Angry Nagging Men

Angry Nagging Men

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about angry, nagging men.

First a quick update:

“Why we are obsessed with celebrities”
Read the transcript of the interview I gave to Diego Rubio from the Colombian magazine Semana, about the reasons people are obsessed with celebrities, how celebrities are created and branded, why we worship celebrities but also enjoy tearing them down, and; the way that the media affects our thinking & beliefs and leads us to conform.

Now, let’s talk about angry and nagging men.

There was a very old TV commercial in Australia about a man who answers a knock at the door. The man is obviously frustrated by the disturbance as he proceeds to angrily inform the stranger at the door that he is bothering him, “the kids are screaming, my wife is nagging and I got a lousy sore throat.” The stranger immediately calms the man down as he offers him relief for his sore throat with a lozenge. The man responds with a smile and appears relieved.

Although we all understand that a lozenge is not the answer to our family frustration, the commercial stood out to me because it portrayed the stereotype of the nagging wife. And of course, we often hear the same comment about nagging wives in the form of jokes. However, men – husbands – can also be naggers.

Recently, I was speaking with a friend who is now divorced and she related to me how much happier she is now that she no longer has to hear at home what she referred to as “the male nagging voice.” Of course, that sparked my interest and shock as she went onto explain that her husband would come home from work and often be nagging and complaining about something; often nagging and complaining about everything that she was doing; he would constantly ask her “why?” He would question everything that his wife did and she never felt that she could do anything right in his eyes.

After speaking with another divorced female client, Paula, I recognized that there seemed to be a pattern as she told me almost the same thing: her husband, Nick, nagged, complained and always criticized most of her choices. Paula felt that he was always judging, condemning and criticizing her; he never praised her or supported her choices and was often asking her, “Why?”

So “why” would these men be nagging their wives so much?

In both cases, it seems that the husbands who worked long hours felt left out of the decision-making process and that left each of them feeling as if he had no power or involvement in the day-to-day running of the home or the raising of the children.

However, in the second example, Paula’s husband went beyond nagging, he was heavily criticizing and condemning Paula and often expressing anger and frustration towards her. Paula began to feel cold, closed off and resentful towards Nick.

Nick felt frustrated with his life and with his marriage; Nick was also angry because he felt his physical needs were not being met by his wife.

In yet another similar case, Peter, was also angry and frustrated with his life, stress and marriage. And he, too, felt that his wife was not meeting his physical needs – in fact they almost had a non-existent physical connection.

In the interview I gave to Joanie Winberg CEO of the National Association of Divorce Women & Children, speaking about “The Putt Putt Syndrome”, I explained that men traditionally express their love to their wife by providing and by lovemaking.

However, in all of the cases above, each of these three men was also destroying the love within the marriage by his nagging and whining and/or by his constant harsh criticism and judgment. What these men failed to realize is that the more each one condemned and nagged his wife (for not doing what he wanted her to do or out of frustration of feeling helpless and powerless), the further away he was pushing her; the less worse his wife would feel and the tighter she would shut down.

While the nagging voice slowly pushes away a partner and chips away at the love & bond, anger destroys love quickly as it creates resentment and eventually contempt. Once contempt sets in the relationship or marriage is dead.

There are a number of lessons here from these cases and examples.

Many relationships and marriages lack open and empathetic communication. Some people never ask for what they want and need, while others overly demand it and when they don’t get it, they then become either verbally abusive or critical and condemnatory i.e. you are not giving me what I want so I am going to hurt you back.

Open and empathetic communication refers to being able to ask for what you want and need and to be able to listen and be willing to give the other person what they need. In other words, it is about listening and understanding the reasons the other person is not meeting your needs – be it a limitation on their part or a response to your behavior. Open and empathetic communication is also about accepting responsibility for your own actions which are affecting the other person’s choices and behavior. Thomas Chandler Haliburton, the 19th century author, wrote: “When a man is wrong and won’t admit it, he always gets angry.”

So, in the case of Paula and Nick, the more he chooses to attack his wife with his nagging and criticism, the more she will choose to shut him out.

