Training a Passive Aggressive Like An Animal

sandra dee movie

Training Your Pet

Training a passive aggressive spouse or partner like a wild animal I must say is an interesting concept. I was reading a blog post over on Passive Aggressive Husband written by an animal trainer. She says by using the same steps she uses to train dolphins we may be able to train our passive aggressive spouses or partner and she outlines a few basic steps.

It’s pretty rudimentary. As we’ve talked about here, the first step and often the hardest is to start detaching yourself from the relationship. She the goes on to talk about ignoring bad behavior and reinforcing good behavior, like you would a child. As she puts it, if you’ve tried everything else and can’t find anything that works, why not give it a try?

Actually this isn’t an entirely new concept, and not just used on passive aggressive spouses. In 1962 (I know, a lot of you may not be that old. LOL) Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin made a movie titled “If A Man Answers”. It’s a delightful movie about a young bride trying to get her model photographing husband’s attention. Her mother, very sophisticated in the ways of love, introduces her to a book titled “How To Train Man’s Best Friend” or “How To Train Your Pet”, something like that. The story is all about Sandra Dee taking the lessons from this dog training book to train her husband and of course it works, until he finds the book. LOL. It really is a cute film if you can find it anywhere and who knows, you may pick up a few pointers.

If you’d like to read the whole article just click on the link above. If you have any comments on what has worked for you, or if you have some “dog training” tips of your own, please share them below with the rest of us.

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5 Responses

  1. Dear Ladybeams,
    many thanks for sharing the conversation about the wild animals training method…and how it does apply or not to dealing with a PA husband.
    We understand that disconnecting the lever of ignoring bad behavior. Beyond the comparison with an spoiled, immature child (which is always in our minds) the fact that you don’t reward obnoxious behavior with your attention should discourage such behavior.
    What happens is the PAH realizes that his behavior is not bothering you, and get more frustrated and angry? There is a risk of this happening….and we should know it can happen. But, if it does, so what? He is only escalating the demonstration of how infantile his methods are for getting what he wants. It should confirm you that he has only one kind of response: more and more passive aggression.
    Wait! if he is a little bit yet the man you knew before, perhaps there is some hope that he would react in a different way, right?
    Amy, the wild animals trainer applying this method to her own husband, after ignoring his temper tantrum, recalls that he solves his problem by himself and has a different, more peaceful mood…
    We are all searching for help to solve the question of: how to have better responses from my PAHusband?
    Perhaps facing reality (he is inside a little child) and treating his bad behavior with silence and disinterest sends him the message that this behavior is useless!
    Isn’t that what we finally want?

    • Hi Nora- Thanks so much for expanding on the article.

      You’re so right about the possibility of more aggression as we ignore the bad behavior. An ex of mine used to come unglued when I stayed calm or didn’t react. If I was ranting and raving he knew he had the upper hand. The man I’m with now tires very easily if one thing isn’t working and will move on to something else. I think it is an excellent strategy, it just takes for many of us, a lot of practice not to react. LOL.

      Thanks again. I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

  2. I want to add that I got a couple of books about the application of this method, both by Ken Blanchard, a famous educator:
    Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships, (2002) Free Press;
    Whale Done Parenting. How to make parenting a positive experience for you and your kids (2009) Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

    Thy offer so many great ideas to apply to any relationship, not only passive aggressive ones….

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Would never work. All it would take is a wild hair and he’s simply stop doing the things that earned him the positive reinforcement because those behaviors I didn’t find to be unpleasant.

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