How to deal with a passive aggressive husband?

passive aggressive husband

How to Deal With a Passive Aggressive Husband?

FIRST, THERE IS DISCOVERY:  There is a steady progression in the process of realizing the main cause of some spousal behaviors.

In this progression, you go slowly discovering what's is wrong in your marriage. First you feel that something is odd, because you have some feelings of hurt that don’t correspond with the objective situation…you are happily married, and then some response from your spouse makes the whole perception shake, and you are not so sure who you are.

As one woman at the end of her rope described this constant passive aggression as a situation where she would receive either punishment or love, in a sequence without any logic.

Mental torture followed by a bit of love, then disappointment then promises and apologies then heartache again, in an endless roller coaster. She never was sure of his affection and began doubting herself.

THEN THERE IS LEARNING HOW TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION: 

Let's look at a situation that you yourself know by heart:  This is a posting at our "ASKNORA" section:

"Then his PA/emotionally abusive behavior started out of the blue. My therapist thinks it's related to the death of his mother. It all started shortly after his mom died. I believe this must be correct. What keeps me hanging in there is my children and the hope that my sweet, understanding husband will return someday. But for now, I have no idea how he's going to react or handle things. It's extremely unpredictable. I never know what will set him off, it's usually something as simple as me asking him "what are you doing today?" this can send him into a rage. We could be talking and laughing like normal one minute and fighting like cats & dogs for no reason the next minute. I have retaliated with some passive behavior of my own. Not to get back at him but simply to avoid confrontation with him.

So I find that not talking to him much reduces his explosive episodes, and it's my wall of protection. I am the one that doesn't want to have sex, not to get back at him, I just don't want to. How can I have sex with someone I can't even have a rational conversation with???? His outbursts are not exactly a turn-on.

He recently said to me "you have no room in your life for me..."  That's because I work two jobs, take care of the house, kids, and all the finances. I do the books and all the paperwork for his business (he's self-employed). When my day is over, I can barely keep my eyes open. I'm mentally and physically exhausted, it's that simple. I've been telling him for years that it's all too much for me, I'm overwhelmed and I need help. He says he's gonna help but he always has an excuse why he can't. He puts everything on me so when something goes wrong of course it's all my fault because I didn't do it right."

Of course, she feels trapped in a no-win situation! If she takes over the home responsibilities in order to avoid him procrastinating and abandoning necessary tasks, she does the work of two people and has no energy for herself. If she decides to drop responsibilities and ask him to do them, then her second (or third job) will be to watch over him catch him in the act of dropping tasks, spending effort in correcting the consequences of him not delivering in time what he promised to do...etc. She calls her not talking with him too much, her "wall of protection"

THEN THERE IS DECISION-MAKING TIME

How to Deal With a Passive Aggressive Husband?

What we need to understand is that a passive aggressive personality has been many years in the making, and is part of the very core of this person’s ability to relate. It is NOT a response to her behavior; it’s his “normal response” to everything that happens in his world, his marriage included…Without entering into the psychological elements of what makes this person behave in such a defensive way, what is important to see is that this is a way of being, structurally organized, and nobody can change it from the outside.

Only the person who has learned to react in this way can realize the damage it causes to any relationship and make a plan to modify his own responses. He does that after realizing that his behavior is only a mechanical repetition of the attachment developed in infancy with his caretaker or mother. People who had a rough time when born and growing up with an avoidant, rejecting mother will find themselves needing and hurting the object of his love, at the same time...We have here offered lots of information about attachment consequences on adult relationships.

The only role a wife can have is to be a witness, and let him know what is the impact of his behavior on people around him, and on the relationships he says he needs. By denouncing as hurtful some of his responses, she is helping him recognize how inappropriate his answers are…and then hope that her words will motivate him to do otherwise. Perhaps he really knows how much he needs her and the family; perhaps it's time for him to outgrow the limitations of childhood attachment...whatever the reason, the main impulse to change passive aggression has to be a deep conviction for him that now, he needs to grow up.

In the words of the same wife:

“If there’s one thing that I’ve really learned, it is that a passive-aggressive person must find his own truth. We can talk to them about it, give them pamphlets on it, download articles off of the Internet, suggest counseling, etc., but until they choose to look at themselves without their rose-filtered glasses on and see the hurt inside of them, they have no reason to change. In my opinion, passive aggressive behavior is not something that can be cured, but managed.”

You can continue the conversation with a comment; leave your question at “AskNora” or get more information from this kindle book about how to deal with a passive aggressive husband.

  1. janet, 05 July, 2013

    How right this woman is….their “pa” behaviour must one day impact them at some physical/emotional level of trauma…..the message of “I don’t see the need to change” is their defense.

  2. Christi Mccaslin, 14 July, 2013

    My husband says he refuses to change. After 23 years of marriage, he never has anything good to say about me or to me. He is consistently putting me down. It seems important to him to make me the bad guy at all times. We have been to one counseling session so far. But, I think Im ready to move on. He is only hurtful. No respect. No kindness.

  3. Christi Mccaslin, 14 July, 2013

    My husband says he refuses to change. After 23 years of marriage, he never has anything good to say about me or to me. He is consistently putting me down. It seems important to him to make me the bad guy at all times. We have been to one counseling session so far. But, I think Im ready to move on. He is only hurtful. No respect. No kindness.

