Nagging your husband can kill him?

Nagging your husband can kill himI preached a sermon on 1 Peter 3:1, which instructs wives to “win over their husbands without a word.” In other words, wives should strive to avoid nagging their husbands.

Soon after I saw a Danish study conducted by researchers from the University of Copenhagen that was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health: “Stressful social relations and mortality: a prospective cohort study. The study suggests:

Husbands of nagging wives can actually be nagged to death. This significantly shortens one’s life, and could result in three extra deaths per 100 people per year.

The study followed nearly 10,000 men and women between the ages of 36 and 52 for 11 years. The researches found:

The stress of constant moaning can weaken the body’s immune system. People nagged by spouses are more likely to get heart disease and cancer.

Dr. Lund, the author of the study, blamed stress for causing the early deaths as it triggers high blood pressure and other issues. He said:

Excessive demands – or nagging – can more than double the risk of death in middle-age; it can lower the immune system and lead to other health problems.

Nagging affects men and women, but it’s worse for men

Nagging negatively affects women, which means men aren’t excused from being challenged by the results. But men find themselves particularly at risk—more than twice as likely to die as women. Unlike women, men don’t share their problems with close friends or family. Many men only confide in their wives who, unfortunately, happen to be the very person causing them grief. Dr. Lund said, “The one person [husbands] have as a confident is actually the one putting the [stress] on them.” The study suggested going to work could provide relief, because it gets husbands away from the source of their stress. Men who are unemployed are more likely to die demonstrates this fact.

The study confirms what God’s Word says

A nagging wife damages her marriage and her husband…

  • The contentions of a wife are a continual dripping (Proverbs 19:13b).
  • Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious (Proverbs 21:9 & 25:24).
  •  Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman (Proverbs 21:19).

Nagging makes a husband want to get as far away from his wife as possible. He would rather be on the corner of a rooftop or in the wilderness.

Proverbs 27:15-16 A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious (or nagging) woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand.

Restraining a nagging wife is impossible. It’s like trying to restrain the wind or pick up oil with your hand. When you try to restrain a nagging or contentious wife by responding, it makes her more contentious. She engages in even more nagging! All you can do is climb to the corner of a rooftop or dwell in the wilderness to get away from her.

What should a wife do?

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Marriage God’s Way:

If a wife wants her husband to read God’s Word more, pray more, or be a godlier man, rather than nagging him, she herself should read God’s Word more, pray more, and be a godlier woman. Wives should be encouraged by Jesus’s promise to send the Holy Spirit in John 16:8: “When [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin.” Notice the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit doing the convicting. This includes husbands, unbelieving or otherwise! Wives are not supposed to take over the Holy Spirit’s role in their husbands’ lives. Wives should pray, and then trust the Holy Spirit to do the work Jesus promised He would do.

No husband can sit at home being unspiritual and lame while watching his spiritual wife without feeling ashamed. A husband might pretend that he is not convicted, and his wife might not be able to tell by looking at him that he feels convicted, but he does. In contrast, when a wife is unsubmissive, angry, and nagging, the husband does not see God through her and as a result avoids feeling convicted at all.


  • Do you have any marriage questions? If so, send them to me. Katie and I want to answer them on Facebook Live.
  • What solutions do you see for husbands and wives when it comes to nagging? Share your answers in the comments section!

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20 thoughts on “Nagging your husband can kill him?

  1. This is a great post. My mother and step-father have always preached this; women need love more than men, and it needs to be shown to them in different ways and more often. Men need respect more than women, and respect needs to be shown in different ways and more often. I hate to hear women talk bad about their husbands to each other or in public, and to hear constant nagging. Marriage is supposed to resemble the relationship between Christ and His Church, and I doubt that a nagging/disrespectful wife shows that sort of holy relationship!

    1. Thank you Kay!

      Yes, in God’s wisdom there are reasons He commanded wives to respect their husbands, and He commanded husbands to love their wives. In the marriage counseling I’ve performed, I’ve often found conflict takes place when men don’t feel respected, and when women don’t feel loved.

  2. This is very interesting. Who knew… I wonder when asking someone to do something becomes nagging. I don’t believe a wife should constantly ask her spouse to change who he is to please her, but I think sometimes men think they are being nagged when really they just need to get rid of the wood pile in the yard or take out the trash. I like what JJ had to say and the quote by C.S. Lewis. I do think respecting each other involves learning to change our own perspectives and choosing to love the quirks and imperfections in each other.

