Although both men and women nag, it seems that women are most commonly accused of this unpleasant behavior. "Stop nagging!" says an aggravated husband when his wife asks him for the tenth time to please repair the broken gate or finish the tax return or pay the bill. The wife – already frustrated by her spouse's tardy behavior – resents the accusation that she is the one who is not being nice. Obviously, she wouldn't be asking him to do something repeatedly if he would just do it in a timely manner to begin with!

Nonetheless, a woman may acknowledge that her behavior falls under the category of "nagging" (even if it isn't her fault!). She usually says that she doesn't want to nag, but her husband makes her do it because he fails to follow through with his responsibilities. Many women have the same problem with their kids. They nag them as well, because, like the procrastinating spouse, kids often don't do what they're supposed to be doing at the time they're supposed to do it. Nagging is unpleasant to do and unpleasant to receive. But how can it be avoided in family life?

There are two strategies that can be helpful. The first is called the CLeaR Method. CLeaR stands for Comment, Label and Reward. Suppose Rachel's husband is supposed to fix a leaky faucet. He has promised to do it on Monday Sept 1. By Monday November 14, no repair has occurred and the annoying plop plop of water driplets constantly reminds Rachel that the task is waiting to be done. Finally, on Tuesday November 15, the husband pulls out his tools and repairs the faucet. Now Rachel applies the CLeaR Method. She gives her husband a positive comment. This can normally be acknowledgment, praise or appreciation. In our example, Rivka might say (with enthusiasm , "David, thank you SO MUCH for repairing that leaky faucet!" Then, she gives him a label. The label is very important because it builds self-concept. Rachel wants David to begin to think of himself as a person who knows how to make his wife happy because if he thinks of himself this way, he is more likely to repeat helpful behaviors in the future. So she says to him, "What a great husband! You really know how to make a wife happy!" Although this sort of labeling and global praise might sound excessive to the uninitiated, you need to try it out for yourself to see how your spouse responds. In most cases, there is no harm done and – better still – it leaves a husband feeling very successful and proud of himself. Finally, Rivka rewards her husband's helpful behavior (the third step of the CLeaR Method) by a tender gesture or offering him his favorite beverage/treat for being so clever and helpful. These three very pleasant steps of the CLeaR Method imprint strongly on the husband's brain, increasing the likelihood that he will be eager to help his wife in future situations. The eagerness will cause tasks to be completed sooner.

At first, a wife may need to use the CLeaR Method several times before she notices a change in her husband's behavior. Patience is important. Since the strategy feels good, it will enhance the marital bond even if it doesn't cure procrastination. Moreover, it replaces "nagging" which not only has a very poor success rate in ending procrastination (in fact, it tends to worsen the condition), but also harms the marital relationship. While the CLeaR Method does have a good track record in increasing motivation and reducing procrastination, the only way to see if it will work in your house is to try it out for yourself.

The second strategy that you can use to replace nagging is called the Two Times Rule (2X-Rule). This rule says that you never ask for anything more than twice. Three times is called "nagging." Suppose you make a request of your spouse. He agrees but doesn't follow through. On the second time you make the request, you give your spouse a choice to comply with your request in a timely manner or face the consequence of not complying. For instance, suppose Rachel asked David on September 1 if he could fix the faucet and he said "no problem." She then asks him if it could be done within the week, and again, he agrees. However, by the end of the week, the annoying plop plop reminds her that no action has been taken. Now Rachel asks David a second time if he could please fix the faucet. He again agrees. She asks if he can have it done within the new week. He says "yes." She says, "Good. Because if it isn't done by then I really don't mind. I understand that you're busy. I'll just call a handyman to do it for me." At the end of the week, the job isn't done. Rivka calls a handyman (or someone else who knows how to do it or she learns how herself!). In this way, she doesn't nag. She simply creates a situation that is reasonable, in accordance with her husband's promises. The trick in this technique is to make sure to follow through with whatever consequence you promised, being careful to refrain from any use of anger, displeasure or rejection. This strategy helps spouses be more accountable for their commitments. It is possible, however, that a husband may not appreciate this technique. He may try to make it seem that the wife is being unfair or unreasonable. The wife must be very sure that she is being very fair and very reasonable. If she doubts herself, she'll let him off the hook and then likely fall back to her unpleasant nagging ways. Although the husband might have played this game with his mother and/or his teachers, the wife can refuse to be a willing partner in this destructive pattern. She will have to be strong and consistent of she wants to use the 2X-Rule.

Essentially, nagging is an agreement between two parties. One party reneges on commitments and the other agrees to remind him over and over again. If you find yourself nagging, YOU can break the agreement. Do something different. Refuse to nag. Even if it is hard in the beginning, in the end, your marriage will benefit and both you and your spouse will be happier.