Is Your Partner Passive-Aggressive?

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Why I Regret My Passive-Aggressive Past [EXPERT]
Don't let passive-aggression ruin your marriage!

Theoretically, asking your husband or wife to empty the dishwasher should be totally devoid of drama or tension. It's just one of many chores necessary to keep your home functioning, right? However, with a passive-aggressive personality, any situation has the potential to go from the trivial to emotional combat. 5 Truths About Long-Term Committed Relationships

It started with the simple question from my wife, Ellyn, "Pete did you empty the dishwasher?" I didn't respond but begrudgingly left the couch and headed for the kitchen, knowing I had agreed to do it before now. I hadn't put more than three coffee cups into the cupboard when Ellyn informed me I wasn't unloading the dishwasher properly.

"Oh, really? Just what do you suggest?" I asked sarcastically. Ellyn, seemingly stunningly oblivious, responded as though I had some interest in learning a better way. "Empty the bottom rack first so dishes don't get dripped on when you empty the top rack." I fired the second salvo of sarcasm when thanking her for the lessons on dishwasher liberation.

Many times Ellyn has gotten mad at me for not following through with an agreement and this was the real problem for her. After I'd blown numerous promises, she would understandably get tense in her voice and face while expressing her frustration.

So far, this is pretty normal stuff for most marriages, but I could take it to new heights. I would criticize Ellyn for the way she got mad at me or I'd change the topic. The problem became her unreasonable way of expressing disappointment instead of my broken agreement.

This tricky psychological maneuver took absolutely no effort, thinking or planning on my part ... just pure instinct. The implication was that if she would just change the way she expressed her frustration, the problem would be solved. Better yet, if she just had more patience, I would eventually get around to getting it done. Planting The Seeds Of Love

Poor Ellyn, she was doomed if she got angry and doomed if she said nothing. Welcome to the crazy world of the passive-aggressive partner! And although I wasn't a full fledged, card-carrying passive-aggressive personality, I had the qualifications to be an honorary member of the club.

Here's a big secret about this problem: passive-aggressive behavior is a very difficult challenge for couples. The passive-aggressive person is a pain to live with and very hard to change. Passive-aggressive people are typically hypersensitive to actual or perceived criticism. Especially when they don't follow through with promises. They have great gobs of good reasons for not following through with crucial agreements.

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This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
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The Couples Institute

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Helping Couples Develop Effective Relationships

Location: Menlo Park, CA
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