We all accept that doing the silent treatment to your spouse is a very efficient way of processing difficult interactions…
Who wants to open up to any conversation about feelings, and all that sludge?
“Not me,” thinks this clear eyed man, and he immediately either changes the issue (what’s the weather like for tomorrow?) or resorts to a creative silence.
Silence? yes! not a pip, not a grunt, only coming and going, sleeping and eating in the most deafening silence you can imagine. Great protection shield against intruders.., right?
And the gap opened by his silence widens…how are you going to connect with him, if there are no words? Does he knows how hurtful is this cold shoulder?
Probably not. He is too busy looking ahead and ignoring your distress signals…waiting for the storm to pass by ignoring it. This is classical behavior of an immature boy scared of being abandoned by his love interest.
At this moment, is useful to talk about how to read people with insecure attachments:
If they were shaped by early childhood experiences in which they could not expect constant attention from their mother to solve such basic needs as eating, being held, soothed, and comforted, the model of human interaction they learn is: “Others can fail me and let me starve to death; is better not to trust, take care of your things yourself, and don’t let anybody get so near as to frustrate you.”
It is from this very primal model that your partner manages his world: he has only this restricted view of relationships to apply when adjusting and creating relationships with other people, including you.
The main point here is to make clear that passive aggressive behavior indicates an unhealthy personality, based on a childhood model of the world. If you really look at your partner using this frame, you will begin to see a child dealing with challenges he can’t manage (as the emotional demands of a grown up spouse) using his only and one strategy: retreat, ignore the issue, hide, clam up, withdraw into his cave.
And if you push him to deliver, you can get the whole gamut of his resistance/vengeance: negative, sarcastic comments and put downs, blaming “everyone but me,” promising but not delivering, and a wide variety of clever procrastination and sabotages to activities you want and he can’t enjoy.
If you are still dating this person, there is cause for you to pause and reflect on your own future. Do you want to raise this rebellious but needy child and include that heavy task for the rest of your life? If you are already married to him, can you find in yourself the strength to understand him and mange him in a way that doesn’t reject him, but doesn’t burdens you with his shenanigans?
Is a very difficult balance… The answer can depend on his own degree of awareness: if he can link his connection difficulties to his past childhood experience, and doesn’t consider his passive aggressive behavior the right way of connecting with you, there is some hope. He will understand that finding and securing the help of a coach, counselor or therapist is his duty
If you are still gathering your courage to raise the talk about “passive aggressive behavior” with him because he continues with his denial, you should consider ways of detach and recover some of your lost self-esteem.
If you are investing too much time and effort in a relationship that lacks intimacy, closeness or/and cooperation, take a good look at your need to live with frustration. Ask yourself: “what kind of person would I be if this projected loneliness and frustration were not in my life?”
In this world, each individual has to be in charge of his/her own development. That is our first job. If he ignores or fails owning the responsibility to develop into a capable adult, there is no amount of help from you that can cover this deficit.
When you discover that underneath his passive aggression is a failure to grow up, and of taking ownership of his own personal development, you can’t ignore the size of the challenge in front of you…and this is NOT your task.
Nobody can do this fundamental task, but ourselves. Not even loving this person a lot can replace this fundamental task…So, now, you have a decision to make: can you live with this person, knowing that he is a boy in arrested development presenting himself as a grown up? Or would you prefer to dedicate your energies to finding a grown up companion? We know how difficult is this situation….More help with this difficult decision to be found at: http://www.passiveaggressivehusband.com/pa_husband/