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Recognizing Passive-Aggressive Behaviors In A Spouse

A passive-aggressive approach to confrontation in any relationship is always a problem. However, in a marriage, the effects of this behavior can be especially problematic as it can lead to issues with communication, trust, and even intimacy. It's important to be able to identify this behavior quickly so that you and your spouse can work to move past it. 

Zero Conflict Resolution

The main thing to remember about a passive-aggressive spouse is that they rarely reveal a true sense of their feelings, and as a result, they make zero effort to resolve the problem. As a result, a spouse that behaves in this manner will generally avoid conflict at all costs. For instance, if the two of you are in the midst of a heated conversation, instead of coming up with a resolution, the person will walk away and move on as if the event never happened. 

Withholding Love

Someone who behaves in a passive-aggressive manner might withhold love or affection as a way to express their displeasure. For example, a spouse might deny their partner intimacy or say no to a date night to send a message of displeasure rather than simply communicating with their spouse about the problem. For the person on the receiving end of this behavior, it can feel as though the person is being punished as if they were a child.

Displaced Aggression

Anger is normal and healthy to some degree. However, it's important to focus anger in the right direction. A spouse who is passive-aggressive will typically direct their anger about one situation towards something entirely different. For the spouse on the receiving end, the other person's actions leave them even more confused, as they are completely clueless about the source of their partner's feelings. In some instances, it could even cause the other person to become angry as well, which won't resolve anything. 

Deliberate Negativity

A passive-aggressive spouse will always find a way to do something that they know their partner won't appreciate. For instance, consider a couple who is aggressively saving for a down payment on a home. A passive-aggressive action would be to purchase a large item without talking to your spouse with the sole intention of making him or her angry in retaliation for something they did to you. When a spouse is deliberate in their negativity, it's passive-aggressive behavior and it is never healthy.

If you recognize signs of passive-aggressive behavior in your marriage, speak up now. Going to a provider of marriage counseling services is an excellent way for you and your spouse to work through the matter.