The Marriage Killer

Jeff Olson —  February 3, 2012 — 6 Comments

Nagging is a marriage killer. So says a study reported in the recent Wall Street Journal article—“Meet the Marriage Killer.”

The article defines the nagging problem as the “interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed.”

The article goes on to point out that every couple experiences nagging to some degree, but it can grow to “be as potentially dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances.” A couple will start bickering about the nagging and never address what is underneath the nagging. In time, this type of “toxic communication” can “sink the relationship.”

Is nagging ruining your marriage? Admit the conflict! The good news is that couples can grow and learn how to curb the nagging and replace it with mutual love and respect. But they first need to recognize and acknowledge they are stuck in a bad pattern.

Together, and often with the help of a trusted guide, spouses can start to work towards listening and understanding where each other is coming from. They can learn to talk through feelings and needs in ways that can help them consider how to love one another more. Accusations and demands for change can start to be replaced with non-demanding expressions and requests of what each spouse legitimately needs from the other.

Watch a short video below by Dr. Larry Crabb on handling conflict in your marriage.


Jeff Olson

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eff is a licensed professional counselor in the State of Michigan and has worked for Our Daily Bread Ministries as a counselor and a writer since 1992. He has authored a number of Discovery Series booklets ( on such topics as addictions, grief, depression and marital abuse. He also maintains a part-time private counseling practice in the West Michigan area. Jeff and his wife, Diane, have been married since 1986 and have raised two lovely daughters. He is an avid outdoors man who also enjoys sports, music, boardgames, books, and movies.

6 responses to The Marriage Killer

  1. The Video Link is bad, it does not link to any video.

  2. we at talk about things like this and iemail your you nee to know ouranswer to kill your marriage you need to have a bad view of yourself meaning thinking you can go to lawschool when you are a bd student

  3. What’s killing my marriage is my spouse’s negativity and discouragement on almost every conversations we have. This is affecting me really bad because I am mostly a positive person, content, and relying on God to be my help and my hope. Sometimes I do not find joy anymore in our communications because I end up feeling discouraged and loosing hope myself. We are both mature and have a strong relationship with God that is why it confuses me to find that a person that grounded in God’s word could be so downcast and full of negativity.

  4. Maryann, Yes, that is strange that you see your husband as mature and yet quite negative and discouraging in your relationship. Honestly, the two don’t fit. However, if he is mature, then he won’t get defensive when you bring it to his attention. On the other hand, if he goes defensive on you, that reveals that there’s not as much maturity there and the two of you need to take some time to unpack it together. If he resists (another indication of a not so mature response) then you may need to have a chat with another couple that you trust and who is mature to help you work it out.

  5. Hi! I have been angry over 20 years cause of many painful experiences In my 44 years of life. During my childhood, I was treated negatively at home and at school. I went to Church since I was 2 so I knew the Lord as my savior. My anger ended my marriage and I have lost friends and jobs. My question is how can I stop being negative, angry and
    complaining? I keep praying but I still have not found peace within.
    Thanks for your help and God Bless you! Debbie

  6. Debbie,

    I was sorry to learn of your costly struggles with anger. Probably the most important thing for you to realize is that the anger you described is likely a symptom of some deep and painful woundings in your life, and that you will need to start the process of walking into those woundings with God and others rather than using your anger to deal with your pain. In other words, don’t settle for symptom management. Address the root of your problem, not the fruit (anger). And most likely you won’t be able to do this by yourself. You will need to seek out the help of someone like a counselor or a trusted friend to help you with this. God means for us to find comfort, truth and healing in our relationships with Him and other people.

    You may also find it helpful to read our booklet When Anger Burns

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