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Dear Dr. Darcy:

My wife is driving me crazy.  She nags me endlessly. She’s always pointing out what I’m doing wrong.  She’s obsessed with me completing projects around the house.  To be a nice guy, I’ve begun building a deck, but then I went back to work and so it’s been on hold for a little over a year. But even if I finished that, she’d focus on the next thing that I did wrong, like not finishing the wallpaper in our bedroom, which I would have finished if she would have stopped nagging me about the deck!  Life has been difficult for me since we got married because that’s when the economy went bad and I lost my job. She’s lucky that her job has been unaffected, but it’s like she has no compassion for me. I’ve tried to get a job in my field, but now that I’ve been out of full-time work for 3 years, my skills aren’t as current as employers want in i.t., so now I’ve got several big gaps in employment and I’m worried about becoming chronically unemployed. I’m to the point where I’m ready to file for divorce because she’s made my life a living hell. Dr. Darcy is there a way to get a woman to stop nagging?

ANSWER

Yes. Start pulling your weight, in any area of your life, and your wife will ease up on her nagging. Keep making excuses and you might as well file for divorce and beat her to the punch because I can promise you that’s the direction she’s headed in.

You’re telling me that 3 years ago you lost your job and since then you’ve been intermittently employed in your profession of i.t. (internet technology).  And during those periods of unemployment, you began various home improvement projects, few of which have been completed.  Now as frustrating as that may be for your wife, if you left those projects to reenter the workforce, I believe that there’d be a modicum of slack cut for you because at least you’d be contributing to the household bills.  But because you’re stubbornly focused on working in your profession and you’re seemingly unwilling to take a job outside of your area of interest, she’s not cutting you any slack whatsoever. And I don’t blame her. Why you haven’t been flipping burgers during times of unemployment is beyond my comprehension.  And I’m speaking as someone who shoveled horseshit for $10.00 an hour with a Master’s Degree from Columbia University during a period of unemployment. So I don’t want to hear that there’s any job that’s beneath you, Mr., because I've been there and have done what was needed to pull my weight for my family.

Here’s the problem: You’ve been disappointing your wife for so long that even if you got a job, she’d likely need months and months to begin trusting that you’ll remain employed or remain committed to being employed… You’ve dug yourself a big hole, Mr., and it’s going to take a shitload of work to get out of it.  If you’re not interested in paying the consequences for your apathetic, underachieving behaviors, you might as well file for divorce and hope that some new woman with no preconceptions of your work ethic gives you a second chance.

If, on the other hand, you have any interest in fixing this, I’ll tell you what you need to do:  Stop making promises.  Stop making declarations that you’re going to turn over a new leaf. And stop complaining when she nags.  Get yourself a job doing anything, diligently work on completing the home projects on the weekends as most people do, and begin validating her feelings when she nags.  Here’s an example:

HER: The kitchen’s a mess! I don’t know why it’s so difficult for you to put your dishes in the dishwasher when you’re done eating. It’s so annoying!

YOU: Thank you for the reminder to put my dishes in the dishwasher.  I know it means a lot to you to have a clean kitchen and I can see how having dishes in the sink frustrates you. I’ll do it now. I’m sorry.

If that feels like a big pill to swallow, better learn some throat relaxation techniques because you’re going to need to suck that sort of thing up for a long time. This is the price you need to pay for being apathetic for 3 years.  You’ve made some really bad decisions and only time will heal your wife’s wounds. And remember: If you don’t want to, I’m sure she’ll find a new man who will be happy to.

Writer’s Stats: Male, Straight.