Are you feeding your passive aggressive husband's behavior?
When having my coaching calls with passive aggressive husbands who really want to improve their marriages, I find something very interesting. The first piece of information that changes the pressure they feel from their wives, is to explore the roots of their hidden war against their parent's control. The second one is to admit that in their present marriages, they usually experience their wives' desperate attempts to connect with them as another edition of the same past control...
It means that they are always acting in this manner because they perceive it as an effective way to either avoid any responsibility or lash out at others in positions of authority, in this case the wife. Funny is, when you look at her behaviors, the first response the wife has is to try to control his passive aggression with more supervision, control and detailed "what to do" lists that accomplish exactly the contrary effect... From here, an spiral of corresponding behaviors is installed in place:
- The more she tries to control his behaviors, the more gross his passive aggression;
- The more blatant his passive-aggressive behaviors are, the more desperate she gets and it prompts her to try to control him in more life aspects...
- And so on, and on...in a maddening circle!
Are you stuck in this process? The more you try to control his behavior, the worst he delivers?
If you are here, take a deep breath and STOP. STOP COLD TURKEY, please! STOP!
This spiraling conflict is a waste of your energy, you are going nowhere fast.....and there are other ways of reacting. As it is now, the only response you get is a bunch of excuses, that take you nowhere.
SO, what's the answer? Make an effort to detach from this expectation: ("If I tell him exactly what needs to be done, and supervise him closely, he will do it") You are his partner, not a supervisor!
STOP all the control; Look at what needs to be done; take the part of the tasks you can do, and do them. The rest, hire someone to do them or negotiate some way of taking care of them. The point is to reduce the number of issues you need to control and get done. Give him only the tasks that, if left undone, will hit him the worst.
Make him responsible for dealing with his anger: the anger from his past life, with the family he spent his childhood with; the present anger with the interactions he believes are reproductions of his past childhood abuse.
You can say: "I'm not your mother, who used to control you and not respond to your needs; this is your marriage, and we are both grown-ups."
Focus on the tasks to be done: "This issue is your responsibility: I will expect you to do it, if you don't (as a way of hurting me), I will protect myself from the consequences in this way."
Keep saying that:
- you now know he has old anger issues present here and now;
- that his projecting his old anger on this marriage is wrong;
- that those issues need to be resolved by himself;
- that you will protect yourself from his anger sabotages because they are unjust and ill-directed.
Basically, you are pushing him in the path of reviewing what parts of his childhood are now destroying his present marriage. Here is the resource with all the information necessary for him to work his hidden, past anger and connect with you in the now.