Passive aggression is a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger i.e. non-verbal aggression such as procrastination, stubbornness, malice, sullen behavior, deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.
Having a fight with a passive aggressive spouse can be emotionally draining; not because of the actual fight itself, but because of how they go about the fight.
Communication should be one of the strong and constant pillars of relationships but the most common reaction of a passive aggressive spouse is the silent treatment or what we commonly call ‘malice’.
In this article, we examine some characteristics of passive aggressive persons and how you may cope with them.
1. The Silent Treatment: When you are dealt with a full dose of the silent treatment, you begin to wish for a full blown out fight instead because you know there is an issue but the person just refuses to say what it is.
According to this website, there are 2 other common versions of the silent treatment. One is to answer the question ‘What’s wrong?’ with ‘nothing’, when there certainly is something wrong. The other is to answer any question with just one word. This is intended to signal that there is a problem, without having to say it.
Some persons take the passive aggressive nature a step further and begin to act out in petty ways meant to hurt you and make you take more notice of them.
2. The World is at Fault: Everybody is at fault with the passive aggressive. The action of Mr. A made them react the way they did. Everything is an attack on their person and is seen as unfair. They do not like to take responsibility for how they’re acting.
3. Hostility: Aside from mono-syllabic answers and dark looks in your direction, with a passive aggressive person, every word that implies a lack of approval in what they’ve done is reacted to hostilely. Even simple comments said without rancor can be taken out of context sometimes. For example asking your passive aggressive husband to take out the trash can lead to a long face. In his mind, you’re nagging because you know he has to wash the car and do the ironing as well as other chores. It doesn’t occur to him to just say I can’t do that now because I have so much to do.
4. Resentment and Deliberate Procrastination: A passive aggressive spouse will deliberately take their time to carry out tasks you’ve asked them to do or tasks that have always been their responsibility. This is because they resent the request you’ve made of them and delaying action on that request is a way to punish you or get back to you.
5. The Last Word: They must also have the last word or last action in a fight. Even if that action is not verbal, their behavior towards you is their way of having the last hurrah and maybe showing you exactly who the boss is.
If you have not experienced any of these with your spouse, hurrah for you! However, if any of the above sounds familiar, then your spouse may be passive aggressive. This behavior can seem childish if you have a mature mind and can be exhibited by both males and females.
In a future article, we would talk about communication styles and techniques to address passive aggressive spouses.
If there are any passive aggressive behavior we’ve missed out that you know, please drop it below as a comment.