So you’ve put in your time, sold your business or quit work for good, and you’re looking forward to years of happiness with your SO, traveling the world and living the high life. But wait – what’s this?! Suddenly you’re spending all this time together and nagging is making it hell!
If you’re retired, chances are you may have been looking forward to it for quite some time. Your lovely but all-consuming children have flown the nest, your high flying career has come to fruition and you are ready to enjoy a new and exciting stage of your life – hopefully with your spouse or partner – maybe having travel adventures or starting new and exciting projects.
What you didn’t expect was suddenly have all this time together that you’d been looking forward to, and finding that actually, you’re confronted with a nagging partner. Or even worse, become the nag yourself (please god no!?). What happened to that idyllic idea of peaceful, fun golden years together!?
How does something like forgetting to put the bins out turn you into a raging bull?
When did it become such a momentously contentious issue that you don’t put the lid back on the jam jar or stack the dishwasher in the correct way? How does something like forgetting to put the bins out turn you into something resembling a raging bull chasing a red flag?
It’s actually quite simple; the parameters of your relationship have drastically changed.
With no children or work to act as a distraction and with more time spent together, issues that you never noticed before or which were avoidable or unimportant now seem like the end of the world as you know it.
It is also likely that your roles within the marriage have abruptly changed. If previously one of you was the breadwinner and the other looked after the household, and now suddenly you have shared responsibility of your home, there is a good chance there’s conflict and tension.
Imagine you have been happily carrying out your daily routine for 20 plus years and then someone suddenly comes along and decides to take out the rubbish BEFORE you’ve checked if the upstairs bathroom bin needs emptying? It’s unthinkable!
The good news is that this is actually quite an easy problem to solve as you will already have the necessary skills needed to overcome the ‘nagging’; skills you will have already used over the course of your marriage/relationship.
You simply need to apply them in a different way.
Try to listen
It can become all too easy to zone out when confronted with a nagging partner but this will only make matters worse. Your partner will sense that you are distancing yourself and begin to feel ignored and frustrated which will in turn lead to anger.
Instead try actively listening to what they are saying. Not your standard nodding and smiling, ‘in one ear and out the other’ listening, but actually taking in what they are saying.
Behind the nagging voice are their demands actually quite reasonable?
You could be surprised to see how just listening and paying attention to their needs will go a long way in preventing future episodes of nagging.
If you are the one doing the nagging, think what it must feel like to be constantly berated.
Put yourself in their shoes
No I don’t mean slip on a pair of their sparkly stilettos or natty brogues, simply put yourself in their position for a minute.
If you’re being nagged – why is this happening? Think how you would feel if you were the one needing to nag all the time? If you can understand where they are coming from then you can begin to emphasise which a key tool in solving the problem of nagging in a relationship.
If you are the one doing the nagging, think what it must feel like to be constantly berated. Would this motivate you to improve your behaviour? Unlikely, right? Seeing the other person’s point of view can motivate you both to make small changes to cut down the nagging in your relationship.
Nags, look for the positive
Instead of getting frustrated and angry about the tasks that your partner has not undertaken, try and focus on the positive actions they have carried out and appreciate the good things they bring to your relationship. For example instead of saying;
“You still haven’t taken the car for a service. Must I do everything!?”
“You got such a good deal last time you took the car to the garage. It would be so great if you could do that again.”
Everybody responds well to a compliment; as the saying goes ‘you catch more flies with honey’. HONESTY ALERT! Do make sure you keep any hint of sarcasm out of your voice; your partner will sense this a mile off and the repercussions will not be pretty!
The dreaded C word
Think back to when you were younger, fit loose and fancy free. Commitment was the dreaded C word you would do anything to avoid. But now this turn of phrase has taken on a completely different meaning.
C now stands for compromise.
Yes folks, compromise is one of the key skills needed for a happy marriage/relationship as it’s highly unlikely that you’ll both always want the same thing at the same time. If you are a particularly stubborn person then compromise can be one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you are used to a certain way of life and have become set in your ways.
The challenges of spending so much more time together can bring about a need for a whole new level of compromise which can be difficult to adapt to. Compromise shows you care for your partner. It shows a willingness to change. Remember this the next time you are being nagged, or about to get stuck into some nagging.
Have some fun!
You finally have all this spare time together after years of putting in the hours at the office or setting aside your needs in order to focus on the children. Don’t waste them.
Whether it’s with a grand gesture such as a special trip, or simple, everyday fun like binge-watching your favourite comedy boxset on Netflix or sharing private jokes, making sure you still have fun together will make you more willing to help out each other and do things that make the other person happy.
A win-win situation all round.
So vow to make 2018 the year you stop nagging and instead start making the most of your time together. These really can be the best years of your life, if you let them.