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Nagging Outstrips Adultery as Primary Engine of Divorce

Clarkston Legal Feb. 5, 2012

Toward the end of last month, you may have noted the stir that a WSJ article caused over the issue of nagging and its toxic effect on marriages. The article concluded that nagging may have more potential to bust apart couples than adultery.

As a divorce attorney in the third decade of practice, I’ve witnessed many clients complain about their spouse’s nagging; and about their cheating. It is impossible to say which is more toxic to a marital union.

Nagging, as a relationship dynamic, is all about a breakdown of communication, and an attempt to reassert control. The article clearly stated that it was women who did the nagging while men were on the receiving end. The “experts” interviewed for the article opined that this was because of a woman’s role as a “manager” of the family; meanwhile men tend to, “feel like a little boy being scolded by his mother.”

For their part, women complain that, when they ask about something, they just want it handled.

Problems arise, however, when a couple takes it to the next level, and begin to argue about the nagging, rather than the root problem. Communication breakdown.

If a couple, even a committed couple, does not learn how to cope with the dynamic, they often wind up divorced in the long-run. Professor Howard Markman of the University of Denver, cited and quoted in the WSJ article, says nagging is the “enemy of love”.

The real barometer here is the 400-plus comments on the article; they are hilarious. Take a look for yourself.