ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Part II Help for passive aggression: Living with a passive aggressive spouse

Updated on March 14, 2016

Each day thousands of Americans are searching the internet trying to find answers and understand passive aggressive behavior. These families are going through hell on their own with little to no help for those living with a family member with this condition.They may be living with a passive aggressive parent or a passive aggressive spouse. Unfortunately there is almost no one out there to help them to find solutions. The condition has been classified and reclassified. Meanwhile many families are suffering through this trauma all alone. That is what inspired me to write these articles on passive aggression. I have one goal in mind and that is to offer some help to those families in need who are desperately searching for answers.

Sharing publicly a great deal of personal information is not easy for me but I believe in the long run I will help many people. The condition of passive aggression has been known of since the age of World War II yet, there is still little support out there for anyone dealing with a family member who is passive aggressive. If you have not read my first article, please go back and read, "Living with a passive aggressive spouse".

I have found that there are four very distinctive stages that the passive aggressive I have lived with goes through. These four stages can run every few months. In my husbands case I see a pattern of deep depression as the cause for his behavior that is so extremely difficult to live with. While reading, ask yourself if this sounds like what you or a family member are experiencing.

Stage 1.) My husband will be void of anger and overly passive. At this point he will be extremely agreeable. In public he is charming, helpful, and caring. People on the outside like him and see him in a positive light. So do I. He is the guy who buys me flowers and tells me how much he loves me. At a charity he is more than willing to help in any way. He will act in a loving way as if he is the completely devoted husband. And I must add...I think down deep inside he wants to be this person all the time. He will be a good father, a good listener, and a good husband. Those who do not know my history look at me and wonder if I have the problem. I appear tense and angry at times. However, quietly I know this stage of my husband's helpfulness will not last and the next phases of this condition will soon surface their ugly head. I also know that my husband does not want to be on the angry ugly side ever but he will soon see things in extremes and it is so hard for him to control his feelings when this happens.

2.) Stage Two of his passive aggressive cycle goes like this. He continues to be outwardly agreeable but things change. If he is asked to go to the store he will gladly go but get the wrong thing. He will agree to pay a bill and forget. He smiles and agrees at each and every request and then quietly refuses to follow through. He will claim he is going to do something on his own and then never do it. In conversation he will dismiss your every statement about every subject. If asked why he is becoming slowly argumentative and devaluing my every word he will say, " Oh I didn't mean it. You miss understood me. I wasn't saying that." This part escalates. He starts playing devils advocate in ever conversation no matter how insignificant it may be. Quietly with a smile and a soft voice he disagrees with absolutely everything. I will find that in this stage he sabotages any work I am trying to complete on my own. He will throw out items I am saving for crafts. Often he throws out all the mail, I mean every last piece of mail in my name he can find. When confronted his calm answer is always, " No reason. I was just cleaning up."

3.) At stage three life can become unbearable! At this stage he become argumentative and angry. He will reject any suggestion I make. He will defy every wish. This is when he has tantrums and extreme outbursts. His remarks become cruel and intimidating. When confronted he will deny he ever said he had a problem and insist all is my fault. He will deny ever agreeing to get help. His insults and personal attacks become extreme. If it is the holidays I am in trouble. In this stage the passive aggressive will ruin Christmas. If it is your birthday your gift will be as hurtful as it can be and so will the remarks that go with it. Passive aggressives do not call names. Their comments run in a fashion to cause deep emotional pain. Once my husband screamed at me in a fit of rage, " For God's sake your own mother doesn't even love you. She can't stand you. She never could!"

The incident happened many years ago. We had started a home improvement project and all was going well. Suddenly things changed and he refused for no reason to help in any way finish that job. His refusal went on for days. We had taken out a a small our side staircase to the cellar and our home was left with a wide opening. Any animal or flowing rain water could run right in. My insistence that the job be finished only made him resist more. He became angry and that lead to some of the most hurtful words I have ever heard. That is when I really started to understand that this behavior was not cruel it was crazy. I was dealing with some sort of mental illness.

