Is your wife’s most constant complaint that you never open up to her? Does she talk about your passive aggression?
If so, we encourage you to pause with us for a moment. Let’s assume that whether or not you open up (and support emotionally) your wife the way she needs, if your wife feels isolated from you, it is a problem in the relationship because she will feel hurt by you and then be unable to support you in the way that you need.
So now there are two things to think about: do I or do I not open up to her? and how can I respond to her hurt her feelings, either way?
A quick way to get an idea about your ability to open up now is to think back to whether you could have open conversations, feelings of anger included, when you were a child.
When you were a child, were you restricted from expressing anger toward your parents? If you had a need, and were feeling it keenly, what happened when you expressed it? If you were guilt-tripped for being too “needy,” shamed for being a baby or a whiner, you probably taught yourself to just shut up when you needed something from other people.
In order not to feel pity for yourself, you would have then taught yourself that repressing emotions and sucking things up was an admirable trait; a feat of skill, something only a manly man could achieve.
Still not sure – maybe some seems right, some not quite? Some other ways you can know that you had trouble opening up is that you would have shown your frustration in ambiguous ways. You might have destroyed your own toys, physically hurt yourself, or wet the bed. You may have also fallen behind in school, even if you were very smart.
If you can identify with this type of childhood, the real situation at home now is that these old defensive mechanisms are still at work, although your ways of not opening up may be different. You may be going silent for days or weeks, for example. The truth remains that just now, this behavior is destroying any intimacy you were able to build with your loved one. For now, she feels condemned to loneliness by your withdrawal and silent days, and you are trapped in a lonely jail of your own making.
Want to know how to walk out of this trap? Do you dare to look back to your past and identify the forces that here and now sabotage your marriage?
Here is your next step: take the Passive Aggressive Test. If you are found to have no passive aggressive behaviors, you know that there is something else going on to create a wound between you and your wife. And, in the event that some of your behaviors are passive aggressive, you will receive immediate options for improving your communication style at home.