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:
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.
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.