How many ways can a person use to do a passive-aggressive denial?
Well, he or she can do any one of the following:
• Denial of Facts ("That event never happened: I have never forgotten your birthday")
• Denial of Awareness ("I wasn't aware of that event: Nobody told me that your mother was sick")
• Denial of Responsibility (Even if it happened, it has nothing to do with me: Mistakes were made but I wasn't in charge")
But how can you respond to his denial when you catch him/her in the act? If you choose to take this road (respond instead of retreat), there are ways that you can address his denial while it’s happening. Keep in mind that these tips are for women with patience and the time to try!
Denial of facts will mean you hear this go-to response: “I didn’t say that. I didn’t do that. That never happened. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Short of recording him during fights (which some women have done, and some have said it helps them not to deny their own perception!) you can get around this by using witnesses (just try not to drag younger children in), taking notes during a situation (with ink and paper colors he will remember), or recapping the fight when he’s calm. If he still resists, try to divert the situation away from facts (what happened) and toward consequences (what the result is right now). For example, if you’re feeling that his absence from an event was hurtful and passive-aggressive, focus less on whether he said he’d be there, and more on why his presence was important and therefore missed.
Denial of awareness: When confronted about their behavior, a passive-aggressive may say, “Yes, I see that I did x, but it was because I care about you and want to make you happy… how come you aren’t happy with me buying a new TV for you?” What you must do is make it clear that while you appreciate the intention, as above, the result is still painful. Being an adult means learning that your actions can have consequences that you must still be responsible for. However, with a passive-aggressive, patience is required to make him see that it’s not that you’re ungrateful or unwilling to see his desire to please you. Like a child, you have to divert him away from the “mommy doesn’t love me” mentality.
Here’s where things get sticky. A passive-aggressive husband may deny he has any responsibility or obligation to watch what he says or does (much like a child). He refuses to believe seriously that there are grown-up responsibilities of his role as husband and father… And we know, it’s exhausting for you to remind him over and over. Although it is hard, this is where you may have to start acting tough. If you need to leave him for a month on his own to see how he fares, perhaps that is your route. You have to make it clear to him that things fall apart when you are not around to pull your end - and you have to show how much responsibility your end demands from you, too. Perhaps this is the moment when you think that a therapist can help, but there are some caveats in this way too.