the nagging wife

There’s a reason that the Nagging Wife has always been a comedy cliché. It’s basically because MEN NEVER LISTEN AND OMG THEY’RE SO USELESS AND ALSO THEY NEVER ASK FOR DIRECTIONS AND MAN FLU AND HAVE YOU SEEN MY HUSBAND’S TOENAILS AND BLAH BLAH BLARGH DE BLOO.

Only kidding.

Sort of.

In all seriousness, the reason that the Nagging Wife has been a comedic trope since time out of mind is because we all know one. Oh, don’t argue with me – we do. If we haven’t been scolded by one, we’ve seen somebody else get scolded by one, or we’ve (gasp!) (the very thought!) (well I never!) been the ones who did the scolding ourselves.

Now wait a minute. Don’t bust out your torches and set me on Internet fire just yet. There’s more to this train of thought. Bear with me.

Hear me out.

While I can’t speak for everyone, I can certainly speak for myself, and I will attest to the fact that as a wife and mothers, I certainly do nag. I nag a lot. Some days it seems like I nag my husband and son from the moment they crawl out of their beds in the morning until the moment they crawl back into their beds at night. I nag them to hurry up. I nag them to pick up their shit. I nag them to do whatever housework they said they would do but never did. I nag them to stop leaving their dirty socks all over Every. Damn. Where.

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No, it’s cool. It’s just some of my husband’s dirty socks hanging out on the living room carpet. Two pairs of them. In the exact same place. Because that’s where they go, apparently. No big.

I freely admit I nag. But you know what?

So does my husband.

A lot of husbands do, actually. Probably close to all of them. Except their form of nagging isn’t really considered “nagging.” There’s certainly no pervasive Nagging Husband cliché associated with it. Male nagging generally isn’t thought of as bitchy or grating. It’s not satirized to DEATH on sitcoms or in stand-up comedy routines. It doesn’t make us think of a screeching banshee with a voice like sliding down a razor blade naked.

Which, if you ask me? Is completely and totally unfair.

Because (in my opinion) my husband’s nagging is equal to, if not more annoying than, my own brand. Okay, yes. He doesn’t nag me about chores or parenting or social obligations. He doesn’t nag me about lawn care or car maintenance or any of the other tedious things I nag *him* about.

Still. What he does nag me about is SEX.

CONSTANTLY.

And while I’m sure – in fact, I know – that my husband is not the only one guilty of engaging in some prodigious sex-botherin’, I nonetheless can only speak from my own experience. So that’s what I’m going to do.

First I’m going to hit you up with a couple of important facts:

Fact #1: My husband and I have plenty of sex. He’s not hurting. I’ll leave it at that.

Fact #2: I am a woman whom Dan Savage would classify as “Good, Giving, and Game.” Again, I’ll leave it at that.

All right. Now that we’ve established that my husband is not a victim of Bed Death or even Vanilla Sex Life Syndrome, let’s ask ourselves a few questions.

Question #1: Why is my husband’s nagging about sex completely acceptable in our society, when my nagging about other stuff is considered to be irritating, patronizing, and in many situations, downright laughable?

Question #2: Why does he get to complain endlessly and relentlessly about his sexual needs, but when I ask him to do ANYTHING more than once I might as well have transformed into a hysterical griping fishwife?

Question #3: Why does he get to mope around like an unmedicated Eeyore when I say “Not tonight,” but if I dare to get uppity when he leaves 398475394875 used Kleenex all over the house, I’m “treating him like a child” and “he’ll pick them up later.” (He never does.)

I don’t have a good answer to these questions. I wish I did. Because here’s the thing: Sex is not an entitlement. For either partner. In a lot of ways, having sex is just like going out for a nice dinner or watching a movie – it’s something and fun and entertaining that two (or more) people do together. And they decide when to do it, where to do it, and how to do it, together.

Together!

And if it doesn’t work out on one particular day? You move on. You wait until the time is right. You don’t grumble and moan and bitch about it every minute of every day until it happens. You don’t make passive-aggressive comments (“remember when we were dating?”) until the other person gives in just to shut you the hell up. You don’t constantly grope someone and make suggestive gestures and throw around overtly sexual comments until… well, I guess that doesn’t really apply to the dinner/movie analogy.

For most people, anyway.

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Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband. More than life itself. He’s smart as a whip, gorgeous as hell, and just amazing in every way. And I really do appreciate the fact that he’s still attracted enough to follow me around the house grabbing my ass and making not-so-veiled allusions to butt stuff. But let’s face it. When it comes to sex? He a nagging bitch. And I just think it’s massively unfair that he can consistently ride my ass about doin’ more nasty, but if I tell him to flush the toilet after he pees, I get an eye roll and a “yeah yeah.”

Long story short? Husband, don’t make me get out my rolling pin.

(Though you did say you wanted to do more butt stuff.)

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An earlier version of this piece was published in April 2014 on humor/parenting blog Foxy Wine Pocket.

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Photo credits:
“Taming the Shrew”: Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk; Taming the shrew. T.L. Busby; ca. 1826.; Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0
“Old woman”: Giorgione (1477–1510); English: Old Woman; Date circa 1508; Source/Photographer Web Gallery of Art: Inkscape.svg; This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. This work is in the public domain in the United States. — Modified