The Detriments of Being Passive-Aggressive in Relationships


Dealing with a spouse or partner that exhibits passive-aggressive behavior is one of the greatest challenges in a relationship. Do not submit meekly to the ill-treatment. It will do no good for your relationship. Help your loved one realize his shortcomings and lend him a hand to overcome it.

How can you recognize passive-aggressive behavior?

People with passive aggressive behavior intend to irritate and make others angry. They can be recognized by their habitual passive resistance at work, home and at social functions.

Does your partner purposefully take ages to dress up for a party so that you arrive there almost when the party is winding up? Does he say “yes'” when you know he means to say “no?” Does he unreasonably criticize others in subtle ways? Do you notice he “forgets” to do things deliberately or repeatedly is late for work? Does he exaggerate his misfortunes and always complain that he is misunderstood? If your spouse comes across as inefficient, pessimistic, stubborn and gloomy, the warning bells should ring.

What leads to passive-aggressive behavior?

It is believed that such behavior possibly stems from a feeling of rejection and frustration in childhood. The pent up anger and stress, which is expressed in a “passive” way in childhood, builds up and continues as this personality disorder in adulthood.

How can I deal with my passive-aggressive spouse?

1. Stop feeling guilty

You are not to blame in any way if your partner exhibits passive-aggressive behavior. Instead focus on ways to make him realize it and seek help.

2. Don’t be a doormat!

Timidly submitting yourself to his domination and insults will only reinforce his behavior. Refuse to be bullied in this manner. Confront him and demand an apology. Speak your mind. Let him know how much his behavior hurts you.

3. Make him realize his folly

Do not excuse him or try to “bail him out” of this flawed behavior. Passive-aggressive persons dwell in self-pity. If he denies the problem, subtly point out his dishonesty and inconsistencies. Passive-aggressive partners love to say “I never said that!” So record calls and conversations, keep a memo book! Explain how his behavior affects your relationship as well as his career, besides other things. Clarify how his own actions and not others contribute to his sufferings. Make him realize that if he values your relationship, he should accept there is some trouble. Only then can you help him deal with it.

4. Help him help himself

Once he accepts the problem, stand by him to overcome it. Spare time to be with him. Have a frank talk where he can share his discontent and anger. That will prevent him expressing them in indirect ways. Seek his opinion on what makes him feel better and in what ways you can help him. Compliment him on his good qualities rather than criticizing him for his faults. Urge him to focus on the positive aspects in life. He can conquer his insecurities and his fear of conflict by trying to be more assertive in the right way.

5. Seek professional help

See a counselor if self-help does not seem to fetch the desired results. A therapist may educate him on ways to control anger and anxiety and channelize his energy for productive causes. He can also undergo an assertiveness training course to develop effective communication skills and help assert himself in a proper manner and not in an “aggressive” way.

Communication, perseverance, patience, and understanding will definitely help your loved one overcome his problem and pave the way for a happy relationship for both of you.