Naturally, I’d never call myself a nag. My husband Ben, 37, a business
development officer, on the other hand, might just disagree. For me, the
word conjures up images of Last Of The Summer Wine’s Nora Batty shouting
demands from her doorstep and waving a rolling pin in the air. I may let
slip the odd, “You’re having another beer?” but I’m no haranguing old
harridan. Or am I?
It’s 6am, and I trip over a pile of Ben’s clothes on my way to the bathroom.
Again. “You said you were going to put those away,” I mumble. Ben grunts and
rolls over. That’ll be nag number one, then. It’s weird being so aware of
myself – and, while I know that technically I’m moaning, I’m just annoyed
that Ben thinks it’s OK to leave our house in such a mess. Why can’t
he see where I’m coming from?
An hour later, Ben’s about to leave for work and I casually mention his huge
stack of unopened post, his mother’s birthday present (which won’t buy
itself) and the bank card he was supposed to activate six months ago. I feel
guilty about ranting so early in the morning, but if I don’t get everything
off my chest now I’ll just forget to mention it later. That’s my excuse
anyway. Plus, I’m fed up of having to do everything myself.
I call Ben at work and ask whether he’s remembered to contact our builder;
which he’s been promising to do for weeks now. He’s immediately defensive
and we end up having a spat. I hang up feeling livid. Men seem to be able to
hassle all they like about things they want done and no one bats an eyelid, yet
when a woman asks her husband to do something she’s automatically branded a
I’m working from home today, but by the time I’ve dropped the children,
Iris, three, and Florence, one, off at nursery and called the builder – yes,
the builder that he was supposed to be calling yesterday – I don’t get round
to starting work until 10.30am. When Ben phones, I can’t stop myself from
having a little moan about it.
Later in the evening, I’m driven crazy by Ben’s channel flicking, but this
time I choose not to say anything. Pick your battles and all that.
I roll on to one of Ben’s used earplugs in bed. “That’s disgusting,” I whine.
“I don’t know why you can’t…“ It occurs to me I’m nagging my husband in
his sleep. I’d like to think I’m not why he’s wearing earplugs at night. But
I can’t be sure.
Date night, so I make an effort not to complain. I find it easier when we’re
not on home turf and there’s not a million household to-dos staring me in
the face. If anything, tonight makes me realise I hate dishing it out as
much as Ben hates being on the receiving end.
It’s the weekend, and Ben’s turn to get up early with the kids. On entering
the lounge at 8am, I want to continue the no-nagging theme and turn a blind
eye to the fact the place looks like a bomb site. It turns out I can’t.
Later I ask Ben: “Aren’t you going to shave?” He calls it his “designer
stubble”. I call it looking like a homeless person.
Ah, the day of rest. Unless you live in a house with two small children, that
is. Today my nagging is extended to the whole family. Everything riles me,
from Ben polishing off the last of the milk to the kids playing up. I’m sick
of the sound of my own voice. Ben confirms he is also sick of the sound of
Seeing all my moans in black and white makes me cringe. Mostly, I feel my
nagging is warranted – not many people would be able to trip over clothes
every day and say nothing. But I was shocked at how much time I spend
fretting over boring domestic stuff I can see that I need to work on my
timing when asking Ben to do things – bringing stuff up first thing on a
Monday morning probably wasn’t ever going to achieve much. So, here’s to a
nag-free future… until the next time I trip over his pants.
I think I’m immune to Naomi’s nagging, which I’m not sure is
a good thing. I’ve got into the habit of ignoring it, which isn’t
intentional and fuels it further. If I remember; I’ll try to pre-empt the nag
by doing things before she gets a chance to have a go at me. I know I’m
rubbish on the domestic front, but sometimes I think she picks at nothing.
But at least it stops me turning into a slob.
Never nag again
“Women’s brains need verbal or physical recognition that a request we’ve made
has been taken on board,” explains psychologist Kath Temple. “Men don’t tend
to give these sorts of acknowledgements, so it appears we’re being ignored
and we ask again. And again! Instead, explain why what you’re asking is
important and when you need it done by. The word ‘because’ makes people more
likely to comply. Another trick is to say two things that’ll ring true with
him. For example: ‘I know me going on must be annoying and might give you a
headache, but…’ Acknowledging his feelings makes him more willing to do
what you ask.”