    1. Hi Rachael,
      You said:

      I wonder when asking someone to do something becomes nagging.

      I think that depends on the person. This is why husbands need to understand their wives, and wives need to study their husbands. Here’s a portion from my book:

      Learning Your Husband’s Respect Gauge
      After listening to hundreds of hours of my teaching, Katie often knows how I will answer questions and can even finish sentences for me. Because of this familiarity she can help me know when not to say certain things. She will swipe her hand across the front of her neck, signaling, “Not a good idea.” Perhaps the most common criticism I have received of my preaching is that I talk too quickly. Katie will make a hand motion that lets me know to slow down.
      I find these actions helpful, but Katie has had other women tell her: “I can’t imagine doing that to my husband when he is talking.” I have had men ask me: “You don’t mind when your wife does that?”
      At the same time, there are things other men might find helpful that Katie knows I find disrespectful. This is why it is so important for wives to learn their husbands. The biblical instruction for wives to submit to their husbands also includes the concept of adapting. This is captured in the Amplified Bible:
      • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, be subject [be submissive and adapt yourselves] to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.
      • Colossians 3:18—Wives, be subject to your husbands [subordinate and adapt yourselves to them], as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.
      • Titus 2:5a—[Wives should] be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured [kindhearted], adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands.
      • 1 Peter 3:1a—In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them].

  3. Great job! I know nagging is a common source of tension in relationships and I feel like your blog post did a great job of shedding light on the effects!

  4. What would your suggestion/wisdom be regarding a wife who exhibits the following traits?

    • Psychological projection (kettle calling the pot black)
    • Emotionally induced accusations (delusional reality – fact manipulation)
    • Never ending demands (cannot be satisfied)
    • Verbal abuse (temper tantrums – screaming and stomping)
    • Superficial/Primitive (child-like) reasoning skills
    • Extreme resistance to admitting fault (victim mentality)
    • Intentionally spiteful rebuttals (sharp tongued assaults)
    • Hypocritical double standards (inconsistent/shifty philosophy)
    • Resistant to correction (cannot swallow her own medicine)
    • Resistant to praise (skewed context as patronizing condescension)

    I am literally at my wits end. Although I cannot financially afford to leave – not to mention the religious convictions – I am considering divorce as a last resort. Your article could explain why my health has been slowly degrading over the three years we’ve been together (married one year now). And I say this as a borderline health nut who has always been mistaken for looking about 10 years younger than my age. I’ve never needed routine medical care until now. Maybe it’s because I’ve arrived at my mid 40’s now, but I still eat very well (even kosher) and workout every day. So I found this article to be coincidentally compelling.

    Her primary “Love Language” is Acts of Service. So I have gone to the extreme of printing out check lists to make sure that I’m doing my utmost to live up to her (unrealistic/unquenchable) expectations. My primary “Love Language” is Words of Affirmation. She knows this, but has remained consistent with the verbal abuse, name calling and insults. I really have no means of retreat to anybody or anywhere else – she is constantly suspicious – most likely due to her first two marriages failing to infidelity. I have exhausted the Proverbial Contentious/Quarrelsome wife syndrome with her – but the result has been something like trying to herd cats while simultaneously running into a brick wall. At this point I would literally welcome death. Suggestions?

    1. Hello,
      Theres a lot I need to know to try to form a response. Is your wife a Christian? Do you pray with her, read the Word with her, and take her to a bible believing church? Have you sought counseling from the church? Do you have children? What does your wife do during the day? Stay-at-home mother or student or work?

  5. One question. How do you “minister to his fears”? What does that look like in action? Is that quiet pinpoint prayer with specific scripture about fear, conversing with him regarding what those fears are, or a general sense of prayer in all areas of fear?
    I guess what I’m asking is how do I minister to a fear if I’m not sure what the fear is of? Thank you for this post Scott it was exactly what I needed to read!

    1. Hi Jen,
      Thanks for the question.

      Without knowing more details about your husband’s fears, here are the general recommendations I’d make…

      You already mentioned prayer. Continue to pray for him, and pray that God will help you to know how to minister to him and be an encouraging, wonderful wife.

      Share encouraging verses with him.

      Make encouraging statements to him: “God wants you to lead our family. He’ll help you do that. I know God wants what’s best for us and He’ll use you to see that happen. God is going to work through you.” Compliment your husband on his strengths: does he work hard? Is he a servant? Is he faithful in the Word? Faithful at church. Encourage him in these areas.

