While it is difficult to be a partner of a man who continually frustrates you with his passive-aggressive behavior, there are some things that a woman can do to break into his noninvolvement pattern.
There must be a way to end the loneliness, you must be thinking!
Here we offer one method:
You are not his therapist–Don't try to analyze him–Just set things straight when they go off track, then drop the subject and get busy with your own life.
- Watch how you hook in. Observe your unrealistic expectations for him to change. Don’t demand more than he can willingly give. Hire out projects you think he won’t carry through on. Get realistic–try to figure out where he can realistically change and what is set in stone for him.
- Set firm limits for yourself. Stick to them like glue. State them repeatedly. Use ‘I messages’ to share feelings of disappointment. Don’t protect him from your unhappy feelings. Accept no excuses when he says he couldn’t help it. Tell him that it is a choice he made. Tell him how his behavior injures or affects others. Ask him if he would like to be treated this way. When he says he forgot, point out that he remembers things that are important to him. Ask him how he would feel if you forgot to do things important to him.
- Pick your fights wisely. Choose your stand wisely focusing on the most important things. Overlook his neurotic traits but intervene on those behaviors that are most irritating to you.
- Look at your own passive style of avoiding conflict. Watch how you blow off the important things and blow up at small things. Own up when you use passivity to avoid conflict. If he throws it back at you say, ‘This is not about you turning it back on me when I’m honest about my own shortcomings. We are trying to identify patterns that are unhealthy for us. Notice your need to blame me when I’m trying to be straight.’
- Make an agreement of ‘No trash talk’ when arguing. Stick to one subject. Don’t allow the argument to go off track. ("This is not about __Z_, we’re discussing __X_") Agree to take time out to cool down and return to the topic. Learn stress management techniques to handle your anxiety during the time out period. Read articles on fair fighting to ways to resolve conflict.
And these are extra points: see if you can apply them?
.Challenge the silent treatment by saying ‘When you refuse to talk with me, I get upset. Both of us angry is a poison for our relationship. When you don’t talk to me, I make wild assumptions that further distance us. We are two intelligent people who can talk this out. What do we really want in our relationship–angry silence or problem-solving?’
State consequences when he refuses to negotiate and compromise. Get a reality check from someone you trust on options for consequences. Follow through on consequences.
Don’t take his refusal personally–see it as learned behavior, which he uses to avoid confrontation. Learn stress management techniques to deal with your own hurt and sense of betrayal. Take a meditation or yoga class to learn deep breathing to deal with stress. Learn to observe your own disappointment rather than wallowing in it.
Take courses on couples communication. Go into marriage counseling with someone who understands this passive-aggressive man–angry wife dynamic. If he refuses, there is only one way left:
Get help in understanding your own needs that push you to continue in an unhappy relationship.