Nagging Gets You Nowhere
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand. - Proverbs 27:15-16 (ESV)
No one likes a nag. As evidenced in Proverbs 27, nagging is as annoying as a continual dripping on an already rainy day. Have you ever been subject to your spouse's nagging? It can be a very defeating, discouraging time. Worse yet, have you ever nagged your spouse? If so, you can relate to the hopelessness that takes over. As a wife, I can attest to feeling at times like my mouth is running away with me, and I can't seem to stop the stream of negativity from spewing. Even though I don't want to do that, I often feel like I can't help it.
One common type of nagging shows up in the form of reminders. My husband and I often struggle with communication here. He'll commit to doing a task--say, cleaning the toilet. I might assume he meant that day, or that weekend, but in his mind, he meant he would take care of it when he could. As the days pass, I'm tempted to point out it hasn't been done yet. He views this as nagging, yet I'm thinking it's just a simple reminder in case he forgot. I'm trying to be helpful! Yet an argument ensues. This type of miscommunication is all too familiar with married couples, regardless of how long you've been hitched.
There are no easy answers, except perhaps this-- if we pray more and "nag" less, we'll see better results. Even if you feel like you're not nagging and are totally justified in what you want to say, going to the Lord in prayer first can bring incredible results. You might think "Hold on, now. The Lord doesn't care about my toilet." I beg to differ! The Lord absolutely cares about the peace in your home, your marriage, and the way you, as spouses, treat each other as image-bearers. That includes conversations about chores!
Our marriages are reflections of the relationship between Christ and His Bride--the Church. If the Lord knows the number of hairs on your head and cares about sparrows, as evidenced in Matthew 10:29-30 (ESV) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered - then we can be assured that He cares about all the elements of our marriage.
Biting your impulsive tongue in moments like these, and starting with prayer instead, means you're checking your own motivations. If you are coming at the "reminder" from a prideful, haughty or manipulative spirit, that's your chance for the Holy Spirit to convict you and bring to mind a different route. Consider the wisdom here. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1, ESV) Words matter. There's a difference between "Hey, why haven't you done this yet?" and "Hey hun, just a reminder about the toilet whenever you get a chance." Heart posture is everything, and it will be evident in our words and body language toward our spouse.
Maybe you struggle less with communication issues in this department, and more with true nagging. Maybe you're dripping and can't seem to turn off the faucet. This usually stems from control tendencies born of trust issues. Perhaps you don't trust your spouse to do what they promised to do. Or perhaps you're afraid that they won't do it as well as you would. These are areas of our life we can turn over the Lord and pray to resemble sunshine instead of rain. We don't want to have negative hearts and harsh words that run away with us, to the point that our ceasing is as impossible as grasping oil or catching the wind.
The next time you catch yourself about to nag, pray instead. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the real motive of your heart. Is this a control or trust issue? Or something that genuinely needs to be said? Do a heart check and proceed with grace and gentle words.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fifteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her drummer of a hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./
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Originally published Wednesday, 26 January 2022.