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Why Wives Nag
Q: My wife wonít stand up for me, and itís really bothering me. Her mother is at our house all the time. And she treats me like a son, in a bad way. Sheís always nagging me to pick up my clothes, take my dishes to the dishwasher, and do the yard work. I donít feel like I can sit and watch TV when sheís over, so I just go out and mess around in the garage. Itís getting to where I want to leave when she comes over, but thereís usually dinner involved. She likes to cook for us. My wife says thatís just her way, and that maybe if I pitched in more around the house she wouldnít nag me so much. My wife nags me too, but not as much. I told her I donít want her mom around so much and that itís annoying, but she just laughs and walks away. How do I make things change? --Jay, 33

Dr. Susan: Oh, poor nagged fellow, the answer to this one is automatic. Do a little more to help around the house, and stop acting like an ornery teenager around your mother-in-law and wife. Sure, you might be inclined to watch TV BEFORE you tackle the chores, but perhaps the women in your life have seen that this isn't really what's going to happen.

I get that having your wife's mom there all the time is too much. Every couple needs some privacy. Your wife owes you some allegiance. That means she ought to figure out some way to NOT have her mom over to the point where it interferes in your relationship. But what I'm hearing is that it's the nagging that most bothers you. So try changing your own behavior and cleaning up after yourself. That's only fair.

Wives and mothers nag because when they ask politely, nothing seems to happen. Do your fair share or commit to doing some of it (such as yard work) at a specific time, as that will allow the women to relax. Marriage isn't easy. You might prefer doing what you want, when you want to do it. And your wife might have been taught more of a sense of responsibility and feels things need to get done sooner rather than later. Perhaps she'll ease up over time. But if don't pick up after yourself, at the very least, her resentment will increase over time.

Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help. Read her complete bio!
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward. Read her complete bio!
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults. Read her complete bio!
NOTE: The information contained herein is provided for information purposes, and not intended as a substitute for advice or treatment that may or should be prescribed by your physician or recommended by your therapist.
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