Updated: Apr 28
About a week ago my husband said he wanted to talk to me about something. Yeah, it was one of those, “We need to talk,” moments. We hate those, don’t we?
He talked about the pressure he was under from a lot of sources in his life. True enough. I knew about it. Then this is what he asked me for.
“I don’t know if you’re aware of how often when you talk to me it’s always ‘Did you...?” or ‘Have you finished...?’ or ‘When are you going to...?’ or ‘Why didn’t you...?’ or ‘You need to....’ I know I forget things sometimes, but please, you gotta stop this. It’s too much. You’re putting yourself in the boss role and me in the employee role. It’s annoying and demoralizing. Can you just stop it?”
Well! I knew he was right. I did do that! In my mind, I rushed to justify myself. He DID forget things. I could easily see my life with my husband as a years-long reinforcement of how my “being on top of things”—as I liked to put it—made things work. If I didn’t...everything would go to hell for sure.
But I also knew he was right in that my doing that was a kind of poison. This isn’t what a loving relationship should be about, this parody of a bad boss/employee relationship. Now I could blame him for it. If only he were more “responsible” he wouldn’t have turned me into a person I never wanted to be in the first place. It’s all his fault!
But whatever. Let’s not play the blame game, right? I was doing this stuff that wasn’t good for the relationship or for my husband. It wasn’t even good for me. So I should stop.
I said I would, and I did.
The first thing we noticed was that things were a lot quieter around here. We weren’t talking as much. OMG!, maybe we had nothing to say to each other and my “Did you remember to...” was all that had been holding us together! My husband’s comment on this was, “Well, maybe now that we’ve solved all the problems in our relationship we’ll have to get a divorce.”
But I needn’t have worried. The real change was that the ratio of good talk to annoying crap talk went WAY up. We’ve always had good talks, and we still did, but now they were all there was.
There’s a slogan I use in my work with couples: More of the good stuff, less of the bad stuff. I gotta tell you. It’s always a winning formula.
Now for all the wives out there, I know you’re on the edge of your chair. What happened when you stopped reminding your husband about things? Didn’t everything just go to hell?
There’s a part of me that would love to say things did go to hell. Look at me: I really was Atlas holding up the world.
But sadly life went on and things got done and they got done more or less okay and more or less on time. It really hadn’t been worth the energy I’d put into being a nagster.
Everything was better.
So what’s the moral of this story?
Relationships can self-heal.
Doing what’s good for the relationship is usually the best option.
When they say, “Give hope a chance,” they really mean, “Give change a chance.” Hope grows out of change.
Husbands aren’t always as stupid as they seem.
Wives are much more eager to stop being annoying nags than you might think.
We can all do better.
Things can get better.
That’s about it. It’s a lot.
And this is after writing 15 books, most of them on relationships. Check out them out, especially our latest, Why Couples Fight. It could be a love saver.