The Passive Aggressive Spouse

Is your spouse passive aggressive? The words passive and aggressive seem in direct opposition to each other – but the truth is when your spouse is passive aggressive you may feel like you are sleeping with a porcupine in sheep’s clothing.

What Does It Mean For a Spouse to Be Passive Aggressive?

A passive aggressive spouse may never seem angry, but you discover that your shorts have been shrunk in the wash or the errand you assumed they were doing is completely skipped. I know one woman who’s always been passive aggressive in her relationships and no matter how furious with her partner she becomes, she does nothing directly to address that anger.

In fact, in the last year she has:

  • Dropped his ‘favorite’ glass on accident while loading the dishwasher
  • Burnt dinner on at least four different occasions (including overcooking his steaks to something he can’t eat)
  • Bleached his dark colored shirts and colored green or yellow his white shirts
  • Given him the wrong time for events so that he will be late or miss out on something that’s going on

All of these actions are accidental or she didn’t really mean to to do these things, but she is. It’s creating a situation ripe with tension and bound to cause even more problems. When your spouse is passive aggressive it can leave you feeling frustrated, manipulated and uneasy because they never know for certain what their spouse’s reactions are going to be.

The Thorny Way

While I’m not an expert on passive-aggression, I’ve seen a great deal of it in friends both current and former. It always seems to start with their image or their learned behavior from childhood – where they were required to always be the ‘good’ one. ‘Good’ children don’t get angry, they don’t cry, they don’t lash out. ‘Good people’ don’t express their anger in a way in which they perceive or is perceived as being what most of us would call a ‘healthy’ manner.

If you or your spouse is guilty of being passive aggressive, this is a time when it may be crucial for you to seek out marriage counseling in order to address what your triggers are and how to address your anger and issues between you in a healthier manner.

Call Them On Their Behavior

Admittedly, I’ve taken the passive aggressive way out before and so has my husband, we both reserve the right to call the other party on it. For example, his passive aggressive way of handling going somewhere he doesn’t want to go is to drag his heels and take far too long to get ready and thus making us late. I have before and likely will again leave him behind and go ahead without him on those occasions, leaving him to catch up later.

It works in reverse as well. It’s important to recognize that many times – passive aggressive behavior is not your fault – it’s the fault of the person expressing him or herself this way and it’s their issue. It’s a tough one to face, but it can be harder than it sounds on paper. Interested in more information on passive aggressive behavior and other issues, check out the Mental Health Blog.

Are you or your spouse passive-aggressive?

Related Articles:

Creating A Safe Environment for Conflict

Instinct: Our Fight or Flight

This entry was posted in Marriage Exercises and tagged by Heather Long. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.