Q: I have been accused of
being a nag many times and I hate it. I
nag my husband, but only because he doesn’t take responsibility to follow
through on what he says he’ll do. This is
getting to be an old and frustrating routine. Is there a way to change it?
develop patterns over the years that become familiar and predictable. The only way to change these patterns is to
recognize that they are there and then make a deliberate and consistent effort
to behave differently. This may sound
simple, but it’s not easy. Under stress
we all typically revert back to old patterns of behavior, unconsciously and
automatically. It will require quite a
bit of practicing of a new behavior so it will be easier to remember and use
during rough times.
the issue of nagging in particular, let’s look at the pattern that has been
established. Your husband “forgets” to
follow through, you nag (and probably feel angry), and he feels angry because
you nag. A great way for him to “get
back” at you is to “forget” to follow through again. This cycle can go on indefinitely unless one
of you stops the tug-of-war and behaves differently.
times people who “aren’t remembering” or “aren’t following through” are dealing
with an assertiveness problem. If you
can accept and encourage your husband’s honesty and assertiveness, he may find
that giving you a direct “no” is easier than saying “yes,” and not meaning
can influence your husband’s willingness to be more honest and assertive by
accepting his direct statements of “no,” and then you can solve problems
together. Another common reason for
people to not follow through is that it infuriates their partner. This is referred to as being passive
aggressive. Again the solution is to be
more assertive in the expression of anger.
to express anger directly and constructively requires some effort, but the pay
back is enormous. Your part in changing
this pattern between you and your husband is to:
1. Recognize when it occurs.
2. Talk to your husband about your
3. Express your feelings and offer your
willingness to hear and respect what he needs from you that would help him
change his behavior.
you are probably aware of by now, when people “forget” or don’t follow through,
it generally has very little to do with memory.