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5 Ways to Tell If You’re a Passive-Aggressive Spouse

Taking the time to self-reflect can help you find out.

Has your spouse accused you of being passive-aggressive? Maybe they say you’re manipulative. Maybe they tell you that you never speak your mind. Sometimes it may seem like you’ve gained the upper hand in disagreements, but it still feels like the relationship never wins. Are you passive-aggressive or being falsely accused? Well, let’s look at a few ways to shed more light on whether you’re passive-aggressive or not.

What is passive-aggressive behavior?

Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D says, “Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.1 

Think of it this way: You’re expressing your negative feelings aggressively, negatively. Often, this asserts your control, power, or desire to punish your spouse. However, it’s done passively or indirectly. If you’re not directly naming it, your spouse may not be sure what the real issue is. 

Aggressive doesn’t necessarily mean loud, forceful, or demonstrative. But it is often intentional and pointed directly toward your spouse.

Different Levels of Passive-Aggressiveness

1. Passive-Aggressive Moments.

Many people have moments of passive-aggressiveness. Sometimes, you just don’t have the emotional energy to deal with a conflict, so you use passive-aggressive behavior to keep control of the issue. You may not demonstrate this behavior often, but every now and then, you might pull it out of your bag of tricks. You probably know it’s not the healthiest thing in the world, but the alternative at the moment isn’t worth it. 

2. Passive-Aggressive Habits.

Being passive-aggressive is your primary way of addressing issues with your spouse. You may even find it hard to initiate a conversation about an issue head-on. You may have become “effective” at passive-aggressive behavior. It seems to get you what you want.

3. Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association defines this as a “pervasive pattern of negativistic attitudes and passive resistance to demands for adequate performance in social and occupational situations.” 2,3 This person feels impossible to tackle conflict with. Their passive-aggressive nature spreads throughout every part of their life.

What does passive-aggressive behavior look like? 

Here are some ways being passive-aggressive may play out.

1. Sarcastic, snarky comments.

On its own, the comment you make may sound like a compliment. But the context is clearly meant to be negative. You and your spouse haven’t had a real conversation in weeks, but you hear your spouse chopping it up with one of their friends. You say, “You two sure do have a lot to talk about.” On its own, it seems innocent. Perhaps you’re hoping they feel the sharpness of your emotions. You feel neglected, maybe a bit jealous. However, instead of coming out and saying what you feel, you make a sarcastic remark.

2. Half-doing tasks.

Your spouse’s schedule has changed, and they aren’t doing things around the house, leaving it to you. You resent their schedule change, or you feel like they’re taking you for granted. Instead of bringing it up, you half-heartedly do the tasks like yard work, laundry, or cleaning. It’s obviously not up to standard. You’re trying to prove a point.

3. Silence or distance. (I struggle with this one.)

You gain control by not talking about anything of substance. Your conversations become surface-level or just about facts. Nothing personal or vulnerable. You build a wall between you and your spouse. You’re expressing your anger, resentment, displeasure, etc., through silence. This gives you control of the situation or at least makes you feel like you’re in control.

4. Agreeing, but not really agreeing.

Your spouse wants to go to the in-laws, but you don’t want to go. Your spouse knows you don’t want to go, and you can’t even believe they’ve asked you to come along. Instead of sharing your true desire, you agree to go not out of compassion or being a team player but out of resentment. You’re upset because they should know that you’re not ok with going.

5. Ignoring, putting off, or procrastinating.

Your spouse has asked you to do something. Your negative feelings toward your spouse may have nothing to do with what they’ve asked. However, you choose to express your negative emotions by continually putting off their request while never sharing the real reason.

Signs You May Be Passive-Aggressive… Self-Reflection Questions

While you self-reflect, consider…

  1. How do you address conflict in your marriage? Do you clearly communicate your thoughts, emotions, and desires, or do you drop hints? Do you exhibit any of the previously mentioned behaviors? Is ist possbile that you simply avoid conflict while sending sharp signals that there is conflict? 
  2. Do you have negative thoughts about your spouse that motivate how you respond to them? How do they know those thoughts? Or do they? Is it possible you have built-up anger or resentment that comes out through simple requests?
  3. Do you usually control the when and where you deal with marital problems? You may be using passive-aggressive behavior to control or manipulate your spouse instead of working together.

