Some times, there is a couple that engage in a desperate spiral of reciprocal misunderstanding:
Look at how the spiral proceeds:
She is describing what happens when she shows her growing desperation at the communication gap that is isolating her:
- When I get more and more emotional,
- You get more calm and logical,
- It makes me more and more anxious to be understood,
- Then you get more logical and retreat into stony silence…
- I’m shut off, left in loneliness.
What other channels has she left? What other ways are there to express her anguish, her loneliness and the pervasive wish to be understood, deeply understood by the most important person in her world?
This serious and repetitive argument is but the tip of the iceberg, as underneath is the anxiety for defeating loneliness and separation by connecting. If a man sees this aspect of the fight, as a desperate claim for reconnecting, he is now on the right path. Real emotional strength from a husband has nothing to do with passive aggressive calm and restraint. He could stop withdrawing and connect asking about her experience….But this is not the case, and both feel trapped in this dynamics.
Women discovering that they are trapped in this passive aggressive isolation, express a common question: “I would like to have the help of a counselor or therapist, someone to bridge the gap and help us talk in a more humane way, but when I called one, he told me they he didn’t address passive aggression. What I need is therapy for his passive aggression. The trap is that the one doing such nasty behavior is my husband and he rejects any external help…how can I get help for my passive aggressive marriage then?”
If the husband doesn’t want to take up the responsibility for his own behavior, and refuses to go to couple’s therapy, it doesn’t mean that she is condemned to suffer alone forever.
What am I teaching my clients here? I’m teaching them how to optimize the visit to a coach or therapist. She needs to get an individual counselor that understands this particular style of marital interaction, knows the progressive hurt happening on her personality and can prevent or repair the damage while supporting the wife to recover her identity.
But, all therapists know about passive aggression, right? Not in all cases. The wife will have to explain to the therapist that she wants to have the focus of the conversation on how to manage the impact of husband’s behaviors. Only later she can focus on how or why she is depressed, demoralized, or low in self-esteem in this poor situation. This book will shorten the time in the therapist’s office, because the client will know exactly what her pain points are, inviting her counselor to provide solutions to urgent issues. Once they are addressed, she will be empowered enough to manage or transform her participation in a passive aggressive marriage towards a more satisfactory one…
Want to hear a short radio interview about exactly this book? Here is the link. Enjoy!