I recently received this question, "My husband is passive aggressive and I'm at my wits end! Is there anything I can do to end this behavior?" You can take measures to help curb your spouse's behavior, and my answers are below. Keep reading in case you yourself are experiencing a similar situation. The answers will apply to either spouse, as both the husband and the wife can be quite guilty of this kind of behavior.
More inspiration for dealing with an emotionally abusive spouse:
Dealing with a passive aggressive spouse can be extremely frustrating and confusing, as well as embarrassing. However, the way you respond to the behavior will influence whether or not the behavior changes or continues.
When your spouse behaves in this manner, they don’t speak or behave in a manner that is consistent with the way they feel. Instead, they pretend to agree with others and then secretly sabotage the efforts.
Examples of passive aggressive behavior include:
- A husband tells his wife he will go to dinner at his mother-in-law’s home but later says he has a headache and cannot attend.
- A wife tells her husband she agrees with the new budget he created but she then goes on a shopping spree and says the kids needed new clothing.
- A husband agrees to mow the lawn but then tells his wife the mower won’t start so he can get out of doing it.
- A wife agrees to spend less time on the computer. She purposely forgets to pay the bills so she can later remind her husband that without internet access, she can’t conduct their electronic banking.
Reasons Your Husband is behaving this way:
It’s important to look at the possible reasons why your husband doesn’t want to be direct and honest with you when he disagrees. People usually behave in a passive aggressive manner because they want to avoid confrontation.
Take a look at how you would respond if he was direct and honest with you. For example, do you yell at him when he disagrees? If so, he may be trying to avoid a fight.
Sometimes this behavior develops as a result of a habit. Perhaps he grew up in a home with a lot of conflict and now goes to great lengths to avoid any type of conflict possible.
Take some time really thinking about the likely reasons your husband may behave in this manner. Also, take an honest look at your own behavior and how it might influence him.
The best way to respond to passive aggressive behavior is to do so in a direct manner. Remember, however, that confrontation doesn’t need to be negative and it doesn’t need to result in fighting.
Instead, point out some of his behavior that you find to be passive aggressive. Listen to what he has to say about the reasons for his behavior.
Work to establish trust in your marriage. If your husband trusts that you will respond appropriately, it’s much more likely he will respond in a direct manner when he disagrees.
A couples counseling session would be very beneficial in your case as well. Contact us to learn more about how it can help your situation. If your spouse will not come in to a therapy session, whether in person or via Skype, consider taking our marriage counseling course on your own. The changes that you implement on your own will certainly trickle down and affect everyone in your house, even those not directly participating in the program.
Be in touch,
Shlomo and Rivka Slatkin