Understanding how you deal with issues in your marriage can help your marriage thrive through difficult times.

If you come to the conclusion that you are a passive-aggressive spouse, that’s progress! Even if you don’t, this can open up meaningful conversations with your spouse to figure out how to handle conflict well in your marriage. The ultimate goal here isn’t about pointing out faults; it’s about transforming conflict in your marriage into building blocks for intimacy. Becoming a better version of yourself in that process is a strong byproduct I’ll take any day. 

How to End Passive Aggressive Behavior in Marriage

How To Improve Bad Communication In Marriage

The #1 Thing That Can Secretly Ruin Your Marriage

Sources:

1What is Passive Aggressive Behavior? What Are Some of the Signs?

2 The Construct of Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder

3 How to Recognize and Handle Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Newsflash: Sometimes your spouse is going to make you plain mad.

(Not to mention you’ll inevitably do something to annoy the heck out of them.) 

Something is said, something is done without you being informed, something is left undone… 

And the blood starts to boil. 

Being angry is perfectly normal, and usually, things can be worked through. Mistakes and misunderstandings are a normal part of any relationship, especially a marriage. 

But it’s how a person responds in their anger that can help find a resolution or derail the marriage train. Passive-aggressiveness in marriage not only throws the relationship off its tracks, but it’s also downright destructive. 

Passive-aggressive behavior in marriage is when a person expresses anger or annoyance in an indirect way.1  

For example: 

  • One person forgot to put the dishes away. The other says, Wow, look at all these dishes in here. Sure would be nice if they were in the cabinet where they belong… 
  • One said something that embarrassed the other last night in front of friends. The embarrassed person hasn’t spoken a word to the other since thinking their silence will wake their spouse up to what they did wrong
  • One spouse left their dirty socks on the bed when they came home. The other nonchalantly throws them in the trash can and walks away with a smile. 

A passive-aggressive response in marriage is marked with quiet bitterness. It’s often a way to punish the offender emotionally, letting them “wallow in their sin” for a while. The “offended” seemingly avoids the conflict while putting the “offender” in a place of guilt, shame, and discomfort. It’s a power-play, a form of manipulation, and a highly ineffective way of dealing with conflict and strengthening a marriage.2, 3 

Just in case I haven’t been too clear on this yet: Passive-aggressiveness is not good for a marriage.4 

And yet, we all tend to act passive-aggressively at times. Fortunately, you can avoid it. 

How can you and your spouse end passive-aggressive behavior in your marriage? 

Talk about the importance of checking your anger before you respond.

It’s essential to pause and examine your emotions. Ask yourself, Okay, how am I feeling toward my spouse right now? I’m obviously frustrated. But am I being bitter? Am I trying to make my spouse feel ashamed or guilty? Am I expressing my feelings in a healthy way?

Agree to avoid dwelling on it.

This is when you replay the thing that has offended you over and over again in your mind. It builds negative energy and makes you even angrier the more you think about it. Decide together to talk about an issue directly, respectfully, and in a timely manner. 

Practice addressing an issue directly.

Establish some ground rules for working through more serious issues respectfully. Agree to sincerely express emotions with each other. To avoid ruminating, it might be helpful to have a 24-hour rule. If either of you has any beef with the other, you’ll address it in a civil manner within 24 hours.

Have weekly check-in meetings to resolve hanging issues.

Establish a regular time to meet together over coffee and simply connect. Use that time to calmly get anything out in the open that needs to be hashed out. 

  1. Hey, would you mind putting up the dishes tonight? I think it might’ve been forgotten yesterday. 
  2. Do you remember that thing you said last night? It was a little embarrassing. I know you didn’t mean harm, and I totally forgive you already. But I just wanted you to know how I felt.
  3. I know this is silly, but leaving socks out really bugs me. Would you mind throwing those in the hamper when you come in from work? 

Consider what you each are holding back from the past.

Is there something between you and your spouse in the past that causes passive-aggressiveness to creep into your marriage? Or perhaps from a previous relationship? We sometimes don’t even realize how these events shape how we handle present issues. Wrestling with them isn’t easy, but it helps you. 

