Recognizing Four Passive-Aggressive Behaviors in Your Marriage and Tips to Overcome Them

Do you ever feel as though your partner ignores or brushes off your seemingly simple requests to perform routine household chores such as emptying the dishwasher or picking up some groceries from the local market? Do you feel like he/she “shuts down” conversations using words like “Whatever” or “Fine then”? Is there an emotional undertone of anger or hostility to most of the conversations you have with your partner? Do you feel like your partner is purposefully completing the requested task incorrectly, just to spite you? If you have answered “Yes” to any of these questions, your marriage may be suffering from passive-aggressive tendencies.

Behaving in a passive-aggressive manner is very common. In fact, we have all done it at one point or another. When we are irritated with a friend, parent, or spouse, we sometimes convey this anger through the tone in our voice or the subtle behaviors we carry out to “get back at” the person who made us feel this way in the first place. We do this so that the other person “gets the message”, but does so without a full-blown fight or argument. However, passive-aggressive behavior is not healthy for any relationship, especially a marriage relationship.

Over the years, I have helped many married couples in the San Diego area through the process of marriage counseling and couples counseling. Together through this process, we have identified many passive-aggressive behaviors and patterns that occur frequently in marriages. Since the nature of these behaviors are so common, I have compiled a list of the four most common passive-aggressive indicators for you to be on the look-out for – for both yourself and your partner. Consider these behaviors as warning signs. Passive-aggression is unhealthy and can spiral out of control into a full-fledged argument, so you want to make sure that you and your partner are communicating with each other as positively as possible and that you keep the passive-aggression to a minimum. After I describe the passive-aggressive behaviors, I will offer you some tips for combating these behaviors so that they do not become the central mode of communication in your marriage.

Passive-Aggressive Behaviour #1: Denial – No one likes to fight or argue, that is why most people deny their true feelings of anger in fear that the situation will get worse if others become aware of his/her anger.These people mask their feelings using a common defense mechanism: Denial. You may recognize this defense mechanism, or have perhaps utilized it yourself. Saying things like “I’m not mad” and behaving happy and smiling when questioned about your emotions is a very common form of passive-aggressive behavior exhibiting denial. Instead of using this opportunity to express your true feelings of anger, you avoid the question entirely by behaving in the complete opposite manner of how you truly feel. Follow this link for page 2 of this article.