Turn that nagging and negativity into appreciation and positivity.

Hey there! Hope all is well. Today as we hang out, we’re going to talk about something a lot of us women are guilty of; NAGGING. I have to be honest, I am a part of “us.” Even after 18 years of marriage, I still struggle to get it right. What I consider my way of getting things done, my husband sees it as nagging.

I made a post on my personal Facebook page a short time ago. In this post, I shared some truth about myself and my marriage. At the beginning of this year, my husband told me I nagged and seemed to say more negative things than I did positive toward him. Naturally, I did not agree, but just as I stated in my post, it’s all about his perception. If there isn’t anything else I’ve learned in all of our time together, it’s understanding that his thoughts and feelings about our relationship are the things that should matter most to me. It is my responsibility to figure out how to change my actions, especially if they don’t make him feel good. Now, those thoughts and feelings from your significant other have to be reasonable. If all they can say is I don’t like what you do without further explanation, a discussion definitely needs to take place. We all will do some things at times that the other may not like, but if the request for change is unreasonable, further work will need to be done by both parties involved to come up with a sensible compromise.

With the revelation my husband expressed, I decided to figure out how I could change his feelings and opinion about me. I created a study for myself that I had to complete in seven days. The purpose of this study was to make me aware of how often I was thinking and saying things negatively versus positive. I would then take that awareness and start to focus on the negative to begin to combat with positive thoughts so that I could in turn, speak more positively. As it says in the Bible in Matthew 12:34 KJV, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” The New Living Translation breaks it down a little simpler and says, “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” Simply put, if you’re thinking it, you’re going to say it. Another scripture I’d love to apply to this is the beginning of Proverbs 18:21 KJV. It states, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Simplified in The Message translation, “Words kill, words give life.” In my own translation, how you speak can determine the altitude (of your relationship).

If you decide to speak negatively, your connection will most likely be negative. If you choose positive words, the outcome of your relationship will be more positive.

For seven days, I wrote in a spiral notebook where I had created two columns. One column was for me to write my Thoughts and the other was to write down what I actually Said to my husband. Under each category I created two columns, one side for the good and the other side for the bad. Each day I would write down as much as I could remember for everything I thought and said to my husband. As often as possible, I would try to write the notes down as soon as they happened. This way I could capture more accurate information on the spot rather than trying to remember everything by the end of the day. Physically jotting the notes down regularly was not always an option. If I happened to be away from my spiral I would add a quick note to my phone so that I’d have it later to update on my paper.

Now, to expound a little more about what my hubby considers nagging. One of my biggest pet peeves is keeping things in order, especially if I just cleaned/organized them. So, when I see something dirty or left out of place OFTEN, I feel the need to say something. There are times I will just pick things up or clean again, but after doing this over and over it can become frustrating. When I come to this point I’m usually thinking something negative, and nine times out of ten I’m going to express my frustration to him. One part of me thinks don’t say anything and just pick it up, however, the other side says if you always fix it and never address it, he will think it’s ok. That’s when I let him know how I feel about the situation. I also think there are times when I may have brought up other circumstances back to back and in that instance, he feels like I’m nagging him. By doing the study where I write down my negative thoughts, this activity makes me pause and think. It’s not that I don’t plan to say anything about how I feel, but rather take the time to analyze how and when I will say it. Not to mention taking the opportunity to show him where he is appreciated and doing things well. This will definitely soften the blow when I have to be honest about some of his actions or the lack thereof.

I realized some time ago that all the good and bad in my marriage has a purpose. I truly believe that purpose is to help others have better opportunities at succeeding in their relationships by sharing what is working/has worked well for me, and by trying to help prevent them from doing anything that has been or may still be an issue that I’ve caused or am causing. Sometime after I’d created and completed this study on myself, I noticed a change in me and after asking my husband, so did he. Something came over me randomly one Tuesday and I decided to share this with my Facebook audience, specifically ladies in relationships. After telling my truth, I asked if anyone else had the same or similar experience, and if so did they want to join me in the seven-day study/challenge. 39 women contacted me and said they were definitely interested and wanted more details. I sent out an email to each of them with a spreadsheet where they would keep their notes, plus the detailed rules for the challenge, the overall purpose and what the expected end results were. After seven days, 19 ladies had completed the study and sent me their notes and results. The results included their daily notes of both the good and bad of their thoughts or what they actually said to their significant other. They also were to include how they felt after completing the challenge, tell me if they’d explained to their partner what had taken place, and if so what his thoughts were. Below I am anonymously sharing some of the results I received.