Choose one of these strategies to work through and talk about as a couple this week. There’s always room to strengthen your marriage, and figuring out how to eliminate passive-aggressiveness is a major step to take toward a healthier relationship. 

Related Blogs:

5 Things To Do When You Feel Disconnected From Your Spouse

Is It Good To Fight In Marriage?

Help! My Spouse And I Can’t Stop Fighting!

The #1 Things That Can Secretly Ruin Your Marriage

Sources: 

1 Passive-Aggression

2 What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior? What Are Some of the Signs?

3 What is Passive-Aggressive Behavior?

4 Exhausting Silence: Emotional Costs of Withholding Complaints

Can A Marriage Survive Without Trust?

Tuning in can help you build trust.

When the trust was broken in my marriage, I wondered if we could survive without it.

Trust is a cornerstone of marriage. When we trust our partner, we feel emotionally safe with them. This safety allows for deeper connection and drives us to endure tough times when they arise. Trust is not only important for the health of our relationship but also for our physical health. 

For more than 40 years, Dr. John Gottman has been studying what makes a marriage work. He found that the number one issue for couples was trust and betrayal. During his study, social psychologists asked people in relationships, “What is the most desirable quality you’re looking for in a partner when you’re dating?” The number one response was trustworthiness.

Dr. Gottman found what many of us would agree with: Trust is essential to healthy relationships. 

So, how do we build trust? Trust is created in the small moments. Dr. Gottman calls these sliding door moments. “In any interaction, there is a possibility of connecting with your partner or turning away from your partner.” One moment may not be that important when you think of it by itself, but if you continually turn toward your spouse in the small moments, you’re building trust. If you continually turn away from your spouse, you’re eroding trust.

But what happens when there’s betrayal?

Betrayal can come in many forms. It can be loud and big or subtle and discrete. You experience betrayal when you discover that your spouse is hiding information from you. Or when they withhold support when you need it. You feel betrayed when you cannot entirely rely on your partner. 

When we feel betrayed, it’s common to ask the question, “How can I ever trust them again?” But, here’s the good news: It is possible to rebuild trust. Remember those sliding door moments? Rebuilding trust takes lots of those. It requires choosing to move toward your spouse in the small moments. Trust is a two-way street, and to rebuild trust, you both have to move toward each other. In my marriage, we realized we could rebuild trust, but it would take time and intentionality. 

Dan Yoshimoto, a graduate student of Dr. Gottman, found in the study that the basis of building trust is attunement. He broke down the idea of attunement with an acronym:

Awareness of your partner’s emotion

Turning toward the emotion

Tolerance of two different viewpoints

Understanding your partner

Non-defensive responses to your partner

Responding with Empathy

When we are attuned to our spouse, we are better able to build trust.

In the book What Makes Love Last? Gottman and Silver lay out the following four methods for communicating with your partner that fosters trust through attunement.

1. Put your feelings into words.

It can be challenging to articulate what you feel. There’s no shame in that. Just communicate that to your partner. 

2. Ask open-ended questions.

Avoid close-ended questions that elicit one-word responses. Open-ended questions ask for a story and show genuine curiosity on your part. 

3. Follow up with statements that deepen the connection.

When your partner responds to one of your open-ended questions, reflect back on what you heard. In your own words, paraphrase what they said. Don’t make assumptions, defend yourself, or bring the focus to you. 

4. Express compassion and empathy.

Don’t tell your partner how they should be feeling. Don’t react defensively. Instead, hold space for their feelings, all of them, even if they feel uncomfortable to you. This creates a deeper connection and a sense of emotional safety. Your partner now knows they can talk to you about the hard stuff.

Trust is the bedrock of a healthy marriage. When it’s broken, it takes time to heal. Rebuilding trust between my wife and I wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Marriage can survive without trust, but it’s not as healthy. To have a healthy, life-giving marriage, choose to rebuild trust.

Related Blogs:

7 Ways to Increase Trust In Marriage

What Does Trust Look Like In A Healthy Marriage?

How To Rebuild Trust In Marriage

Sources:

John Gottman on Trust and Betrayal

The Deeper Meaning of Trust

The #1 Thing That Can Secretly Ruin Your Marriage

And why saying "Baby, we need to talk..." won't actually help.

