Nagging: It’s a Power Tool
Every gal likes to get her own way. Sometimes, my way makes the most sense, so I feel justified in insisting upon it. It makes sense, for example, to put away all the dry dishes, clean any pots left soaking, and THEN start the next prep cycle on a clean, clear countertop. I can’t imagine why anyone would multiply chaos by cooking amidst the prior mess.
Cookie cooks like a mad artist. He never sees the other things in the kitchen, doesn’t notice whether the pots onto which he throws a dirty strainer were actually clean, uses every pan in the kitchen, and leaves mucky things to harden into cement in bowls. (The food is delicious).
Recently, when accused of nagging on the subject of kitchen habits, I asked Cookie, “Well when can I bring this up and have it heard as a congenial request, and when is it nagging?”
I’m still not perfectly clear on that. Maybe it depends on how snappy I am or whether I’m still riding the waves of frustration from a post-dinner scrubbing.
But it turns out I use nagging as a form of soft power. In diplomacy, we might call soft power coercion, influence, or “carrots” (versus sticks). In marriages we call it nagging.
I tell myself that I will win the dishes argument with my logic. It makes more sense to clear and clean first. To stack nesting bowls according to size. To put cheese back in the lunchmeat drawer from whence it came, not on a random shelf. But often the battle really comes down to whether Cookie would rather acquiesce or listen to my whining continuously for the rest of his earthly life. Proverbs calls me a constant dripping, like the embodiment of Chinese water torture. It'd be better to live squished into the eaves of the house or in a desert than to live with me and my Countertop Manifesto, it says.
That’s not a fair position in which to put your dearest friend. My will, or your misery. It’s also not submissive. Cookie’s logic probably looks like this: Cook now, eat now, we’ll still have time to clean up later…I put the bowls in the cabinet; what’s nesting?…Wherever I put the cheese, I’m sure to find it again when I need it badly enough.
Sometimes I find that I have an unpleasant choice. Either I will stop nagging, and possibly, forever after, have to put the cheese in the drawer myself, or I will wear Cookie down, win the battle, and kill a tiny part of our friendship.
If we want men we can respect as the heads of our households, we have to accept that sometimes, after we’ve asked nicely, they’ll still say no. And hey, at least he cooks.