The holidays are meant to be a time of love, joy, and togetherness, of parties, dinners and mistletoe. Instead, you find yourself
-arriving late to your best friend’s party and missing the traditional champagne toast because your husband needed to catch the last quarter of the game on tv or…
-standing beneath the mistletoe in your new dress as your husband snorts and walks right past you, in front of everyone or..
- cringing as your brother laughs when your husband comments at the dinner table on how you “never could get the gravy right” or…
-losing your temper because your husband “forgot” to pick up the garlic you needed for the casserole you are making to take to your work potluck tomorrow or…
If you live with a passive aggressive husband, the holidays can be a source of terrible disappointment, frustration and sadness. You see commercials, greeting cards and real life examples of happy couples snuggling, kissing and laughing together and the pain, abandonment and neglect you feel over your relationship is magnified. Not only that, but your husband’s passive aggressive behaviors seem to be magnified as well. Questions probably plague you about Why are the holidays so much more difficult? Why does this happen? Is there anyway they could get better so you could experience those magical holiday moments again one day?
Why are the holidays so much more difficult?
There are many reasons the holidays may make it harder for you to deal with your husband’s passive aggressive behavior, no matter whether you have been making changes and improvements in this up until now or not. The holidays add more pressure to you, for better or worse, with extra things on your to do list like hostessing for family, cooking holiday meals, doing holiday shopping, etc. More pressure means less reserves of energy and calm in your emotional “bank account.”
Dealing with your family may be very challenging for you emotionally as well if you have strained relationships and you both need more support from your partner and are pulled in more directions of handling others’ dysfunctional behaviors. Also you may, like thousands of others, have some idealized expectations and hopes for how couples are “supposed” to act and feel at the holidays, so the disappointment is keener when your husband lets you down.
Why is your Husband’s passive aggressive behavior worse?
Passive Aggressive behavior stems from an avoidant attachment style learned in infancy and childhood that taught your husband that people and relationships cannot be trusted. The holidays are a time of family, love, hope and nostalgia often drawing people consciously or subconsciously back to their childhoods.
Being that his Passive Aggression is his inner child’s shield and sword used to protect himself in the face of family, love and hope, then naturally your husband will retreat behind this dysfunctional protection even further than usual. He is feeling the pressure, dreading being a disappointment for others again, and he just doesn’t have the same abilities or methods to address his feelings as you do.
Is there any way things can get better so you can enjoy the holidays?
Absolutely. Passive Aggression, remember, is a pattern of behaviors based on past hurt. Recognising the pattern, the behaviors, and the hurt is important. Once you and he reach that step, with some help from reading materials, easy tests and enlightening discussions, you can move toward healing, leaving behind those hurts and changing the behaviors. You can begin on a plan for change, even taking steps right now that can make this holiday more bearable for you both. Then of course, together you can continue to work on repairing your relationship after the stress of the holidays is over so you can actually look forward to the “season of hope” next year.