The term “passive-aggressive behavior” refers to indirect expression of hostility. When passive-aggressive people get angry, they try to suppress their anger and start acting withdrawn. Although they don't express their anger and hostility openly, people around them can feel it, which leads to frustration and conflict. Living with a passive-aggressive person is not easy. How to deal with a passive-aggressive partner? Here are some tips.
Tip #1. Don't ignore passive-aggressive behavior. Passive-aggressive behavior can be hard to notice. You might think that everything is fine (better than fine as you never argue with your partner), whereas your partner is quietly sulking.
Passive-aggression has multiple symptoms. For example, passive-aggressive people are in denial of the impact of their behavior, they repeatedly forget to do things they've promised to do, they procrastinate, act sullen, play the victim, withhold communication, refuse to cooperate, etc. It is essential that you recognize these symptoms, the earlier, the better.
Tip #2. Don't blame yourself. Remember that their passive-aggressive behavior is not about you, even though your partner claims otherwise. Even if you've done something wrong, your mistakes are not an excuse for passive-aggressive behavior, because mature people solve problems by addressing them and not by withdrawing and shifting the blame.
Tip #3. Don't react with aggressiveness or passiveness. Passive-aggressive behavior is extremely frustrating, so it is very tempting to scold, nag, or get angry is response. However, aggression will make your partner want to rebel against you, which will escalate the situation. Being passive about the situation won't do you any good, either. When you let it slide, you encourage your partner's passive-aggressive behavior. You shouldn’t ignore the problem expecting it to go away, because it won't.
Tip #4. Be assertive. The first step to solving any problem is acknowledging it. You need to talk to your partner about their passive-aggressive behavior and let them know that it bothers you. Don't let them get away with their behavior and don't be afraid to confront them. However, you should choose your words carefully. Never criticize your partner's personality, don't judge or blame them. Focus on the behavior you don't like.
Tip #5. Set your boundaries. You need to know what your uncrossable boundaries are and make sure your partner is aware of them. Hold on to your boundaries no matter how hard your partner resists. By letting them cross these boundaries and get away with it, you encourage passive-aggressive behavior.
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