Pinpointing the line between healthy self-expression and harmful nagging seems like a hard call for any wife to make. But technically, it's not your call at all. The moment your sweetie takes offense at your cathartic release or "helpful" reminders is precisely the moment you metamorphose in his eyes from smiling wife to scowling nag -- regardless of your good intentions. Learning how to communicate your true feelings effectively takes a good amount of self-control, but the rapt attention of your husband makes it worthwhile.
Evaluate your motivation. Determine your desired outcome before heading to your husband with your latest frustration. If your hope is dependent on your husband's response at all, you're likely headed to Nagville rather than Communication Haven. To truly confide rather than complain or nag -- make deepening your relationship and strengthening your communication your primary goals.
Choose the right time. Cindy Wright, co-founder of Marriage Missions International, uses the acronym H.A.L.T. to help wives remember that the best time to have a quality conversation with their husbands is at a time when neither party is hungry, angry, lonely or tired. You are more apt to communicate positively when you're calm, and your husband is more apt to truly listen to your feelings when he has little to distract him.
Give control. When Tanya Chartrand, professor of psychology and marketing at Duke University, set out to investigate the concept of "nag resistance" she realized her method of sharing threatened her husband's sense of independence. Chartrand told the editors at "Good Housekeeping" that she now helps her husband feel like the decision maker. For example, ask your husband if he believes the grass is ready for mowing or if it could wait a couple of days. When he makes the call, he is more likely to take action.
Develop a positive attitude. Make a concentrated effort to be a positive person at all times. The more positive you are on a consistent basis, the more likely your husband will want to listen when it comes time to share something negative -- but you know you should still say it.
Use unoffensive language. Jennine Estes, founder of San Diego-based Estes Therapy, warns against pointing language -- language that points blame at your spouse. Avoid saying phrases like "you never" or "you should," and instead phrase your message to focus on your feelings. For example, say, "I feel that we don't have enough quality time together" rather than, "You never make time for me." Speaking carefully helps put your husband at ease rather than on the defense.
Share once. Stop the nagging cycle before it begins by avoiding repeating yourself. In an article for "The Wall Street Journal," Elizabeth Bernstein describes nagging as "the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed." The dangers of nagging far outweigh their effectiveness. After sharing, rest in knowing you communicated well, and for the sake of your marriage, learn to accept the outcome.
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