Final results: I did ask him has he noticed any changes and he told me that it’s been a lot easier to talk to me and we’ve had more enjoyable conversations like we used to. I personally think that things have improved. We would talk at each other and just with me changing how I would communicate has almost made that nonexistent. I learned that I play a pretty big part in how we were conversing and that’s an eye-opener. I just thought it was him, lol. I do feel good about being nicer to him and saying thank you and basically pointing out the things he does right. I do feel that this experiment has sparked the very first interactions that we had and I appreciate that we have reconnected. (Engaged – Dating 4 years)

Final results: Noted from one of the participant’s husbands. This was his reflection after the seven-day study had been completed: We were chill. Lots of sex. No complaints. I woke up looking forward to spending the day with you. I noticed more patience from you and that you were way more giving to my requests. (Married 3 years)

A good thought on Day 2: I woke up, prayed today and told myself I will say I love you. A good expression on Day 2: I Love You. Final results: I completed the page each day. It truly helped me to think and find out what my problem was (check the word WAS). It was to understand and to know the whole story. (Married 40 years)

A good thought for Day 1: Pick yourself up and try again. A bad expression for Day 1: I said what I said-head roll and all. Final results: I must say this was challenging. Not in the sense of not being negative but placing my feelings/expectations on hold. I do think this was a good exercise because it causes you to become more aware of what you say, recognize the good things and be more appreciative. As the days went on I did begin to catch myself in the situations when I would normally say the first thing that came to mind. However, I still thought it but didn’t say it. Lol. I said please and thank you more. Hubby appreciated that. I could tell by his actions. To help me, I began to keep a journal of the situations that occurred and included what upset me and if it was something that would need to be discussed with my hubby or just let it go. I needed an outlet for my feelings and the spreadsheet of thoughts and what you said really doesn’t allow for it. I know it is geared toward self-evaluation and spouse uplifting, but I still needed validation and an outlet for my feelings. Journaling allowed that. This exercise for me made me bottle in what I felt in that moment to prevent a negative reaction and in a way that is good, but can eventually cause situations to be worse if thoughts/feelings are continuously bottled in. All in all, this exercise put more emphasis on “it’s not what you say but how you say it.” Please and thank you is common courtesy and should be practiced every day, even if your spouse is doing something that is expected. Men love compliments just as women and I will be complimenting my hubby more. (Married 15 years)

Here’s a bad thought on Day 1: I mentioned spending Memorial Day weekend together via text and he never replied (days ago). He mentioned Memorial Day plans without including me in the plans or acknowledging my text. I wanted to complain about feeling ignored and/or make a sarcastic comment. A good expression on Day 2: I told him I can’t wait to see him. As simple as that seems, in the past, I would’ve kept that thought to myself to avoid feeling thirsty. Funny just thinking about it at this point…LOL! Final results: I am in the dating phase and not officially in a relationship at this point, so this exercise was a little different for me. I didn’t ask him if he noticed a difference because this is still pretty new for us. Yet, I’m really focusing on working on myself and being aware of my tongue. I often think in a gratitude state but want to ensure my words match my grateful thoughts. If something is bothering me, I want to ensure I think before I speak. I know I can avoid a topic but allow the issue to show up in my tone or other areas instead of communicating what’s actually bothering me. These are things I’ve been reflecting on and thinking about for a while. Pausing and listening are two of my biggest tools to help me improve. For instance, the whole Memorial Day planning taught me I’m headed in the right direction. I’m a planner and want everything planned far in advance. He’s not…LOL! Having patience and giving him space without putting my negative feelings into words gave him a chance to plan and think of me. There was no need to nag and ask if he got my text and/or really planned a trip without me (when he initially mentioned it to me). He was considering me the whole time! It reminds me of what Bishop Jakes talks about in HeMotions. Men often need time to process. Their silence doesn’t always mean they’re ignoring us. I’m grateful for this experiment and feel encouraged to keep working on myself. Thank you! (Dating 9 months)

A good thought from Day 2: I prayed and thanked God for such an amazing person in my life. A good expression from Day 3: I gave him a hug and told him how much we appreciate everything he does for us. Final results: I think it is always good to better yourself and the relationships around you, especially with your spouse, so this was a really cool experiment. It has helped me to be more aware of what I was thinking and what I was saying to my husband. I always pray that I can be a better wife and mother, and I hope to keep improving myself. Thanks for letting me be part of this. (Married 9 years)

A bad thought for Day 1: Try not to nitpick so much. Toni’s tip: Toss in a little honey when I ask about cleanliness. A good thought from Day 7: Toni’s Prayer and Scripture focus: Putting things into perspective. Understanding God wants me to be Virtuous minded, not perfect. Almighty revealed to me my energy truly sets the atmosphere in my home. Final results: 1. He said I was very critical. He hadn’t noticed any difference. And to his defense, I show my appreciation often, but I need to slow down with the nitpicking. I believe this challenge gave us an excuse to talk about it. 2. I feel that I have become more aware, and I am able to negotiate with myself to be more positive for us both. 3. I’m thankful for this experiment…it has made me more aware of my power and purpose in my home. I set the atmosphere, and therefore I can truly be an agent of change for my family. (Married 6 months)

