5 tricks to use straight talk with a passive aggressive husband

passive aggressive husband

Refusing to Bounce the Boomerang Back: Your Role in Limit Setting and Talking Straight to a passive aggressive husband!

While it is difficult to be a partner of a man who continually frustrates you with his passive aggressive behavior, there are some things than a woman can do to break into his non involvement pattern. There must be a way to end the loneliness, you must be thinking! Here we offer one method:

When the partner understands the problem and attacks it with determination using straight talk, some of the man's irritating behavior can change. Depending upon the severity of the passive aggressive stance, small inroads can be made. However, there is no easy cure for this life long habit.

Here are some ideas for fair fighting which work with all types of personalities but are especially helpful for dealing with passive aggressive behavior.

This approach works for both the withdrawing partner or the defiant teenager. Note--this is no easy task--it takes hard work to be direct and straight to the point at all times.


  • Watch how you hook in. Observe your unrealistic expectations for him to change. Don't demand more than he can willingly give. Hire out projects you think he won't carry through on. Get realistic--try to figure out where he can realistically change and what is set in stone for him.
  • Set firm limits for yourself. Stick to them like glue. State them repeatedly. Use ‘I messages' to share feelings of disappointment. Don't protect him from your unhappy feelings. Accept no excuses when he says he couldn't help it. Tell him that it is a choice he made. Tell him how his behavior injures or affects others. Ask him if he would like to be treated this way. When he says he forgot, point out that he remembers things that are important to him. Ask him how he would feel if you forgot to do things important to him.
  • Pick your fights wisely. Choose your stand wisely focusing the most important things. Overlook his neurotic traits but intervene on those behaviors that are most irritating to you.
  • Look at your own passive style of avoiding conflict. Watch how you blow off the important things and blow up at small things. Own up when you use passivity to avoid conflict. If he throws it back at you say, ‘This is not about you turning it back on me when I'm honest about my own shortcomings. We are trying to identify patterns that are unhealthy for us. Notice your need to blame me when I'm trying to be straight.'
  • Make an agreement of ‘No trash talk' when arguing. Stick to one subject. Don't allow the argument to go off track. (This is not about ___, we're discussing ___) Agree to take time out to cool down and return to the topic. Learn stress management techniques to handle your anxiety during the time out period. Read articles on fair fighting to ways to resolve conflict.
  • Encourage him to make decisions--accept whatever you can during this time of building his confidence about committing himself on small matters. Whenever possible be noncritical of his actions. When you must criticize, be critical of his behavior, not him. Wild recriminations and threats only make him retreat more to his cave of isolation and anger.
  • When he doesn't follow through and says, ‘I can't,' remind him that it means he won't because he doesn't feel like doing what is asked. Ask him to be more honest and say that he doesn't want to do what you asked. Point out the lack of effort when he is unwilling to do something boring or disagreeable. Make fewer demands on him and only ask for what you absolutely need.
  • Point out how he distorts the truth and discounts problems that he creates. Use gentle, direct confrontation. Don't humor, placate or make excuses for his behavior. Challenge double messages and ambiguous plans. Point out his indirect, non answers and sitting on the fence statements. Pin him down on his confusing the issue to save his skin. When he says, ‘You know how I say things I don't mean.' Confront him with ‘How do I know which half? When you give me mixed messages I get so confused that I don't feel loving and close to you.'
  • Point out his victim messages. He may beat himself up first so you will feel sorry for him and won't punish him. Show how his self-defeating talk clouds the issue of his not completing his responsibilities. Praise him in areas he does do well often to build up his self-confidence. Stress your commitment to the relationship and how it could be good for both if the two of you work out a process of dealing with conflict. Discuss his fears of being dependent upon you and how that's related to rebellion. Watch how you invade his privacy and undermine his decision making. Ask him how what you could do to make him feel safer. If he refuses to acknowledge his fears, remind him that we all have fears and fear is constructive in that it helps us learn about ourselves. Tell him that the mature person faces his fears rather than denying them. The only way to deal with fear is to face it--fears faced can be overcome. Tell him, ‘The next time you feel like you are being swallowed up, just watch your feelings. Face them. Sit with them and they will pass.'

And these are extra points: see if you can apply them? 

When he blames you for not trusting him or says he can't trust you, point out how he has betrayed your trust in the past. Tell him trust must be earned and you would like greater trust between the two of you. Ask him for a plan to build trust (doing what he says he will do, stop saying yes when he knows he won't get around to doing what you want, etc.)

If he flares up and blames you when you give information, ask him to look at his feeling put down when given information. Point out his pattern of needing to sulk and how that makes the problems worse. Tell him, ‘I feel the hostility in your walling yourself off. There is nothing we can't talk about. We can work this out if we keep it on the table. Let's talk.' Point out the positive benefits of feedback and criticism as something he can learn about himself. Be willing to receive feedback and criticism yourself. Redefine the relationship as being open to hearing unpleasant things that will promote positive change. Together, learn ways to cope with the unpleasant feelings that being criticized brings up.

Call his attention to every attempt to manipulate or control you through anger. His anger is expressed through withdrawal, sarcasm, irritability and intimidation. Tell him, ‘People who are constantly angry have a lot of fear. Let's try to figure out what pushes your anger buttons to bring our power struggles out in the open. Show how anger unexpressed may go underground and fester.

Take an anger management workshop together to learn to express uncomfortable feelings in safe, appropriate ways. Bring his submerged rage out into the open by saying, ‘I sensed some hostility in how you dealt with this issue. Could we explore this together?' Convince him it's okay to be angry Allow him to be more direct. Learn tactics of fair fighting and using anger in constructive ways.

Learn to deal with your own anger in appropriate ways. Observe your anger reactions, which fuel his determination to out wit you with passivity. Nagging and reopening the subject make things worse. Drop it and move on. Remember that the incorrect expression of anger is at the root of both his and your issues. Your choice daily is to state your anger in direct, firm, fair ways.

Challenge the silent treatment by saying ‘When you refuse to talk with me, I get upset. Both of us angry is poison for our relationship. When you don't talk to me, I make wild assumptions that further distance us. We are two intelligent people who can talk this out. What do we really want in our relationship--angry silence or problem solving?' State consequences when he refuses to negotiate and compromise. Get a reality check from someone you trust on options for consequences. Follow through on consequences.

Ask for compromises as a way for the relationship to win. State your compromise, ask him for his. Insist on his making an offer to resolve the problem if he doesn't like your ideas. Keep the focus on problem solving. Point out that true partnerships work with each other as focused allies working on the issue. Sing the Beatle song, ‘You see it your way, I see it my way, we can work it out. We can work it out!' Demonstrate how his nonclosure of a chronic problem and his noninvolvement affects him, you and the relationship. Keeping pushing the concept that the two of you can overcome any problem.

Don't dwell on disappointment. Don't take his refusal personally--see it as learned behavior, which he uses to avoid confrontation. Learn stress management techniques to deal with your own hurt and sense of betrayal. Take a meditation or yoga class to learn deep breathing to deal with stress. Learn to observe your own disappointment rather than wallowing in it.

Take courses on couples communication. Go into marriage counseling with someone who understands this passive aggressive man--angry wife dynamic. If he refuses, get help in understanding your own need to continue in an unhappy relationship.


A lot, really? Well, remember that you need to survive and be the most happy you can in this difficult situation...Here is more help to deal with the passive aggressive personality!

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