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Spouse's Passive Aggressive Behaviors & How to Deal During Uncontested Divorce

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 24-Mar-2013

Dealing with an angry spouse during an uncontested divorce can be challenging, but trying to deal with a spouse who is demonstrating passive-aggressive behavior can be downright tiresome. An angry spouse generally lets you know what is upsetting him or her and matters tend to be more overt. Yet, with someone who is being passive-aggressive, there can be confusion about what is the root of the problem.

This can particularly difficult when trying to negotiate a marital settlement agreement. Spouses who demonstrate passive-aggressive behavior have been known to use delay tactics, stubbornness and sarcasm. Trying to negotiate with someone who is stalling the process can quickly lead to rancor.

Passive-aggressive behavior is a form of manipulation and generally serves as a mask for anger. Spouses who engage in this type of behavior are not able to express their anger in a healthy manner. Listed below are some warning signs that you may be experiencing covert abuse from a passive-aggressive spouse:

  1. Silent treatment;
  2. Blaming you for personal failures;
  3. Constant pessimism, even when things are going well;
  4. Keeping score;
  5. Being a martyr;
  6. Creating non-existent problems to deflect from the actual problems;
  7. Not keeping promises;
  8. Gossiping;
  9. Sabotaging your efforts; and
  10. Exaggerating mishaps.

Don't get pulled into your spouse's behavior. Try to maintain your demeanor. If you express your anger, make sure you stick to the facts and not make it an emotional carnival.

Confronting your spouse's dishonesty can be important, otherwise his or her behavior is reinforced, - but don't bring everything up at the same time. Bringing attention to the fact that you believe there is anger behind his or her behavior can have a powerful affect. Try to confront your spouse in a neutral tone of voice and without judgment. Also, don't drag it out – try to be as laconic as possible.

Often passive-aggressive offenders will not admit to their anger. Don't expect an immediate radical shift. However, bringing attention to the matter sends a powerful message that you are no longer willing to accept covert abuse.

Be conscious of your own behavior. One of the reasons a spouse may display passive-aggressive behavior is because of your behavior. When an individual isn't able to handle honest feedback he or she may find themselves with a passive aggressive spouse. If possible, try to create an environment in which the otherwise passive-aggressive spouse feels safe and is encouraged to verbally express his or her feelings.