Researchers say a wife’s nagging may actually help improve her husband’s health.
Women of the world, arise! You have nothing to lose but your fear of nagging!
Turns out nagging can be a good thing and there’s some science to back that up.
A national study directed by a Michigan State University sociology professor shows that unhappily married men have a lower risk of developing diabetes and a higher chance of successful treatment if they do develop it.
Associate professor Cathy Liu, Ph.D., has been studying the relationship between marriage and health for years.
“Since diabetes is affected by social factors, I thought it would be interesting to see how marriage affects the disease rate,” she told Healthline. “For women, consistent with expectations, good marital quality promotes women’s health. It lowers their risk of disease.”
The information on women’s health was expected, but that bit about men was a bit of a surprise.
Liu suspects that the men’s result may be due to the fact that some wives constantly monitor their husband’s health behaviors, especially if he is in poor health or has diabetes.
Does he need to exercise? Does he eat too much sugary stuff and not enough fruits and vegetables?
This kind of regulation — call it nagging if you will — may improve the husband’s health. But an unwelcome side effect is that it may be perceived as irritating and, in turn, may provoke hostility.
The team used data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project.
It analyzed survey results from 1,228 married respondents over five years. Respondents at the start of the study were 57 to 85 years old. By the end, 389 had diabetes.
Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. More than 29 million Americans had diabetes in 2012, about 9 percent of the population.
The gender findings were the most notable, said Liu, an expert in population-based health and family science. She suggested that a good quality relationship might produce a health boost for women.
“The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health,” Liu said in a press release. “It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality. Sometimes, nagging is caring.”
“A causal relationship is always hard to prove,” Liu told Healthline. “But the information on marriage quality was collected before the data were analyzed.”
“I don’t agree that nagging means unhappiness.”
So says relationship expert Dr. Karen Ruskin, Psy.D., and a licensed marriage and family therapist who has a practice in Sharon, Massachusetts.
“On the other hand, nagging may mean the wife is on top of things in the home,” Ruskin told Healthline. “Women often take on the job of home management [and] men may label wives’ repetitive requests as nagging.”
But the women’s remarks may be an expression of how much they care about their husbands, as well as their frustration if he is uncooperative, she said.
“We are helping our men to live longer,” explained Ruskin, author of “Dr. Karen’s Marriage Manual.” “Some men will take care of themselves on their own.”
Others need help.
Is there a better way? Ruskin laughed
“The way we communicate, that takes two people,” she said.
In part this is an issue of perspective. Ruskin suggests changing the lens with which one perceives communication.
“If your mate views [your suggestions] through a lens of care, they won’t perceive it as nagging,” she said.
There’s a desire for relational survival.
“If a woman starts by saying, ‘I care about you so much that I want you to be healthy,’ the discussion may not deteriorate. You are being mindful of their health and wellness,” she said. “If you preface your desire with a love statement, your mate may hear you through that lens of love and care.”