10 Mar Review – Living with the Passive Aggressive Man
Living with the Passive Aggressive Man by Scott Wetzler was written in 1993, but resources for dealing with passive aggression are few and far between. The information contained within is as relevant today as it was more than twenty years ago. For someone seeking out this kind of self-help book, it’s more than adequate.
Wetzler notes a rise in passive aggressive behavior among men coinciding with the emergence of gender equality and more women entering the workplace. According to the author, the shift in roles as women became wage-earners left many men not sure of their place in the household. Passive aggressive behavior seems to be directly correlated with the mother-son relationship, and childhoods where this relationship was strained or where a father was absent seem to increase the likelihood a man becomes passive aggressive. With so many one-parent households these days, it’s inevitable to see an increase in this psychological affliction.
If you’re looking for a magical cure to passive aggression, this is not it. Frankly, that was the one disappointing factor in the book. The author basically says either you learn to cope with it or you move on. So much for that magic wand. But in all fairness, you can’t change a person unless they’re willing to change. If you’re dealing with someone with passive aggressive tendencies, it’s ultimately up to them to seek help or work on changing their behavior.
The real value of this book lies in the descriptions of passive aggressive behavior, which gives the reader something to identify with and confirm they’re not overly emotional or doing something to drive the man away. The passive aggressive man typically withholds affection, causing their mate to doubt their love and commitment. In reality, the PA is more attached to the mate than they’d ever care to admit, which frightens them and causes the undesirable behavior. It’s an unhealthy cycle for both parties, and in the end, they both suffer.
Wetzler shares actual case studies from both passive aggressive men and their confused mates, so it’s easy for the reader to relate and finally understand the motives for the destructive behavior. Once the dynamics of the relationship begin to make sense, the reader can decide whether it’s worth it to stick it out or move on. For those choosing to stick it out, there’s really only one way to deal with it — careful confrontation. Otherwise, if the man refuses to admit he has a problem or seek help for it, the cycle will continue.
Another valuable feature of the book is how Wetzler teaches the reader to recognize how they might be exacerbating the behavior or even mimicking it, making the situation worse. Once you have spent time with a partner, it’s quite easy to fall into this pattern and try to give your spouse a dose of their own medicine. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help and both partners continue to be unhappy.
Passive aggressive men in the workplace are covered briefly, which is also useful for those wondering if they’re being deliberately undermined by a coworker. The problem is now I’m psychoanalyzing all my coworkers to see if there’s a hint of PA in there.
Even if you decide to stick it out and continue to deal with the PA, Living with the Passive Aggressive Man will provide reassurance that you’re not imagining your mate’s cold responsiveness. You’ll gain some useful techniques for approaching your partner when this type of behavior surfaces so you can both put it behind you. Again, unless he wants to change, you’re going to have to deal with these situations for the duration of the relationship, but at least you will learn to recognize them for what they are and find ways to work around them.
Living with the Passive Aggressive Man
Scott Wetzler, Ph.D.
October 1, 1993