Criticizing, complaining, and nagging are killers in a marriage. Usually, it’s the wife who feels this is her role to fill (someone needs to be unhappy don’t they?), but I’ve seen men who do it too. The effect on a marriage is the same as a serious disease: love dies.
Why would a wife or husband criticize and nag constantly? I’m not really sure I know… when my husband and I were first married almost 7 years ago, I remember being upset that he wasn’t perfect – it was ridiculous, as if I myself was perfect! Sometimes he’d forget things, and because we’d agreed on which things we’d take care of, I’d take it personal if he’d forget a chore. I remember I tried the nagging – criticizing routine out, but it just didn’t work – it didn’t help my husband & it made me into a nasty person, so thankfully it didn’t last long.
I worked at a bookstore, so I had an endless supply of marriage books to read when on break or during a very slow time. The number one thing that seems to get to men is their wives choosing to criticize instead of suggesting, to nag instead of reminding. When I started to take a more mature approach of reminding (and allowing us both to be humans who sometimes need grace) instead of criticizing and nagging, an amazing thing happened – it worked!
When you commit to talking about things you want differently or facing the problems that come up in a mature, peaceful manner that gives respect to your partner, your marriage changes. The problem with criticizing and nagging is that there is no respect in it!
Let me tell you a real life story that I saw play out. There was a man I used to work with who is my husband’s age (29), he seemed like a good person, he worked, took care of his wife and young baby, they owned cars and a beautiful house, but he always seemed to be unhappy at work – “grumpy.” The littlest thing would make him angry because he was always set at irritable.
I didn’t really like him at first because of his bad attitude, but then I found out that his wife was mean to him. He was doing research on the side so that he could finish a Master’s degree, and his cubicle mate let me know that his wife routinely ridiculed his research. It seems his wife was rarely happy, complaining and nagging him about everything and anything. I was in the vicinity when I heard him call her a “bitch” to his friends at work. He started to get close to one of the female coworkers in another area in our building, I would see him flirting with her, and being around her more and more. They started joking in a sexual manner. It was really hard to watch.
“If a man can’t find peace in his own home, where he should be able to feel relaxed, accepted, loved, and content, he begins to not only hate coming home, but he begins to hate his life. That sad reality is often the precipitator of stupid behaviors like drinking or taking drugs, Internet shenanigans, and inappropriate flirting or worse.” -Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands
When a man (or a woman) gets constantly criticized and nagged for things they can never seem to do right, they start at first to try harder, but when that doesn’t work, they eventually give up. This giving up is like a defense mechanism for them, but it exasperates even more the wife or husband that’s criticizing. Neither person ever wins this way.
“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.” Bible, Philippians 2:14-15