Final results: I only told my hubs after I had sent my notes to you. Funny. He was like, “well, that’s cool.” I felt he was a little indifferent. At that moment, I realized it’s never about him knowing I am trying to look for the good in him, it’s about me knowing and doing these things. It is really between me and the Lord, as I am the one who will be judged by my actions and my heart toward people, right? So, I plan to be more active in doing this with him and actually everyone in my life. It will be character changing and I want in! I need to be more like Jesus than like me. People have always seen a leader in me, but I like to be a gracious leader, encouraging people I work with and live with. By the way, he did not see any changes, but we did have a long talk last night about the fact that I do not compliment naturally, so if I do, then know that it is real. I don’t just compliment to compliment. It’s just not my way, so when I do, it’s real and genuine. (Married 25 years)

Final results: So, I didn’t do daily notes, but what I did do is reflect everyday on the “why” I choose to be positive and affirming towards my husband.  As I shared with you before, making a conscious effort to be positive and encouraging and uplifting has been a practice for me for the past 12-13 years, so I’m good in that respect the majority of the time.  When I was thinking about the ‘why’ of it, what I realized about myself is that I’m a pretty independent person. I was raised that way so it’s in my blood.  My husband HAS to know (it should be never-ending) that he fits in my life and that I don’t want to go through this life without him. Making a conscious effort to appreciate the things he added or did was necessary because being independent…I could do it all myself, but where would he fit?  I had to change my perspective on what a husband’s role could be for me since you know…I’m an independent person. Realizing that he wasn’t going to do things the way that I did them or fix things the way I would fix them, I had to yield that control and appreciate the fact that he tried and that he wanted to do those things. Hindsight, I think I would have been miserable had he yielded and allowed me to be and say and do anything I wanted, because I would have expected him to “be a man” and we know how that can go.  I can’t remember the year, but it was early on in our marriage, the Holy Spirit checked me to the point that I can still remember where I was standing and I can still hear His voice when He got me in line.  We were discussing something and I was having a moment and in my anger I said something that I could visibly see cut him deeply. He dropped his head, turned and walked away and my first thought was “why won’t you be a man?”  As clear as day, the Holy Spirit immediately asked…”what is a man?” It seemed like instantly I realized that I was comparing him and applying all of my thoughts and perceptions and ideas and misconceptions of what “a man” was supposed to be to the one God clearly showed me was different.  So with yielding to the Holy Spirit, God was able to show me through my husband what “a man” looked like.  So for me, I appreciate and love him because he’s my husband but also because this “forever” journey that I’m on with him is truly a reflection of God’s love for me through my husband. The grace that he extends, the love and compassion he shows me, the provider, comforter and protector that he is over me and our children are all of the things God is to me.  He’s made me a better person because of it.  I don’t always get it right, but I do give it my honest and sincere all. We will celebrate 16 years this year and I’ve never regretted saying I Do! I hope this helps. Thanks again for doing this. Like I said, it made me revisit my “why”. (Married 15 years) 

While going through this study myself for the second time, I also held the ladies accountable. I would sometimes check in at the start of the day and other times at the end of the day. I encouraged some of them when they were feeling hopeless and were not having good days. What they probably didn’t realize though is that they were also helping me and keeping me accountable by speaking with them through their situations. Because we are all different people that come together to create different types of relationships, we can also have different issues. Some of those differences reminded me to be grateful for my relationship and for the things I don’t have going on in my marriage. Also by speaking with some of the ladies, I had to check myself in areas I knew I still struggled with. The study overall served as a reminder for me to continue showing my husband appreciation and working to make positive thoughts and expressions a regular way of life for me.

Some of the ladies had already given requests for me to put out more challenges as this one was just beginning. Along with that, I’ve gotten some great feedback from the surveys regarding this appreciation study/challenge. I have some homework, research and studying to get to and I’m sooo looking forward to it!

Until further notice, I’ll leave you with this…Turn that nagging and negativity into appreciation and positivity, then watch your relationship begin to flourish. This can’t just be a seven-day experiment that you do and then everything is all good. The challenge is meant to give you a boost so you begin to change your habits. However, this has to be an action that becomes constant in your life. Do I expect either of us to do this daily? Heck no, but it definitely will be a great benefit to all of our relationships the more we apply this. I want to always be realistic and reasonable, so I would say find some consistency that works for you. Either way, make sure it becomes a part of your new normal. If you feel like you just read about yourself and your relationship, please contact me so you can get started on your seven-day journey to a new way of loving and appreciating your significant other in a more positive way! Wishing you new couples, seriously dating couples, engaged couples, newlyweds, married, seasoned married couples, and married vets a lifetime of learning one another and enjoying the process along the way.

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