Does your partner nag or get demanding?
Perhaps they nag about chores, or perhaps they make sarcastic comments about not getting their needs met.
Or maybe they even pick fights and before you know it you’re screaming at each other, getting angry and defensive.
When Jim and Jessica first came to me for coaching, (not their real names) they were caught in this dynamic.
She would demand more help with the kids, housework, and time to connect, and Jim felt he could never do enough to please her.
So eventually he tuned her out. He would tell her things like:
• “I don’t want to talk about it. I’ve got too much work to do.”
• “I’m giving you what I can, and it’s never enough. Your expectations are unrealistic!”
And this would make Jessica more demanding, because she didn’t feel Jim was there for her.
What’s really underneath nagging and demanding:
I’ve learned that underneath all surface behaviors, there are softer, more vulnerable feelings, needs, and values.
The nagging and demanding is hiding feelings like sadness, hurt, or fear that we won’t get things that are deeply meaningful to us.
And usually, what they long for is to feel more securely emotionally connected to you.
How does a small child act in a public place when she’s lost her parents?
Usually she screams at the top of her lungs, right? She’s “protesting” the disconnection.
Most of us either automatically get angry or demanding to try to get our partner to pay attention to us!
Research shows that as adults, we’re wired protest in the same way as children, when we don’t feel securely connected to our partner.
(I know, we thought we were more evolved than that…)
So I taught Jim how to stop dismissing Judy and listen to the emotions and concerns underneath her nagging.
5 Steps To Handle A Nagging Spouse
If you first get emotionally connected, you can easily create a way to get BOTH of your needs met.
If you listen to the feelings and needs underneath the nagging, they will calm down, and you can create a solution together.
1) Invite your partner to share their point of view, and reflect it back to make sure you heard them.
When you reflect back and say, “did I get it?” Eventually you WILL get it and they will feel heard and calm down.
2) Validate their feelings and needs, even if you don’t agree with their point of view.
Say “that makes sense to me, I hear that you’re annoyed and you need me to do my share of the chores. I get it.”
This doesn’t mean you have to share their point of view. There will be space for you to share your point of view when they feel heard.
A Person will feel hurt until they feel heard.
3) Ask questions to reveal their deeper needs and values.
Obviously you’re not going to say “what are your deeper needs” cause that sounds weird; you have to speak naturally.
But for example, you might say:
I’m curious what’s most important to you, about me doing my share?
or What do you fear will happen if I don’t?
or I hear that you’re annoyed; What do you need from me right now?
If they hear that you CARE about them, then they might open up and let you into their inner world.
Because It takes 2 to tango, and you’re starting a new dance by asking these questions.
Fighting is like a dance that takes BOTH people over. More about how to change the dance in the next email!
4) Comfort and soothe them. Reassure them that you want to meet their needs.
5) Invite them to make a request.
You might say, “What would you like to have happen?”
If they request something that you don’t want to provide, you don’t have to just give in. But validate it. Say, “I hear that you want that, and lets talk about it. Are you willing to listen to what I’m going through now that you feel heard?”
Once both people state their feelings and needs, there’s room to create a win/win solution that meets both of your needs.
That’s what makes a relationship work, is if both people are committed to meeting each other’s needs.
When Jim learned to listen to Jessica’s feelings and needs, she stopped nagging and learned how to ask for what she needed in an inviting way, which made Jim naturally want to contribute more and spend more time with her!
For the sake of condensing an already long email, I’ve kept these 5 steps short and simple.
Try them out and let me know how it goes!
And as you know, it helps to have professional support to point out your blind spots and give you individual feedback.
So click the link below to schedule a “Back To Love” Strategy Call with me, so you can stop fighting and experience love once again!
Talk to you soon!