People will literally come in to therapy because they are thinking about getting a divorce because they are sick of their spouse not taking out the trash. As simplistic or silly as this seems, things add up in a relationship. Many people get a divorce because they don’t want to nag their spouse one more day.
In thinking of your own relationship, are there times in your relationship when it seems as though you and your spouse are talking a totally different language to each other? Maybe one of you tend to be blunt and direct, while the other person will say and do things that are most subtle, and may require a little bit of reading between the lines. This is especially true with couples who do not regularly communicate, or who have reached a point in their relationship where they feel they understand each other perfectly and don’t really make effort to verify they are understanding. If you have a spouse who seems to be constantly nagging at you or questioning what you do, it may be that they are trying to get you to pay more attention to what is going on in between those lines.
Spouses who find themselves the object of the wrath of their spouse often do very little to calm the situation down. It is amazing how something as simple as forgetting to take out the trash can end in a full scale war of words that ends with a falling out and the trash staying exactly where it was to begin with. Nothing gets resolved, and that forgotten trash sits and serves as a constant reminder of what is causing the rift.
The mistake that people often make in these situations is reacting negatively to the request being made by their partner/spouse. Sighing heavily or rolling the eyes will only add fuel to a situation that already set to go ablaze. The same rules apply with doing the task begrudgingly, or stating that you forgot for the umpteenth time. If your spouse is asking you to do something over and over again, they are probably totally frustrated at your seeming lack of concern or action. The fact that they keep making the same requests is a sign that it is something that is important to them, and which they believe should be important to you, too.
Spouses need to feel as though they are being heard, and they want a partner who will listen and understand their needs. Constantly ignoring requests or “forgetting” to get to them will set off a ticking time bomb. Sooner rather than later. Rather than just going with the old forgetting line, assure your partner that there is a specific reason why you forgot, or haven’t been able to do what they has asked just yet. More importantly, take steps to show them that you are trying to remember, which could include adding reminders to the calendar on your smartphone. If they see that you are making an effort, they will be a lot more understanding.
If your partner is regularly losing their temper, it may well be that something bigger is going on. What you see as nagging may well be their way of letting you know that they are not happy with the relationship as a whole. They may be feeling unloved or underappreciated, and that can come out in the form of anger and frustration over something that you view as unimportant. Everything is important in a relationship, which is why regular open communication is vital.
Just think about when someone does something specifically because you prefer it. For example, if you are a vegetarian and your friend has a BBQ. You get there and your friend bought tofu/veggie dogs JUST FOR YOU. They didn’t have to, but they thought of you ahead of time. This is the type of thing that happens when you take out the trash. Even though it doesn’t matter to you, it does matter to your partner. In time, when there is a reciprocal give and take, both of you are getting needs met and feeling cared about.