Do you Ignore, Suffer, or Confront Passive Aggressive Behavior?

 

divorcing a passive aggressive husband

confront passive aggression

What is Best: Ignore, Suffer or Confront Passive Aggressive Behavior?

Here is really the obnoxious situation that spouses complain about: the moment when you realize that your partner is avoiding going along with you using some passive aggressive response. It takes some minutes for you to realize that you are not getting any response, not even a “no,” because he is evading the issue in a very sophisticated way… you are left holding the bag! And you need to stop yourself reacting with anger and frustration, and to be able to think…and do what is best for your peace of mind.

If you find yourself frequently in this nowhere land, confused and frustrated remember the basic ideas:

Part of the work of being in a marriage, is to be able to accept the  aggravation of doing honest emotional confrontation. When people are unhappy with some aspect of the marriage, be it communication or household chores, it behooves to each one to confront the other about the difference and negotiate a better result.

A person in this situation needs to invest some emotional capital, time, patience and other resources to be able to negotiate and get to a shared decision…Implicit here is that you acknowledge that having consensus with your partner is important for both partners’ individual satisfaction.

Well, scratch all that. We are back into childhood territory, where using the passive aggressive shortcut allows him to express some negative feelings doing smart obstruction of your planning.  Throw into the pot the satisfaction that revenge provides, and you can see why passive aggression is his winning choice!

Here we can answer with the first choice: ignore as many of the passive aggressive games as you can. Don’t even mention that you have discovered the name of his game, to start with. As soon as you call him “you are acting in a passive aggressive way,” he will begin harassing you with this term, challenging you to prove it, and making fun of you.

Remind yourself that your passive aggressive partner is doing this for a lot of personal reasons: attention, keeping a sense of being your victim,  revenge (from a real or imagined hurt from you or other person from his past) or just to show that they don’t have to do what you are asking them to do, as to keep alive the little rebel against the world they have inside.

If you don’t react, they don’t get the reward they were seeking and eventually, they will stop the behavior. Remember one of the principles of Whale Done: reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior. So many times it gets easier to slam the door, go to the movies by yourself, go shopping, visit a friend, and leave the battle ground instead of engaging in a lost battle. Besides, you have the opportunity to remember how much fun you can get from normal activities otherwise forgotten in your daily life!

What if the situation is such that you need to confront? If so, you need to control yourself: avoid raising your voice, yelling or crying..Strong emotions are something they can’t manage and in the best case scenario, they will quit the room or worst, they will confront you.

And say little, but whatever you say, it has to be something you can follow through later. Don’t bluff: if you say I will not cook, don’t enter the kitchen! I have too many calls of women in their 50s, telling all the complains about him, but they accept that they continue doing their part of household chores as if they were satisfied with their marriages. Stop sending this contradictory message!

State how the behavior is causing harm, declare that you can’t tolerate the offending behavior and say the consequences that will follow if they don’t quit.

What this post intents is to remind you that you have choices, that some choices are better than others, and that using your choices you can recover your personal power. And, whatever you do, please, tell us below in your comments…I really appreciate your comments here!

 

About Nora Femenia

Nora Femenia, Ph.D, is the CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions and the author of the book: "The Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband," a field guide for women that have to deal with passive aggression in their partners. Nora also posts regularly on her blog Creative Conflicts. Visit her blog and join the community to discuss issues related to Conflicts, Relationships and receive also Free her book “Breaking Free From The Silent Treatment.” You are warmly welcomed here, because we care for your happiness!

Comments

  1. beaurosie says:

    All very good advice again from Nora. Sadly I don’t think that these men ever change though. I left mine after 26 years… I feel wasted years… waiting for real show of love and affection that never came. I am now with a lovely man who cuddles and kisses me everyday , cares about me and tells me he cares and shows me he cares and tells me how important I am in his life…. These were all the things that I did not have in my last marriage as I was made to feel useless and a burden even though I gave everything to that man!!

  2. Connie Wetzler says:

    I am happy for you now beaurosie! I spent 20 years not getting what i felt was just common courtesy, respect, encouragement…. a real partner and friend. He was very charming so what I thought was intimacy, was not. Then there’s the flip-side/polarity to the “charm”… not charming.
    I recently divorced. When I think about a wonderful and loving relationship with someone who is accountable for himself I get a gut feeling or a twinge of fear that I may be deceived again. I know all the red flags, very well in fact. It just means it’s going to take some time to heal and let go so I don’t end up attracting that which I am vibrating. I am getting used to being single. I was never single for long in the past so this is new. I had to empower myself to get free from this marriage and now I will not settle for anything less than I deserve. I know what I want and I know what I don’t want. I have no regrets. I am wiser now. I will wait and meanwhile I will enjoy life!
    Stories with happy endings like yours encourage me! Thank you for sharing ;)

  3. Full of Life says:

    After looking back on my marriage of 24 years I blamed our troubles on his drinking. I see clearly he was passive aggressive man all along. I would get so angry and upset like I was raising another child instead of a full grown man. I’m not sad I divorced him but I see saddened in his eyes when I bump into him. He is now remarried an I see why they are going to a marriage counselor. I’m sure he is doing the same to her. It drove me flat crazy the mixed messages an excuses.

  4. Connie Wetzler says:

    Yeah, my ex had been covert/passive-aggressive all along, too. The gaming addiction was just an added conundrum ;) I HOPE he doesn’t marry again! Good grief. How many times can he keep messing with people? None of my business. Not my work…anymore, or rather, never was my work to begin with. My work was seeing who he chose to be and who I chose/choose to be.

