Now this will be a tough post to write because, let's face it, I love to tell people what to do. It's probably an impulse born in elementary school where I was one of those girls who went red in the face while waving her hand in the air to show that she had the answer. And you have to admit, all our female role models do nothing but nag from the minute we are born until we escape from the house to university or our own place. Clean your room. Do your homework. Eat your vegetables. You shouldn't do this because. You shouldn't do that because.
I know at least one confirmed bachelor who will never marry because he hates being nagged and he assumes all women nag. You cannot tell this man what to do. If you told him to breathe, he would hold his breath until he passed out. He is the Patrick Henry of male emancipation. And I think a lot of men are like that.
Getting over telling men what to do has taken me a very long time. I'm the eldest of five, so from the age of 10 or 12 I was put "in charge of the others" when my parents were out of the house. And therefore, since I told them what they should do, it seemed perfectly normal to tell boys I met what they should do. I now credit this for my relative lack of popularity in high school.
When you like someone, it is very hard to watch him do things that you think are bad for him and neglect those things you think are good for him. You don't think he should smoke, especially not so much. And you don't think he should drink, especially not so much. You don't think he should waste his fine mind watching so much TV or playing so many video games. You think he should use his God-given talents more often. You think he should stop seeing the girl he is currently seeing and ask out another one instead. You think he should eat a vegetable sometime before 2015.
However, unless this directly effects you, or he is doing something clearly criminal and/or gravely sinful, you should probably keep your mouth shut. The time to raise your voice against the ciggies, the booze, the video games or the bone-idleness is when you are asked to "be his girlfriend". This is when you smile and say, "Oh, I could never be seriously involved with a heavy smoker/a man who gets drunk every day/a man who spends so much time with video games/a man so laid-back."
This gives Sigsimund the Ciggie a choice: girl or smokes. He might pick the smokes, of course, but that is his right. Then you can pass serenely (at least in appearance) out of his smelly orbit.
I know we all get fixated on whoever we get fixated on, but sooner or later, we all have to ask ourselves "What can I live with?" and tell the truth. Men are not like old houses; they are not fix-it jobs. What you see is basically what you get, especially if they are over 30. The only time you can bargain for any kind of reno is when they ask you to be their girlfriend or wife. Tell them truthfully what you can live with, and what you can't, and stick to it.
Of course, afterwards things crop up. At some point in her marriage, my mother put her foot down and told my dad he couldn't come home from work later than 7 PM. And if B.A. isn't home by 7 PM, he gets a sad little phone call from a Canadian asking "Missing Persons?"
The trick is to concentrate on what directly affects you. Male friend drinking bottle of wine every night, probably not. Husband smoking half a pack of cigarettes in a room you are in, most definitely. The behaviour of husbands by nature tends to affect you directly.
My conscience is now troubling me, however, because I seem to recall several recent episodes in which I gave men friends unsolicited advice, wailed over how much they smoked or cajoled them to some act of goodness, e.g. being altar servers. This was mostly useless. However, it did not work against my marital chances either, seeing that I am, you know, married already.
Incidentally, I was relieved but surprised when my signature was good enough to get B.A. registered at our nearest medical centre. I think this is because the National Health Service knows that the average man does not go near a doctor unless his wife makes him. And thus husbands put wives into a position where wives have to nag husbands for their very survival.
So you see that this is a difficult issue. Meanwhile, I am not counting as nagging gentle requests that men not fill your ears with bad language and improper jokes. That's just self-defense. I party and pray with a very decent set, so this is not a very big deal, and usually a neo-Victorian "Oh, Such-and-such! Before me?" is good enough.