Forms of revenge between married partners used to involve old-fashioned passive aggressive warfare. My father was very comfortable with simply the aggressive part of that technique, so my mother honed her skills in the passive arena. His ying to her yang or some such. They have been married for 59 years, so something must be working. Passive aggressive tactics have been the method of choice in my family for decades, and for good reason. Passive aggression is maddening beyond reckoning to the recipient, and very satisfying for the conflict-averse.
How Marital Passive Aggression Used to Work
They don’t call it the Silent Generation for nothing. When my mother was pissed-off at my father she cooked chicken and green vegetables for dinner instead of my father’s highly-preferred meat and potatoes. Baked fish? Dad must have done something really bad this time. And if my mother served salad, my sister and I wondered if the end of their marriage was near. Healthy food equated to an unhealthy parental relationship in my house. This theory was reinforced by the stocked pantry bursting with potato chips and sugared-cereal. They screamed, “We are fine! Our family is fine!”
Marital Passive Aggression: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Passive aggressive tactics also give the other person yet another chance to read your fucking mind. He should have totally known you wanted him to change the lightbulb when you left a fresh bulb on the counter. Why should you have to, you know, say it out loud? Speak your mind? Does he expect you to always state in clear terms what you want/need? Where’s the sport in that? Where’s the challenge? Doesn’t a lightbulb speak for itself? Doesn’t he know that changing a burned-out lightbulb without being asked is the only way she will know he loves her?
Women have come a long way in their quest for irritation equality. We don’t have to mess with our families/spouses only with respect to the food we serve or don’t serve. We are more than just cooks and domestic goddesses. We are also consumers of Netflix, and Netflix has become our new weapon of choice.
Netflix: Taking Marital Passive Aggression Up a Notch
Guess what I did the last time my husband infuriated me? I watched the first episode of House of Cards! See what happens when you are a lazy sack of shit? I’ve got this passive aggressive technique down so well you don’t even know I’m doing it! No revenge meal to alert you that you need to walk on eggshells for completely unknowable reasons. I can watch one episode for a regular boner move on your part or I can binge watch an entire season of one of our shows if you thoroughly make me mad. I can choose to pretend I haven’t seen what happened to Zoe in the subway or I can wield that information like a knife at my whim at the opportune spoiler time. “He pushes her.”