The Passive Male Problem in Marriage


Some years ago a psychologist studied adult male schizophrenics to see if he could discover the possible role fathers played in the development of their condition. His findings, greatly simplified in a 500 word blog, were this – that the most dangerous father for young men to have was the passive father.

Passivity is dangerous for many reasons but you might be surprised at what it is. Passivity can show up as:

  • ‘appropriate’ behavior
  • ‘nice’ behavior
  • lack of responsiveness
  • low emotional I.Q.
  • defensiveness
  • explosiveness
  • weak or non existent core values

In marriage we are dependent on getting good information from our partners. This is exactly why we teach couples the benefit of embracing conflict. Conflict uncovers that which is uncomfortable, and that which we tend to suppress. Conflict, done correctly, is a truth teller. It opens new channels of communication and gives the partnership solid information around its challenges.

The passive male can be seen in politics as the one who has no ‘rough edges.’ He is not rattled, always ‘on message,’ never at a loss for words. He is also usually indecipherable, non transparent and gifted at attacking his opponent. You may see him in the headlines as his latest affair is uncovered. He’ll claim loyalty to family but in the end his family is who he abandons for his own narcissistic ends.

Passive males blame their children for whatever’s missing in their lives and will take no personal responsibility for leadership in the family. They may offer abusive language or even abusive behavior but you will not see proactive problem solving, deep empathy or clear and nourishing values coming from them.

We watch the political ‘debates’ of this season and are dismayed at the ineffectual dialogue offered. We see posturing (clearly a passive trait), slick and clever personal attacks (another indicator of the passive male) and vague promises (passive evasion of the real issues).

If you want a very clear indicator of a political alternative, study Abraham Lincoln.

One way to ‘unmask’ passive political leaders is to confront them. Challenge them through letter writing, creating town meetings of your own, or perhaps supporting the local leader who seems to be proactive and legitimate.
In marriage, don’t accept scripted answers. Challenge routine. Look at yourself, your own passive self protection, and begin to expose it to your partner. New life will come and you will begin to see changes in your relationship that make it a better place to live.

We can change marriage as we can change politics – from the inside out. Our own passivity will simply give us more of the same, and every day will look a lot like yesterday.

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