By Lydia Teh
Pop quiz: Name a nagger in the bible.
Clue: this woman nagged her beau for the secret of his strength.
It is Delilah. Unfortunately for Samson, he fell for her charms and succumbed to her nagging. She “pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart” (Judges 16:16-17a).
As can be read from the scriptures, nagging is not a new form of communication. It is “repetitious behaviour in the form of pestering, hectoring, or otherwise continuously urging an individual to complete previously discussed requests or act on advice.” (Wikipedia)
It involves one person who is repeatedly making a request and another who repeatedly ignores it. The word is derived from the Scandinavian word, nagga, which means to gnaw. Imagine a rat nibbling persistently on a potato – quite off-putting, isn’t it?
The book of Proverbs has some choice words for describing a nagging woman.
“And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping” Prov. 19:13b.
If you have listened to the constant dripping of a leaky tap, you’d know how irritating it sounds. The bible even tells us to flee from a nagger!
“Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman” Prov. 21:19.
“It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, Than in a house shared with a contentious woman” Prov. 25:24.
All right, this is figurative language. We are not going to escape to the jungle or climb up the rafters to get away from a nagger. (In these days though, the person being nagged might just wear his earphones to get away from it.) But these figures of speech tell us that nagging sounds irritating and after a while, like the continual dripping of a tap, the hearer will learn to switch off. This results in what is commonly known as “in one ear and out the other.” Both the nagger and the person being nagged ends up being frustrated.
How can we nix the nagging?
1. Plan the work, work the plan. Sometimes we slip into the nagging mode without realising it. An innocent request of “Fold the laundry, dear” might end up being a bone of contention if the recipient does not respond accordingly.
Where house chores are concerned, come to a common understanding of who will do what by when. If there are deviations, those not able to fulfil their obligations should provide updates so that there are no accusations of “You never told me!”
2. Allow for margin of errors. We are not robots that go about their task efficiently and promptly once they have been programmed. Sometimes obstacles crop up. Be empathetic if others make mistakes or dawdle along the way. Provide the necessary support, whether emotional or physical.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” Gal. 6:1-2.
3. Don’t let words of anger spew out from your mouth like bullets from a machine gun. Take a deep breath. “A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger” Prov. 15:1. If you are hopping mad, walk away. When you have cooled down, go back and handle the situation in a calm manner.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” Eph. 4:29.
4. Let it go. Is the issue so important that “die die also must do?” Choose your battles, let go of the petty stuff.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” Phil. 4:6-7.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify one another” Rom. 14:19.
5. This one is for the naggee. The best way to stop the nagging is to “Just do it!” But be careful that you do what is right in the sight of God. Don’t be like Samson who gave in to Delilah’s nagging which furthered her own evil end.
“And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land of which the Lord swore to your fathers” Deut. 6:18.