Can a Passive Aggressive Marriage Be Healed?


Expert Author Louis Clichot

Passive aggressive behavior is relatively common, and includes sabotaging behaviours intended to establish a wedge of separation between both of you. Look at this list, and see how the end result is isolating the husband from the marriage, from the spouse and finally from his own feelings.

In this way, he reaches the point of hostile dependency, where he feels not tied up to an emotional relationship which risks making him feel dependent on other.

This is the perception of the spouse of a passive aggressive husband:

  • Agreeing to do something and then accusing me of being demanding when he doesn’t do it.
  • Saying one thing, doing another and then denying saying the first thing.
  • Changing minds about what he is going to do frequently.
  • Not showing interest in others.
  • Displaying bitterness and jealousy at other’s achievements.
  • Not accepting responsibility for anything that goes wrong.
  • Continually complaining about not being appreciated for working so hard for the family but not really working any harder than anyone else.
  • Mumbling so she can’t be sure of what has been said.
  • Obsessive interest in internet and other distractional things.
  • Distant and “busy” even when in the same room, so avoiding connecting with her.

Being one half of a passive aggressive marriage can be down right lonely and frustrating. You can’t seem to get inside your spouse’s head and understand what makes him tick.

What you see as right, he needs to say that he sees as wrong, and if you see something as a positive, he’ll turn it to a negative.

Your husband may have developed this behavior from having an unhappy childhood. If his parents were ice cold, too strict, or abusive, he may have learned that it was a bad thing to express any kind of emotions. He could not show his emotional need of and dependency from his parents, for fear of being scolded and rejected as a “sissy.” This leads to a lot of resentment and hidden anger, being expressed in a passive way later in his adulthood.

If you feel you are in a passive aggressive marriage, the best way to handle the situation is to be assertive in your communication with your spouse. Be direct with him while explaining your concerns. Assert yourself explaining the effect of his passive aggressive behavior on you; without blaming him or throwing guilt, explain what happens with you when he needs to show that he doesn’t need you.

Be prepared to hear quite a few excuses, but don’t let that side track you. Don’t allow your husband to control you or the conversation. Find a way of calling him on his passive-aggression without being holier-than-thou about it.

If you are not extremely angry or frustrated with him, perhaps you can help him see the pattern, which is usually the toughest part. If you can explain the pattern to him just when it is happening and not be too judgmental, or taking him too seriously, that would help.

The whole psychological point of being passive-aggressive is to spare oneself the messy implications of experiencing one’s anger. And it’s not easy getting a grown-up man to say he’s feeling like a child inside. Their feeling of repressed anger is so intense; it has never been dealt with in the family of origin and he could never bring it out, so it feels like a mountain of anger for him. Show him that is not such a high mountain and it can be demolished with support and humor.

If this man has the qualities you admire and love in a man, keep your cool and don’t get frustrated by his passive aggressive behavior.

Above all, don’t give up hope. Keep the conversation flowing, make gentle comments about hiding in his cave… and talk about each other’s feelings.

You can learn much more about successfully dealing with Passive Aggressive behavior at

9 Responses to Can a Passive Aggressive Marriage Be Healed?

  1. Passive-aggressive diagnosis seemed to gain popularity in the 1980s as a method for “the modern” woman to blame hubby for marital dissatisfaction without taking responsibility for having married him in the first place. The passive-aggressive personality does not just pop into being; thus a woman should take note of the behavior before marrying and rather than making the classic blunder of saying, “Oh, he’ll change after we’re married,” find another man. If the PA behavior begins only after marriage, then we must also inquire as to what part in the total matrix of dysfunction the wife is playing.

  2. I left my passive-aggressive husband last August, as he had slapped me at my most vulnerable: when I was ill, wet from the shower and in lot of pain. He insisted I was hysterical.

    He has shown no concern for me, forgot my birthday and our Anniversary, and told friends he is waiting for me to get over my silliness and come home. I can never go back.

    The final straw was in January. I am disabled in a wheelchair, I need quite a lot of care, and am staying at my daughter’s with her family, until I find a suitable home.

    I have lost everything, yet many of our mutual friends have taken his side, seeing only the self-sacrificing carer. This is hard for me, but I won’t be bitter; I know what went on.

