The passive aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don't communicate their needs and wishes in a clear manner, expecting their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs. After all, if their spouse truly loved them he/she would just naturally know what they needed or wanted. The passive aggressive withholds information about how he/she feels, their ego is fragile and can't take the slightest criticism so why let you know what they are thinking or feeling? God forbid they disclose that information and you criticize them.
Confronting the Passive Aggressive:
Beware, if you confront the passive aggressive he/she will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment or completely walk away leaving you standing there to deal with the problem alone.
There are two reasons for confronting the passive aggressive. One, if done correctly you may be able to help him/her gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Two, even if that doesn't happen, it will at least give you the opportunity to talk to him/her in a frank way about how his/her behavior affects you. If nothing else you can get a few things "off your chest."
Below are some constructive ways to confront someone with passive aggressive behavior:
- Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not his/her bad behaviors.
- Don't attack his/her character.
- Make sure you have privacy.
- Confront him/her about one behavior at a time, don't bring up everything at once.
- If he/she needs to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity.
- Have a time limit, confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.
- If he/she tries to turn the table on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings.
- Be sure he/she understands that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better.
Inside the Passive Aggressive:
The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. He/she will be covert in their actions and it will only move him/her further from his/her desired relationship with you.
The passive aggressive never looks internally and examines their role in a relationship problem. They have to externalize it and blame others for having shortcomings. To accept that he/she has flaws would be tantamount to emotional self-destruction. They live in denial of their self-destructive behaviors, the consequences of those behaviors and the choices they make that cause others so much pain.
The passive aggressive objectifies the object of their desire. You are to be used as a means to an end. Your only value is to feed his/her own emotional needs. You are not seen as a person with feelings and needs but as an extension of him/her. They care for you the way they care for a favorite chair. You are there for their comfort and pleasure and are of use as long as you fill their needs.
The passive aggressive wants the attention and attachment that comes with loving someone but fears losing his/her independence and sense of self to his/her spouse. They want love and attention but avoid it out of fear of it destroying them. You have to be kept at arms length and if there is an emotional attachment it is tenuous at best.
The only hope for change in the way they deal with relationship issues is if they are able to acknowledge their shortcomings and contributions to the marital problems. Facing childhood wounds, looking internally instead of externally to find the cause of problems in their life will help them form deeper emotional attachments with a higher sense of emotional safety.