When presented with passive aggressive behavior from your partner, your first instinct might be to confront them, to lay it all out on the table.
This is a tricky business; if the situation is handled improperly, your partner will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment, or simply walk away, leaving you empty-handed and alone.
Despite these risks and pitfalls, there are some very good reasons for why you should learn about, and strive for, healthy confrontation.
Reason one: If done correctly, you may be able to help this person gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Show them how their behavior has affected the home, the living conditions, anything. This is hard to do the first time, but it can be done, and can create improvements over time.
Reason two: Even if you can’t give them insight as soon as you’d like, healthy confrontation will at least give you the opportunity to talk to your partner. It is important in all relationships – not just passive aggressive ones – that there be opportunities to communicate in a frank, open way about the other person’s behavior and how it affects you.
Although it’s never healthy to rant on to someone about their faults, it is important that you get things off your chest and say something you feel needs to come out. So, you will have a better self-esteem when you learn how to do a constructive confrontation!
Below are some healthy ways you might approach your passive aggressive confrontation:
- Make your feelings, not his/her bad behaviors, the subject of the conversation (the “I” instead of “you” method).
- Don’t attack his/her character.
- Make sure you have privacy; don’t confront in front of other people;
- 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; say” OK, then we can talk about it later…”
- Have a time limit; confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.
- If he/she tries to turn the tables on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings. Take a break from the conversation, if necessary.
- 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, so…
- Be proud of your desire to improve communication in your home.