3 Healthy ways to respond to passive aggressive behavior in marriage

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Evading feelings of frustration without communicating can cause discord in marriage. Here's how you can healthily respond to passive aggressive behavior

You're running late again. Your husband just refuses to ask for directions, even after you obviously got lost following a shortcut a friend of his told him about. He knows Metro Manila like the back of his hand, he insists. But his navigation app is conking out again, and the slow moving traffic isn't helping calm you both--not one bit.

Instead of telling him to just stop and ask how to find the highway again, you sulk in your seat and pout as you mutter to yourself. He casts a sidelong glance your way and huffs. He honks his horn at no one in particular, startling you. This leaves you frustrated and annoyed at him for the rest of the day.

Does this sound familiar? Surely many couples can relate to being passive aggressive in marriage. Though it's natural to behave in this way, it should not become a habit. Here's how you can deal with it in a healthy way.

1. Know the warning signs

Passive aggressive manifests in different ways. It can be agreeing with everything your partner says only to become emotionally withdrawn later on. It can also happen when you tend to avoid conflict so often that you never seem to communicate about any issue of importance. One or both of you just wants to avoid the drama of it all. If your partner often feels misunderstood, they may form a habit of just keeping silent and waiting for frustrated emotions to pass without properly dealing with them together.

2. Don't resist anger or frustration

Encourage your partner to voice out what is upsetting them, but don't take a confrontational tone when doing so. Just because you both do not voice out upset feelings, it does not mean that they do not exist. Keeping quiet will not prevent resentment from taking root. The best way to deal with it is allow your partner to feel it without trying to negate them or get them to instantly feel or behave better.

3. Be specific and direct

The best way to address this is to communicate--and keep communicating. Nothing hurts a marriage more than growing disappointment. Dealing with it means being specific about what you can improve on, without being unfair or petty. It requires maturity and patience.

Couples often fall into passive aggressive behavior because they do not want to hurt their spouse's feelings or they just want to avoid drama altogether. Either way, letting this habit take hold of your daily interactions can lead to increasing marital strife. There are some feelings that, if allowed to fester, can unknowingly cause the deterioration of a relationship. So take charge of it before it's too late, in order to face life with all of its frustrations, in a healthy way that can even strengthen your marriage.

sources: Psychology Today, CouplesInstitute.com, CouplesTherapyInc.com

READ: Toxic relationship habits that married people think are normal

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