  4. Christi Mccaslin, 14 July, 2013

    He had me feeling so badly about myself at one time, I considered ending it all. Truck over cliff seemed like a good idea. After all, I was a terrible person, mean, hateful, etc. Yep, he actually had me convinced I was a piece of crap. I climbed out of that hole and am a very strong woman now. And thus, the real conflict had begun. I refuse to accept his PA abuse and he has no idea how to deal with me now, other than using the same old bag of tricks. Lying is about me and to me is a real issue. Its his daily vendetta to make sure Im “in my place” as the wrong, argumentative terrible person. While he is doing absolutely nothing wrong. Iv held on because Im afraid if he no longer had me as his victim, he will focus on our youngest daughter. He is so completely abusive and I feel I have no solution to this problem except to stay until the girls are grown and safely out of the house.

  5. Nora Femenia, 25 July, 2013

    Dear Christi,
    Having 23 years of this ordeal is a very long time…I’m surprised that still you can remember that you want to be treated with kindness and respect.
    First, what are other sources of kindness in your life? Can you receive more respect from other people? Perhaps beginning by self-respecting your own person, would make a difference.

    You need to make a list of all your positive aspects all along your life, type and print this list.Make several copies, take one with you in your bag…so you can remind yourself who you are. Then, when he uses his put down, your brain will remember and say: “Wait a moment! he is wrong on this point, because I’m quite the opposite of what he says…he is wrong here!”
    When this brain reaction happens each time, his words will not have any impact on you…and you will be free from his spell. Thanks for writing!

  6. Nora Femenia, 25 July, 2013

    Well, not everything is lost. You can play with your girls the game of “How well do you know yourself?” and help them make their own “positive qualities” lists. Tell your younger child how wonderful she is; catch her doing a good job and praise her skills; find her struggling with homework and remind her of previous opportunities when she got a good grade….be her main supporter and admirer, consistently and constantly. As soon as her father says something negative, you will know what to tell her, and how good she is at what her dad criticizes on her….You can also tell her how do you deal with his negative characterization, and show her your own list. She will feel that she is not alone; that her father has a very nasty attitude, and that her own image has not to be defined by his nasty opinions….Play the game of: “Who on earth would put down his own child/spouse, etc?” and help her see where from this habit is coming from. Perhaps we have also a nasty grandmother?

    Have fun, recover your own power, and grow strong…

  7. Nora Femenia, 25 July, 2013

    Right on, Janet…but at this time, in my opinion, the energy left has to be focused on building self-esteem, such a strong one that whatever he says, it will not have any impact on her or on her child.

    Trying to destroy his defense will take all the energy, he will be then happily engaged in the endless conflict he is a master of, and Christi will be lost to herself.

  8. Treesmarie, 29 July, 2013

    Thank you Nora from my grateful heart for being led to your site today.
    I am turning a corner in my life and very much need support for change. Your info is so helpful and validating. My 21st wedding anniversary is next week and I’m ready to admit that is enough time here learning the hard way! I’m creating a plan to exit the marriage and launch my new life. I will continue to read your posts and articles.

  9. Treesmarie, 29 July, 2013

    Thank you Nora from my grateful heart for being led to your site today.
    I am turning a corner in my life and very much need support for change. Your info is so helpful and validating. My 21st wedding anniversary is next week and I’m ready to admit that is enough time here learning the hard way! I’m creating a plan to exit the marriage and launch my new life. I will continue to read your posts and articles.

  10. Nora Femenia, 29 July, 2013

    Good for you! you have lots of cheering from us…a person that decides to recover herself and get back in track to make herself happy and productive has all my support! Please, make a list of the skills you learned going through this 21 years ordeal, and think how they are going to help you navigate the next step in your life successfully…..and please, do keep us here posted!

  11. MariaAzul, 12 May, 2014

    I just realized that I am married to a passive-aggressive person. We have been in a relationship for five years and married almost three. He has three kids from previous marriage, one that ended pretty badly two years before I met him. The thing is, now that I know what the problem is, everything finally makes sense. The way he talks, he treats me and the kids sometimes, the silence treatment, the monosyllabic responses, the procrastination, everything. Now, I do not know what to do. I have been in counseling the that is how I came to know about his condition, he, by the way, refuses counseling completely and on top of everything, he has been having an affair for almost a year now, one that he does not want to give up, with a girl almost half his age. In other words, our marriage is a chaos, I have managed to live a more relaxed and peaceful life by shutting myself, we do not talk about things that make him uncomfortable (pretty much everything that is important) so our conversations now are pretty trivial. I do not know how to sustain my marriage on this terms, I know that there is nothing that I can do to change him. And, I also know that as long he is not treated he is going to keep abusing me, having me as his loyal servant, I cleaned after him and the kids, I do all the housework, he does not help at all, I have a job and I am writing my thesis to get my master degree. I cannot save anything because his salary is not enough to cover our expenses and specially the kids’ so I have to help. I am so worn out and I have no idea about what to do, I feel so used. I have been gathering all the information that I can get about his condition but at this point I am at lost on what is the best way thing to do. I love him very much, I love the kids and I want more than anything for us to be happy but I find it hard for that to happen. It is difficult for me to make the decision of just leaving him, so right now I am looking for a solution.

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