Monday, September 10, 2012

The Importance of Nagging

Today I'm posting a little advice for someone who is close to me. If it sounds a little cryptic or strange to you, then it's not for you, though I hope it's useful anyway.

Simply by living a long time and paying attention you tend to learn a few things. Some of these things are universally accepted and become clich├ęs. Others sneak up on you. Think about this one:
No beneficial change has ever been initiated by someone who is satisfied with the way things are.
Every invention, social change, and Great Idea was born in the mind of someone who is dissatisfied. If necessity is the mother of invention, then dissatisfaction is the father. Somebody was dissatisfied, and decided to make things better. Voila! Things get better. The bigger the dissatisfaction, the bigger the change, and the principle applies to everything from the invention of can openers to political revolutions.

But that's a little broad. Let's bring this a bit closer to home. There's a saying that, "behind every good man there is a great woman... nagging him on". There's more than a little truth to that bit of humor. Wives and girlfriends have had a reputation for nagging. And to be honest in my stereotypes, we guys do tend to be easily satisfied. So if you expect us to make things better around the house, or in our lives, you have to make things just a little uncomfortable for us. Not so much that we take off, but just enough that we have a strong desire to shut you up by giving you whatever it is you're nagging us for.

Now get this... even though we are perfectly content -- for ourselves -- to sit at home in our shorts, drinking beer and watching football, we will move mountains to give you what you want. We will dig ditches. We will plant flowers we're allergic to. We will invent. We will do odd jobs, work two jobs, and create NEW jobs, all because YOU are unhappy. We men don't have much in the way of instinct, but the desire to make you happy is alive and well. In a perfect world, you'd find the guy who just naturally does that without any prodding from you. But here in Reality we often need to find someone who's close, and then make a few tweaks.

But if a guy is sitting around the house, waking up at noon, with no job and no steady income... if he's getting his meals provided to him, and his bills paid for him... and if you fawn over him and tell him how great he is... and this is going on for months in a town where jobs are available (and they are)... do NOT expect any of this to change. Ever. And if he gets mad when this is pointed out to him, then understand that the situation is toxic, and I mean toxic for YOU.

It's said that love is caring for another person more than you care for yourself. You will find that this is only sustainable if it's true for both partners. Otherwise you will find yourself giving and giving until you're emotionally depleted and your love turns to resentment. That resentment may even turn to hate. You certainly don't want to start off in a relationship where that's likely to happen, and I'd like to help you avoid it.

Now, this may sound old-fashioned and a more than a little sexist, but it's ABSOLUTELY TRUE... he's young and able-bodied, and HE should be doing for YOU. HE should be doing whatever it takes to capture and hold your attention, and win YOU as a mate. And if that's not happening, then YOU have some responsibilities, too... your second responsibility is to nag.

TELL him he's under-performing, TELL him he's not doing enough, and when push comes to shove, TELL him to go home -- HIS home -- and try again when he's got his act together. Then HOLD HIM TO THAT. If he can make those improvements, then both of your lives will be better for it. You will no longer be dependent on other people for your basic necessities. When your parents someday die (and they will), then you will be the responsible adults that other people look to for comfort and support. And you can stop nagging. Life's pretty good. And he will have learned that he is a better man for having you in his life than he would have been without you.

If he cannot or will not improve, then you have learned something about relationships: it is possible to love someone who is not good for you; who will keep you dependent; who will sap your strength instead of adding to it. You do not need this. You do not want this. But you will HAVE this if you keep him complacent and satisfied with sitting around the house being told how wonderful you think he is anyway. So your third responsibility is to reject him. Because you love him, tell him why, but reject him nevertheless.

Because your first responsibility is to yourself.

And then look for the person who will take the steps necessary to look out for you and secure your future. If you want that person you will find that person, but not if you're taking care of some other woman's grown baby.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said; parts apply to my life, but most to my daughters. So I sent it to her.