For many women, living with a passive aggressive man and his constant negativity can be a huge struggle. But for those who feel they need to stay in the marriage anyway (reasons can vary, person to person), living with a negative husband doesn’t have to be impossible.
The most important aspect to be aware of when staying with a passive aggressive husband is how his behavior impacts you – how you see yourself and your future, and how in control you are of your own life. Passive aggressive husbands thrive on taking those things away from you! That is what makes this relationship a toxic marriage.
There are certain needs a passive aggressive husband can fulfill for you, and living well despite his negativity relies on you finding out what these needs are. For some people, the passive aggressive husband’s wounds and issues help build the wife’s self-esteem, make them feel like they have power, or fill a need to care and nurse someone in need. Sometimes, putting all our attention on someone else’s problems can give us a break from dealing with our own. Please, watch out: can you see the danger in that? devoting yourself to ignoring your own needs under the cover of caring for his needs with only get worse as your spouse treats you with less and less respect. You will feel progressively emptier…
Suddenly, the shock many women feel when they break with their passive aggressive spouse makes sense – the personal issues that went unaddressed for years are now looming on the horizon, making it seem impossible to be independent and healthy anymore.
Staying in the relationship or leaving it – both require meeting your own problems head on. Making the decision to take care of yourself and reevaluate what YOU need can be the biggest thing you can do for yourself in a passive aggressive relationship. By focusing on taking care of yourself, healing your OWN wounds and moving forward, you can begin giving yourself the strength and confidence you need to work through your relationship, and perhaps be the role model your husband needs.
Now, what are some things you can do to improve the atmosphere in your marriage? What are the little things that count when trying to seek happiness between the two of you? Here are some ideas for what you can do.
Remember why you’re still here: In a PA relationship, it can be extremely hard to remember why you’re sticking it out and staying with your husband. You need to remind yourself of his good qualities (the things he does right rather than the things he does wrong). Try this: every day, write down two or three things that he’s done lately that you appreciate, or qualities you love about him, or memories that make you happy. It can help boost your perception of him and bring positive energy back into your interactions. Even better is if you can gather the nerve to appreciate those aspects verbally to him.
Show him you still care: Valentine’s Day isn’t the only day that we need to show our spouses some love. Reading our blog has hopefully taught you about the wounds and fears underlying your husband’s use of PA behaviors. Sometimes, what works best to counteract his behavior is to simply show him that he doesn’t need to fear your rejection. You can write him little notes by the coffee maker, or greet him warmly at the door, or even play with him and tickle him like you do with the kids. These are the kinds of things that make you feel refreshed and positive (you’re focusing on loving him instead of fighting him) while also soothing the voice inside him that’s asking, “Does she still want me?”
Ask for feedback: This one might be hard for you, and you may want to practice doing the others first. But it can be extremely beneficial for both of you, as a sort of icebreaker, to simply ask your husband how he feels about your treatment of him. Ask him, “How do you know that I love you?” or “Did I make you feel that I didn’t love you when I said that?” These questions may sound like something you’d ask your child when he or she is upset, but guess what? It works the same way. It helps both of you to understand each other’s communication and perceptions better, while the simple questions offer a less confrontational outlet for your husband’s true feelings.
When feeling overwhelmed, detach: There might be moments when you really don’t know what else to do to tolerate this coexistence. If you still are convinced that staying married is necessary for you, then learn to detach. Make a list of your own interests: would you like to play bridge? Have a walking buddy? Going shopping to the mall? Going to educational classes at your community center? Have a set of friends for different purposes, which are not necessarily friends of the couple. Just GO, and forget if he is with you or left behind… Give yourself permission to receive pleasure and nurturing from friends, activities and learning wherever you can find them.
Compensate each negative comment with a positive thought: When he is constantly saying negative things, train your brain to think in the reverse position. Keep saying to yourself: “that’s true, but also can be true the opposite…so I can choose which one I believe.” So you keep a positive vision of your own future, which is exactly the point here.