  3. Hi there, I’m so sorry to here your story. I too have a PA partner, I married him in Nov 2016 and as soon a honeymoon was over everything changed, he immediately showed his true colours. I’ve just experienced the worst 3 months of my life to the extent I’m sick with anxiety. Last Sunday I confronted him about him making comments on a woman’s regular pictures on Facebook however not responding up any of mine recently. His punishment to me for him not doing anything was to deliberately work away all week not making contact only when he wanted me to do something for him. He is due home today and I have planned to leave my own home and stay with a friend until Monday when I know he will be working away again, my poor daughter had observed his behaviours, seen my hurt and upset and she is staying out of the house too at the weekend, she’s 18 years old. I’ve had all I can take from him and can’t take anymore. I was able to recognise he is PA quickly but I feel such s failure for giving up so soon but I can’t bare the thought of having to beg him to love me again.

  4. Interesting read.
    Consider the situation of the husband who becomes the P-A husband late in the marriage. He becomes fatigued at being the only initiator of sexual relations. He has stopped trying to figure what it is that is missing in his marriage that will help his wife to more frequently desire sex. He considers the role of being the sexually denied spouse beneath his dignity over time, painful emotionally, and no longer is he willing to wear this role. He decides that his partner needs to experience his world. He becomes the P-A husband who withholds sex. He trades being the victim for being the victim-izer. Months turn into a year, finally 4 years pass. What was initially too painful for him to bear, becomes easier. He discovers P-A coping techniques which significantly dampen his sexual urges: refusing to look in her direction when she is naked, avoiding TV shows and movies that display nudity or sexual contact, avoiding situations that lead to physical contact, reduction of eye to eye contact, aggressive daily workouts to exhaustion, an alcohol drink before bed, reading until late at night. Eventually, he discovers that he really could care less if he never has sex with his wife again. He has become a spousal roommate. He has discovered he has control over perhaps the most powerful physical drive in Nature: the drive to procreate. Meanwhile, his wife is left wondering what is wrong with her husband or what she has done to deserve such a marriage. Because there is no confrontation, she is left to learn the pain that he has experienced over the 1st 20 years of their marriage, without ever knowing that she is where she is today for having participated in causing that pain.
    The P-A husband who has taken over his own destiny (in this destructive fashion) spends his time wondering (when he thinks about it all) just how long she will hold on before she snaps. He has found other mechanisms for dealing with his physical desires. What started out as an experiment with P-A communication regarding a deeply flawed partnership, has created an even more deeply flawed partnership. While the partnership itself has died a slow and terrible death.
    What outlet will his wife choose? How long before she looks outside the marriage? He doesn’t really care.
    Cruel? Yes. More cruel then the pre-ceeding 20 years? Only he is permitted to decide, since only he has lived it.
    Why are there so few men available for re-marriage in the 40-65 yr age group? Many are, and never were suitable for marriage. They are incapable of sustaining a relationship for any meaningful period of time. They simply cannot provide for themselves nor a spouse. They are easy to spot, if you know what to look for and you aren’t in a hurry.
    Others may fall into the situation of the divorced male that I described above. They have participated in a marriage of equals, have fathered and reared children. They appear normal. But, they are damaged. You will find them participating in extreme sports, even into their 60’s. They run marathons, compete in tri-athalons, but there are no females in their lives. They associate freely with women, but are not intimate. They seem upbeat. They fill their lives to over-flowing with activities. They tend never to retire from the working-world. They fill their time aggressively and push their bodies to the limit in order to feel….something, anything. In short, they look like a catch. But these guys are unavailable. They do not respond to the typical male-female signals that are traded in the singles market. They give none of the body signals that a woman can expect from a hetero-sexual man that is currently unattached to a female. Women may be inclined to think that these men are looking for a certain age female, hair color, bust size, or body type. All of these assumptions are wrong. These guys are not in the market.

    These guys are me.

    • That is so very sad because there are women who would give everything, their whole hearts, just to be loved and cherished. These women were broken by a pa man. Their passion and love thrown in their faces, their self esteem ripped from their souls and everything they ever loved stolen from them, they were abandoned, discarded like a day old fruit peel. They have all the love in the world and would give it to you in a heartbeat you just have to have the courage. Your existing not living. I wish you the biggest virtual hug ever and hope you can learn to love again.

  5. My PA husband is still in love with mommy. His mommy and sister are also PA. He never takes my side and still refers to them about everything. I was just for intimacy. Stonewalled me.he certainly did not treat them like that,Joe.

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