Married to a Passive Aggressive Person and What to Do

Passive Aggression and Couples

Passive aggressive people make relationships more difficult.
Passive aggressive people make relationships more difficult. | Source

Passive Aggression and Relationships

We all have different personalities and different ways to cope with our feelings. People who are passive aggressive do not want to deal with their feelings of anger. There is a difference between acting passive aggressive occasionally and being passive aggressive all the time and it dominates their thoughts, their actions, their personality.

People who are passive aggressive all the time are known to have PAPD, passive aggressive personality disorder. They switch off between several thoughts. They believe they are perfect and will discredit anything their spouse may say about them. They will say yes, but secretly feel angry, and plot ways to not do what is asked of them because they are secretly afraid to express their real opinion. They play the part of the victim and slant the story so that they are the innocent one.

Passive Aggression and Relationships

passive aggressive people want to create distance to hide their anger.
passive aggressive people want to create distance to hide their anger. | Source

The Passive Aggressive Person and Their Partner

A passive aggressive person finds a willing victim. There is a problem between both people. The passive aggressive person resists, and the spouse gets and shows their frustration. The spouse also has dynamics that were set up in their childhood. It often comes from watching their own parents. One parent withdrew, and the other gets frustrated. They grow into adults who take care of others and feel unappreciated for it. As an adult, they unconsciously choose a partner who plays out these unresolved feelings. They will also repeat the patterns of their parents behavior towards each other.

The spouse falls for the passive aggressive person’s charm, his neediness, and doesn’t see how this throws off their lack of connection to others. The dynamics of the marriage leave the spouse who is not passive aggressive in doubt about themselves. The passive aggressive person blurs the lines between their own failures, and make them the other person’s. The passive aggressive person is very clever at eluding their spouse’s way of discovering what they are really about. Their life together is often filled with unsettling inconsistencies. When the passive aggressive husband, for example feels threatened, they withdraw, the wife feels frustrated and shows her anger. They are not able to settle the conflict in a direct way and the disagreement goes unresolved. Healthy relationships need openness and appropriate displays of anger.

The spouse of a passive aggressive person takes on several roles at various times. They are the rescuer. They are the controller who is managing and handling the situation. They are the victim. They are often pushed into frustrating situations that cause them to feel angry. Caught in a role of being all of these people, they ride an emotional roller coaster, as the passive aggressive spouse continues to make their mate feel like they will do what is asked of them.

The passive aggressive person knows how to erode their spouse’s self esteem. Their mate is feeling frustrated and angry, and may feel guilty about being angry. The passive aggressive person, through their innocent and naïve ways makes their spouse feel guilty about being angry at them and often gets their spouse to apologize to them.

How to Handle a Passive Aggressive Person

It is in our nature to repeat what we are unaware we are doing. The person who is attracted to a passive aggressive mate, will find another just like them in other relationships they have. There is a certain level of neediness that attracts this person to a passive aggressive individual. The person who is attracted to a passive aggressive mate does not usually set limits, is not usually demanding, and may be easily manipulated.

If you are married to a passive aggressive person you can handle the person by using straight non confrontational talk. It may help to change some of their irritating behavior.

Passive aggressive personality disorder is a pervasive way of being and behaving. It is a lifelong habit. It is not an easy task to straighten this out. I t starts with setting firm limits for yourself. Don’t blur the boundaries between their needs and what you think you can do for them. Stick to the promises you have made to yourself. Speak in terms of how you feel. State it in terms of “I feel...” Don’t protect your spouse from your feelings. Don’t accept their excuses when your spouse says they couldn’t do what you asked. Tell them, it is their choice and express how their behavior has affected you and others. Choose your battles. Focus on what is important. Intervene where it will count for you. When you are in an argument with your passive aggressive spouse make sure they don’t turn the focus back on you. Tell them it is about them, not you.

You and Your Relationship

Things you can do when dealing with a passive aggressive spouse
Things you can do when dealing with a passive aggressive spouse | Source

What You Can Do for Yourself When You Are in a Relationship With a Passive Aggressive Person

Become as self aware as you can. Observe how you avoid conflict, the ways you are passive yourself, and what triggers your own response to anger. Be vigilant about how they turn the blame on you. Don’t allow them to take the discussion off track. Try not to let them push your buttons and get you angry, so they can walk away from you.

It may be helpful to learn stress management so that you can handle your own anxiety effectively. It is important to encourage your spouse to make their own decisions, and to let them see that doing things helps to build their own confidence. Try not to be critical of their behavior. If you come on strong, they may react by retreating and isolating themselves because, remember they can’t how yo their anger. Try to raise them to a level of honesty and to say they don’t really want to do the things you have asked. Then you can explain how this makes you feel. Try to make fewer demands, asking only for what you need and see what happens. Show how the distortion of the truth is creating more problems. Be gentle, be direct, try not to be aggressive. Don’t allow them to make excuses or make excuses for them. Challenge their ambiguity and double messages, or how they are ignoring you.Challenge them when they try to cloud the issues with things that are not relevant to the situation. Don’t let them get away with giving you mixed messages.

They will try the tactic of making you feel sorry for them as though they are the victim, to avoid you coming down on them, and get you to feel sorry for them. Point out that their behavior is self defeating and not solving anything. Make them accountable.

