I receive many emails in response to articles I’ve written about passive aggressive behavior. Judging from the emails, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not a clear understanding of what passive aggressive behaviors look like in a marriage. If you are married to someone you think is passive aggressive this article is for you. Hopefully you will gain a better understanding of your spouse’s behaviors.
The behaviors discussed below are behaviors you are going to consistently see in your spouse if he/she is truly passive aggressive. A basic definition of passive aggressive behavior is the use of covert coping tools in response to anger.
The passive aggressive does not respond openly when upset. Passive aggressive anger comes out in ways that sabotages you and your attempt to solve problems in the marriage. Everything is a personal affront, an attack on them and they respond by trying to “get even,” and you are their target.
A few examples of typical passive aggressive behaviors in a marriage:
- A husband is always late. This is a habit, not a onetime occurrence. He may ask you to meet him for lunch the day after an argument and be twenty minutes late to punish you.
- A wife who spends money when she knows her husband is worried about finances. Have a disagreement with her and she will be whipping out the credit cards the next day.
- A husband who stonewalls your attempts to communicate. My ex used to walk away from every attempt to communicate. The passive aggressive feels they can do no wrong. Point out a flaw in them and they will shut down or walk off.
- A wife who refuses to have sex in response to something you’ve done to upset her. What better way to wound a spouse than to refuse to maintain an intimate connection? She is flirtatious, affectionate, always holding your hand and cuddling but get her in the bedroom and she turns cold.
- The ultimate and normally something you don’t realize until it is too late is the husband or wife who is “fine” with everything. This person loves everything you love. They leave the choice of restaurant up to you; you always choose which movie to see or where to go on holiday. This person is highly personable, right up until the point they turn around and accuse you of being a control freak.
What is the end result of passive aggressive behavior?
- Nothing is resolved; no solutions are found to the problems in the relationship and anger builds. Passive aggressive behavior gets in the way of either spouse being able to deal with what is happening in the marriage.
- Passive aggressive behaviors damage both spouses. The passive aggressive is his/her own worst enemy. They marry wanting to connect with their spouse, they marry out of a sense of love. Their reaction to conflict keeps not only you from experiencing an emotional and intimate connect but themselves also.
No one wins when in a relationship with a passive aggressive!