On the radio, there was a discussion about nagging.

The conversation started with listeners sharing excuses their husbands made for being late.

One excuse was that the husband didn’t want to come home because his wife nags him ALL the time.

When clients share with me their rationale for divorce, communication is at the top of the list.

Lack of communication leads to lack of trust … lack of bonding … lack of respect … and the list continues.

Nagging is a form of communication, but it is done negatively.

Dictionary.com defines nagging as

“continually faultfinding, complaining, or petulant.”

This adjective is used to describe a reaction to trivial matters.

But is what you’re nagging about trivial?

Maybe it started as a trivial matter but has escalated.

So, how do you prevent “asking” from becoming “nagging?”

Be proactive and follow these tips.

Know your spouse’s communication style

If you ask once, does your spouse consider it nagging? If yes, then reframe how you ask.

Also, think about the tone you are using. If you’re angry, then wait until that emotion subsides.

For example, every year, you ask to go on a cruise. Instead of asking, do the research and present several cruise options.

Having something tangible to discuss will reframe the conversation.

Track how many times you nag

It’s normal for naggers not to realize how often they ask for the same thing.

If your spouse accuses you of nagging, then keep track of it – not to pick a fight but to help you figure out a better form of communication.

If you find yourself telling or asking your spouse to do tasks, then balance each request with a positive comment.

Thank your spouse for something they did (yes, even if you had to ask them to do it several times).

Re-examine your expectations

If you ask your spouse to do a task, re-examine your expectations. Are you asking your spouse to change a behavior they’ve had their entire life?

For example, your spouse may be a messy person. You may feel you are constantly picking up after them, leading you to nag.

Save your energy from nagging and think of another way your spouse could contribute.

Instead of nagging about picking up after them, perhaps discuss options for hiring a housekeeper.

Each relationship is unique. However, communication between both parties is vital for a successful marriage.

Keep your communication strong, and be proactive if accused of nagging.

Consider the big picture when envisioning your relationship, not the trivial matters.

(Update to original post from March 19, 2018)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”