One of my mentors told me that the test of how well a marriage will last is how well the couple survives the engagement period. Engagement is a wonderful time, and also the time when you look at every little fault, flaw, habit, and imperfection your partner has and panic, “Am I really going to put up with that for my whole life?!?!”
I never thought I’d be the nagging type. But my fiancé pointed out that I’ve been nagging him recently. He acknowledges he isn’t perfect, but I’ve been nagging him over silly little things like leaving a dish on the counter or a sock on the floor.
Here’s where I decided to do some introspection. Why do socks on the floor bug me so much? Sure they’re unpleasant, but it’s no reason to stop me from feeling happy or expressing what I want in a loving way. How long have I been running this pattern?
Back when I was single, I was a “single who nagged.” Meaning, when I met a potential partner, that little voice in my head would immediately start evaluating…
“Well, he’s not very well-dressed, but he seems nice…oh wait, that comment he just made is a definite red flag. And who does (X)? And why won’t he shut up about (Y)? If he doesn’t do (Z) then forget it…” And so on, and so on.
And the more I learned about how dating, attraction, and relationships work, the more “educated” that little voice became. Pretty soon I was able to explain to pretty much any man what he could do better when it came to creating attraction and being more masculine–great for my male clients; terrible for my personal relationships!
Here’s the thing about nagging, or judging: it might only get verbalized once you’re in a serious relationship, but when you’re single, it’s still there in your head, potentially messing up the ability to truly connect with anyone.
And I’m all for being choosy when it comes to picking your perfect mate! Seriously, I have a strict “No Settling” policy. That’s why my relationships up to this point haven’t worked out. And, while my past relationships weren’t with Mr. Perfect, I could have at least had a better time if I wasn’t so focused on the negative!
Upon further reflection, I realized that I believed loving someone meant nagging them because you love them. If you didn’t love them, you wouldn’t bother to “help” them by offering up your advice.
Thinking about it now that I’m in the right relationship, I realized just how much nagging makes a person miss out. Nagging doesn’t change someone’s behavior. It only serves to break your connection.
And I’m using the tools I’ve learned in personal growth & development to stop those old habits and connect with my fiancé.
So why can’t you connect while nagging?
Nagging someone out of love is like torching an entire garden because you found one or two weeds. Actually, an even more accurate analogy would be torching the entire garden, getting barred from ever coming through the garden gates again, peeking over the fence and seeing that the owner is letting those “weeds” grow back anyway.
Nagging is different than asking because it carries judgment. Asking is just asking. Nagging is like saying, “I expect you to give me what I want when I want it… which is now!” Asking is more like, “I would appreciate it if you could do this for me/you/us!”
When you ask, you ask because you realize that they WON’T know you want it done unless you ask. Asking is done with kindness rather than contempt.
When you nag, you nag because you assume that they DO know to do it, or at least SHOULD know to do it, but just aren’t doing it because (fill in negative judgment here).
When you nag, your heart is closed, and you aren’t speaking the truth. These aren’t your real, authentic feelings. This is a voice born from fears and insecurities. It makes people feel judged rather than loved.
I had been missing out on wonderful moments with my fiance and stepson because–why–the dishes were dirty? There was a sock or two on the floor? Heck, I was nagging about the fact that I *had to* be such a nag!
Needless to say, this prevents you from opening to up to all kinds of potential partners–and certainly will prevent you from opening up to your actual partner.
The inner nag will always look for reasons why you can’t fully open your heart to love, and none of these reasons are real. The inner nag actually believes (at least mine has!) that my partner doesn’t deserve my love until he does the dishes and takes out the trash.
The inner nag constantly sets up hurdles for your partner to jump over; and regardless of how willing and able they are to jump, it will still keep you from having the closeness and connection that you desire.
These rules may represent things that are important to you, but they are still arbitrary in connection to whether or not someone deserves love.
Love is like air. It’s around and it’s everywhere (I know, cheesy, but true!). Some people hold their breaths and then say they don’t deserve it, or you don’t deserve it…but it’s really silly.
In any moment, you get to choose what you focus on. You can focus on the imperfections, or you can focus on the connection.
And, speaking from personal experience, the first one will make you feel very smart, important, and “right.” It will also make you feel angry, lonely, and ashamed.
The second one can be scarier, but it’s also more relaxing and way more pleasurable.
And connection is what that inner judge wants, too–it just believes it can’t have it unless certain conditions are met. Love and connection are always possible. Well, except when you’re nagging.
So if you, like me, have a little inner voice of judgment, whether that voice is judging you or others, STOP IT! Take a deep breath. Ask yourself if that’s really the most important thing you could be focusing on in that moment. If so, do something about it. But if not (and this will usually be the case), relax, and enjoy that moment instead!