My mother always used to say “A request, rather than a demand, creates the possibility for an expression of love.” But what happens if these requests start becoming so repetitious that you feel more like a nagging mother than a partner?
If your unrelenting partner-nitpicking is driving a wedge in your relationship and causing you to blame your partner for much of your stress and unhappiness, perhaps the problem doesn’t lie within your partner, but within yourself. The case of ‘You spot it, you got it’ adheres to the notion that our own flaws are the easiest to see in someone else. So the things we may criticize our partners for, are often the very same things that we don’t like about ourselves.
When we feel we have a lack of control in our own lives, we tend to focus on the seemingly lack of control in our partner’s lives. On a subconscious level, we feel it’s easier to try and get our partner to change than elicit change within ourselves. For example, you find that you are constantly nagging your partner about his predictable second helpings of dessert, and his lack of dog walking time. Now sure, this could be construed as trying to help your partner stay healthy, and making sure that your beloved pet gets the required amount of outdoor time. Or perhaps, this may mean that you are unhappy with your own weight, and you feel guilty that you aren’t spending enough quality time with the dog.
So how do we fix this? The best way to get what you need is to become what you need. Nagging your partner into perfection will only get you so far—you are the only one who can ultimately make yourself happy. Happiness is a daily choice and a mindset. Start from within and question the real reasons behind your irritation with your partner. Are you really annoyed with him for not doing anything productive in the evenings? Or are you angry with yourself for falling into the same trap, and spending all your free time watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta?
So before you dish out another round of motherly nagging, remind yourself of the ‘You spot it, you got it’ theory. The sooner we can understand our own behavioural patterns, the sooner we’ll elicit some positive change, gain a little more empathy, and become a partner who leads by example. After all, like my father always use to say, “Every time you point a finger at someone, there are three pointed back at you.” (I know I’m getting old when I start quoting my parents and truly begin to realize the wisdom in their words – insert head tilt and touching ‘Awe’).
Dr. Teesha Morgan is a sex therapist based in Vancouver, BC.