In this stage every request is a absolute no. He can not be helpful in any way. The personal attacks will fly. He becomes like this completely out of control teenage brat that no one on earth can deal with. In this stage he tantrums and walks back and forth very fast bullying me desperately seeking "MY" expression of anger. I hate the way this makes me feel. At this point I feel completely over whelmed and powerless. If I have the flu he will refuse me any help or assistance what-so-ever. He has in the past become a sudden lousy father refusing to pick up our son or buy groceries. I watch him become a monster with each passing remark and left feeling completely baffled. Many times during this stage he would take off and disappear. He would sleep in his car and with money in the bank in the past he even went so far as to check himself into a homeless shelter for a night. Through out this process he kept telling me it was all me and all my fault. He takes no responsibility for his behavior.

4.) Stage four he will begin to sulk. For many hours and sometimes days he will sit in silence after the huge upset. This is part of his need to punish, punish, punish. Left with a life of no intimacy, no help and cruel hurtful personal attacks I got fed up and threw him out. John had many years to think about his actions.

In my long research on this subject I have found that it is common for spouses of a passive aggressive to have severe panic attacks and that most couples divorce. Women tend to stay longer while men more often say screw this and jump out of the marriage much sooner. It is also very hard to find financial support in any community for these families. That needs to change.

So here is my advice. Do not accept this behavior. It will hurt you and your children. Use your cell phone and document extreme behaviors and record all tantrums and promises. I did not have this option years ago so it was harder to say to him, " yes you did do these things" when he tried to minimize them. Do not erase what you recorded. Show these recordings only to a counselor who is dedicated in helping you find solutions that are best for you and your children. Do not stay in the house during the silent treatment abuse. Leave immediately and do not return until he behaves as an adult. Take young children with you. If you have young children seek help in a family court to protect the kids. Last understand that mental illness is not your fault no matter how hard the passive aggressive tries to minimize or underplay their own actions. Know that you are not to blame for any of it and you have right to a decent life and a caring relationship. It might even be helpful for you to copy this article and save it.

You are not alone in these experiences. Many people are going through this very trauma. We need to advocate for better mental health reform and make sure that all families dealing with this can find needed services to help them cope. So become an advocate for yourself and others experiencing these same difficulties and keep reaching for a better life.

By Joanne Kathleen Farrell


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile imageAUTHOR

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 

      2 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      Thank you for your questions. Yes I have talked about these issues with my family in the past. Keep in mind that my husband and I are older now. We have worked out most of our problems. The situations I have written about on the most part, occurred in the distant past. I have three grown sons. I try to avoid having conversations about my marriage with them. I wrote these articles simply to help others out there. No other reason. As a professional my suggestion to you is this. When dealing with a couple or family who has a passive aggressive partner or family member you may want to suggest to them try an on line personality test. That really can help. It clearly identifies the person with mental and emotional problems. That way the problem is not the non passive aggressive person defending him or herself to someone who is abusive. It takes the "me" vs "you" out of the equation. These computer tests will point out all the issues without putting anyone particular person to blame for their faults. My husband who spent many years denying his problems had to face that he and he alone is responsible for the unhappiness he lives with. I no longer felt the need to point out odd behaviors when he scored 85% introverted. Now he has seen the light and understands it's not me.

    • chainfreeliving profile image

      Rebecca C Mandeville MA 

      2 years ago

      I deeply appreciate this article. I am curious: Have you ever tried to share with close friends or family members whom you believe you can trust this same information you share here? I ask, because I am a psychotherapist and have had clients in the same situation as you. Often, they keep all of this crazy-making P/A behavior to themselves for fear that they will look paranoid or crazy or will not be believed. At times, when they finally DO work up the courage to share with someone in their lives they DO trust, they are in some cases not believed because the spouse "is so nice - that does not sound like him at all. Are you sure you are not imagining this?" And the support that they need is not there in the ways that they had hoped. So, I am wondering your experience with this, and if you add to this hub and talk about that, I would love it if you let me know, unless you choose not to answer - or perhaps answer via a comment, here. Thanks again.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)