How passive aggressive can you be?

There is a long standing conversation about husbands and wives having a difference of opinion... about the husband being passive aggressive, no less!

It goes more or less like this:

  • She complains; he denies all responsibility;
  • She suffers; he ignores her suffering and walks away;
  • She gets educated or a therapist; he laughs at them;

And this can go on for years! Most of the women writing to this site begin their letters saying: "I have been married to this guy 20 years...or 15, or 25..."

This is because only recently have they put a name to this situation, and having a name situates them into a new category: "I'm married to a PA person! That is the reason for all those indicators I didn't knew how to understand before...!"

How can she really know? Well, as with some psychological disorders, the victims are the telltale indicators that something is not right. By compiling the victims' narratives, we get the picture of a behavior that is real because we can now observe its impact on its victims.

Because victims have this pain of the gap between expected behaviors and their own reality, they observe, compare, and get educated about the differences between loving, healthy relationships and the toxic ones.

There is now a lot of information coming out, and we know more and more about how passive aggressive behaviors work and what is their impact on marriages. In fact: we know that it surely kills trust-based relationships such as marriages!

As a result, for him it is becoming more difficult to deny that those separated and isolated incidents now fit into a large, ominous picture where he is now seen as the culprit of her unhappiness.

So, is there no good place left to hide, husbands? Well, there is still your well-used resource: deny and deny that you have these tendencies... and attribute the situations your wife complains about to "bad luck," misinterpretation or any other accidental cause... the purpose here is to divert, confuse and obfuscate your wife; never taking personal responsibility for anything.

How long can this work? That is the main problem with this strategy... it can work in the short term; in the long term, people tire of your endless "It wasn't me...." answer and withdraw from the emotional connection with you.

So, what's going on?

Basically, the lesson life is teaching you is "Grow up! Review those strategies coming from the times when you were a defenseless boy, and learn how to really, really have a deep connection with the people you say you love."

Because is not how many times you say that you love them, is how much sensitive you are to their inner wishes and needs. Is not how good a provider you are (that's not enough now...) but how deeply you get to know and support the growth of the people around you.

Helping them grow will help you grow and mature at the same time... which you can't do when you withdraw into your silence.

So, next time you are tempted to go into your cave, clam up, keep the silence and individual "business" for two weeks and wait for the storm to pass giving everybody the cold shoulder, remember:

Perhaps this is the last time life is giving you an opportunity to look around, see the wounds of the people who (still) love you, and take a deep breath: this is your life.

Isn't there something more courageous you could be doing with it? Like asking around to your wife the magical question: "Please, can you tell me what hurt you? This time, I'm ready to listen...?"


NoraNora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. Visit her blog and signup free to be connected to her innovative conflict solutions, positive suggestions and life-changing coaching sessions, along with blog updates, news, and more! You can even begin a conversation about your possible passive aggression with her!.
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