How to Heal a Passive Aggressive Marriage

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					     How to Heal a Passive Aggressive
We all dream of happiness, right?

When you dream of happiness, you tend to envision a relationship
where there is a fair share of give and take. Mutual support is expected
and welcomed. It is very easy to imagine and expect attention, care
and permanent interest from a spouse. Whatever our past experiences,
this is what everybody dreams...

Why marry, otherwise? if both parties are grown ups, then they know
what they need and expect from the most important life relationship,
that is marriage.

When the inevitable problems appear, if the two are mature enough
they will know how to talk about their needs and then negotiate with
the spouse a shared decision about possible solutions. This is, in a
nutshell, what healthy marriages are up to: a search for solutions to
solve both partners’ needs.

Sometimes there is a break and this implicit contract never happens.
 If isolation and loneliness set in, intimacy disappears in utter silence,
and the spouse is surprised, and shocked. This is not what was
expected! Why one of them is withdrawing into himself?

Perhaps it is easier to attribute this situation to the role learning
process where both people need to adapt to their new role as spouses.
The lessons of marriage are not just learned in the first month!

Sometimes the situation keeps going on with long silences, and
feelings not expressed. Frustration and resentment grow like a bad
weed and the initial promise of marriage is seen as a cruel joke.

What happened? Living together in the same space pushes both
spouses to deal with previously ignored issues: how much proximity?
Where are personal limits drawn? How to negotiate intimacy without
feeling invaded or controlled?

What we are doing, unconsciously, is to put into play the only rules
we have learned in life: the ways in which our own parents did their
marriage. We saw them, their distance or proximity; their ways of
reflecting trust or satisfaction for being in each other's company.

                      “Recovering from Passive Aggression”
                       © Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.
Probably their lack of communication skills was painful: when there
was a problem that needed a candid approach to be solved, they didn't
know what to do. Retreating into silence and expecting the other to
understand without words is one of the traps of marriage.

In the "expecting to be magically understood by the other myth," there
is a party who believes that the other side bears the responsibility for
initiating contact, opening up issues and offering solutions.

From their own side, they feel safe in silence and don't recognize the
impact this silence has on the other, coming across as carelessness
and callous indifference. If this "clamming up" is constant, and there
are no bridges to rescue the intimacy, then one person in this couple
is using passive aggressive behavior to send a message of frustration
and resentment.

You could be immersed in a long term relationship that brings you
confusion, isolation or anger for ever without realizing that this kind of
pain is a product of your partner's passive aggressive communication

A passive aggressive intimate connection is a sad paradox. It is as if, in
the middle of our constant search for love, companionship and support,
we found instead a huge dark cloud that says:

"My job is to drive you crazy with confusion and frustration. I will
pervert and block all your steps towards reaching love in such a way
that it will be impossible for you to discover who did it and how it was
done...meanwhile I'm professing love and devotion to you."

This is the challenge presented by the passive aggressive person's
constant emotional sabotage, which has the objective of sustain a
permanent resistance to any deep intimacy, trust and union.

Why does this happen? It's difficult to accept, but some people are so
scared of being deeply loved, that they will unconsciously frustrate all
steps towards intimacy and connection.

You need to consider this possibility, if you are confronted with undue
isolation and rejection in your daily-married life. To be able to identify
this behavior, you need to know the multiple ways in which this passive
aggression will rear its ugly face.

Perhaps if we review some of them, we can begin to offer you a
strategy to understand how it happens and so reduce the damage. Let
me count the ways...

                      “Recovering from Passive Aggression”
                       © Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.
1.- IF you feel confused after attempting to clarify things with him:
Probably you are fed a lot of contradictory messages.

      • On one level: He'll say his actions stem from good intentions;
      he wants to provide support;
      • On another level: He does "forget" his commitments and
      provides silly excuses.

Your Response:
This indicator is a good one, because your confusion is a real, valid
signal of what is going on. Trust your brain, and recognize that you are
living with a "confusion machine," and thus you can begin to protect
yourself. Take your confusion seriously and fill your mind with clarity:

      •   Write on your diary;
      •   Go for a walk to think about your life goals;
      •   Think on how do you want to feel;
      •   Do your breathing exercises and feel whole inside;
      •   Talk with a friend who admires you.

2.- IF he is always focused on the negative aspects of everything,
his attitude is dampening your enthusiasm. Nothing of what you say
can make him feel positive about shared projects. He will challenge
your skills, abilities and resources. So you are forced to work twice in
order to get his support and convince him that projects are doable.
Meanwhile, where has all the joy of dreaming gone?

Your Response:
You need to be sure of your own merits and accomplishments, and be
proud of them. Remind yourself constantly about your good qualities,
before it's too late and you begin to accept your partner's misery
framing as the mirror with which you perceive yourself.

    • Catch yourself when you begin to tell yourself that nothing is
      possible and tell yourself to stop!
    • Do some breathing exercises and tell yourself how good you
      are at what you do.
    • Keep your good friends around, so they can also remind you of
      your good qualities.

3.- Sabotaging your best projects: Because your partner will
perceive your projects as threatening the amount of attention now

                      “Recovering from Passive Aggression”
                       © Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.
allocated to him, she/he will sabotage them. If you show enthusiasm
and excitement for some personal project, it is sure that you will
receive negative opinion, criticism and put down comments.

Your Response:
Don't expect or want anything important, fundamental, or vital from
a PA partner, at least at the beginning. If you show enthusiasm and
high expectations, your project will be nipped in the bud. If you can
present the most fabulous ideas with a blank face, then you'll likely to
get what you want. Learn to control any visible emotional connection
or desire, while you move ahead with your projects simultaneously.

4.- Giving you the "Cold shoulder..." What is the cold shoulder?
"Maintenance of aloof silence as an expression of one's anger or
disapproval: a deliberate discourteous act." Are you getting the silent
treatment, but you don't know why? He used to speak to you in a
normal way, but now he is keeping conversations with you (not with
his friends) to the bare minimum? This can be hurtful, frustrating and
ends up destroying your self-esteem.

Your Response:

Think this reaction is his choice, because he could behave in a different
way if he chooses, and that this behavior is not revealing or confirming
anything about your value as a person.

You are not responsible for his behavior, he is deciding to be cold and
distant and controlling. It is not about anything you did! If he has a
disagreement with your actions, he needs to tell you, speak up and
resolve the issue; this is not the right behavior!

Again, detaching yourself, having your own projects and friends, and
managing your own sources of appreciation and recognition can help
you protect your core from the isolation forced unjustly on you. When
you feel stronger, perhaps you would try to confront him by explaining
the impact that this behavior has on you, and on the future of your


Living with a person who relates in this way can induce pain, confusion
and loneliness. Regardless of that, if his good qualities are what you
appreciate in him, you might decide to focus only on his good aspects
and try to make an effort to develop a stable and long term relationship
within the limits of his responses. Accept what he can give; don't

                      “Recovering from Passive Aggression”
                       © Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.
expect what he can't and be in the lookout of alternative sources of
support for your own self-esteem needs.

  Nora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and
  trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc. If
  you are interested in learning how to live a better life,
  free from hidden aggression, we give you the tools to be

Being in a passive aggressive marriage is a tough challenge!

To help navigate this difficult path, you have lots of help and support
in the ebook: "Recovering from Passive Aggression."

               “Recovering from Passive Aggression"!...

                      “Recovering from Passive Aggression”
                       © Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.