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

Passive-Aggressive Behavior #2: Withdrawal – Rather than discussing what is bothering them, a person using this passive-aggressive behavior will likely withdraw from the argument, brushing it off with phrases such as “Fine then” or “Whatever”.

This is unhealthy for two reasons: 1) It halts all communication entirely, since not much else can be said after a person exhibits the desire to withdraw from a conversation and 2) It represses the person’s true emotions of anger and hostility, meaning that the individual is still feeling these feelings, but is not expressing them to his/her partner. As you know from my previous blogs, positive communication is the key to any healthy relationship, therefore withdrawal is a poisonous behavior in any relationship and should be considered a “red flag” that your marriage is suffering from poor communication.



Passive-Aggressive Behavior #3: Procrastination – No one enjoys doing household chores, but we all know that they must be accomplished to maintain order within a household. A person behaving passive-aggressively and employing the procrastination behavior will verbally agree to complete these mundane tasks, but may stall their completion. By complying verbally, the passive-aggressive person avoids disagreement in the short-term, but also causes anger and upset by postponing the completion of these chores behaviorally.


Passive-Aggressive Behavior #4: Acting Confused – This is pretty much the exact opposite of procrastination (behavior #3). A passive-aggressive person may not postpone the completion of a mundane task, but instead, he/she will complete the task quickly, but in a way that is unacceptable or not up to par. This person may purposefully complete the required task in the wrong way, which of course achieves the goal of irritating the person who prompted the completion of the chore in the first place. In this way, the person exhibiting the passive-aggressive tendencies is technically “complying” with the request by completing it, but is achieving his/her goal of angering the other person by completing the task incorrectly. When questioned or confronted about his/her behavior, a passive-aggressive person using this behavioral strategy may act shocked, or say things like “I didn’t know what you meant”.

As you can see, passive-aggressive behaviors are quite common in marriages and can be detrimental to a healthy relationship. Now that you’ve read about the warning signs and some of the passive-aggressive behaviors to look for both within yourself and within your partner, I will offer you some tips to practice in between marriage counseling sessions. Follow this link for page 3.

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