Passive Aggressive Husband or Boyfriend

Passive Aggressive Husband or Boyfriend

How to End Hostilities with a Man Who’s Negative, Sullen and Obstinate

If you’re married to someone who is passive-aggressive, then you’re frequently facing resistance to the simplest things.

His negative attitude is obvious, and sometimes he’s hostile for no reason.

When he says he “forgot” to pick up the groceries when he promised he would, you have a hard time believing it was accidental.

He doesn’t come out and say that he’s mad about having to drive the kids around yesterday while you were at your sister’s house.

That would be direct, which is the opposite of passive-aggressive. If he was direct, then you’d be able to communicate about it.

But he’s not, so you have to just guess what the problem is when the tension is so thick that clearly, there IS a problem.

That’s the challenge of living with a passive-aggressive husband.

There is a cure for a passive-aggressive man. It’s probably not what you imagine. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t require him to go to a therapist, read a book or take medicine.

These three simple steps–all within your control–will put an end to your suffering from his passive-aggressive behavior.

1. Stop Reading His Mind

Janice was highly skilled at reading facial expressions and gestures, to where she felt she could practically read minds.

When her passive-aggressive boyfriend was planning their vacation, he had a look on his face that she was certain meant he thought it was too expensive.

To avoid a confrontation, or him becoming negative and complaining, she offered to contribute an amount that exceeded what she was comfortable spending on the vacation.

He didn’t actually say that he wanted her to contribute so much to the vacation expenses. She just concluded it from a fleeting expression.

In other words, she read his mind.

Moments later, however, Janice was feeling resentful about how much she was ponying up for the trip, which left her feeling rather negative herself.

That resentment made her question whether she even wanted to go on the vacation with her passive-aggressive boyfriend, who she projected would probably be sullen on the trip anyway.

Before they ever packed a bag, she was already having a lousy time on the vacation.

Clearly, her man is not the only passive-aggressive one in this relationship, right?

Later she asked him how he would have felt if she hadn’t offered to pay so much for the vacation, and he seemed surprised to hear that she thought he had been stressed about it.

He hadn’t.

It was all a misunderstanding that she created by imagining that she knew what he was thinking and acting preemptively to solve a problem that didn’t exist.

Which happens a lot with mind-reading.

The takeaway? Consider giving up reading smoke signals, tea leaves or facial expressions to try to figure out what he’s feeling or thinking.

If he tells you directly, then you’ll know. Otherwise, it’s safe to assume that everything is fine with him.

If it wasn’t, he would tell you. After all, he’s a grown man. He knows how to talk. There’s no need to interpret for him.

You might feel like you do know what he’s thinking, because you’ve been with him so long that you know what his next move or sentence will be.

If you don’t like the outcome you’re getting from him when you read his mind, consider experimenting with pretending you don’t know what he’s thinking.

2. Clean Up Your Side of the Street

When a man feels disrespected, it’s very common for him to respond by being obstinate and negative.

I’d go so far as to say disrespect is the number one cause of obstinate, negative husbands and boyfriends.

When he reacts that way, however, wives and girlfriends who don’t realize they were disrespectful often look for explanations from mental health professionals, or search the Internet. The definition of passive-aggressive may seem to fit your experience.

But that’s almost never the real problem.

So to make sure that you’re not unwittingly exacerbating your husband’s or boyfriend’s foul mood, check to see if you were disrespectful.

Did you tell him what to wear to work?

Did you interrupt him while he was talking to the neighbors and finish his sentence for him?

Did you tell him how to cook the burgers he was grilling?

Did you do anything that would call into question his capabilities and competence?

Because that could make a man mad, mopey and miserable.

If you think you contributed to your boyfriend or husband’s dark mood by saying or doing something that was disrespectful, then it makes sense to clean up your side of the street by apologizing for that specific incident or what you said.

Luckily, you can restore the peace in seconds with an apology for being disrespectful.

Once you’ve apologized, it’s done. No need to repeat yourself if you’ve already delivered the message.

Just one specific, accountable apology is all you need.

It can do wonders.

As long as your side of the street is clean, there’s no need to fret about what might be causing him to sulk or procrastinate. That’s his business, and it’s not within your control.

3. Tend To Your Happiness

Another interesting thing that happens when you’re with a passive-aggressive man is that you tend to lose track of what you’re feeling because you’re so busy trying to figure out why he’s being so resistant or negative.

But while you’re focused on his mood or snippiness, your own life is going by with no one attending to it.

Your husband’s crummy mood is not within your control.

But your attitude and happiness definitely are.

Consider focusing on what you can do, which is to be making yourself happy, regardless of what he’s doing.

If you’ve taken your eye off of the ball of tending to your own feelings and desires, who’s making sure that you don’t get negative?

Instead of wondering what he’s so upset about, consider asking what your own feelings are in that moment, separate and apart from him.

Are you happy?

If not, what are you going to do about that?

Forget about what you think he wants for a minute. What do you want? Will you be giving that to yourself pretty soon?

Don’t let the storm cloud over his head rain on your parade.

It’s okay to ignore that little cloud, and trust him to deal with whatever it is in his own way.

After all, you have an important job to do–to make yourself smile.

And when you do you may find that he doesn’t seem as passive-aggressive after all.



