As I mentioned the other day, I was reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It was just okay, but certainly inspiring. I only read about 3/4 of the book and didn't really feel like I needed to finish it. So I didn't.
Anyways, she talks a lot about doing small things to increase your overall happiness and quality of life. She breaks the book up by month and focuses on one specific area of her life each month. One month she focuses on her marriage and she decided she wanted to stop nagging her husband so much because her nagging made both of them unhappy. It occurred to me while reading this particular section that I had also had a similar epiphany a few months ago re: nagging and I though I'd share it with you. (You're welcome.)
In my home, as I am sure in many of your homes, my spouse and I share household duties. I do the lion's share of the housework because I am home all day, but there are some very specific tasks that fall to Nelson. These include most yard work; taking out the trash and recycling; picking up toys at the end of the day (this because he prefers not to cook dinner or do dishes, so I do both those things; he picks up the toys as a trade off); and, up until recently haul the laundry up from the basement and put it away in our closets and drawers once I have folded it.
I am going to be honest here. Aside from the toy clean up (which I would not mind doing), all of Nelson's chores are things I personally hate doing, which is why they have been assigned to him. In all fairness, Nelson's chores are not things that HE hates, so that works well for us. With the exception of bringing up and putting away laundry.
As you might be able to imagine, since Nelson hates bringing up and putting away laundry, he was a little lax at getting these particular tasks done. So I would nag him about them. "Can you please bring up the laundry?" "Have you brought up the laundry yet?" "Is that laundry still in the basement?" It felt like I had to ask him a minimum of three times to get any action on the task. And the laundry would sometimes go two weeks without getting put away and it would get to the point where there were no baskets left for our dirty clothes.
I was getting frustrated because things were not being done in what I considered a normal amount of time, and I also felt crappy because I knew I was being a nag. And I'm pretty certain that my nagging was not really doing anything to encourage Nelson to bring up and put away the laundry. So, I made a decision.
I decided that I would no longer ask Nelson multiple times to bring up the laundry. I would ask him once. If he did not bring up the laundry in what I considered a reasonable amount of time (one day), I would just do it myself. In doing it myself, I decided I would not complain or martyr myself in anyway. I would just do it so it would be done, and not complain. I also decided that instead of waiting for Nelson to put away the laundry, I would do that as well. No complaints or passive aggressive comments or even the expectation that Nelson was going to notice. I just decided to start doing this stuff because I was tired of being a nag.
My thinking here was that yes, I was going to be doing more work but that I would feel happier and better about myself because I wouldn't feel like a jerk for being a nag, and that also I would have increased good feelings towards Nelson because I wouldn't always be feeling irritated that he was not listening to my requests or doing his household tasks.
And you know what? It totally worked. I stopped nagging Nelson about the laundry and I feel better as a result. I no longer expect him to do these tasks so I don't feel annoyed that he's not doing them and I don't feel like a jerk for constantly harassing him to get these things done. And doing the tasks myself is not even a big deal. I'm able to fit the extra laundry duty into my day seamlessly, and it only ads maybe an extra 20 minutes of work to my day two or three times a week.
Truthfully, I don't even dislike putting away laundry as much as I thought I did and I do it ten times fast than Nelson so my doing it is so much more efficient.. And I love that when I'm finished I have these lovely empty baskets. Such a sense of accomplishment. As an added bonus, now when Nelson does put away the laundry (without prompting) it feels like a relief.
With bringing up the laundry, I ask him once and then do it myself. Yes, I bring it up a lot more than I (or my back) prefers, but it gets done and that is fine. Recently (about three months in) I have noticed that Nelson is more likely to bring up the laundry right when I ask, and I think this is a direct result of him not feeling so harassed about the whole issue.
For a long time, I did not thing that Nelson really noticed that I'd backed off on the laundry nagging and picked up the putting away clothing detail, and that was okay because I'd decided I was not doing these for him; I was doing them for me, so I could feel better. Then one day he suddenly commented on the fact that I was so on top of things which felt really good. I did not expect or need the recognition, but it was nice to see my efforts appreciated.
This whole deal also made me realize what a negative effect nagging was having on my marriage. My doing an extra hour of work a week makes me feel better about myself, about my husband, and I'm pretty sure he feels better about me too. A happiness success for sure.