Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a person who didn’t seem to want to talk all that much? (“Hey, tell me about your day!” “It was fine.”) Or tried to make plans with someone who didn’t seem to have much of an opinion? (“Where would you like to go eat tonight?” “Wherever.”) Or tried to get someone’s help with something they seem to be disinterested in? (“Would you be willing to help me speak to our kid about their behavior?” “You seem to be doing just fine without me.”) If you have, you know what it’s like to interact with someone who’s being passive. It’s exhausting!
What if you’re the one being passive, though? All Pro Dad has noted that men can be passive to the detriment of their marriages and relationships. The question is what to do about it, and here are a few quick tips:
1. Take some time to see if you can figure out why you retreat into silence.
There could be myriad reasons. Maybe you’re tired. Maybe you’re just on the quiet side. Maybe your wife flat-out runs over you. Maybe there’s something in your story that makes asserting yourself scary. But maybe, in a form of laziness, you’ve decided it takes too much work to put yourself out there into the uncertainty of relationship. Step one is to figure out why you’re behaving the way you are. A friend, a counselor, or a quiet conversation with your wife could shed some much needed light on why you are that way.
2. Look for an opportunity to begin talking and sharing some of the things you’re thinking about.
Or start a conversation with your wife about something you think is important in your marriage. This doesn’t have to be the deepest, darkest thing in your psyche or the thing that’s hurting the most in your marriage. When we teach kids how to hit a baseball, we don’t throw 95 mph heaters at them. We start small, let them get reps, and they gain confidence. Likewise, if you’re passive, maybe you just need to learn how to start a conversation. Not sure where to start? In each and every All Pro Dad article on the right column , you’ll find a Huddle Up question that can help you start a conversation about the subject matter. Search for a topic you find interesting, and use the Huddle Up question as a jumping off point.
3. It’s possible that the conversation you need to start is going to lead to conflict.
If you’re the passive husband whose wife runs over you, this is going to be especially challenging. Remember, no one enjoys conflict. But it is a necessary ingredient to a healthy relationship – you have to be able to address differences of opinion and temperament. Before you start this conversation, know your ground rules for fighting. You can also start the conversation by saying, “Look, this is going to get tricky, but love works on issues instead of leaving them unaddressed. Can we talk?”
4. On the other hand, you might be the guy who just shrinks from giving your heart – because the relationship is too confusing or too difficult.
You have to look for ways to creatively give yourself. It may be that you’ll never be the most eloquent speaker in the world. On one hand, you’ve got to communicate to have health in your marriage, so this may always be one challenge you’ll simply have to embrace. On the other hand, though, it’s OK to know that you’re not the most articulate communicator God ever created. If this is you, you still can’t retreat into passivity. You might need to look for other ways to express and give yourself to your wife. Does she appreciate acts of service? Then clean the kitchen for her or do some chore that you know she hates doing. Does she appreciate gifts? Bring home flowers or thoughtful mementos that reminds you of a cherished time together. You don’t have to spend a fortune. You just have to give her something of you, from the heart.
Passive behavior is definitely something to work on. It can work harm into your marriage. The good news is that taking surprisingly small steps can work immeasurable good into your marriage too. [Tweet This] Try one of these steps today.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your spouse and ask, “Are there areas of our family’s life in which you would like to see me more engaged?”