My husband and I* find ourselves in the same type of argument, over and over again. Rinse and repeat. It goes a little like this:

>> I bring up something that’s bothering me. (It doesn’t matter how gently or carefully I say it.)

>> He immediately gets defensive.

>> I get frustrated that he’s being defensive.

>> He gets stubborn.

>> I get resentful that he’s being stubborn and start to criticize him.

>> He shuts down and starts stonewalling me.

>> I get extremely hurt and feel like he doesn’t care about me.

Round and round we go until someone waves the white flag. However, this never happens without a whole lotta tears and words that we wish we could take back. 

I’ve always considered myself an excellent communicator. I’ve read the books, I’ve listened to the experts, I’ve honed my skills with active listening techniques, avoiding the four horsemen of the apocalypse, and using all of the “I” statements. I want to talk about the issue so we can find a solution and feel connected again. But he doesn’t want to talk. He feels attacked and condemned. Did I say the wrong thing? Was it the wrong time to talk? Does he just not care about me? Is this never-ending cycle ruining our marriage?

I had to find an actual solution.

Then I came across this quote:

“Couples are not disconnected because they have poor communication. They have poor communication because they are disconnected.”

Dr. Pat Love

In their book, How to Improve Marriage Without Talking About It, Dr. Pat Love and Dr. Steven Stosny describe the root cause of why a perfectly good marriage can fail without either person doing anything wrong. No matter how hard you try to fix the issue by talking through it, this one thing is making it worse, not better. It’s called the Fear/Shame Spiral.

Please note: the studies done by Love and Stosny looked at the relationship between men and women as group averages, not individual differences. Keep in mind that the rest of this blog speaks to men in general and women in general. Although their studies apply to the majority, they do not tell us anything about individual men and women. That being said…

Fear and Shame

The most common female core vulnerability is the fear of abandonment: isolation, neglect, rejection, feeling alone.

Most women thrive on closeness and connection. So naturally, if there is any type of issue, she needs to talk through it to feel connected again. Women generally actually view a complaint as an invitation to move closer. We’ve had a bad day, we want to talk about it. We had a frustrating experience at the store, so we called up our best friend to vent. However…

The most common male core vulnerability is feeling shame: embarrassment, weakness, failure, inadequacy.

Men tend to pride themselves on being able to please their partner. But if there is any type of issue, men may feel like they’ve let their spouse down. This intense feeling of shame activates their fight or flight response, making them shut down, stonewall, get angry, or defensive. 

Then We Spiral Down

When a woman feels like her spouse isn’t showing up for her in the way she needs (whether that’s something like forgetting to switch the laundry or not speaking her love language), it activates her core vulnerability of feeling fear and anxiety. Her complaint, request, or comment, however unassuming it may seem, sounds like criticism to her husband, which triggers his core vulnerability — feeling shame. He’s let her down, he’s not provided or protected her, and all he has done for her has been overlooked.

In other words, he feels like a complete failure. Flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, his body immediately goes into fight or flight, and he feels the need to defend and withdraw. This, of course, feels like abandonment and triggers her fear and anxiety even more, which triggers his shame more. And round and round they go. No matter who started it, the Fear/Shame spiral is a vicious cycle that just breeds more and more disconnection and hurt.

YOU CAN BE HAPPILY MARRIED.

And no, that’s not just a fairytale. Sometimes we settle, we coexist, we go along to get along, or we just try to keep the damage to a minimum. There are no perfect marriages. There are also no unicorns. So what? You can always Maximize Your Marriage. You know what’s NOT a mythical creature? Your marriage being BETTER than you could ever imagine.

To help you write the next chapter of your marriage story, each module features…

  • A simple, easy-to-understand video lead by marriage experts,
  • A download to help you personalize the key concepts for your marriage, and
  • Action items to transform your marriage as you go through the course.

You’ll have access to two marriage experts every step of the way to answer any questions or just give you a little encouragement. (THIS is what makes Maximize Your Marriage customized & personalized!)

So What’s The Solution?

When I discovered the Fear/Shame Spiral, everything started making sense. But… How in the world can I stop the spiral from happening? Just never bring up another complaint? Yeah right. 

