You open the door to toxic passive aggression when you stop learning to rely on yourself and your self-esteem
We all know by now that a large component of passive-aggressive behavior is the fact that the passive-aggressive person suppresses anger and then channels it out in covert ways.
Let’s look at this reaction deeper. If you are suppressing anger and other negative feelings, it is a form of self-denial, right? You deny the feelings exist, but since they don’t go away, you channel them elsewhere. Thus, in a way, passive aggression is a way of abandoning yourself - the emotions, ideas, and situations that make you uncomfortable are all hidden and forgotten.
But did you know that this type of self-abandonment is actually common in many couples? If you know how damaging passive aggression is to your marriage, shouldn’t you be on the lookout for abandonment behavior in your daily interactions?
Dr. Margaret Paul discusses what self-abandonment is in her article, If Your Relationship Is Failing, Here’s Why.
"When you abandon yourself emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, relationally and/or organizationally, you automatically make your partner responsible for you. Once you make another person responsible for your feelings of self-worth and well being, then you attempt to manipulate that person into loving you, approving of you and giving you what you want. The controlling behavior that results from self-abandonment creates huge relationship problems."
If you see your husband doing this to you, and feel the consequences of it in your daily life, it is possible that he is passive-aggressively pushing responsibility for himself onto you. However, if it is as common as Dr. Paul suggests, you may be abandoning your own emotions and expecting your husband to pick up the pieces. You may also be unconsciously fighting fire with fire by doing to him what he does to you. The only problem is, he isn’t going to budge when he’s passive-aggressive himself! In this way, self-abandonment in your home can make your husband’s passive aggression worse, and make your life with him that much harder.
What are some self-abandonment behaviors that you can watch out for? Dr. Paul lists the main ones, which you can learn to identify and stop in your home:
- Emotional self-abandonment
- Financial self-abandonment
- Organizational self-abandonment
- Physical self-abandonment
- Relational self-abandonment
- Spiritual self-abandonment
Dr. Paul makes a good point in saying that the first place you can start to reverse this toxic behavior is by learning to love yourself, rather than deny yourself:
"Learning to love yourself is the key to a loving relationship. When you learn to connect with a personal source of spiritual guidance and access the love and wisdom that is always within you, you learn to fill yourself up with love. While self-abandonment creates an inner emptiness that relies on others to fill you, self-love creates an inner fullness. Self-love fills your heart and soul with overflowing love so that, rather than always trying to get love, you can now share your love with your partner."
Read Dr. Paul's full article here.
Notice here that the key term is “relies on others to fill you.” In your passive aggressive marriage, the key to your happiness is learning to rely on yourself and your self-esteem, not the countless things you think you’ll get eventually from your husband. And for your husband, learning to accept himself, his mistakes and his emotions will be the key to stopping his passive-aggressive (and child-like) need to make himself look good and keep you there doting on him.