There is a slow progression in the process of realizing the main cause of some spousal behaviors.
First you feel that something is odd, because you have some feelings of hurt that don’t correspond with the objective situation…you are happily married, and then some response from your spouse makes the whole perception shake, and you are not so sure who you are.
As one woman at the end of her rope described this constant passive aggression as a situation where she would receive either punishment or love, in a sequence without any logic.
Mental torture followed by a bit of love, then disappointment then promises and apologies then heartache again, in an endless roller coaster.
She never was sure of his affection and began doubting herself.
Was she the cause of this treatment?
Perhaps if she loved more, if she could be more patient…things would be more stable?
Eventually she figured out the pattern of interaction when there was less and less respect and more and more empty apologies and abuse. In this emotional emptiness, it’s easy to feel lost, bereft of personal goals and motivations and ready to detach from life.
What is this Emptiness Creeping In?
In passive aggressive relationships, there is a failure of the basic covenant of caring for each other in a very personal way. We all have needs, and those basic needs are to be solved by the people we love and share life with.
What happens in this situation?
“I found that the more I asked him for what I needed from him (honesty, communication, stability), the more he would find a way not to give it to me. He would leave it dangling and hovering over me, but would never quite let me grab a hold of it. It is mental torture of the worst kind.”
The frustration of basic needs satisfaction, such as the need for love and connection, and the need for recognition, makes the situation intolerable:
“I would become almost hysterical with him. I would cry, yell, belittle, beg, ignore, baby, apologize, sleep in another bedroom, analyze, read, threaten, ANYTHING that I thought might make him "see the light...” but he remained emotionally unavailable to my needs.
As long as she is showing her vulnerability and her unsolved needs to him, she is giving him control of the couple’s power, and it seals the deal.
There is no way of changing a passive aggressive person when he can manipulate his marriage to fit his own style of communication, regardless of her needs.
It’s time to ask the very necessary question:
How to Deal With a Passive Aggressive Husband?
What we need to understand is that a passive aggressive personality has been many years in the making, and is part of the very core of this person’s ability to relate. It is NOT a response to her behavior; it’s his “normal response” to everything that happens in his world, his marriage included…
Without entering into the psychological elements of what makes this person behave in such a defensive way, what is important to see is that this is a way of being, structurally organized, and nobody can change it from the outside.
Only the person who has learned to react in this way can realize the damage it causes to any relationship and make a plan to modify his own responses.
The only role a wife can have is to be a witness, and let him know what is the impact of his behavior on people around him, and on the relationships he says he needs. By denouncing as hurtful some of his responses, she is helping him recognize how inappropriate his answers are…and then hope that her words will motivate him to do otherwise.
In the words of the same wife:
“If there's one thing that I've really learned, it is that a passive-aggressive person must find his own truth. We can talk to them about it, give them pamphlets on it, download articles off of the Internet, suggest counseling, etc., but until they choose to look at themselves without their rose-filtered glasses on and see the hurt inside of them, they have no reason to change. In my opinion, passive-aggressive behavior is not something that can be cured, but managed.”
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