Is Your Spouse Passive Aggressive?

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Wondering If Your Spouse Is Passive Aggressive?


I receive many emails in response to articles I’ve written about passive aggressive behavior. Judging from the emails, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not a clear understanding of what passive aggressive behaviors look like in marriage.

If you are married to someone you think is passive aggressive, this article is for you. Hopefully, you will gain a better understanding of your spouse’s behaviors.

The behaviors discussed below are behaviors you are going to see consistently in your spouse if he/she is truly passive aggressive. A basic definition of passive aggressive behavior is the use of covert coping tools in response to anger.

The passive aggressive does not respond openly when upset. Passive aggressive anger comes out in ways that sabotage you and your attempt to solve problems in the marriage and relationship. The passive aggressive views everything as a personal affront, an attack on them and they respond by trying to “get even,”  in underhanded ways, and you are their target.

Below are 5 examples of typical passive aggressive behaviors in marriage:

1. A husband is always late. This is a habit, not a one-time occurrence. He may ask you to meet him for lunch the day after an argument and be twenty minutes late to punish you. Some people are habitually late; the passive aggressive is purposefully late.


If you've noticed this behavior in your wife or husband after an argument, more than likely you are being punished for pissing them off or offending them in some way. 

2. A wife who spends money when she knows her husband is worried about finances. Have a disagreement with her and she will be whipping out the credit cards the next day.

This is especially common with passive aggressive women who are stay-at-home mothers. If her husband works hard to provide for his family what better way to make him suffer that carelessly spend his hard-earned income? 

3. A husband who stonewalls your attempts to communicate. My ex used to walk away from every attempt to communicate. The passive aggressive fears confrontation out of a sense of unworthiness. A passive aggressive husband may stonewall and refuse to engage in conflict out of fear you will leave him if he shows anger toward you. Point out a flaw in the passive aggressive and they will shut down or walk away leaving you to stew in the problem.

4. A wife who refuses to have sex in response to something you’ve done to upset her. What better way to wound a spouse than to refuse to maintain an intimate connection? She is flirtatious, affectionate, always holding your hand and cuddling but get her in the bedroom and she turns cold.

Many passive aggressive women were sexually abused as children. If you are having intimacy problems in your marriage, they may be two-fold. The passive aggressive wife may fear making an intimate connection with you due to childhood trauma and her way of punishing you for wanting sex is to deny you sex.


5. The ultimate and normally something you don’t realize until it is too late is the husband or wife who is “fine” with everything. This person loves everything you love. They love everything about you. They leave the choice of which restaurant to go to up to you; you always choose which movie to see or where to go on holiday. This person is highly personable, right up until the point they turn around and accuse you of being a control freak.

The "I love everything about you" passive aggressive spouse is a vat of anger waiting to explode. This is the spouse who reaches midlife and goes into a midlife crisis. This is a spouse who one day blames you for 20 years of what they consider being failures on their part. 

If your wife or husband is too good to be true, then it's probably a relationship built on untruths.


3 Ways Passive Aggressive Behavior Can Damage a Marriage:

1. No martial or interpersonal problems are resolved; no solutions are found to the problems in the relationship and anger builds. Passive aggressive behavior gets in the way of either spouse being able to deal with what is happening in the marriage. And, being able to live authentically within the marriage. 

2. Passive aggressive behaviors damage both spouses. The passive aggressive is his/her own worst enemy. They marry wanting to connect with their spouse; they marry out of a sense of love. Their reaction to conflict keeps not only you from experiencing an emotional and intimate connect but themselves also.

3. The passive aggressive takes no responsibility for the problems in the marriage. They use obstructive tactics to keep from facing and dealing with marital issues, leaving you to carry the burden of all the problems. It's a heavy load to bare! It isn't unusual for those married to a passive aggressive to suffer from depression or begin to have health problems due to frustration and stress they turn inward. 

No one wins when in a relationship with a passive aggressive!