According to Dr. Pat Love, there are a few things you can stop doing right now to help:

If you don’t want your husband to feel shame, don’t…

  • Expect him to act and respond as you would
  • Criticize him or belittle him (especially in front of others)
  • Compare him to others
  • Expect him to make you happy

If you don’t want your wife to feel fear and anxiety, don’t…

Now Let’s Cut to the Chase

The only way out of the Fear/Shame Spiral is by recognizing you’re in it and empathizing with your spouse’s core vulnerability. It’ll take a lot of intentionality because it’s difficult to relate to your spouse’s core vulnerability since it’s not the same as yours. Also, it means you’ll have to step up and be compassionate to your spouse when you least feel like it.

Understanding what your spouse is feeling and why they’re feeling it allows you to speak into their fear or shame and provide reassurance. This shifts the focus of the argument from the what to the why and enables you to have a more authentic and productive outcome. While you can’t avoid fear and shame altogether, you can transform them into an opportunity for connection. 

Do This For Your Wife:

  • Routinely connect with her at these four crucial times during the day:
    • When you wake up in the morning
    • Before you leave for the day
    • When you return for the day
    • Before you go to bed
  • Open your heart and mind to her, let her in. (Be vulnerable and share your feelings.)
  • Appreciate all she does for the home and family. While also doing your share of the household chores

Do This For Your Husband:

  • Have sex regularly. (This is how they feel most connected to you.)
  • Be physically affectionate every day. (A kiss, a hug, a hand massage, a butt slap…)
  • Catch him doing something right! Acknowledge and appreciate what he does for you. If you feel like complaining about something he’s NOT doing or doing “wrong,” remember: Behind every complaint, blame or criticism is a desire. Your husband really does want to please you. So cut to the chase and tell him your desire instead of your complaint:
    • “I love it when you…”
    • “Thank you for…”
    • “It makes me feel supported when you…”
    • “I really appreciate…”

Connection is the Cure

The good news: You won’t need to talk about your feelings if you already feel connected. The Fear/Shame spiral is a sign of disconnection. So if an issue arises when you’re already feeling connected, it’ll be less likely to trigger that fear or shame. The tension can be managed easier, with less hostility and more sensitivity to each other’s vulnerabilities. 

Life is messy, chaotic, and we are not perfect people… which means disconnection is inevitable. But when that fear and shame sneak back into our marriage, I’m confident that we will now recognize it and stop the spiral by reconnecting.

*This blog in its entirety is based on research done by Dr. Pat Love and Dr. Steven Stosny. Their studies are explained in depth in their book, How To Improve Marriage Without Talking About It.

What Introverts Married to Extroverts Need to Know

Knowing who you are individually and together can make you stronger.

We’re all wired differently, and the differences are never more evident than in marriage. While navigating differences in relationships can present challenges, you’ll go deeper as your relationship grows and you become a student of your spouse. Couples often encounter differences when one spouse is introverted and the other is extroverted. This can be a pretty noticeable difference based on the individual’s personality, but these types are often misunderstood. Let’s dive a little deeper into understanding them.

What’s the difference between introversion and extroversion?

The common perception of the difference between these two is that one is shy and the other is outgoing. While that can be true, it isn’t the rule. Psychologist Carl Jung (the father of this whole conversation) classified the two groups based on where they find their energy. Extroverts are energized by the external world. Introverts are energized by alone time. 

So, are they polar opposites?

Jung discovered that people aren’t necessarily one or the other. Instead, look at it as a spectrum. There can be varying degrees of introversion and extroversion. My wife and I fall on different points of this spectrum. And it can fluctuate.

What does an introvert married to an extrovert need to know? 

There are differences in how these two are wired. So, for the introverts out there, here are some things you need to know and some tips to help you navigate your differences:

Navigating social settings.

As we discovered earlier, extroverts are energized by the external world. They are often the life of the party, and they love it. They live to meet new people and experience new places. “Stranger” is a foreign word to them. 

For the introverted spouse who likes to be alone, this can be a struggle. If they do go out in the crowd, they often want to be out of the spotlight. But if you know that your spouse is energized by being around others, you should talk about this. It’s not fair to prevent them from being in social settings, but it’s also unfair to always send them alone. It’s possible to find a balance that meets your needs and your spouse’s needs while strengthening your relationship.

Talking about their problems.

Extroverts usually find it easy to talk out their problems with others. They’re often more than willing to express their feelings, thoughts, and issues. 

