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I was reading a book called, “Getting Together and Staying Together”. The book highlights the destructive relationship habits such as complaining, criticizing, blaming, nagging, threatening, punishing and rewarding / or bribing . Which one of these behaviors is your favorite?
We use all of them at one point or the other for sure in all the relations we share. As a mother, I would add one more to the list and that is Guilt. It seems to be the favorite behavior of mothers. It goes something like “After all I do for you can’t you do this form me?” or I have actually heard some mother’s play the childbirth card, which goes like “You know I was in labor with you for 36 hours! All I am asking is this one thing!”
Being a world class nagger myself, my husband and child will endorse it. The question of “Will you clean up your room ? “ can be asked by me in a variety of different ways, with tonal inflections and volume to convey a variety of meanings. By the time I am at the end of my rope, it would habitually start sounding like “How can you be so lazy! If you don’t do it right now, you are grounded!!”
After you have said it more than 3 times, your significant other and your child, have probably heard you but are not planning on obliging you any time in the near future. Nagging is mostly an unsuccessful attempt to get what you want.
By the virtue of the relationship we share, how many times have we done things that our significant other wanted us to do and we didn’t? A lot many times I guess!
While getting to do that we often engage ourselves in to behaviors, which are mostly destructive in nature, which weakens the bond rather than strengthening our relations. We accuse them of being lazy, frustrating and stupid. Their actions are always compared to some other XYZ….such complaining and criticizing is just going to ruin the bond.
The blame game is the most common among the relationships, whereas threatening and punishing behaviors are always self explanatory. We always hear this, “It’s your fault” (as if we can never go wrong!), or “Why can’t you do something the way I want “. Such behavior only takes a form of withdrawal from attention and affection, giving our partners the silent treatment.
I agree that negotiation in a relationship is very healthy as well as vital for the long term success. It involves two willing partners interested in helping each other and in return meeting their own needs. You cannot achieve anything by enforcing control or by dangling a carrot of what you think is needed by the person to get the things done against their will. No one likes to be controlled, no matter how adroitly or subtly it is administered. It is sure to be rebelled against.
I remember one day, I kept my nagging behavior in the closet and thought of trying something new. I told my 6 year old son, to clean up his room (which is always a mess) and if he did that I would let him have his friends come over and play. I was shot with a short and a sweet reply by my child, “That’s alright mom, I don’t want them to come and play “. Wow Surprise! Surprise!
We generally tend to engage in destructive relationship patterns with those we claim to love the most. We don’t use such behavior with our acquaintances or say friends. Even if we try, I guess we soon would not have any names on the friend list.
We have made great achievements in technological fields; the reason is because those who are working at making changes are looking at things with a new approach, adjusting their behavior to fit the situation. However, in the area of interpersonal relationships, can we say the same thing? Do people get along better today than they did centuries ago? Very minimal if any!!
The lack of development in the relationships department is due to the external behaviors which control us; we probably take the same behaviors to the other level.
But such external controls are harmful and if they work (and of course they do that’s why they are used), it would cost us! It costs us the Relationship. The relationship will not necessarily end, although the probability is high for sure.
There are solutions and alternatives available, where in recognizing when you are about to use the negative behavior, stopping there and using a caring habit is key instead.
Because life is all about living, and living with people you love with care and belonging.