The second point is about responsibility and taking the lead. Almost all three men felt that they did not have a sufficient say in the decision-making process. Instead of taking the lead when appropriate, they would stand back and wait till the wife made the decision and then they would criticize it. The answer is to 1. Find the balance between which decisions need to be made mutually, which ones can be made by one person (designate responsibility) and 2. Be responsible and take the lead – make the decisions that are empowering to the relationship – particularly with regards to romance and courting – such as date night, outings, etc – the areas that the wife would welcome the man to lead and any others that are mutually agreed and 3. Involve yourself more in the activities with the children so that you do not feel left out, powerless or not consulted.

When one accepts responsibility and stops blaming the other person, anger and frustration become neutralized.

The third point is about gratitude and action. In each of the cases, these men were focusing on everything that was wrong in their life and failing to focus on what was good. For example, Peter is a successful businessman with three happy, healthy children and a loyal and loving wife. It is true that they did not have a physical connection but this occurred because Peter chose to lose himself in his career and allow his wife to accept full responsibility for the children. Thus, the result is they were living in almost two worlds and became like roommates. Peter’s choice is to focus on what is good in his life, stop the nagging and resentment towards his wife and begin to take the steps to revive the love and physical connection between him and his wife.

Most men do not want to change and are surprised that their wife has changed. But then they refuse to accept that they have negatively affected the outcome and that they can now affect it in a positive way. Again, please note I am not here saying that the man is all wrong and the wife is perfect nor vice versa. However, when a person waits for the other one to change and she does, too, then the stalemate occurs.

The final point relates to anger and emotional reactions. Anger is the first response to being hurt or to not getting what one wants. We can learn to say no to emotional reactions without repressing them; we can learn to not engage the frustration, anger, nagging, judgment or blame and instead use the steps I mentioned above:

  1. Open & empathetic communication
  2. Responsibility and taking the lead
  3. Gratitude and action

Finally, regardless of your gender or your marital status, it is vital to remember that in every relationship – business, romance or friendship – constant nagging, criticism and anger turns off the other person; it makes them feel bad around you, lowers their self-confidence and encourages them to react negatively to you and; it leads to deep frustration and resentment which then leads to the greatest killer of every relationship – contempt.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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4 replies
  1. Avatar
    Sheralie says:

    Looked up ‘Men nagging’ and all that came up was loads of sites about nagging women which really annoys me!! I recently got married and everything was fine until a few days before. I am now constantly being talked at with ‘put down’ comments and a bullish attitude

    It was interesting to read your article as I can feel myself closing down and distancing myself as I do not want this constant nagging, it is destroying what we had and he does not even realise it

    Have printed it out to show him, just hope he doesn’t have another go at me!!

  2. Avatar
    Erol says:

    Great exploration of male anger at home. Maybe it’s not just that “he’s an angry man” but there is actually a reason. And maybe partners co-create what’s going on, it’s not just the blame of one side?

    I read a great study a few years ago that suggested men report depression less than women because the symptoms show up different in each sex. Wow, maybe we ARE different, not the same? The study suggested that in men the symptom is anger, not sadness as in women. Men work to get out emotions while women often stuff them inside. And anger is usually the surface expression of grief, which is about loss. Anger is a sign he’s still fighting it and hasn’t dropped into helplessness yet.

    Also, depression in men now seems to be related to lessened testosterone, rather than serotonin as in women. Again, we’re different.

    So now, if I see an angry man, I’m wondering how he’s hurting. Has he lost something? Maybe it’s that fun playful time with his wife now that he’s just a dad and provider (i.e. paycheck)? Or maybe some time with the guys regularly to build up his testosterone. Maybe he’s lost the dream he had, as in the Putt Putt Syndrome.

    I’m curious Patrick what you’ve found in this area.

  3. Avatar
    Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    It’s great to see you focus on this topic. Society often focuses on the “nagging wife” stereotype but neglects the fact that men nag just as harshly too. I’m glad to see another male point this out and show how the shoe fits on the other side of the foot too!

  4. Avatar
    Irene says:

    Perfect! Couldn’t come in my Inbox at a better time! I feel the exact same way. Trying to balance work, home and family and feel every decision I make or action I take is met with resentment or criticism. I am going to forward to my husband right away.
    Thanks 🙂

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