  5. My husband is passive aggressive. It has taken me 5 years to finally realize this. I don’t believe he was always this way. He was married to a sociopathic women who cheated on him with so many men, then finally left him for a man 35 years older than her (and him). Basically she left him for a man who was 75 years old. My husband was 40 at the time. He knew about the cheating, but she was such an excelled liar that she denied and lied and somehow made him drop the subject all together. My husband was in this relationship 10 years because they have 2 children. My husband was just trying to survive by taking care of the kids on his own and work to pay the bills. She worked but her money went towards trips to the Bahamas with her lover. She had May husband convinced that she was in town picking kids up from day care and then working late. All while she was out of the country. I think my husband learned to shut up, say nothing, avoid confrontation because his wife was vicious. I know this for myself because she has been nothing but a nightmare to me since I married my husband, her ex. Even though she is already remarried to grandpa Moses. I am an up front person. My parents had no problems expressing anger, love, disappointment, affection, happiness..etc.. I grew up in a very good and safe atmosphere. And I am pretty sure my husband did to. I had 3 sisters. My husband was the only child. I never really knew what passive aggressive was. Until I became desperate and was googling all kinds of things that I was feeling. And passive aggressive came up and I realized my husband was passive aggressive. It All MADE SENSE. But now I pretty much feel hopeless, since I do think he is unaware of his ways. Even though I have told him how I feel he doesn’t tell me anything. I feel he us sneaky and secretive. I feel if I ignored him he wouldn’t even care or notice. I basically have to cause an all out dramatic screaming and crazy acting fight to get a small response out of him. He has promised to “work ” on it. But I have heard it before many times. It never changes. We have been together a total of 6 years and I have never been to his office where he works. I do not think that he is having an affair. He is home every night at 530. He doesn’t leave. Although I did catch him looking up porn which I was devastated when I found that out. Because I never thought he was “that” guy. He was a good guy. Porn to me is just nasty. It’s degrading to women. It’s gross. It’s sad. And I truly felt betrayed and heart broken. Because we had only been married about 2 years at the time. I am a pretty girl, I exercise and take care of my body. I am in shape. I am also 14 years younger than him. So I was and still am heartbroken at the fact he was looking up porn when I had taken HIS kids and my daughter to a concert (for kids) and he was just looking at porn while we were gone.. OMG just thinking about that night makes me feel sick… Why would you look up porn with your wife is way hotter than any of those girls that do that. It’s a mystery I guess.
    Anyways I am miserable… But my husband has set things up so that it is pretty hard for me to leave. He pays for my daughters private school and she is only 10 and loves her school dearly. Also when I met him and we married I moved 2 hours away from my home town and family and friends. So it’s not like I am down the road from my mother and dad and sisters anymore.. I don’t tell my mom the way I am feeling because she would worry about me and have a heart attack. I don’t want my older mother worrying about me. Believe me I was a hellion in high school , I have worried her enough for a life time. But I don’t know what to do. I have ignored, started fights, confronted calmly, locked myself in the guest bedroom (gave my daughter a key so she could come in) because I wasn’t locking the door and barricading myself in there so I could sulk. I just didn’t want to see his face because I felt so much angry and hate toward him. He has no emotional human connections to anyone. Not even his children. I noticed a while back that me and him only talk about the most shallow things. Like what the weather man said, like “it might rain” of what the plan for dinner is. It’s just stupid. I am lonely. I am not out looking for someone else. I want to make this work. But at this point and all the research I have done I don’t believe he will ever wake up and change. I have told him that I felt he was not open because it is how he had to survive when he was married to his ex. But I have reassured him, that it is safe to show his feeling with me. I mean I have never been afraid to show mine. I feel hopeless, and my quality of life seems to be declining. Since moving here 5 years ago, I have not really met any friends, made a life here. My self esteem seems to be suffering. And lately I hate leaving the house, I mean I feel sick when I have to go anywhere that a lot of people will be. Oh and I may have become a cat hoarder since marrying him. I have rescued 5 cats since living here and they are all in door. We live in a large home, but when I tell people I have 5 cats, their jaw drops, like it’s shocking. But I had to save these cats. They needed me and they still do. I think my passive aggressive husband is causing me to lose my mind. I am not the same girl I was 6 years ago. Im not positive. I lose my temper easily, and I stress out about EVERYTHING! I just want to give up. But I don’t because my daughter needs me, I am all she has.

  6. Patty Roberts says:

    Wow, I am so sorry for you. I have been in a two year relationship and just found out about three months ago that I was not nuts. Just learning that this person had a disorder, gave me relief and a sense of contol in an uncontrollable situation. I am a writer, where after ever incident I write out the details trying to look for patterns. I know today one trigger, as I am sure there are more. What I experience is the pulling away when I give a response he does not like. That’s his way to control his feelings, since it does trigger like your husband a past very long term marriage that was not healthy. Of course finding a trigger and lexipro makes it so it does not mess with my self-esteem. P.A’s seem to be attracted to people who have a questionable low self-esteem. So, in order for us to deal, if we are in a situation where we have to like you, is to do evdrything to strengthen you self-esteem cause it is a form of mental abuse whether they understand how thier actions or there lack of effect thier partner. I have to believe they do not know how to fix themself and God knows it is not our job to fix them. I’m not married to the man so I have an out. Unfortunetly, I don’t like to throw out the bath water. At least not yet! Oh forgot to say, last timewe broke up and he gave me a love letter, I printed off everything I could find on passive aggressive and gave it to him. Figured if he was not aware, well he knows now. Of course, it was good for months, he did read it on his own and then with me so I could give him examples. But after I set off a trigger he reverted back. Eventually you’ll just get numb, and not care what he does. Find a life outside him, that is something I am going to try and do. Be selfish your worth it.

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