Passive Aggressive Husband

passive aggressive test

Are you in the receiving end of attacks by your husband?

In a marriage with a passive aggressive husband, underhanded and sneaky attacks are the passive aggressive husband preferred "weapons of mass destruction."

You have been asking for a detailed plan to nullify or counter attack the tricks of your passive aggressive husband. Here it is: you will learn how to call the attack for what it is and then respond in a way that preserves you from being manipulate

We have been offering our experience before, like when we offered you some tips for managing PA behaviors.

Take our suggestions with a grain of salt:

we offer them as an extreme response for some of our women readers who really want to learn the most straightforward way of managing his passive aggression, experienced as a direct attack against them and their marriage.

Here’s a step by step process to counter-attack a passive aggressive attack:

Stop Listening and Start Looking

This step is based on the idea that, in a passive aggressive marriage, many interactions are foggy and vague (purposefully). Thus, the most important thing to remember here is that you must separate words and deeds, and look only at the facts. Regardless of what your partner says about “forgetting” and other promises, start asking yourself is there is:

  • Discrepancy between promises and delivery, causing delays;
  • Non-acceptance of responsibility;
  • “Good” words abounding, but no deeds.

These can be signs of passive aggressive punishment, provided they are consistent and often centered around one particular type of activity. Here’s a good example: if Robert generally is dependable and is home on time for Tina to attend her meetings, the one "miss" may not be motivated by passive-aggression. However, if he often only sabotages Tina's attendance to a particular event (her therapy sessions or her female friends’ group monthly dinner) while denying he is intending to do so, an attack pattern is emerging.

Start “Operation Consequence,” if there is no match between words and results:

In order to nip his passive aggressive attack in the bud, you must show that you are going to handle it in an adult way, not with the child-like temper tantrum that he wants to see you degenerate into.

Your task is then to:

  • Suspect sabotage and resistance;
  • Suspend expectations;
  • Terminate cooperation.

Learn his hidden anger indicators:

You can halt future attacks in their tracks by learning his patterns and indicators. People are creatures of habit, and passive aggressive husbands are no different. Here are some examples of indicators that he is hiding his anger and is trying to attack/punish you:

  • Vengeful “accidental” actions, such as ruining belongings, deleting files, burning food, etc.;

  • Withdrawal of emotional response, such as refusing to share your joy over an accomplishment;

  • Detaching from family connections, such as deliberately ignoring family members you love.

Confront efficiently:

  • Collect proofs by having another person around or taking notes;
  • Prove connection between actions and damages by showing how one leads to another;
Establish responsibility by presenting him with the choice between adult behavior and consequences (being treated like the child he acts like).
"When you mistreat my parents, as you did this afternoon hanging up on them, I feel hurt because later I need to do a lot of repairs. Is this the way you want them to see you?"

Control Your Desire to Attack Back:

  • Do not respond emotionally, as in throwing a tantrum (discussed above);

  • Remember that outraged reactions to passive-aggressive behavior emotionally reward the passive-aggressive husband.

Practice Self-Discipline:

We say not to throw a tantrum at your husband, but anger and frustration is of course normal, and must be dealt with in a healthy way. So, you need to:

  • Work on yourself, to sort out any deep animosity you may have towards this person;
  • Examine the relationship and find moments in which you gave control, responsibility or power to this person;
  • Link the power given to him with the results obtained, and ask yourself: “Am I being shortchanged here”?
  • Pay attention to your first reaction, the emotional one, because this is probably the most truthful. You are allowed to feel resentful, frustrated or angry at his skillful defection; it’s a natural reaction. And it is the tantrum version of this reaction that your husband is setting you up to have. You can take back control by handling that anger in an adult way.
  • Now, you want to confront this person in the most productive way, diverging from showing this person how much he can hurt you. The “emotional outburst” type of confrontation will not serve your purpose. If you allow yourself to show your disappointment, then he has fulfilled his mission!

Decide what you want to accomplish:

Your counter-action rides on knowing what you’re trying to accomplish by recognizing and handling his passive aggressive attack. Ask yourself, what is your real goal upon seeing him attack you? What goal will help you live a better life and not be brought down to his level? It is to...

  • Let your husband know of your frustration?
  • Have a cathartic show of your own hurt?
  • Get him to finally deliver?

All of these are worthy aims, but remember that the first two are dangerously close to the tantrum throwing result that he wants to see. Finally, what you want is to get him to deliver, right?

Is time then to do some Fair Fighting, in a calm, rational but direct way. Remember that the best way is to detach emotionally from any result, and see if he can recognize his involvement in this marriage and moves towards cooperating with you in making it happen.  Good luck!

Dr. Nora
Dr. Nora
Dr. Nora is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.
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