There are many ways in which people use power to control and abuse others. This is especially true of passive aggressive behavior, which is often about making the PA look his best, while taking power from others and making them look or feel bad.
Primary methods a passive aggressive person will use to control or violate, in order to protect themselves from rejection and/or confrontation.
The Right to Know – cryptic communication – causes instability and walking on eggshells feeling (mine field)
The Right to Feel – doesn’t validate your feelings
The Right to Space - Their "stuff" crowds you out
The Right to Have Impact - Crazy-making situations really start to show when your right to impact is violated. This is when he denies (by ignoring you, by overriding your needs with his own, by refusing to meet your needs) that you have an impact on his life. We measure our existence by how much impact we have on others, both physically and emotionally. If you feel like you don’t matter to him (have not impact), it’s like being told you don’t exist at all! It is the concept of being invisible. He can make this worse by objectifying you. He may treat you like a piece of furniture, coming to you only when he has certain physical needs. He may also deny your impact on him by denying contact – in other words, anything you say about his faults will bounce off and come back as something to use against you.
Violating your Right to Know: He gives you unclear information, withholds information that you don’t “need” (like the finances), or gives you too little or too much information. With too little, you are left shaky and uncertain, realizing after he leaves that he didn’t really answer your question, or in fact made the situation look worse than you thought. This is where you may feel as if you’re expected to draw your own conclusions or “mind read.” With no information (“the silent treatment”) you feel like you’re walking on eggshells – or a mine field. When you are given too much information (anger attacks or blaming), you are not given time to speak, defend yourself, ask for clearer information, or set boundaries.
These are the main ways a passive aggressive husband exerts his crazy-making control over his partner and other people. Looking at them as your rights helps to understand this behavior as abusive – a denial of your personal rights to sanity, stability and respect.
You have the right to sanity and respect. Christ has declared that both husbands and wives are co-heirs of the fabulous inheritance he died to provide for them. In a Christian Marriage, both spouses are told to submit to one another out of “reverence” for Christ.
Creating instability (chaos) in your life is a primary method used by PAs to feel empowered. If they can make you insecure with their cryptic communication, contradictory behavior, lack of respect for financial or interpersonal boundaries, refusal to follow through on or take responsibility for their commitments, withdrawal of support when you are vulnerable, refusal to validate your feelings or look you in the eye, and chronic deceit, they feel like conquerors.
Husbands who have been made aware of their controlling and chaos producing behavior are expected to learn how to be different. Since they generally do not understand what it means to nurture and support others, they are expected to learn how to do so by going to God and getting help. They are expected to learn to stop withdrawing from those in need and stop putting people in the “dog house” as punishment for not meeting their unrealistic expectations. They must stop creating a mine field with their inconsistent behavior.
In Acts 5 we are shown that a wife must NOT submit to behaviors that are opposed to the life that God calls his born again children to, even if her husband wants her to. In fact, a godly wife is supposed to expose deceit, not cover it up. Sapphira died as a result of protecting her husband’s deceit. She was not responsible for his behavior, but she was responsible for hers.
Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors:
DECEITFULNESS and NEGATIVITY are hallmarks of Passive Aggressive Behavior. Underneath is a frightened, insecure person who doesn't know how to deal with conflict and who never learned healthy coping mechanisms.
Ways to exert control over someone by creating chaos - insecurity and instability:
Contradictory and inconsistent behavior, Lack of Trustworthiness —An individual with passive-aggressive personality disorder may appear enthusiastic to carry out others requests, but he purposely either refuses to fulfill his responsibility or performs in a manner that is not useful and sometimes even damaging.
Ambiguity and Cryptic Communication: The passive aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don’t communicate things clearly and this makes it easier for them to dodge responsibility. They expect their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs.
The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act. Normally they don’t act until after they’ve caused some kind of stress by their ambiguous way of communicating.
Being Chronically Impatient and Rushing Others to Exsasperation
Deceitfulness: They will deny evidence of wrong doing, distort what you know to be real to fit their own agenda, minimize or lie so that their version of what is real seems more logical.
Blaming Others: They are never responsible for their actions. If you aren’t to blame then it is something that happened at work, the traffic on the way home or the slow clerk at the convenience store. The passive aggressive has no faults, it is everyone around him/her who has faults and these people must be punished for those faults.
Chronic Negativity - Voices exaggerated and persistent complaints of personal misfortune. This is the antithesis of faith. They will refuse to look at solutions and prefer to stay stuck. Thus, their lack of perseverance is justified by their victim mentality. That way they can feel sorry for themselves instead of accept the sowing and reaping principle and choosing to LEARN from their mistakes.
Victimization: The passive aggressive feels they are treated unfairly. If you get upset because he or she is constantly late, they take offense because; in their mind, it was someone else’s fault that they were late. He/she is always the innocent victim of your unreasonable expectations, an over-bearing boss or that slow clerk at the convenience store.
COVERT REVENGE - Ways they Punish You
The passive aggressive might express anger outwardly as rage. However, there are many times when they will “covertly” express feelings of resentment towards others who did not meet their expectations (or did not give them the attention they felt entitled to). As a result of being taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable, they go through life stuffing much of their anger, being accommodating and then sticking it to you in an under-handed way such as the following:
Silent Treatment, inappropriate “one-word” answers, inattention, making yourself generally “unavailable”.
Withdrawal – of material support, contribution to shared goals, Re prioritizing alternate activities and goals, “go-slow’s”, procrastination or targeted incompetence are all manifestations of passive-aggressive behavior.
Intimidation - Indirect Violence or shows-of-strength such as destruction of property, slamming doors
Obstructionism, Stubbornness: Do you want something from your passive aggressive spouse? If so, get ready to wait for it or maybe even never get it. It is important to him/her that you don’t get your way. He/she will act as if giving you what you want is important to them but, rarely will he/she follow through with giving it. It is very confusing to have someone appear to want to give to you but never follow through. You can begin to feel as if you are asking too much which is exactly what he/she wants to you to feel. passively resists fulfilling routine social and occupational tasks
Off-line Criticism – propagating gossip or criticism to a third party in an attempt to negatively influence their opinion of a person.
Sarcasm, Critical and “Off-Color” Jokes – Humor which targets a specific individual is a form of passive-aggressive communication.
Intentional avoidance of responsibility (might also be a means of punishment) Some behaviors that may be used to avoid responsibility include:
Procrastination—to delay or postpone needlessly and intentionally (to not respect deadlines)
Deliberate inefficiency—purposefully performing in an incompetent manner
Chronically being late
Their Fragile Egos (probably coming from their own victimization) nurture insecurity which leads to the following:
Easily offended or insulted
Resentful of useful suggestions from others
Competitive - constantly compare themselves (maybe secretly) to others and have to put others down to feel like their own identities and self worth aren't being threatened.
Expresses envy and resentment toward those apparently more fortunate (jealous because they take it personally and see this as failure).
Sullen and argumentative
Unreasonably criticizes and scorns authority
Complains of being misunderstood and unappreciated by others
Hostile, especially toward authority figures
“The passive-aggressive man may pretend to be sweet or compliant, but beneath his superficial demeanor lies a different core. He’s angry, petty, envious, and selfish.” (Living With the Passive-Aggressive Man, by Scott Wetzler)
“Bullying is not limited to physical violence. It is a prolonged pattern of negative and repeated behaviors that overwhelm the target, degrading him or her to the point of powerlessness. It is an imbalance of power that, over time, wears down the victim.” (“In the Bully’s-eye” – vision.org)