Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Is Nagging a No-No?

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.


Ramon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramon said...

Having said this about men, I would agree, but where is the line between "nagging" and communication? Because most guys I know or talk to would agree married or single: women are complex and do not state things very openly, often. Sometimes nagging is some concern that either party is not addressing openly.

I once got tired of asking a person to not put things down the drain, so I waited until it got plugged and let it stay that way for awhile. I was told, I was just nagging about the sink until it was not in use for some time. Then I was nagged about repairing it, until I stated the reason I let it go.

I think nagging and the label of nagging is our weakness of human persons to communicate clearly and with kindness at times. Because it can go both ways, a woman can be "nagging" but really is addressing an issue that the other party does not want to address. The real question should be is this really an issue and if so how can I address it differently.

Because I believe we all nag either sex when we have a concern (we feel we do) and the other party is not addressing it. What we should do is step back and think is this an issue: Seraphic example of health. Yes. Maybe a: "I feel this is important and I know you will feel I am nagging you about this, but your health is a big worry of mine so can you just go to the doctor and put my heart and soul at rest knowing you are healthy or at lease having a doctor address this."

I feel this can go on the boundaries post you just made as well. I know the men in my family will not go to a doctor until a women says something similar to this. Some times people are proud and just have to see that they are being so to change.

Respect, boundaries and treating each other as ladies and gentlemen are the most important. The gentleman who will not marry for this reason may have other issues that he has not and is not willing to address which a spouse would address. So is until he knows he is willing to change: un-marriable(I know not a word).

some guy on the street said...

Hmmm... Aunty, you've reminded me that I spend what is indubitably too much time reading such delightful 'blogs as this. At least, too much time from a graduate student attempting to cobble-up what are called results, and so...

Ashley said...

While nagging might be counter-productive, do you have suggestions about how to ask for things without making men feel inadequate?

theobromophile said...

Some men like being nagged, or think that women who do think more highly of themselves (i.e. if they don't nag, it's because they don't think they deserve any better).

But it really depends on the type of man you want. If you like strong-willed, independent, busy men, don't then try to turn them into docile homebodies who have time to fix the drain the second you want it fixed. For there is really not much more vexing, for men or women, than dating someone who claims to like all these qualities about you then decides, the moment you are together, that you should act exactly differently.

healthily sanguine said...

I think it comes down to languages, but not necessarily men vs. women . . . I know I respond better when being "nagged" or reminded a couple times to do something. I just tend to procrastinate. I know it's one of my faults, and I'm working on it, but at the same time I appreciate a friendly reminder from someone that they need something done. There are probably guys who are the same way, and I've known other guys/gals who are just plain FORGETFUL (in particular, when I imagined dating one guy, I realized I would have to remind him over and over about ANYthing . . . kind of a daunting thought). On the other hand, if the person's style of communication is such that once they are asked once they both remember the request RESENT being asked again (and I've known both women and men who fit this description), then you're kind of in a bind. The best thing to do is assume they're not going to do it and go forward with your plan as you might have without their help; the next time, if they want to be part of it, they'll help you. The hard thing is just to respect the other's communication style.

Oh, and above I've used the language of "asking" because I haven't seen a single personal relationship (romantic or otherwise) where simply TELLING another adult to do something works well. Even my boss asks, though of course the "yes" is expected in reply; but it's a matter of form. No one likes to be ordered around.