For Women Only

Toblerone Triangle croppedQuarrelsome or Nagging Wife

It’s better to live alone in the desert
    than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. Proverbs 21:19

Marriage is difficult. We’ve been working on it for 35+ years and I still have so much to learn! Reading this verse in Proverbs about the nagging wife, usually brings to mind incidents of OTHER women. Rarely have I thought I might BE that woman.

As I listened to the audio Bible of Proverbs 21 last week, I believe the Spirit of God gave me a fresh insight and deeper understanding of the nagging wife.

When we hear the words “nagging wife” or “quarrelsome wife” most of us women, have an idea of what that is. We may also know someone who fits that description. But,

What does a man perceive as quarrelsome/nagging?

In particular, what might your man perceive as nagging?

Having recently read most of the old book with old-fashioned ideas, Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin, I came up with this list of possible things men might perceive as nagging.

Reminders of his shortcomings in any area of life. Maybe even something as simple as reminding him that he left the milk on the counter, or left the garage door open. Additionally, almost every man will feel nagged by any reminder, however subtle or unintentional, that reflects negatively on his current role of provider. For instance, reminding him that you are making great personal sacrifices because you have such a small budget, or reminding him of how little money you managed to spend, etc. While you may genuinely feel your efforts need to be commended, they may come across as reminders that he is not providing the family with the abundance he would like to.

A wife is often the one and only place a man will reveal his deepest thoughts/feelings/insecurities/vulnerabilities. We must guard these as a sacred treasure, not to be shared with others. Never to be spoken of in anything that may be interpreted to be demeaning or belittling. Anything that reminds him in a negative way of the vulnerability he has shared with you will most certainly be interpreted as nagging.

While we must guard the treasures shared with us by our husbands, we must not allow them to burden us. We must release those deep secrets into the care of our Lord Jesus who has only affection for us. We must not hold on and allow our husband’s insecurities to weigh us down. We must learn to answer with faith and encouragement both for the sake of our husband and for our own sake.

Another action that could be interpreted as ‘nagging’ by our husband is any attempt to share information or “teach”. Most efforts to bring information or expertise and share it, usually backfire. Generally a man does not desire to learn anything from his wife. If he does want to learn from you, he will certainly ask you, in which case you must share the skills you have gained in a humble patient way. Never patronize him, or speak down to him for not knowing something you know. Never bring him new information, as if you have something really important to teach him. When we bring new information to a man he interprets that as highlighting his weaknesses. What a man wants to hear from his wife is how awesome he is. He only wants to discuss things that directly relate to him and build him up. Everywhere he turns in the world he finds challenges, competition, complaints and criticism. From his wife he wants bolstering. He wants a viewpoint that sees him as the hero.

Other common things woman may inadvertently do that can be interpreted as nagging include talking to him as if he is one of the children, making any disparaging remark about his academic abilities, his financial abilities or past mistakes, any negative reference to his physical appearance or presentation, and unsolicited reminders of any sort. Even when we have good motivations, he doesn’t want to have his actions questioned, “You aren’t going to eat that are you?” or “You aren’t eating now are you?”

Encouraging is probably the polar opposite of nagging. Our goal should never be maintaining a neutral position, but to be robustly encouraging. Encouragement is not only conveyed through the words we say. Encouragement does not hinge on our intentions behind our words. The litmus test for encouragement is how your man hears and interprets your words and intentions. While every man has the same landscape of hopes, dreams, drives and insecurities (For Women Only, Revised and Updated Edition: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn), every man is different and a puzzle for his wife to navigate. Your unique and valuable position as a wife means learning what words and actions your husband finds encouraging.

Learning how to respond in an encouraging, non-nagging manner does not mean squashing all your thoughts and feelings inside. It does not mean disappearing into a non-person state. As a wife you have a unique position and opportunity to be the one light of encouragement in your man’s life. If you see yourself in this position of honor, you will reap benefits beyond your imagination.

Whole FamilyAuthor Becky Hastings, wife, mother, grandmother, writer, and speaker, is passionate about health, Jesus, and joy. Becky blogs at and shares health information on her Facebook page. Please like journeyboost on Facebook!


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