Passive-aggressive people are stubborn, sullen, and inefficient. They blame others, are resentful, resist suggestions, and avoid responsibility. They can’t communicate their feelings, won’t let their partner know what they want, and expect others to read their mind. The passive-aggressive person represses his or her anger and is unaware of the hostility he or she feels. Passive-aggressive people feel misunderstood, are sensitive to criticism, and drive others crazy. The passive-aggressive spouse needs to control others and is difficult to be around.
However, there are things you can do to deal with the passive-aggressive behavior.
Understand that your passive-aggressive spouse is unlikely to change. Generally, the passive-aggressive spouse is nice because he or she avoids direct confrontation and can’t express anger openly. If you want to handle your spouse’s passive-aggressive behavior, be very specific about what bothers you–avoid generalities. Be clear about what you want your spouse to do to fix the problem.
Don’t Enable Your Partner.
Do not be a secret helper who enables passive-aggressive behavior by allowing your spouse to abuse you. Don’t tolerate your spouse’s passive-aggression because it seems easier than dealing with the problem. If you avoid fighting because you fear the relationship won’t tolerate confrontation, you are accumulating future problems and enabling your spouse to continue to abuse you.
Don’t react to provocations by your passive-aggressive spouse. Remain calm, notice what your spouse is doing, recognize triggers of your own anger, and be proactive to avoid falling into a pattern of expecting something that never happens.
Focus on Yourself.
The only person you can control is yourself, so stop trying to change your spouse. Manage your own life and avoid getting manipulated. If you want to remain in the relationship, make it clear that you want to compromise so that both of you get your needs met.
The best way to deal with a passive-aggressive spouse is to actively assert your own needs and feelings in a clear way and don’t back down if they become abusive. Be factual, state your feelings clearly, avoid emotional words and use “I” statements. Don’t label your spouse as “passive-aggressive.”
Avoid Playing the Game.
Remind yourself that you are not the problem and the issue is your spouse trying to control you by being passive-aggressive. Never argue, because he or she will become defensive and deny doing anything wrong. Instead, your passive-aggressive spouse will blame you for getting angry at them!
Decide exactly what passive-aggressive behaviors you won’t allow to happen. For example, if they promise to take your car into the shop to get it fixed and then don’t do it, ask yourself if that will be a problem before you rely on your spouse to do it. If not having your car will cause you difficulty, do it yourself.
The best way to deal with passive-aggression is to bring it out into the open, let your spouse know how the behavior makes you feel, and set up consequences for the next time he or she does the same thing.
Like Attracts Like.
Be aware that people who fear confrontation often marry someone like them so both parties can avoid arguments. Everyone is passive-aggressive some of the time, but if it’s a way of life, that’s a problem. If both of you are afraid of expressing your true feelings, you need to be honest with each other about how you feel. If your partner can’t compromise and says it’s all your fault that things aren’t going well in the relationship, that’s a bad sign and you may have to get out of the relationship.