The media are not providing the level of intelligence on psychological issues that our world desperately needs. A recent article on relationship disharmony in the Wall Street Journal —titled “Meet the Marriage Killer”—illustrates the point. The content of the article fails completely to get to the heart of the widespread nagging problem.
Both my headline and the one in the Journal are not precisely correct. Nagging is just a symptom of a deeper psychological conflict, so nagging in itself is not the real marriage killer. Nonetheless, the problem of nagging is widely experienced and dreaded, and the Journal article was well-read (it had 472 comments at one point).
The article starts out satisfactorily, and it provides an adequate definition of nagging:
Nagging—the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request, the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed—is an issue every couple will grapple with at some point. While the word itself can provoke chuckles and eye-rolling, the dynamic can potentially be as dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances. Experts say it is exactly the type of toxic communication that can eventually sink a relationship.
However, never at any point does the article ask (let alone answer) the question of how “toxic communication” arises in the first place. The author of the article summarizes the views of experts with this paragraph: [Read more…]