Passive aggressive behavior is relatively common, and includes sabotaging behaviours intended to establish a wedge of separation between both of you. Look at this list, and see how the end result is isolating the husband from the marriage, from the spouse and finally from his own feelings.
In this way, he reaches the point of hostile dependency, where he feels not tied up to an emotional relationship which risks making him feel dependent on other.
This is the perception of the spouse of a passive aggressive husband:
- Agreeing to do something and then accusing me of being demanding when he doesn’t do it.
- Saying one thing, doing another and then denying saying the first thing.
- Changing minds about what he is going to do frequently.
- Not showing interest in others.
- Displaying bitterness and jealousy at other’s achievements.
- Not accepting responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
- Continually complaining about not being appreciated for working so hard for the family but not really working any harder than anyone else.
- Mumbling so she can’t be sure of what has been said.
- Obsessive interest in internet and other distractional things.
- Distant and “busy” even when in the same room, so avoiding connecting with her.
Being one half of a passive aggressive marriage can be down right lonely and frustrating. You can’t seem to get inside your spouse’s head and understand what makes him tick.
What you see as right, he needs to say that he sees as wrong, and if you see something as a positive, he’ll turn it to a negative.
Your husband may have developed this behavior from having an unhappy childhood. If his parents were ice cold, too strict, or abusive, he may have learned that it was a bad thing to express any kind of emotions. He could not show his emotional need of and dependency from his parents, for fear of being scolded and rejected as a “sissy.” This leads to a lot of resentment and hidden anger, being expressed in a passive way later in his adulthood.
If you feel you are in a passive aggressive marriage, the best way to handle the situation is to be assertive in your communication with your spouse. Be direct with him while explaining your concerns. Assert yourself explaining the effect of his passive aggressive behavior on you; without blaming him or throwing guilt, explain what happens with you when he needs to show that he doesn’t need you.
Be prepared to hear quite a few excuses, but don’t let that side track you. Don’t allow your husband to control you or the conversation. Find a way of calling him on his passive-aggression without being holier-than-thou about it.
If you are not extremely angry or frustrated with him, perhaps you can help him see the pattern, which is usually the toughest part. If you can explain the pattern to him just when it is happening and not be too judgmental, or taking him too seriously, that would help.
The whole psychological point of being passive-aggressive is to spare oneself the messy implications of experiencing one’s anger. And it’s not easy getting a grown-up man to say he’s feeling like a child inside. Their feeling of repressed anger is so intense; it has never been dealt with in the family of origin and he could never bring it out, so it feels like a mountain of anger for him. Show him that is not such a high mountain and it can be demolished with support and humor.
If this man has the qualities you admire and love in a man, keep your cool and don’t get frustrated by his passive aggressive behavior.
Above all, don’t give up hope. Keep the conversation flowing, make gentle comments about hiding in his cave… and talk about each other’s feelings.