Nagging by Fr. Leo J. Kinsella

The ideal wife never nags. Nagging of a husband can be just as 
destructive to a marriage as unfaithfulness; and it is much more 
common. Nagging may be slower in bearing its evil fruit, but the 
final parting is none the less bitter. "The stroke of a whip makes a 
blue mark, but the stroke of a tongue will break the bones. Many 
have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have 
perished by their own tongue." Ecclus. 28, 21. Nagging is the 
opposite of inspiration. An inspiring wife uplifts her husband. The 
nagging wife tears him down in whose eyes he should never be 
torn down--his own.

Since a nagging wife is such an abomination and since God has 
endowed her with the ready faculty of inspiration, why do we have 
so many wives who fail partially or completely in this respect? 
Before I give what I think is the answer to this vital question, let 
me mention briefly a very small group of wives. I suppose that 
there have to be just so many sour grapes in every vineyard. Some 
women are congenitally cantankerous, fault finding, carping, and 
shriveled souls, who need no reason or explanation for their 
nagging. This type should be included in the long list of evils from 
which we ask God to deliver us. Every man child should begin at a 
tender age to pour out supplications that he never cross her path. 
He who falls into her clutches must endure a ball and chain type of 
existence seldom suffered even in concentration camps.images-vintage-poison-food

One cheerful thought in this connection is that God never allows 
nature to go too far out of balance. He never allows birds to die out 
so that insects and worms take over. He also sees to it that there 
are always enough insects and worms to keep the birds fat and 
happy. This shrew type of wife, thank heavens, is not too 
numerous. I like to think that she generally attracts her 
counterpart, the male scoundrel.

Most women who nag their husbands do so because they love their 
husbands. And the reason why wives are more prone to nag than 
husbands is that wives love more than husbands. This sounds very 
paradoxical, and it is. Yet it is true.

Love has many peculiar and even unexplored phases. When a 
woman loves a man, she creates an ideal of him in her mind. She 
can find no wrong in him, For a time the fierceness of her love may 
blind her to reality. Sooner or later she begins to notice 
discrepancies between the ideal and the reality. He is not neat 
around the house with his personal belongings. He could be more 
punctual for meals. At least he could telephone and warn her of 
any unavoidable delay. Her paragon of all virtues, her idol, begins 
to show his clay feet. He has a lazy streak and does not help her as 
much as he could around the house. These and similar 
shortcomings, even defects of character, pain her because she 
loves him and wants him to be perfect. She hopes that mother or 
the neighbors have not observed these failings. Perhaps she begins 
her campaign by whining at him. His unfavorable reception of this 
startling innovation in their heretofore unperturbed connubial 
bliss spurs her into more direct attack. She relates his faults to 
him and scolds him. Like a school child he is put on the carpet and 
lectured. The old boy does not take to this procedure and strikes 
back with a few pointed criticisms of his own. Unless she is on 
guard, her chagrin at failing to improve the object of her love soon 
grows into resentment. She is in danger of becoming a chronic 

The poor victim of a nagging wife was met at the kitchen door on 
return from work with a complaint about something or other 
instead of a little hug and a kiss. "You are late. The supper is all 
cold. I suppose that you stopped off for a few beers."

"What's the use," he thought to himself, "here I was detained by the 
boss about a better job at the shop and a raise in pay. By golly, I 
think I'll have a few beers tomorrow night. With her I have a credit 
of at least two beers."

The history of the nagging wife is a desperate effort to kick her 
husband upstairs. He usually ends up at the bottom flat on his 
face. To escape her sharp tongue he fabricated now and then. 
Through his first successes at keeping peace by this mean method 
he was deluded into thinking he had the solution. Soon, of course, 
his false way of life boomeranged. He was trapped in his lies. He 
lost her confidence and esteem. Then he was inclined to avoid her 
as much as possible. His walk down to the corner drug store for a 
paper in the evening was an escape.

One evening he ran into several old school friends at the entrance 
to the tavern next to the drug store. He enjoyed the half hour or so 
in the tavern that evening. Everyone was congenial. Everything was 
very pleasant, very different from the atmosphere back at the 
house. He was slapped on the back a time or two by old 
acquaintances. "How are you doing, Joe? Say, by the way, I hear 
you're going to be foreman soon over at the shop. Nice going. Keep 
it up. Always knew that our star half-back would get somewhere."

Later that evening husband and wife had a fight. "Are you going to 
become a tavern bum?" was more than he could take. He slept 
poorly the rest of the night and went off to work the next morning 
sullen. The boss and he had another talk about the promotion. He 
hoped that the boss did not mistake his dull and unenthusiastic 
demeanor as a lack of confidence. Or was he confident in himself? 
He was definitely on edge as he returned home again. Soon after 
supper he went off to the tavern feeling sorry for himself, and a 
tavern is no place in which a man can safely feel sorry for himself.

This husband was now in a pattern well known to counselors on 
marriage, a nagging wife and a husband seeking escape and 
consolation in drink.

A wife must never nag. It is one of the great sins of a married 
woman. Anybody could understand if she had fallen in a bad 
moment. Few of us are perfect. Yet one sin does not make a vice. 
There is no possible excuse for her becoming a chronic nagger. A 
wife will never succeed in kicking her husband upstairs. She may 
lead him upstairs, entice him, joke with him, and inspire him. By 
nature she has been endowed with the equipment to do this. It has 
been frequently said that a man must have a woman behind him. 
The real truth is that every man must have a woman in front of 

Everybody likes to be the object of good-natured kidding. It is a 
sign of popularity. It rubs our vanity the right way. I did not 
sufficiently realize what was going on at the time, but now when I 
look back on my boyhood, I realize that my mother was a clever 
wife. She joshed and poked fun at my father. We children got a big 
boot out of it. In fact, the most pleasant recollections of my youth 
were these sallies into the foibles of my father. Down inside, my 
father really enjoyed the game, even though he may not always 
have let on.

Now I realize that there was a method in all my mother's banter. 
Often she was putting over a point, a point which carried danger in 
it and could not be handled except in a good-natured kidding way. 
She was accomplishing the same objective as a nagging wife. But 
what a world of difference in the method and the success arrived