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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to nag without nagging

Look, we've all been there: sometimes, you want someone to do something, and you ask them nicely and they say they'll do it, but then they forget and you have to remind them, and then they forget a second time and it's like "oh lord, it has now come to this. I have to remind them AGAIN about this thing I want them to do. And that is the very definition of nagging."

90% of the plot lines of Everybody Loves Raymond centered on Debra being a naggy bitch.

I think one of the keys to a happy and fruitful marriage is to figure out a good way to nag each other without actually sounding like a condescending shitbag. Because let's face it -- if Jesse never picked his clothes up off the floor for 60 years because I was too polite to say anything about it, I'd be pretty peeved. And if Jesse had to listen to me bitching like a shrew about picking his clothes up off the floor for 60 years, he'd be pretty peeved. So we find a nice middle ground.

Here is the example situation that we are trying to avoid:

As you can see, this is not effective for anyone. Neither the sheep nor the rabbit is happy. They both just think the other one is kind of an asshole. No, no, we don't want that. So here are some of my personal favorite ways to nag someone without braying at them like a donkey or throwing around the c-word:

Feigning ignorance of the culprit

This particular strategy works best when there are only two of you in the house and neither of you is a young child. You both know who made the mess, and whose responsibility it is to clean it up. I don't think it would work on children, though. I can totally imagine a small child honestly buying into the idea that you don't know who spilled fruit punch all over the kitchen floor, and trying to blame someone else.

Then again, Jesse totally does this as well.

After a good round of household whodunnit, we happily go about the rest of our day, pretending that it wasn't Jesse who got butter on the counter or who made all those stains on the carpet (mysteriously located right under the spot where he always sits to eat chips and salsa) or who splashed the bathroom mirror so badly I can't even see myself in it anymore. No, no -- some mischevious bandit breaks in and does all that stuff while we're not home. Jesse is just such an all-around great guy that he's willing to clean it up.

Story Time: Tell a really long story where the punchline is that you're an asshole

Story time is for when you're starting to feel a little less charitable and want to be just a little bit more of a dick. It's great because it really strings the offender along, making them think that they're going to hear some super interesting story. But then it turns out it's just them getting yelled at! Ha!!! Brilliant, right??!

Story time can also be combined with the Feigning Ignorance of the Culprit approach -- either you can tell a long and winding story about how the neighbor kid came over and had a seizure and then aliens came to abduct him but you fought them off using only your bare hands and a butter knife and then you had to call 911 about the seizure but meanwhile the aliens had called in for reinforcements and the neighbor kid was drooling on the floor unconscious and so anyway THAT'S why there's butter on the counter. Or you can spin a whole sordid tale about how you think all the stains got on the carpet, even though you totally know they got there because your husband has yet to master the cupping-your-hand-under-a-chip-laden-with-salsa trick.

Either way, story time says "if you want me to stop wasting your time with these ridiculous bullshit tales, just CLEAN YOUR SHIT UP and we won't have to do this again."


Doing it yourself, and then making such a fuss about what a hero you are that they'll never want to let you at this task ever again

This one is Jesse's personal favorite. God help me whenever he finds a chore to do that is technically my responsibility but he gets to it first. GOD HELP ME. One time I put chili in the crock pot and it overflowed while I was at work. Jesse cleaned up the entire mess, and then spent the next several days rambling on about "that amazing husband who cleaned up that whole crock pot mess on the counter. Gosh, who was that guy again? I remember his rugged good looks, but just can't seem to recall his name!"

As you can imagine, I have since then been more careful than ever about how much I fill the crock pot. It's not worth another boil-over. It's not worth it at all.


Extreme, over-the-top threats

Alright, so it's not very nice, but ... it's not nagging ... ??

Also, seriously, if Jesse doesn't figure out how to dry his hands in the downstairs bathroom without f**king the towel all up like it's a goddamned locker room, we are going to have a homicide on our hands.

But at least I don't nag.




  1. HA! My biggest peeve/nag is the wet towel on the floor in the bathroom. Dont you know that will MILDEW!? The towel MUST have been trying to commit suicide or something by jumping off the towel rack after it was neatly hung after use. Maybe I will start breaking its fall by placing a hamper underneath.

    1. And if that doesn't work ... there's always waterboarding :-)