On the other hand, introverts tend to internalize and think through things. They dislike conflict and will withhold their thoughts to avoid confrontation. For the health of your marriage, it’s essential to talk through issues and manage conflict together. Introverts may need to step out of their comfort zone and discuss issues with their spouse. They don’t have to talk to all their friends about it, but need to express it to their significant other. Remember, if you don’t discuss problems with your extroverted spouse, they will find someone to discuss them with. And the best place for marriage work to be done is in the marriage. (Read https://firstthings.org/should-you-tell-your-friends-and-family-about-your-marital-problems/.)

Taking risks.

Extroverts aren’t afraid of risk. They may be more apt to engage in risky behavior than an introvert. Some studies have shown that they are wired this way. Their brain rewards them when risks go well. One study found that risk-takers are rewarded with dopamine, a “feel good” chemical associated with pleasure and reward. So for extroverts, risk-taking brings about a rewarding sensation. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.

Introverts are more inclined to weigh the pros and cons of any risk. Whether diving into the stock market or diving out of an airplane, they think it through and process it. Their extroverted spouse just jumps. The introverted spouse needs to express their desire to process to their spouse. You can’t hold them back from taking the risk, but you can be their cheerleader, so look for opportunities to support healthy risk-taking. Remember, they are wired to have a natural desire to take risks.

These are just a few ways that introverts and extroverts differ. Remember, this is a spectrum, and you both may find yourselves at varying degrees on that spectrum. But most importantly, you need to recognize who you are, who they are, and who you are together. Marriage is about learning from each other and growing together. Be who you are and encourage your spouse in who they are. 

Sources: 

Neurobiology of the Structure of Personality: Dopamine, Facilitation of Incentive Motivation, and Extraversion

How Does Dopamine Effect the Body?

Extroverts, Introverts, and Everything in Between

Are You An Extrovert? Here’s How to Tell.

Tips for Extroverts Married to Introverts

These tricks can help you understand and appreciate each other!

I’m sure you want to understand and appreciate your spouse, and it can be hard sometimes. But I’m here to tell you: When extroverts are married to introverts, it can be a good thing — a great thing, even! You just have to figure a few things out and appreciate your differences.

My spouse and I are the epitome of the saying “opposites attract.” I’m an extrovert. He’s an introvert. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, I’ve become more extroverted. In contrast, he’s become more introverted. We’ve worked through and understood these differences by now, but it wasn’t easy at the beginning of our relationship. (Read What To Do When You And Your Spouse Are Really Opposites.)

We had conflicts and disagreements as a result. As an extrovert, I tended to be more talkative and demanding, which caused him to retreat. That led to frustration because I wanted him to be like me. But he’s not, and that’s ok!

Once I realized there was nothing wrong with him being who he is (an introvert), we could have productive conversations. In turn, he shared some things he wanted me to know about him, so I’ve got some tips to share. Navigating through our differences to reach the point of understanding was a good thing for us. 

How did we get there? 

We finally realized that the difference between introverts and extroverts is how each gains and uses emotional energy. We also recognized that being introverted or extroverted is not cut-and-dried. Instead, it’s on a continuum from extroversion to introversion. There are extreme extroverts, extreme introverts, introverted extroverts, extroverted introverts, and other combinations. 

If you are an extrovert married to an introvert, here are some things they probably wish you knew.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean they don’t like people.

As an introvert, your spouse does like people, but being around them requires them to use a lot of emotional energy. To restore themselves, they need time alone. Recognizing that they have limits on the amount of time they spend with others and the number of people they want to be around can help you understand them better.

Have a set game plan.

Whether you’re planning a dinner party for friends or want to attend the retirement party for your supervisor, talk about it with your spouse. Consider things like date, time, location, and the number of people. Once plans have been set, try not to change them at the last minute. Once you’ve shared the game plan, have an honest conversation about what you both expect. This will help you both mentally prepare for the interaction.

Accept, and don’t judge them.

If you’re at a social gathering, your introverted spouse may want to be near you. They may need your presence as support. While you want to “work the room,” realize that may be uncomfortable for them. Give them understanding, not judgment. Telling them they are anti-social or standoffish is not helpful.  

They need alone time.

