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Why Women Nag — And Men Put Up With It!
by Carolyn Bushong

The theme this month in my practice seems to be men who allow their wives to nag and bitch at them without them speaking up. When I asked one male client how things would look if his relationship was a healthy, happy one, he said, “I’d be able to spend my days being myself and doing what I want and do my chores on my own schedule.” I said, but I’m asking how the two of you would interact in a healthy relationship?” He had no idea. His idea of happiness was simply “not getting yelled at.” His only fantasy of the relationship was for him to be able to be his “imperfect” self with her – and everything be okay.

Many men feel like this. Maybe not as drastic as my client, but many men don’t understand why their wives and girlfriends have to “ride” them all the time.

Why so women nag? Because our mothers taught us that most men will seldom do the right thing – unless we nag them into it.

Also, we women nag “because we can.” You seldom stop us. Our nagging works really well for us – we make you feel guilty and as if you are constantly doing something wrong or “not good enough.” So we set it up that you’re continually try to prove something to us. Of course, you also resent the hell out of us because of it.

Another man I talked to said that he tried to be the better person (instead of fighting with his wife) and give her what she wants. He had no idea that she would never be satisfied – that nothing would ever be good enough. {In fact, the more you give them what they want, the more they will come up with things for you to do to keep proving yourself.} This man is a strong, successful businessman and his wife doesn’t even work, but he let her have all the power in the relationship. Their relationship has been headed toward divorce for some time, but it took his 7-year-old son’s comment to make him realize he doesn’t want to keep trying anymore. He told his son to do something and he refused, saying” Mom said I don’t have to.” He told his son, “Your mom’s not here and I’m your dad and I told you to do it. Do you understand that both moms and dads get to tell you what to do?” His son said, “No, because moms are the bosses and dads just do what moms say – and try to keep moms happy.”

Remember the 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s when men used to run things? They’d say, “Get me a beer!” and the wife would get it. They were horrible times for us women and we resented our men then. But what happened? Has the pendulum swung all the way to the other side and now women have all the control? Women have always nagged and bitched, but years ago, men used to just ignore it. Now men pay attention and cower to the women, always trying not to “get in trouble.” Whether or not the man has the control or the woman has it, relationships like this are very dysfunctional and doomed.

Years ago I helped lead the feminist movement and now THIS IS A CALL TO MEN to stop being so passive and weak in their relationships. Stop thinking she’s right. Stop letting her damage your self-esteem. Stand up to her.

When she says, I’m mad because you didn’t do such and such,” tell her, “First of all, I never agreed to do that, and if I do it, it will be when I decide to do it! Besides, I may not even believe it needs to be done. You don’t get to make all those decisions – we are partners and need to make decisions together!!”

Carolyn Bushong, Relationship Therapist
360 So. Monroe St., Suite 290
Denver, CO 80209


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