Nag, nag, nag, nag, nag! Sometimes it seems like that’s the only way to move others to do the right thing and pull their weight. When I met my husband, Rhys, I’ll admit to being a bit of a nagging wife. It was all I knew. There were no other tools in my arsenal to remind Rhys about those myriad of little ‘Honey Dos’ that men hate to do and women hate undone.
But Rhys wasn’t having any of it. I may as well have nagged the Rock of Gibraltar. The more I nagged, the more chores went undone and Rhys left his vegetables uneaten. I was at my wit’s end and, frankly, I gave up.
Gave up! I decided to simply live as though “Honey Do” was no longer an option. My life still swirled around Rhys but I expected nothing of him. Whatever needed to be done, I determined to do it myself, just as I had done as a singleton.
If there was a problem with the drains, I tore them apart myself and fixed the problem. If the back garden needed tending, I did it myself. Fixing the WC, hanging pictures, putting petrol and other noxious fluids in our automobile, all those little things we ladies expect our husbands to do, I simply did them myself. There was grease under my fingernails and I was proud of it!
Then something amazing happened. Suddenly Rhys started stepping up to the plate. He discovered that he hated to see his wife doing traditional ‘men’s work’ and he started actually completing all those small annoying tasks I’d been nagging him about for years.
He was spurred on by my extraordinary skill at doing everything wrong. The pipes I disassembled went back together cattywampus and leaked from every joint. Rhys took great glee in explaining (and rubbing in) the role of O-rings in sealing the joints in pipes. His male ego soared as he righted all my wrongs and the long-neglected Honey-Do jobs got done and done properly at long last. I smiled secretly to myself.
It was a lesson I should’ve learned years ago when I read My Left Foot by Christy Brown. In his book, Brown who suffered from cerebral palsy, tells how his mother nagged his father and brothers, bricklayers by trade, to build a house for him. For years, they ignored her nagging and left it undone. Then one day, Mrs. Brown marched into the back garden, trowel in hand, and began piling bricks and mortar haphazardly.
‘What are you doing?’ her husband and sons exclaimed.
‘Oh aye. I’m building the house for Christy,’ she calmly replied, pounding another brick into place crooked.
That was all the leading it took for Mr. Brown and his sons to get busy building a house for Christy correctly, with flush corners and straight lines. Where nagging had failed, leading silently by example triumphed.
But my Rhys still wouldn’t eat vegetables. A meat-and-potatoes man is Rhys and it worried me. His physician’s brow was furrowed as he warned Rhys about the dangers of high cholesterol. ‘I’d rather die than give up chips and gravy’ Rhys responded.
Even if Rhys turned a deaf ear to the warnings, I took them to heart and began eating fish, fresh vegetables and fruit. Then the funniest thing happened. Rhys began sniffing hungrily at my food, begging for a taste. Soon he was joining me in enjoying fish instead of bacon butties, salads instead of chips. Where nagging had utterly failed, leading silently by example had prevailed! Now my meat-and-potatoes husband is enjoying much healthier proteins and fresh vegetables.
When Rhys refused to use a shower stool despite struggling to stand in the shower with his arthritic knee, I simply installed the shower stool and used it myself. Two days later Rhys was exclaiming how much he liked it after bitterly refusing to use it for years. I rest my case.
Realising that I’d learnt to ‘Silently Lead by Example’ came as a surprise. It wasn’t something I set out to do. Leading does not come naturally for me. Yet, I found myself able to lead my alpha male husband without resorting to nagging, badgering and becoming a shrewish royal pain in the arse. Best of all, marital peace and harmony remained while the Honey Do jobs got done.