After spending time with people, your spouse will need time to recharge. While you may be over the moon about spending time with people (and energized afterward), being around people can cause stress in your spouse. Solitude gives them the time and space to regain their equilibrium. They’re not trying to reject you or distance themselves from you. You can help your spouse out by creating an atmosphere that provides the solitude they enjoy. For example, try drawing a bath, placing candles around the tub, or making their favorite drink and leaving it near their favorite chair. This can demonstrate that you see, respect, and appreciate what it took for them to go with you to the outing. 

No matter what you prefer, it’s vital to know and understand how your spouse feels and responds to social events. Find ways to assist and support them. Things like standing near them, holding hands, or checking in from time to time to make sure they’re ok. Be aware of the signs that they have reached their limit. There’s a delicate tightrope between your comfort level and your spouse’s, but it leads to a great place. Remember, the more you understand your spouse, the more you can love, serve and give them what they need.

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-introverts-corner/201509/5-essential-tips-introvert-extrovert-couples

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/introversion

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/extroversion

My Spouse is Jealous of Me and It’s Ruining My Marriage

Find out what you can and can't do about the green-eyed monster called jealousy.

You may look at your life and say: Money’s decent. Job is stable — good social life. I get along with lots of people. I’m winning. But somehow, you still feel like you’re losing. Why? Because if your spouse is jealous of you, it can feel like it’s ruining your marriage. That’s a tough place to be.

Jealousy is a strong emotion that can cause serious control issues. Let’s be frank: jealousy can lead to abusive, violent, or destructive behavior. If it’s at that point, calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline may be your next step. The root causes of jealousy may be deep or go back several years. Seeking professional help sooner rather than later may be the best answer. If your spouse is open to it, finding a counselor who will fight FOR your marriage could be a game-changer.

In the meantime, how can you deal with jealousy in your marriage?

Jealousy is often rooted in insecurity, with fear as a close relative. It may be sparked by a relationship you have, career accomplishments, community recognition, or simply because you’re happy. None of this is necessarily wrong.

What Can You Do?

Self-Reflect

Are you giving your spouse a reason to be jealous? I’m assuming you are not. But it’s an excellent place to start. 

Ask yourself if you are…

Spending too much time with someone else?

Sharing parts of yourself with someone that should be reserved for your spouse? 

Getting a disproportionate amount of your fulfillment from your work or community involvement? 

Often prioritizing being there for others and leaving your spouse on their own when they have problems? 

Your spouse can become jealous when something else has the place in your life that they believe they should fill. 

Ask questions to understand the jealousy. 

There may not be a single thing you need to change. However, you can talk to your spouse to understand their insecurities or fears. Make sure you’re setting aside uninterrupted time so they know they’re a priority. 

Without bringing up the jealousy first, you might ask, “What is your biggest fear?” 

Or you can more directly relate it to the relationship: “Is there anything in this relationship that scares or concerns you?” 

If you believe your spouse is jealous because of your accomplishments or success, try, “When something good happens to me, how does it make you feel? Is there something in my life that you believe has a place in my heart that you should have?” 

Side Effect: Giving your spouse a safe space to be open and vulnerable is an antidote to jealousy. Demonstrating your care and concern may increase security, thereby decreasing jealousy. (Read about How to Be An Emotionally Safe Spouse here.)

Communicate your frustrations. 

You love your spouse. But the jealousy makes it difficult. Get your thoughts together. Lovingly, tell your spouse what it makes you think and feel when their jealousy shows itself.

Set healthy boundaries.

There’s a difference between healthy boundaries and being controlling. Boundaries aren’t set to feed jealousy or insecurity. If your spouse wants to know your every move, you may feel like they are controlling you. Communicating daily about plans for the day and telling each other about changes may be a healthy boundary. The goal is for you to be able to be yourself without any surprises. This happens through honest, considerate communication and respecting boundaries.

Talk with a trusted married couple.

Find a couple you both respect and discuss your struggles with them. Since jealousy is something many couples have experienced, the wisdom of another couple may give you insights that can change the course of your marriage for good. 

What You Can’t Do 

You can’t change your spouse; don’t try. 

You can assure them. You can listen, talk, and be understanding. And hopefully, your mate can see the jealousy. You can’t force them to be different.

