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The Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband

It is common that people, and really men, decide that it takes too much time and energy to make the effort to sort their own emotions and solve conflicts in a cooperative way. The prevailing male attitude is denial of conflict and refusal to understand the other side… For men, retreating into silence and denying the existence of the inevitable marital conflicts is the easy way out; it is fast, and “solves the problem” without confrontation (at least for now) and saves their emotional energy.

When your loved one is swallowing his feelings, denying that there is a conflict to be resolved and locking you out, the result is a lot of unresolved emotions and frustration festering inside.

With communication broken between both of you, he is withdrawing from sharing daily life more and more.

You can even have repetitive cycles of this destructive dance:

  • You feel lonely and get more emotional, reaching out to him, but he becames emotionally unavailable
  • He watches you becoming upset and thus feels the need to control himself by getting even more “calm and logical”,
  • It makes you more anxious to break the wall around him and be really understood,so you get excited and cry or shout;
  • Then he gets more and more scared of your emotional display and retreats into stony silence;
  • Now you feel utterly rejected and left out. NOW, we have a permanent emotional disconnection.

THE EMOTIONAL ROOTS OF PASSIVE AGGRESSION:

If it is difficult for a normal husband to read and address the indicators of the emotional gap between his wife and himself, what happens when he gives up and retreats into complete withdrawal? He is not developing into a grown up, married person!

Now he doesn’t respond to the obvious challenges of everyday married life; doesn’t take ownership of the shared upkeep of the marriage; and finally he develops internal resentment at you and at his present married life.

When choosing to shut up he ends up not knowing how to manage his internal emotional states, and thus how to reach out to you or the children with love and affection. Loneliness and resentment fill the void; extreme frustration can make him use shouting, cursing, or threats of violence when feeling cornered. You have an angry child forced to fulfill the obligations of a grown up, married man, and he is not happy.

DEGREES OF PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR

The impact of the passive aggressive cycle in your marriage will get even more painful with time.

IF AT FIRST: Your husband could exhibit some indicators of repressed anger:

  • Procrastinate, leave work undone, or “forget” to fulfill his share of tasks.
  • When asked about his problems he will not open up, but make excuses or blame others for his problems.
  • Or shut up completely, or omit information giving vague answers or lie to you;
  • Or deny his own behavior and claim he always has good intentions.
  • Or creating a crisis, blaming you for it, when feeling pushed to behave.

THEN: IT WILL GET WORSE:

  • Silence breeds separation and more hostility;
  • In separation we assume negative intentions of the other
  • Then we try to confirm that the other has negative intentions towards us by reading his actions in the worst possible light;
  • Finally this growing hostile communicational divide generates hostility and mistrust. LOVE IS GONE!

Let’s review the worst aspects of passive aggressive behavior, as they could appear in your intimate relationship.

You Can See Your Husband:

  • Isolating or rejecting you without an obvious reason;
  • Stopping you from expressing your feelings of love or ignoring them;
  • Preventing you from getting your family’s or friends’ support;
  • Showing sensitivity and caring one minute; hostility and resentment the next;
  • Making negative jokes about you with his friends, while smiling at you the next minute;
  • Attacking you in public with descriptions as “nagging” “controlling” “abusive” “coercive” and other words linked with abuse and control;
  • Unexpected, unprovoked anger attacks, not related to the issue being discussed, but related to the experience he is having of you through his distorted “over-controlled child” lenses;
  • As a way of frustrating you, and retaining control of the relationship he will show no interest in sex exactly when you feel that the two of you are connecting and happy together!
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