Be sure to give them praise for the progress they are making. Hopefully you will get them to realize that there are good ways to resolve conflict. Understand for your knowledge that their fear of being dependent on you is related to their own rebellion. Try to avoid invading their privacy, or get in the way of them making them making their own decisions. Your partner may be afraid to acknowledge their own fears. Help them have the courage to deal with these feelings and that everyone has fears, and that it is good to learn about ourselves.

Passive Aggressive Partners

Your partner is bound to blame you for what is going on. It is important that you let them know how they betrayed you and that they must earn back your trust. Ask them what they will do to rebuild the trust you need from them.

Point out when they sulk and get moody and how all these things only make things worse. Show them how they close themselves off, and how that makes the issues more difficult to deal with. Keep the conversation open.


Be willing to learn about yourself too by accepting feedback and listening to criticism without getting defensive. Chart the relationship with new definitions so that positive change can take effect.


Show how they are manipulating the situation and being controlling, even though they may vehemently deny this. Show how they are using withdrawl tactics, sarcasm, irritability and moodiness, and intimidation in situations. Avoid getting into power struggles with them. Talk about unexpressed anger and how it can fester and cause destructiveness in the relationship.

Through couples counseling you and your spouse may be able to express uncomfortable feelings in safe and appropriate your. Give your passive aggressive spouse the opportunity to be more direct with you. Learn about yourself and how you react to anger. Observe how your interaction can fuel their anger, and on the positive side, how you can undermine their passive aggressive behavior.


Stay away from nagging them, it does not good and will only make things worse. Expressing your feelings in the right way will make all the difference in how you both handle the issues. When your partner gives you the silent treatment, tell them that it is upsetting to you. Explain that not talking makes it easier for each of you to form assumptions that put more distance between you.


Passive Aggressive People

All relationships are built on compromise. Let your partner know your compromise and get them to state theirs. Make them an active part of solving the problems in your marriage.

If your passive aggressive partner does not want to negotiate or compromise with you, it may be appropriate to state some consequences. If you do setup consequences, you must follow through on them.


If after everything has been tried and said, perhaps you need to stop spending so much energy on this person. Ask yourself what you are getting from this relationship. it is time to question if your partner is really capable of being close to you. Is your partner putting their energy into helping the relationship or avoiding their own problems?


If you tried to make things work with this person, it may be time to move forward. Be forewarned that the passive aggressive person will seek revenge against you. If you aren’t all that unhappy in the relationship, then stay in the relationship. But realize that maybe it is time to give yourself what your spouse is not and cannot give you. Working on yourself may have a bigger payback. The choice is yours, but whatever you do, do it for yourself and make yourself happy most of all.

To read more about marriage and passive aggressive personality disorder click here.

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Comments 11 comments

EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

SUPER! ! !


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago Author

Hi Euro, Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

I have already shared this on Facebook and sent it to many of my friends. You really laid it on the line, and in such a way that those in denial can't help find themselves here. I think of it as a codependency - dance. Best regards -


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago Author

Hi Euro, I am so appreciative that you shared my hub on Facebook. It is very hard to recognize passive aggressive behavior and my hope is to help people realize that this may be causing some difficulty in their relationship. I have written 5 other hubs on passive aggressive behavior because it is not a well covered subject and we are prone to falling prey to this behavior or acting on it. Thanks again for your kind words.


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

toknowinfo, this is a great subject. Thankfully, my hubby does not have a passive-aggressive personality, however my boss does. This hub is very helpful in dealing with him. I do think it will help for me to be more direct with him, gentle and firm. Thank you for sharing.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago Author

Hi Career, I am glad you found this hub helpful. I am writing more passive aggressive hubs about the workplace, and I have written other hubs on this topic. This type of person is hard to identify, until you know about them. Thanks for your comments and for stopping by.


Ebonny profile image

Ebonny 3 years ago from UK

Thank you for writing this. Partners of passive aggressive people need all the help they can get.


Kaznvij 2 years ago

I think a very productive counter piece to this one would be an article on how to get help if you yourself realize you are a passive aggressive loveer. I've known all my life that I am, and while I don't mean to cause others harm when I do so, I don't know how to shut it off and has ruined several relationships and is actually in the process of r uining another. I've long since been aware I needed help but other than therapy for help so an article displaying the views from a side of a person dealing with it would give some serious insight to those on the opposing side.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 2 years ago Author

I have one article http://toknowinfo.hubpages.com/hub/Dealing-With-Pa... which might help you understand what you are doing. I have another article http://toknowinfo.hubpages.com/hub/Relationships-P...

I have another article about the causes of Passive Aggressive Behavior http://hubpages.com/health/Causes-of-Passive-Aggre...

which might help you understand yourself a little better. I will write an article about being the passive aggressive person. The problem with most people who are dealing with this, is that most passive aggressive people do not realize they are the ones causing the problem. I encourage you to seek therapy to learn that you are a good person who was taught that it was unsafe to express your feelings. If you are open to therapy, you can gain tools that will free you from a past that does not serve who you are today. We are, after all human, and we only let go of the things we do when they stop serving a purpose for us. We only let go of the things we do when we have something to substitute it for. Change is hard, but it is harder to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I admire you for your honesty and self awareness.


Cynthia 2 years ago

Discussing the behavior with the passive aggressive is about as useful as talking to a wall. After all, they are passive aggressive!


monic-alang profile image

monic-alang 23 months ago from USA

voted up :)

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