You can’t always prevent jealousy, but you don’t have to feed it. 

Being who you are may cause jealousy. Achieving success, being liked by others, or having meaningful relationships with others may just be who you are, but changing who you are isn’t the answer.

You can’t ignore it; otherwise, the jealousy may escalate. 

It may take trying several different approaches to break down the jealousy in your marriage. The person you know and love is hiding somewhere behind that jealousy. Fighting through jealousy together is a good thing for your marriage, and the rewards from moving forward can last a lifetime.

Other helpful resources: 

How To Improve Bad Communication In Marriage

How to Stop Being So Jealous of Your Spouse

10 Ways To Know If Your Marriage Is Toxic (And What To Do About It)

MARRIAGE COURSE | Maximize Your Marriage

How to Stop Being So Jealous of Your Spouse

Don't let jealousy drive a wedge between you.

Jealousy is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and we often treat jealousy like it’s something to be proud of. For instance, if you think you have something that others want to have, you might say things like:

My sister is jealous of me because I’m our Mom’s favorite.

My friend is jealous because I went on a fabulous vacation.

In reality, jealousy is an insidious feeling that can take over how you feel about, see and interact with those around you. At its core, jealousy is created from someone’s fear and insecurity. Fear tells them that someone can take away the most important people or things in their life. Insecurity means someone thinks that you aren’t good enough. And when you combine those two feelings, it’s a recipe for disaster. 

It may be easier to handle when you’re the object of someone’s jealousy, but…

What happens when the shoe is on the other foot?

How do you handle it when you are the jealous one? 

How hard is it to control jealousy when you’re jealous of that person you promised to love, honor and cherish — your spouse?

Yep, believe it or not, there are times, even in marriage, when jealousy rears its ugly head. And it can become unhealthy pretty fast if you let it. 

Maybe your spouse is getting out more than you are and you’re jealous of the time they’re spending at work, with friends, or enjoying their hobbies. You want what they have.

Perhaps you feel like you need some time alone, you feel like you’ve got too much on your plate and your mate just seems to have it easier than you do. You want to be able to relax, too.

Or maybe you really want to be at home with your family but you have to be gone a lot, and it’s hard to feel like you’re missing out on the things you enjoy. You want to be there, too.

It could be a ton of other things you wish you had that you don’t or that you wish you didn’t have that you do. And it can be SO hard to live with that day in and day out, especially if you’re trying to hold it all in. The struggle is all too real.

If you are struggling with jealousy and want to stop being so jealous of your spouse, take a look at these tips. I hope they can help you out.

Look at what scares you.

Fear feeds jealousy, so it’s essential to explore what scares you. Are you afraid that your spouse will be negatively influenced by his or her sizable social network? Are you afraid that your kids like your spouse better because they are the fun parent? When you get to the core of what makes you afraid, you can start to get a better handle on your jealousy.

Discover and deal with your insecurities.

Everyone has areas in their life where they feel less than confident or uncertain about their capabilities. They’re the places deep within where insecurities reside. It’s vital to know what those areas are so you can find ways to minimize your insecurities. Talking to friends or a professional can help you build up your personal confidence. True confidence is a remedy for jealousy.

Understand the impact of jealousy on your marriage.

Jealousy can harm your relationship in big and small ways. It causes your perspective on your spouse to change so that you no longer see them through the eyes of love. Instead, your view is clouded by anger and disappointment. In your mind, they go from a loving spouse to someone who only cares about themselves. It can cause mistrust, misunderstandings, and disconnection. 

Talk to your spouse about what you are feeling.

This is an opportunity to share with your spouse about your jealousy. Tell them about your fears and insecurities. Say to them, “I’m jealous of this, and I own it.” Ask them for what you need so they can support you as you work toward a solution together.

In so many relationships, being jealous is bound to happen at one time or another. Some people even view jealousy as a way to prove how deep their love is for someone. Instead, focus on creating an atmosphere of love, trust, and understanding in your relationship. That way, you can both be your best selves and keep jealousy from driving a wedge between you and your spouse.

Other helpful blogs:

How to Overcome Built-Up Resentment in Marriage

So, Your Spouse Is Lazy… Here’s What to Do

Why Spending Time Alone Is Good for Your Marriage

4 Things to Know About Emotional Safety