In my last entry on this topic I talked about a terrible example of me promising to protect my wife, promising to use condoms, and then, subconsciously succumbing to my own inner selfishness and laziness, failing to honor my commitment. Just as an aside, another stupid aspect of this is that I suspect condoms would actually improve our sexual experience because I tend to ejaculate too quickly with TL without condoms. Anyway, while I hope I’m not too late to find some way to demonstrate my genuine concern for TL’s safety — greater than for my own selfishness — let me consider other examples of bad behavior that could potentially be labeled passive-aggressive.
4. “I didn’t know you meant now.” “On a related note, passive aggressive persons are master procrastinators. While all of us like to put off unpleasant tasks from time to time, people with passive aggressive personalities rely on procrastination as a way of frustrating others and/or getting out of certain chores without having to directly refuse them.” Is this what I did when I failed to get a therapist immediately after our most recent move, failed to keep up on “the work” after our move, and failed to get a vasectomy until reminded? Consciously, no. I clearly remember that I did not create a conscious strategy for avoiding or delaying those tasks.
But, did I subconsciously delay as part of a habit of passive-aggressive behavior? Maybe. How can I tell? What can I do about it? I’m not sure. I hope that awareness of my own tendencies and habits goes a long way toward helping me recognize such things in the future and nip them in the bud.
5. “You just want everything to be perfect.” “When procrastination is not an option, a more sophisticated passive aggressive strategy is to carry out tasks in a timely, but unacceptable manner.” Though both my mother and my wife have accused me of this behavior, I am sure I never did this. Nonetheless, I should probably watch myself for this in the future.
6. “I thought you knew.” “Sometimes, the perfect passive aggressive crime has to do with omission. Passive aggressive persons may express their anger covertly by choosing not to share information when it could prevent a problem. By claiming ignorance, the person defends inaction, while taking pleasure in a foe’s trouble and anguish.” Again, I have not done this as part of a conscious strategy. My many lies of omission were motivated by either cowardice or by an active (aggressive-aggressive) intention to deceive. Again, I should watch myself for this behavior in the future.
7. “Sure, I’d be happy to.” Have I ever said something like this, knowing I would not follow through? I have never consciously done this in my marriage. If I ever did it in another context, it was so far in the past that I don’t remember it. Again, I should watch myself for this.
8. “You’ve done so well for someone with your education level.” No, I have always hated when other people said things like this, and I have always actively tried to avoid saying things like this.
9. “I was only joking” “Like backhanded compliments, sarcasm is a common tool of a passive aggressive person who expresses hostility aloud, but in socially acceptable, indirect ways.” Yeah, I’ve done this before. It wasn’t until D-day that I began to look back and realize just how much I had done it and just how inappropriate it was. And, I have made a concerted and — I believe — successful effort to stop doing it.
10. “Why are you getting so upset?” “The passive aggressive person is a master at maintaining calm and feigning shock when others, worn down by his or her indirect hostility, blow up in anger.” No, this was not one of my behaviors.