It's hard when you have a spouse who is always playing the victim. You ask him to do something and he always feels attacked. It's a constant battle of trying to have an actual conversation that's direct and honest and having your words twisted or ignored. In your marriage (and everyday conversation) there are important things you need to do a say, but that can't happen when your husband is trying to make you feel guilty, while not doing or saying much.
If you want to have a happy relationship but you're not sure what to do, here are three ways to confront your husband about his passive aggressive behaviors.
1. Identify the behavior
It's important to determine if your husband is actually passive aggressive or if he's just tired or having a bad day. Try to identify how and why he's being passive aggressive. Is he upset and is unwilling to confront the real issue? Is he insecure and is trying to downplay that emotion? Recognizing the behavior can help you identify what the root problem really is.
According to Psychology Today, here are the signs of passive aggressive behavior:
They are reserved and say they are fine but never act like they are. They've put up a wall or a front and avoid letting you in so you can understand what they are really feeling.
2. Subtle insults
They throw around insults you might not notice right away, but actually happen a lot. They make under-their-breath comments about your cooking, their work, the children or the cleanliness of the house instead of addressing the real issues at hand.
3. The silent treatment
When you have a fight, instead of talking it through or discussing the issues later they choose to not talk to you at all. Whether they give you the silent treatment during the conversation or hours after, this is a sign of passive aggressive behavior.
Passive aggressive stubbornness moves beyond just sticking to their side or value - they are being stubborn as a way to "get back at you". They know what they should be doing but choose not to it so you will have to pick up their slack - if he doesn't take out the trash he knows you'll do it out of anger.
After figuring out if your husband is actually being passive aggressive or not, come up with a plan and stick to it. Make your plan specific and something you're willing to follow through with.
This plan doesn't have to be private. In fact, you might want to include your spouse in this plan. Be direct - "I don't like it when you punish me by not taking out the trash. I know you were mad, but I want to work through your anger with you instead of you feeling attacked."
Give your husband a specific time when you saw the passive aggressive behavior (saying generalizations like "you always do this" will only make them defensive instead of willing to talk). Tell them how it makes you feel and let them know you want to work through their feelings together.
Scott Wetzler, Ph.D., vice chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center and author, says "make it clear that you won't tolerate being mistreated." If your mister insults you or gives you the silent treatment, call them him on it and suggest handling this issue directly and honestly.
Passive aggressive behavior is sometimes a result of fear - fear of conflict, fear of feeling blamed or fear of addressing an emotional issue.
In a recent FamilyShare article, author Jed Diamond discussed how men need to feel safe more than they need to have sex. They might not be able to say it out loud, but if you remember this fact and make your conversations a safe place for your husband to express his feelings, he may be less likely to resort to passive aggressive tactics to get his point across.
Remind the man you love that you are there for him. Don't make fun of their feelings, instead validate how they feel and remind them of your love.
Being married to someone who is passive aggressive can be very difficult, but it's not an incurable problem. Don't be afraid to lovingly confront your husband about his behaviors and together, figure out a way to work with them so you both are handling issues and concerns in a way you both can be happy with.
Christa is a part time photographer, part time writer and full time lover of life. She loves eating chocolate chip cookies and singing (but not at the same time). She has her degree in political science.