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TODD K. MOHINK, PA Glen Burnie & Columbia Family & Criminal Lawyer

Passive-Aggressive Behavior In A Marriage


In order for a marriage to work, the parties involved need to know how to communicate. The best way to communicate is to be direct and honest. Acting aggressively or being vague doesn’t help. In fact, it just makes matters worse.

When you’re upset at your partner over something, you need to be able to address the situation clearly. Instead, some people express their feelings through outright aggression. Others use passive-aggressiveness.

Passive-aggressive behavior is an indirect way of dealing with anger. It occurs when a person expresses negative feelings or aggression in ways such as procrastination and stubbornness. In some cases, a person may also display an unwillingness to communicate. In any case, a person expresses their feelings of anger verbally or nonverbally.

Passive-aggressive behavior is not always easy to identify because it can be so subtle. Read to know the signs and how to manage this behavior.

Signs to Look For 

What constitutes passive-aggressive behavior? Here are some signs:

  • Withholding communication. To passively assert their power, a person may withhold communication or intimacy. They may even withdraw altogether and give someone the silent treatment.
  • Using sarcasm. Passive-aggressiveness may also take the form of sarcasm, although not all sarcasm is passive-aggressive behavior. A person may use sarcasm to cover up negative feelings. For example, if their spouse asks them for money, the person may respond with something such as “Of course, I love being your personal ATM.” Backhanded compliments, which are insults disguised as compliments, are also commonly used.
  • Not completing tasks. Another sign of passive-aggressive behavior is doing tasks incompletely. Taking days or weeks to perform a simple task is a form of retaliation. The person is showing their contempt, which is not healthy or productive.

How to Deal With Passive-Aggressive Behavior

If your partner is acting passive-aggressively, you need to address it so you can nip it in the bud. The best response is clear communication. Sit down with your partner and discuss the implications. Identify the behavior, explain why it’s problematic, and then state clear boundaries for further communication. Do not get angry or defensive, though, as this will just cause the cycle to continue.

But don’t ignore the behavior either. You don’t want your partner to think that this behavior is acceptable. Just address the situation honestly and directly.

If you can’t get through to your partner, marriage counseling might be the next step. A therapist can help couples navigate a new way to communicate with each other. You both can learn how to openly communicate your feelings in a healthy way.

Contact a Maryland Family Law Attorney Today

Passive-aggressive behavior is a frustrating type of communication. It can lead to a lot of anger and frustration and if it is not addressed, the cycle keeps repeating.

This type of behavior can lead to divorce. A Columbia divorce lawyer from The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. can help you understand all the elements involved. Call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form to schedule a free consultation.


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