday, that my husband became scared whenever I got home and he had something laying on the table or beside the nightstand. I could not understand why anyone would want to live like this. And shortly after our marriage began to deteriorate. We spoke less, and he almost became mechanical as he tries to do his dishes immediately after a meal. Bear in mind, I also forbade the use of the dishwasher because I thought it was a lazy way of washing. I would rather scrub and dry my own plates too. I was oblivious to the domestic overload that we were all going through. I had become this clean freak and nagging wife. My husband became less interested in helping me with the chores since nothing was ever good enough for me. We argued more and more over other things including sex, marriage and finances. I sometimes trace the origin of our arguments, and it usually starts with something like “why is the toilet not flushed” and how I have to be the one to do everything.

One night, I broke down and cried for hours. And I began asking myself questions. What is really important to me, to us as a family.




No where in my list, did I have the cleanest refrigerator in the house. An ongoing clean house with no love would not give me true happiness. I realized, that its okay to create messes, and its okay to have a little fun while cleaning it up too. My husband was brought up differently and he still does his fair share of man work around the house. He fixes the heater, the car, the yard, etc,. And after that night, I began working consciously towards the art of effective nagging.

The Art of Effective Nagging

Ever since my break down which was in fact a culmination of nagging over chores, finances and parenting styles – I have since adopted the effective nagging style. I began to live intentionally, with a good dose of conscious love, kindness and acceptance. Marriage is all about accepting what you can and praying over things you can’t. I began to soften my approach by:

Leaving Notes
My husband works from home most of the time. So, when I leave for work very early in the morning, I write a post it note of just one thing I need him to do for me. Sometimes, its something as simple as making the bed, buying bread, or at most doing laundry. The fact that its only one item on the list makes it almost impossible for him to overlook. He quickly tackles that first and then starts his day. I sometimes drop a love note too *wink*.

Do Some Planning
My husband and I have decided to talk over major housework that needs to be done on weekends before the weekend arrives. We buy the cleaning products, wood, furniture, etc and create time slots on weekends to tackle said projects. This helps put everything in planning phase and he is even more ready to tackle any challenge that comes his way.

Offer Incentives and Do Some Prep Work
I hate vacuuming or even cleaning out our cars, so on weekends, I wake up as early as possible. I prepare a full blown breakfast, I assemble the cleaning products that he’ll need and as soon as he is up, I lead him quickly to his gourmet breakfast. My husband appreciates a good meal, and he does a good job of returning that favor. Find out what works best for you.

Use Humor
I started using humor around the house a lot. We would joke about ants suffering from diabetes because they had a good time feasting on our sugar. We started having so much fun leaving things undone, and doing them when we are really up for it, that these times have become the best times of our marriage.

Our marriage has since taken a turn for good. We rarely argue over finances too, because we realize that money comes and go. And besides, we are too smart of a couple to be without money. We will always find ways to create money.

Really, what is the biggest of your problem?

Could it be nagging?


Blessing is a full-time Chemical Engineer and Project Manager, wife and mom to a 2year old toddler. She offers advice at the intersection of career and motherhood at Working Mom Journal. You can also follow her on twitter.

18 Responses to Guest Post: The Art of Effective Nagging

    • Thank YOU Blessing for sharing such wonderful advice! Nagging is something that has been part of nearly every marriage, I am sure…

      I am so glad to have met you and to have connected. I can’t wait to work together some mroe.

  1. Great idea for effective nagging. Prioritize, one thing at the time, ask in respectful way and give something in return, sounds like good ways to effectively negotiate differences.
    I sometimes try to imagine what would be a positive outcome if I did it my husbands way, AND ask my husband what would be positive for him to do things my way. This approach gives more ways to think about chores and what we each like/dislike.
    Another question to ask is “Do we really need that done, or are there other things we want to use our time on. Last, I can’t help wanting to ask: “Is the nagging about chores, or something else – my way or the highway?” It sounds like you found the highway!

  2. I love that you realized what you were doing wasn’t working and set out to consciously change. Too many people think that it is clearly the other person that is wrong, so why do I need to do anything differently?

    That is a perfectly good way to lead yourself into a divorce. Your compromise and humor and remembering respect for each other is a great example that we can all learn from.

    Considering that I just had a “nagging” argument with hubs this morning, re-reading this post was especially helpful! :)
    Thank you!

  3. My husband and I are not the nagging type. We’re more of the plan & execute type.

    Still, nagging is enough of an issue with lots of couples & families. I really enjoyed readin this blog post.

      • He will only stop when and if he’s ready to. In the meantime just be guatefrl for all you have and don’t waste time on nagging. Life is too short. I would try from time to time to encourage him to stop but thats as far as it can go. Good Luck to both of you.

  4. One of the hardest things about marriage is learning that we can’t change our partners. But if we’re both on the same team, there is a way to work things out so that each person gives and takes a little.

    My husband is the antithesis of neat. It drove me nutso living with all his stacks of papers and CDs and books and other things that never got put away. My solution was giving him clutter zones. A side table where his books can stack up out of view, and an office that he can load up with paper to his heart’s content. It’s worked for us.

    • That’s what matters – allowing people to indulge in their “isms” in a way that is acceptable to you. Everyone has the right to be themselves, but to also respect their partner’s “isms” in return. Blessing was spot on with her advice for sure!

    • Hmm, I may have to listen to your advice. Hubs just asked for a list this weekend. Lists to seem to be more effective than verbal with him too…Gotta use what works!

  5. Great Guest Post once again Daria! I find scheduling helps me enjoy my evenings with the family and to do nothing. I’ve never been a clean freak, but I can tend to nag over other things. Life is too short to be worrying about things like cleaning…its good to do it, but just do it, don’t fret over it, unless of course you have a huge 2 year old birthday party coming up this weekend! ;)

    Heather From and Mommy Only Has Two Hands! and Lynhea Designs

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