Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wifey Wednesday--Nag at Work

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You know how Joan of Arc got visits from Heaven? She was told to go ask the king for some guys to help with a nasty infestation of Englishmen. Mission accomplished even if those English didn’t take it well. How about Benedict? He saw the religious order he’d found lasting until the end of time.<--he got to see that, too. “Stay holy, write a rule of life, and keep working hard!” So far so good on that mission, too.

Me?  I don’t get visions of Heaven in my insights. I get Heavenly Hints from Heloise instead. Stuff like “Nagging won’t work.” No cherubim infused clouds for me. Just honest to Goodness criticism.

It’s probably because I don’t obey very well that I don’t get the bells and whistles of Heavenly wonder. Save that for the people who actually profit from instruction. People like Paul. “Hey! Quit that persecuting! Work for me!” No one throws rocks at my head when I do the right thing; people actually act nicer. Even after getting my very own way and getting a nice, smiling husband the entire day after I tried not nagging just once, I thought I might try the nagging a few more thousand times. I just had to check to see if my way could still work.

I like to think I’m made of sterner stuff,  but in my better moments I do realize that improving me in my marital vocation is akin to training a dog—every time I even glance in the right direction, someone had better toss me a bone.

So, really, you need to take marital advice from me. I’ve tried everything other than what works first. I know from experience that I am an idiot, what is stupid, and how best to make a mess of things. I also know what works and what is right.

Rule #1
Nagging doesn’t work
You already know that. What you might not know is that your bad behavior excuses bad behavior on his part. Well, it doesn’t really, but he thinks it does, so when you behave in a way beneath the dignity of a good Christian Wife, guess what? He is less inclined to treat you with the dignity deserving of a good…Behaving badly never turns out well.

Rule #2
Be nice.
Think of the business world. When you want something from a coworker, you usually refrain from pouting, criticising, and foot stomping. Indeed, you may actually behave nicer than normal when you are needing help from people. Why mention this? Because you need to apply those same social skills to your husband.  

Before you seethe in the combox, let’s talk physics for a second. When two parts rub against each other, heat builds up and wear occurs. To avoid a breakdown, lubrication is applied. Manners are the lubrication we apply to human interaction. The more heat and friction there is, the more lubrication is necessary to keep things running smoothly. Idiot humans that we are we generally use our manners on strangers more readily than on our family where we need it most. People at home rub each other more raw than anywhere else, so you need to be more polite at home than anywhere.

Psychic moment! I know what you are thinking! “I shouldn’t have to be polite at home! That’s where I should be able to relax!” FYI: The word relax does not mean things like “act like a harridan” or “verbally scathe.” Your marriage will improve if you think thoughts like, “I feel friction in this situation. I must apply lubricant!” instead of “I deserve time off from niceness!” Trust me on this one, I’ve tried it the other way.

Rule #3
You may, however, nag Heaven
You can, indeed, use those finely honed nagging skills somewhere! In prayer! After years of fruitless stubbornness and arguing, I’ve found that if my husband doesn’t act after three requests, he isn’t likely to act anytime soon. Instead of arguing, I give the man his three chances, then I drop it with him and take it up with God. The most profound thing I’ve ever discovered about prayer is that it works. When I pray instead of argue one of three little miracles occurs: he does it my way, or I see it his way, or we see a third and better opportunity! Praying more means we are arguing less. It also means we are happier, generally. We’re also not missing those third options as often so things are better all around.

So, I’m done nagging you, too. Go forth, blow his mind with how nice a wife he picked, and be happy.  
Yes, dear. You are reading it!


  1. Love this post! So true, nagging doesn't work. I discovered that one thing that does work, at least for my husband, is humor.

    I once approached him and apologized with a solemn look on my face. When he asked why, I said, "It's really just plain inconsiderate of me to continually put the laundry hamper in the wrong location - three feet away from where you really want to place your dirty clothes." We both cracked up, and he seldom misses the hamper now. :)

    On the other hand, when I was desperate for him to become a Christian, I learned that nagging Heaven was the only thing that would work.

  2. ET--I'm going to be laughing about that one for the rest of the day! Love it!

    I agree a sense of humor is incredibly important. My husband tells me often, "I can forgive you a lot because you can cook and you are funny." Cracks me up every time he says it, too.