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Why Does It Seem Like the Only Two Choices Are to Be a Nag or Do Everything Myself?

Photograph by Twenty20

"I feel like I can't ask for help, because even when I do, I can't trust that it will get done," I sniffled to my husband between my tears.

It was our latest fight in a long line of fights that feel like they have been lasting for the entire 11 years of our marriage. But it was the first time I had spoken my truth, which boiled down to the simple fact that I honestly don't know how to make anything in our lives better anymore.

Because it feels like unless I nag, nothing ever, EVER changes or gets done.

I actually hate the word "nagging." I'm not convinced that it's a real thing. If you ask me, no woman in the history of the earth has ever actually been a nag—it's just that the men around her failed to do their part and somehow wanted to make that her fault, too.

And, we haven't been able to shake the moniker—or the negative association—since. The truth is, "nagging" would never exist if what a woman actually asked to get done just got done in the first place.

I mean, it's not that hard, people. Pick up the socks from the floor, maybe remember to throw away the empty container you just drained instead of putting it back in the fridge—and oh, hey, don't just pretend you don't see that overflowing garbage bin when you shut the door. It's incredibly frustrating that we even have to ask for these things to be done, because does the rest of the family not have eyeballs or what?!

I don't get it.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing a disservice to my children and any future partners they may have. Am I doing too much around the house, making life too comfy and cozy for them? The laundry, the cleaning, the magically appearing folded clothes and their favorite snacks, the plethora of entertainment options available to them ... I mean, what are they even learning about how to live or fend for themselves?

Am I just feeding into the system of creating children who will become adults that expect other people to magically take care of everything else for them? I honestly don't know, but when I do ask them to do something and it doesn't get done, then I feel like giving up all together.

When you look at things that way, clearly it's easier to just do it myself.

Don't even get me started on my husband, the one person who is supposed to be in this partnership and parenting thing with me equally. Because it doesn't feel even one bit equal. The last thing I want to do is nag him, but what's the alternative? I'm truly curious.

If I ask him to do something or to take care of something—say, paying a bill or setting up an appointment for a child—it would involve 1) me asking the first time, 2) me asking a second time, 3) me probably asking a third time, 4) me following up to see if he actually did it and, finally, 5) fielding approximately 10 calls and/or texts from him answering some question about what the account password is, the doctor's name he should see or some other ridiculous thing that would make me want to scream at the phone.

When you look at things that way, clearly it's easier to just do it myself. And so, around and around in circles we go.

Well, just don't nag, you might think to yourself. Or, don't help him when he asks you. Or, better yet, just stop doing everything for your family and him, and let him figure it out.

Those are definitely great suggestions in theory, but in reality, I like to have crazy things like clean houses and healthy kids and paid bills, so it feels like I just don't have time to "train" my husband or kids on things that I shouldn't have to train them about in the first place—you feel me?

It's exhausting and never-ending and no one feels like a winner in this situation—certainly not me, not my husband, who constantly feels like he's failing at the basic task of adulting with me as a wife, and definitely not our kids, who, despite growing up with two working parents, still see their mom as the only person to tell when they're out of toothpaste or need new socks.

I guess I'll remain feeling stuck in what feels like my only two options are: nag or do it myself. That is, until a third option presents itself or I finally get the time and energy to figure out how to fix yet another thing in our lives because apparently that's my job, too. Or, even better, maybe I will make like Marie Kondo and just get rid of everything.

That would solve it.

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