How many times must I tell you... I am not a nag!

Women do not nag. Men procrastinate.

If men did what they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it, women would not need to nag because men would be perfect too.

Ah, I hear you say, but who makes the decision that things have to be done to a particular time schedule?

Let’s not duck the issue. Women do.

But only when men don’t.

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Why should women be dubbed “nags” when the more accurate description is “right”?

Of course, if you are still having to constantly rebuke your partner for the same minor transgressions after you have been together, say, in excess of 40 years, it is reasonable to conclude you probably aren’t going to change them.

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Most men are creatures of habit and if they are of the “In a minute... later” tendency and you are of the “Let’s do it now, then it’s done” tendency then there may be trouble ahead. In such circumstances, moonlight and music and love and romance may be a solution.

Some men take things rather literally. Don’t take it for granted that they will correctly identify inferences. When you say that it seems to take twice as long to hoover the house these days, don’t be surprised if you get a new vacuum cleaner for your birthday rather than an instant offer of help.

If nagging is required, use it sparingly for best effect.

My husband now looks at me and sighs: “I know what you’re going to say...” so I rarely have to bother to reiterate. He knows it off by heart.

In days of yore, scolds (presumably nominated by their husbands) could be cruelly punished. Doling out public humiliation via the ducking stool was a popular option until the 18th century.

There was also the scold’s bridle. Essentially, this was a metal gag used by husbands to silence their wives’ nagging or swearing. It went over the head and was fastened on, muzzling the wearer, sometimes painfully.

If I had been born in Tudor times, it’s a fair bet I would have spent more time in than out. I would have been the Suffolk scold or the Norfolk nag, depending on which county would have me, and everyone would have felt truly sorry for my spouse. (They still do. Ed)

In an attempt to mend my ways I have tried to identify the properties of nagging, while considering alternative ways of getting things done. Here is short test that couples can share...

How do you know if you’re a nag?

1. Your life partner (to date) promised to write a thank you letter to an ageing relative for his Christmas present. As of today, he has not done it. Do you:

a) Put a little reminder under his pillow, in his jacket pocket, on his Facebook wall or in another of his personal little places.

b) Withdraw privileges until it is done?

c) Ask if he would like you to do it for him and try to make your handwriting look like his?

2. He reads aloud from the newspaper when you are reading something else. Do you:

a) Put his newspaper through the shredder?

b) Give him a lecture about the anti-social nature of his interruption. Explain you that you would not dream of assuming anything you were reading was more important than something he was reading?

c) Listen to what he says; say “thank you, darling, for reading that to me. Please read out more – the last chapter of my thriller wasn’t anything like as enthralling as that incisive analysis of double–dip recession.”?

3. When you both go shopping, he manages only 10 minutes before asking if it is time to go home yet. Do you

a) Say nothing but shop much more slowly?

b) Explain (again) the principle that the only way to restock empty food and cleaning cupboards is to buy replacement goods?

c) Tell him it’s okay to go and sit in the car while you finish up?

4. When Question Time is on the telly, he argues vociferously with politicians on the panel. Do you

a) Turn over to something less provocative such as Jeremy Kyle?

b) Explain to him (again) that when he is ranting, you cannot actually hear the television.

c) Say nothing and put on the subtitles.

5. You rush to the one upstairs, only to discover someone has used all but the last weeny segment of loo paper. Do you:

a) Sit there until he misses you?

b) Shuffle to the nearest toilet tissue supply station while muttering about some people’s failure to address the demands of corporate responsibility?

c) Berate yourself for forgetting to put out a spare?

Score: 3 or more (a)s: You are a strategic player rather than a nag. He may often be unaware that vengeance is yours... but you know and it is sweet.

3 or more (b)s: Yes, you might be called a nag but you have the twin defences of (1) being in the right and (2) very provoked.

3 or more (c)s: Fetch a piece of paper and write, 500 times, I am not a doormat, I am a free woman... and no, do not take him a cup of tea first.

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