What is Best: Ignore, Suffer, or Confront Passive Aggressive Behavior?
Here is really the obnoxious situation that spouses complain about: the moment when you realize that your partner is avoiding going along with you using some passive-aggressive response. It takes some minutes for you to realize that you are not getting any response, not even a "no," because he is evading the issue in a very sophisticated way... you are left holding the bag! And you need to stop yourself reacting with anger and frustration and to be able to think...and do what is best for your peace of mind.
If you find yourself frequently in this nowhere land, confused and frustrated remember the basic ideas:
Part of the work of being in a marriage is to be able to accept the aggravation of doing honest emotional confrontation. When people are unhappy with some aspect of the marriage, be it communication or household chores, it behooves each one to confront the other about the difference and negotiate a better result.
A person in this situation needs to invest some emotional capital, time, patience, and other resources to be able to negotiate and get to a shared decision...Implicit here is that you acknowledge that having consensus with your partner is important for both partners' individual satisfaction.
Well, scratch all that. We are back into childhood territory, where using the passive-aggressive shortcut allows him to express some negative feelings doing smart obstruction of your planning. Throw into the pot the satisfaction that revenge provides, and you can see why passive aggression is his winning choice!
Here we can answer with the first choice: ignore as many of the passive-aggressive games as you can. Don't even mention that you have discovered the name of his game, to start with. As soon as you call him "you are acting in a passive-aggressive way," he will begin harassing you with this term, challenging you to prove it, and making fun of you.
Remind yourself that your passive-aggressive partner is doing this for a lot of personal reasons: attention, keeping a sense of being your victim, revenge (from a real or imagined hurt from you or another person from his past) or just to show that they don't have to do what you are asking them to do, as to keep alive the little rebel against the world they have inside.
If you don't react, they don't get the reward they were seeking, and eventually, they will stop the behavior. Remember one of the principles of Whale Done: reward good behavior, ignore bad behavior. So many times it gets easier to slam the door, go to the movies by yourself, go shopping, visit a friend, and leave the battleground instead of engaging in a lost battle. Besides, you have the opportunity to remember how much fun you can get from normal activities otherwise forgotten in your daily life!
What if the situation is such that you need to confront it? If so, you need to control yourself: avoid raising your voice, yelling or crying..Strong emotions are something they can't manage and in the best-case scenario, they will quit the room, or worst, they will confront you.
And say little, but whatever you say, it has to be something you can follow through later. Don't bluff: if you say I will not cook, don't enter the kitchen! I have too many calls of women in their 50s, telling all the complaints about him, but they accept that they continue doing their part of household chores as if they were satisfied with their marriages. Stop sending this contradictory message!
State how the behavior is causing harm, declare that you can't tolerate the offending behavior, and say the consequences that will follow if they don't quit.
What this post intends is to remind you that you have choices, that some choices are better than others, and that using your choices you can recover your personal power. And, whatever you do, please, tell us below in your comments...I really appreciate your comments here!