Nagging. We’ve probably all done it at some point in our life. Scripture has a few things to say about nagging. A nagging wife is referred to as a leaky faucet or an endless dripping on a rainy day. The Bible also says it is “better to live alone in a tumbledown shack than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.” (Prov. 25:24) These are some powerful words!
The definition of nagging: “to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands”. Depending on how it is used in a sentence, it can also mean, “to find fault or complain in an irritating, wearisome, or relentless manner.” For those of us who have ever been nagged at, we can understand both of these definitions with vivid recollection. But, what about when we are the one nagging? Are we able to see the effect it is having on our spouse? Are we able to feel what they feel? I believe the Bible has such powerful descriptions of a nagging wife because it can be so destructive to a relationship. God does not mince words when speaking about a nagging wife!
God tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Our closest neighbor is our spouse! Do we nag at ourselves constantly to the point of driving ourselves crazy?? My guess is NO! Yet, we nag our spouses (sometimes our children) to the point where they “would be better living on the corner of the roof or in a shack” than to live with us. This is not what God has for our marriage. He wants our marriage to be glorifying to Him, and to live with nagging is not glorifying.
I don’t know your reason for nagging, but I have a pretty good idea about mine. What is going on in my heart when I find myself nagging? I believe I can break it down into three possibilities: control, anger, and fear. First control. It is in a woman’s nature to want to control her world. We want to make sure everything is “perfect.” We control how our home looks, what’s for dinner, how the children behave, and generally speaking, we control most things that go on in our home. This is not all bad. As women, we are usually the predominant caretaker of the home. Many of us do prepare the meals, do the laundry, keep the house clean, care for the children and our husbands, and a thousand other things. The problem arises when we cannot control temperaments, personalities and people in general. The only one that God expects us to control is ourselves, so why do we spend so much time and effort trying to control others? If you have a child that does not like a certain food, no matter how much you think you can change and control that, usually that does not happen. As children are young there are many things we must control, but as they get older, they start living out who they are, and nagging to get them to do something rarely gets the response we want. I have to decide which battles are worth the fight and which ones are not. The battle of the heart is the one I want to focus on.
What happens in our hearts when we cannot control the other person? What happens when you have no control over what your spouse does or doesn’t do? What happens in our hearts when we ask our spouse to take out the trash and it doesn’t get done? For me, I get angry and believe he doesn’t love me or care about me. That all he thinks about is himself. I can’t count on him to do anything! Maybe, some of this is true. He may not be acting as the man God wants him to be. This is his issue with God, though, not mine! The problem comes when I want to take over God’s job and believe that if I “control” enough, he will change. Most times this does not get the result we want. I know for me, it never did. I tried for twenty years before I finally realized it was never going to work! The more I would nag, the angrier I would get and the more my husband would shut down. It does result in my spouse seeing me as a leaking faucet though!
The second reason I nag is because I am angry. Usually angry because I have asked for something to get done and for whatever the reason, it does not happen. Then, the ugly self-talk, as mentioned earlier, begins and I spiral into an angry, frustrated out-of-control mess! Of course, I am hurt because of the lack of response I might receive from my spouse, but the anger in my heart does nothing to help me or him. The anger will pull me away from my spouse, start building a wall around my heart, and start shooting holes in my heart towards my spouse. If this continues over a long period of time, I will begin to dislike and even hate my spouse.
Of course the lack of response from my husband hurts. In order to respond in a Godly way, I must feel the hurt, grieve where things are, and turn to God in order to keep my heart in a good place. God understands that I will be hurt by my spouse at times; just as he will be hurt by me. I married an imperfect man just as he married an imperfect woman. God knows that my spouse will never love me perfectly. He was never meant to. But God does. He loves me unconditionally and wants me to run to Him when I am hurting and fighting anger in my heart. He will listen to every mean thought I have, and still love me and give me wisdom in what to say and do. When I am willing, He will also work in my heart to change the ugly, angry attitude.
The control and anger tie into the third word, fear. When I am afraid, I often feel the need to get bigger (controlling and angry), in order to keep myself safe. When I am disappointed by my spouse and I want to nag him, what am I afraid of? I’m afraid that he doesn’t see me as important enough, that he doesn’t love me enough. I’m afraid that what I may need doesn’t matter. I’m afraid that I will become even more overwhelmed with all I need to do, and we don’t have the money to just call someone every time something needs fixing! Get the picture? It does not take long for fear to consume me and get out of control.
My prayer is that you have a spouse that is willing to hear your anger and fear and be willing to work through things with you. But what happens when you talk with your spouse and things remain the same? Because I cannot change my spouse, I cannot be guaranteed that things will ever be the way that I would like. It’s like the line in a movie I saw once, “What if this is as good as it gets?” This can be a very hard pill to swallow. I have to remind myself that God is much bigger than my spouse. The truth is no matter what we are wrestling with, He cares.
I love the verse in Matthew 10 that tells me that “not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Or Matthew 6:26 – “Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” In Luke 12 we are asked yet again, “Aren’t you worth more than the birds?” I can’t even rap my head around the fact that God knows the number of hairs on my head!! I know my husband, children, and grandson and love them so dearly, but I have no idea how many hairs are on their heads! Can you get just a small glimpse of the depth of God’s love? No matter how hurt we are, no matter how angry we may be, and no matter how fearful we may be, the Heavenly Father sees us, hears us, and knows exactly what we need. (“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19) Even in tough situations, God is more concerned about our hearts and what is going on inside. He wants us to bring these hurts and disappointments to Him. We can cry our hearts out to Him, whether it be through ugly tears or anger, and He will not leave us. He will meet us right in the messiness of our stuff.
God does not want us to be a nag…..our spouses would prefer that as well! Whenever you feel that urge or desire to nag, try to take a pause and reflect on what is going on in your heart. Why do you feel you need to nag to be heard? Why do you need to nag to get others to do their jobs? Are you trying to control? Are you angry? Are you fearful? Are you really reaping any good benefits from nagging? Nagging seems to come so naturally to women, but God wants so much more for us. He wants peace and joy in our hearts. He wants our hearts to know how to love others even when they hurt us. He wants us to be His Light in our families. He might even want us to set boundaries with others so they can reflect on their own sinful behavior. I do not believe that Christ died on the cross so we could live as nagging, miserable women. He died to set us free from those chains, so we can live full and free in Him. He wants our lives to glorify Him. Thank you, Jesus, that You always provide a better way for us!
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9