      Has God been faithful to your family in the past? Remind your husband of that: “God has taken care of us in the past and He’ll continue to do that.”

      If you want to give me more details of the situation I can try to respond more specifically.

    2. Thank you for the prompt reply Scott. I’m not exactly sure what my husbands fears are. I was mainly questioning the fear part in regards to the other persons post…my husband is extremely pessimistic and negative. When we were dating I saw that he had a tendency toward negativism and I was willing to see past that. I am the complete opposite and tend to be overly positive and see the best in people even when I should probably recognize some faults. I figured we would balance each other. After over 9 years of marriage I am beginning to struggle with the overly negative view. I have prayed and prayed that he would recognize when the voice of the enemy is whispering negative thoughts, prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill him and give him discernment, and prayed for divine order in our house. I admit that in the past two years I have become discouraged and am praying less. Due to this I find that the negative attitude is trying to take root in my heart and the enemy uses that to try to discourage me further! I plead with God to stop this cycle…it is driving a wedge between my husband and I and it’s heart breaking 🙁 I read this post and it really touched me. I used to be able to overcome the negativity easily. Words of encouragement (my husbands first love language) used flow ceaselessly from my mouth and now I find those words come less easily for me. I am fully aware that this is probably my problem but I struggle with constantly being the encourager when the one I’m encouraging never begins to see the positive. I feel like after 8 years of consistently speaking encouragement, praying over lies that the enemy is speaking into his mind and using against him, and trying to be the spiritual leader of the household, that I am exhausted.
      My hope is that since you or even your wife can offer me some encouragement or insight on how to pray differently for my husband. While nagging specifically isn’t the issue, I feel like the first response to this post resounded deeply with me in regards to the negative portion. Our pastor often mentions that we should not keep company with negative people because they can wear on you and bring you down but I need to know how to address negativism when the person whose company is negative is your spouse…and divorce is not an option! So I just need ideas on how to encourage him, encourage myself, and to keep praying. Sorry for the long post! Thank you in advance for your response 🙂

    3. Jen,
      I’m so sorry for not responding earlier. Somehow this escaped me until responding to another comment caught my attention.

      I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have gotten married “hoping” their spouse would change, be different, etc.

      If it’s wearing on you so much to keep trying to be the encourager – and especially if it’s not working – then I would encourage you to stop trying to be the encourager. Conserve your time and energy for more profitable areas of the relationship. Keep the prayers going up for your husband and marriage, but don’t try to change him (which is somewhat what you’re doing trying to encourage him when he’s discouraged). Be a good listener. Let him be negative. Let him be discouraging. Don’t try to talk him (often argue) out of it.

      I might not have the most encouraging news for you. The longer I’m in ministry, the more I become convinced that people don’t change that much. Instead, people have to learn to accept their spouse, choose contentment, pray for grace, and pray God helps them love and cherish the person they’ll be with for the rest of their life.

      You asked me how to pray differently for your husband, and I might invite you to pray for yourself more. Pay you have the strength and endurance you need being married to this man.

  6. CS Lewis:

    When serving your spouse, you aren’t pursuing him but what you hope he would be. Far better is to love the original, not your revised edition. After all, you’re an original, too.

    Loving the original requires lifelong adjustment on your part, and this deference is a key proof of the marital love that Christians are called to (Eph. 5:21-33). Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see eye-to-eye with your spouse. Where there is no disagreement, no annoyance, no resistance, there is no opportunity for sacrifice. If we love only what is pleasing to us in our spouse, we are loving only our preferences. We don’t need the gospel to do that.

    We do need it to free us from our tendency to adjust one another constantly to our liking. Jesus came to serve an impulsive Peter, a distracted Martha, a dubious Thomas. And he came to serve a silly person like each one of us. And yes, Christ’s redemptive love changes us by degree, but this change is about conformity to righteousness, not conformity to personal preference.

    So if your husband laughs too easily for your taste, love him for it. If he’s more pessimistic than you prefer, minister to his fears. If he’s quieter in social gatherings than you’d like, be grateful for it. If he has more difficulty making plans than you think reasonable, come alongside happily. In all the little spousal resistances, celebrate the privilege of loving a person, not an image.

    As Lewis said, reality is iconoclastic. And thank God this is especially true in marriage.

Do you have a question or thought? If so, please share!