No Wonder They Call It The Marriage Killer

I was surprised to see the headline story about the Marriage Killer that’s to blame for more divorces than infidelity or financial woes.


Compared to the usual suspects, nagging just doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Annoying, yes. But a marriage killer?

Well, I’ve had a couple of weeks to think about it, and I’m inclined to agree that nagging is a very bad thing.  Here’s why:

1. Naggers indicate that they don’t trust their spouse to follow through on their promises.

2. Naggers can become demanding. The nagger is the one making a request, and often they are asking for something that they want to see done for their own benefit.  It’s unfair to nag your spouse because they’re not accomodating your desires.

3. Nagging can turn into criticism. Criticism is one of marriage expert John Gottman’s 4 horsemen: its presence indicates that your relationship is headed for trouble, fast. (The other horsemen are contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.)

4. Nagging sets the stage for stonewalling. Statistically, the nagging spouse is usually female.  In the face of constant nagging, many men become silent. This is a deadly pattern.  Gottman says that once your relationship enters the stonewalling stage (and 85% of stonewallers are male), statistically, you’re doomed.

5. Nagging puts you in the role of your husband’s mom, and not his wife. My husband already has a mom. He doesn’t need–or want–me to tell him to put his dishes in the dishwasher, take out the trash, or pick his socks up off the floor.

When communication breaks down in a marriage, it’s only a matter of time before the relationship falls apart.  Nagging is a sign of communication breakdown, so do your very best to keep it out of your relationship. It really is a marriage killer.

What do you think? Do you struggle with nagging?

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