To Nag or Not to Nag?

When you first got married, were there qualities about your husband you assumed or hoped would go away? What happened when they didn’t? If you are anything like many wives, you may have begun “nagging” him about the problem. Though we tend to call it “reminding” rather than nagging. Am I right?

The dictionary defines nagging as “to find fault or complain in an irritating, wearisome, or relentless manner.” Like a throbbing toothache, when we nag at our husbands, we become a wearisome irritation. I doubt any wife would want to be an irritation to their husbands. We just want them to change their faults and bad habits. Why do you suppose we think that nagging or reminding our husbands about their faults will motivate them to change? Do we think that they too easily forget?

The problem with nagging is that it drives our husband’s away from us rather than toward us. It makes them defensive. It creates a barrier, a wedge keeping our marriages from being the way God intended. How can a couple be truly united as one with a wedge caught in the middle?

We need to remember that the source to all change is God alone.

No amount of nagging and reminding is going to change a person. Some may comply for a time, to get the nagging to stop but then they will begin the habit again soon enough. The greatest power for change that we have as wives is prayer.

Prayer ought to be our first and primary method of addressing a problem we have with our husbands. We need to pray not only that God would work in our husband’s hearts but that He would work in ours as well. Perhaps God has chosen to not change our husbands irritating habits. What then? We need to pray that God will help us to love them despite the behavior. Perhaps He can even change our hearts to not even notice it anymore. Because after all, don’t we all have our own habits that irritate others? Hasn’t Jesus forgiven us for even greater sin?

I’m a recovering nagger. I say recovering because it seems to come as a default mode if I’m not careful. When I’m not continually in communion with God through prayer and His word, nagging will begin to creep up into my heart. When I don’t preach the gospel to myself everyday, I forget about the grace which saved me. Then I don’t extend grace to my husband. A few years ago, I was really concerned about my husband’s health. I was convinced I would be a young widow because of how he lived, ate and didn’t attend to his health. I took it upon myself to remind him that he needed to take better care of himself. I nagged.

The Holy Spirit convicted me and helped me to stop the constant reminding. Instead, I began praying. I prayed for months about it. Out of the blue one day, my husband told me he decided to join a gym.

Praying about our husband‘s problems isn’t a magic formula. God will only change what he wants changed, according to His will. The amazing thing about prayer is that it orients our own hearts to true north. When we acknowledge that God is sovereign and will work all things out for the good of both spouses, we can rest in the loving power of God. God can also change our own heart to love and accept our husband for who he is, defects and all. God’s love and care over our marriage can break that wedge and once again bring unity to a marriage damaged by nagging.

What about you? Has nagging ever been a problem in your marriage? How have you found prayer to change things–either your husband’s or your own heart?

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