At Psychology Today, Susan Harrow wrote an article explaining this new book. Here’s a snippet:
"According to communication pioneer Professor Albert Mehrabian,"7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is sent in the words that are spoken; 38% of feelings and attitudes contained in messages is expressed in the way that the words are said, and 55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the facial expression."
… What complicates the matter is that when the person who receives an apology isn’t buying it, or feels like it’s just being said to shut them up, the apology itself can ignite a cycle where the person sincerely apologizing feels hopeless. When his apology isn’t accepted, it refuels his anger.This is one of the reasons Dreyfus created her written flash cards which can help couples who are fighting or at an impasse calm down and get through to each other in less than a minute and turn a mean interaction into a loving one. The flash cards are a series of warm and calming self-aware messages that can be held up in the midst of an argument. For example it may be scary to say, "I'm afraid if I say I'm sorry, you'll make everything all my fault." But holding up the card can neutralize the difficulty."
A very interesting idea, right? Upon reading this, we immediately thought about the difficulty many couples have when talking about passive aggression in the marriage. We’ve heard it so many times - “I got too angry and ending up yelling at him,” or, “He took everything the wrong way, because of course he sees it as me attacking him when I say the truth!”
Using flash cards in this way (whether you buy the book, or make your own customized ones) is something we’ve talked about in our system for men, “Stop Your Passive Aggression and Save Your Marriage.” It really does help to neutralize the emotions that come up in a tough conversation, so that the first hard confessions can be said without misinterpretation.
For the passive aggressive man, it can be especially helpful because it offers him a way to distance himself a little from the pain of certain admissions, such as #47 from Nancy Dreyfus: "I was just reacting to you as if you were my mother, and I know that you are not."
How is the communication going in your passive aggressive marriage? Are you ready for a change? You have many options on your side!