Honey, you’re a nag

Friday August 19 2011



By Joan Thatiah

The two words you are more likely than not to hear when a discontented man is talking about woman are, “She nags.” And this is generally a sentiment that is shared by many men all around the world.

A nagging woman the justification for driving men to work longer hours at the office, or spend all his weekend watching sports at the bar with his boys; a man will take up anything that will justify his spending less hours with a woman who is always either arguing or complaining.

Nagging rarely yields results; if anything, constant pestering only drives a significant other away and hurts the relationship. The more one party nags, the more their significant other withdraws, both physically and emotionally.

The good news for those in romantic relationships which are strained as a result of persistent complaining and pestering is that nagging isn’t inborn. It is an acquired habit, and as with other bad habits, it can be dealt with.

Armed with this knowledge, it is in a woman’s best interests if she can keep the nagging to a minimum. Learning more effective ways to communicate with her man would be a good place to begin.

Saturday magazine spoke to a number of men who shed some light on communication tendencies which annoy them and which the fairer sex cannot desist.

Nairobi based counselling psychologist Dr. Veronica Hinga offers practical tips which are key in weeding out this habit that is as old as romantic relationships, and which can bring to its knees even the strongest relationship.

Ask once

Asking for the same thing over and over seems to be the preferred manner of communication for a lot of women, which drives the average man up the wall.

What the woman needs to learn is that verbal reminders, requests and pleas said over and over don’t work. In fact, the more you ask, the less the chances of something getting done.

“When a woman keeps repeating the same thing to me, she comes across as domineering. I take it to mean that she cannot trust me to remember to do something on my own or that she always wants to have things done her way,” says Morris who is in a steady relationship.

Nagging usually puts the woman in the parent role and her significant other in the child role. According to experts, this is an unhealthy foundation for any romantic relationship.

Dr  Hinga states that it would be good advice if women learnt the art of directly stating what they want, need or expect from their partners. In her opinion, if a woman can put across her needs clearly, there would be no need for repetition. 


“If a woman tries to seek my audience in the middle of a ball game, it will be hard for me to pay attention to her,” says Robert Mugambi, who has a live-in girlfriend.

He admits that if his woman attempted to share with him while he was otherwise mentally occupied, he would barely listen to her, much less think of a solution to her problem.

A woman who is keen on building effective communication with her man should learn to talk to him when there aren’t too many other distractions going on so that he can give her his full attention. This leaves little space for misunderstandings from which nagging stems.


“Often, when a woman is angry about something she tends to talk round the issue or speak indirectly. I find it quite annoying when women use riddles or resorts to a long lecture instead of going straight to what she is angry about,” says Jamal, a medical researcher.

According to Dr Hinga, a man’s attention span is naturally shorter in regard to relationship issues. Too much information at one time or too many questions about the same subject will be overwhelming.

A woman keen on establishing good communication should learn to stick to the major issues because the quicker you get the point across, the better.


“A woman who comes at me shouting or throwing things should not act surprised when I become defensive,” is what Jeremy says.

In his opinion, regardless of whether a man has wronged her or not, the manner in which she brings the matter up largely determines how responsive he will be.

Talking is very different from nagging in regard to your tone and approach. Nagging takes many forms, ranging from sarcasm to ultimatums.

In order to be understood, a woman is advised to remain calm, stick to the issue at hand and at all costs avoid calling names while voicing her stance.

It would be wise to refrain from using phrases like, “You never” or “You always”, which lead to the man taking the criticism personally.


Two people in a meaningful relationship are hardly ever the same. To reduce anxiety and stress levels in a romantic relationship, learn to adjust and accept that you and your significant other have different traits.

Dr. Hinga is of the view that compromising on small things goes a long way towards weeding out nagging.

For instance, instead of continuously pestering your man because he forgets to put the cap back on the tooth paste, take to putting the cap back on keeping in mind that you too have misdeeds which he puts up with.

If your love interest is fighting a bad habit it like smoking or is struggling to lose weight, it would be impractical to expect him to change overnight.

Rather than constantly complain to him about it, being patient with him is more likely to yield results. Picking at his faults or areas of weakness will only downgrade your relationship.

Try thanking him for what he has done instead of pestering him about what he hasn’t done.

Men also have a large role to play when it comes to turning their women into nags. How he reacts to her determines whether this cycle stops or it continues.

Here are some ways for gentlemen to get their significant others to communicate in a meaningful, understanding manner.


Women are naturally expressive, and it will surprise a man to learn that when she demands his audience, she isn’t always expecting him to give a solution to her problem. Half the time she just wants to be heard and acknowledged.

According to Dr Hinga, the reason why your woman is nagging is probably because she has something to tell you. Instead of switching off when she begins talking, listen to her; often, she will come round to telling you the real, bigger issue behind the nagging.

Ignoring your woman’s request or refusing to acknowledge that you heard her will not stop her from asking again. Instead, learn to look directly at her without interrupting or rehearsing what you are going to say while she is still talking. If you do not like the way she speaks to you, tell her so in a loving manner.

Do it

When your woman tells you about a problem and her demands are reasonable, it is your duty to imply that you will do it or better still, make an effort and fix it. If you cannot do it within her time frame, give her a deadline and beat it.

If a woman feels responded to, she will not need to bring up the same issue again. When something you had implied would get done isn’t done, she assumes that she wasn’t heard so she says it again - and if she has to say it again, she will say it louder.

At this point, all a man hears is nag, nag, and nag. To counter this, if you failed to do a chore, give in and accept that you are wrong. Acknowledging the validity of her complaints is key in improving the lines of communication.

Avoid getting angry

The man’s classic reaction to nagging usually is to get defensive. This rarely solves anything. Exchanging angry words leads to a situation where both partners are accusing each other of creating the problem while the issue at hand remains unsolved.

Instead, a man ought to give room for a heart to heart talk with his significant other. Listen to what she is saying and see if you can address the issues that concern her the most.

Truth be told, most nags do not know that they nag. Let her know in a loving way how you feel when she nags incessantly. Rather than put her off, this constructive criticism will motivate her to express herself in a more mature way.

It is very unlikely that a woman will respond to negative approaches made to stop her nagging. Better still, surprise her; women love surprises. For instance, in the middle of one of one of her pestering sessions, show a sudden and unexpected signs of kindness.

“You could tell her you love her. This will catch her off guard and even if it is short term, it always works for me,” says Jeremy.

Learn what triggers her nagging and make it a habit to apologise for mistakes you are responsible for before she gets on your case.

The promises

In a lot of instances, a woman is inclined to nag because she is disappointed. This happens when a man implies that he will do something but fails to follow through.

To counter this, Dr Hinga advises a man not to make promises unless he intends to keep them. This will leave no chance for the woman to feel let down. You might think that agreeing with her when she nags is the best solution but if you fail to do what you agree it will annoy her more.

In a woman’s eyes, it is better to decline a task than to break a promise. If you make it a habit of doing what you say, you will find her nagging changing into appreciation and kindness.

Dr Hinga’s advice to those who find nagging from a significant other turning into verbal and mental abuse is to seek professional help.

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