Does this sound like a familiar train of thought to you: “I’ve always tried not to show any anger, so that love and acceptance are the only things in our relationship”?
If this is familiar, then your wife telling you that there’s a problem with your behavior comes as a huge surprise!
To you, this way of behaving (controlling your emotions at all times) is something you’ve learned since childhood. If your wife can’t accept that, tough luck, right?
Well, when it comes to the status of your marriage, it may be important to make a distinction between your personality (who you’ll always be) and your learned behavior (things that you’ve done since childhood, but may be having negative consequences). Why make this distinction? Simple. It’s making it clear that she has an issue with behavior that’s been learned (and can be unlearned) and not necessarily with you as a person, lover, or husband.
Let’s look at this learned behavior. Why don’t you want to show anger now? Probably because showing anger as a child or teen had negative consequences, right? Consequences you’re trying to avoid now by repressing bad emotions.
However, anger still comes up, and anger still has to go someplace. So, what you learned in childhood and what you may still do as an adult is channel that anger “underground,” so to speak. You found ways to stick it to your enemies in subtle ways.
Does this sound familiar to how your wife describes you – perhaps you’ve heard her say something like “You seem to be two people in the same body, one nice and one bad, like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide.”
This way of living is very difficult, for both you and your family. First, you need to deny your anger; then, you need to find subtle ways of letting off steam; then, both of these actions need to be denied by your rational self, who is in charge of saying, “I’ve never did such a thing! You blame me for these things, for being passive aggressive and sabotaging you, when all I’m doing here is protecting and providing for you!”
It could be that being honest would reveal too much of your anger, so you need to find ambiguous ways of avoiding certainty. That way, you never tell her outright that she did anything wrong, or that you’re unhappy with her because of this or that.
Logically she should be very happy with you as a husband – technically, you never point out her faults or correct her mistakes upfront, only in a sly way. However, she’s not happy feeling that you don't talk about anything that could improve your relationship, even helping her improve.... Are you committed to this marriage or not?
What is it she still needs from you? Is she still claiming companionship, intimacy and sharing? Those are dangerous words; as soon as you open up, you expect that someone will get hurt, and having fights every day is tiring.
But who says it’s dangerous. Who, really? If you listen hard enough, you may hear your parents’ voices.
Are you ready to see how much effect your childhood is having on your marriage? Ready to find out for yourself whether your wife’s claims of passive aggression are real?
Visit our Passive Aggressive Test here, and learn once and for all whether she’s right.