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53 thoughts on “Passive Aggressive Husband or Boyfriend”

  1. I think that you’re interpretation of what’s going wrong in a relationship, is blaming the woman for the man being narcissistic. Some men can’t be helped, even with therapy. We are all adults and if a woman did something wrong, I’m sure she would own up to it. I will not feed a man’s ego or sugar coat things because he’s bipolar or anything else. Get well, get whole or get gone. That’s just my opinion.

    • Peg, I did a lot of things wrong in my marriage and I didn’t own up to it because I didn’t know any better. But once I knew better, I did better and then….my husband responded to me better. Pointing the finger at him never got me the playfulness and passion I craved. It was shocking to me to find out I had so much influence over the culture in my marriage, and it was no fun to see all the damage I had done. When I finally started keeping my side of the street clean, the man who wooed me returned. It’s not about feeding his ego. The power was in recognizing that the only person I can change is me, and putting all my energy into that gave me dramatic, fantastic results.

      • Laura, you replied to Peg that the woman has to won up. Sure,
        I fully agree with you, we all have to own up to what we do. And that is the one thing even my husband will confirm, is that I do not have a problem with owning up what I do. I am quick to forgive others, but also quick to ask for forgiveness. But unfortunately, that doesn’t work so well with passive-aggressiveness, sorry to say. All it does, is that he takes it as an admission that you are the only one who ever does anything wrong, and giving him the right to claim that you are to be blamed, even when he is clearly the one who has caused anything!!! Owning up has not made a difference in his behaviour and attitude!!! I agree, however, that the only one you can change is yourself. But to change so much just to keep him happy is not what could or should be expected. It only makes you a miserable, unhappy woman who starts resenting the man you love. It is not that simple with passive-aggressiveness!!

        • Esme, I can see why you wouldn’t want to change yourself to keep your man happy, and I feel the same way–I’m not interested in being a pretzel so I can keep my man. But I am attracted to feeling dignified, happy, calm, mature, humble, self-honoring. Those are the things I’ve gained from practicing The Six Intimacy Skills. My husband responds to me better now not because I cater to his needs, but that’s because I went on a journey to become my best self.

      • In your article you state that one apology is enough and it should be . However, I am married to a very critical thinker who over anylizes everything and one “I’M SORRY ” is never enough…… How do I deal with this?

        • Shera, That’s rough. Sounds like there’s an established dance there that the two of you do together, and I know it’s not easy to shake it up and do it differently. I think this deserves a longer conversation. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and uncover the best move for your relationship. You can do that here:

  2. I can actually read my husbands face. We have only been married six years but his face tells his entire mood. So, I find that I start to ask questions….what’s going on? are you okay? wait a little while then go back and say do you want to talk about it? After all the I’m fine’s I get I finally find myself going into the forbidden zone… Did I do anything? By this time he is angrier than he was in the beginning. So, from that stand point I’m standing on dinosaur eggs waiting on one to hatch so I can be eaten. It’s been like this for almost a year. We are to the point that he has moved out and although he says divorce is out of the question.. the topic of us is obsolete and if I try to talk about us.. the heat is on. I don’t want to give up but my heart and mind are so jumbled up. I have been working on myself.. trying to find out what made me happy before we married…for some reason I can’t remember…SMH. But I want to find a stable place for myself and for this marriage.

    • Nkem, I get how difficult it is to see something on your husband’s face and trust him to tell you if there’s something he wants you to know. I remember doing the same thing and getting the same lousy results–tension, bickering and wall-to-wall hostility. I’m sorry to hear about the separation. There’s still hope for your marriage, and I would love to see you get some support with it. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call so you can connect with one of my coaches and figure out the best move for your relationship. You can do that here:

  3. Guilty, we both are. There are addictions and lying going on also. I disrespect him out load most of the time. Even with that as a excuse, I find it easier to love my husband when I’m not passive aggressive or the direct approach some times is hard, I’m not sure how to say the right thing to him. He’s a very high functioning addict, most people can’t tell. He’s worth me waiting on him to get clean and I love him.
    So please don’t judge us. I get mad at him for not being the man I married. And I’ve started to learn to control my mind reading and anger. Nar-Anon meetings has helped me.
    This is a helpful article and I’m going to be less of a mind reader. Because I’m usually wrong.

    • Sherrie, I’ve got nothing but respect for your decision to stay married even with an addiction. I know it must be challenging and painful at times. I appreciate your humility and willingness to look at your side of the street. If you don’t have The Six Intimacy Skills yet, I would love to see you get your hands on the book The Empowered Wife. You’ll find it so valuable. You can read a free chapter here:

  4. You know I love reading all these emails Laura. Everything fits but what bugs me is that the woman has to do everything!….read books, keep her mouth shut, say “whatever you think” yada yada and yes while I did it as much as I was able it DID start making a difference but it’s so not me and it just infuriates me that women have to do all this stuff and what do the men have to ever do? Gotz!! Eventually it’s hard to keep all that up and we slip back into our ways (which is who we truly are) so unless you read and re-read your book “The Surrendered Wife” over and over weekly( and I tried) it’s hard to keep up with all these must -do’s to keep him keeping you happy! I would love to see men read these books to make their wife happy? Just venting as I know that it’s up to us but I am tired of BS too!

    • Holly, I can relate to feeling so put out that I had to do all the work in my relationship too–especially since I thought he was the one who needed to change. I was pretty put out about that at first. But it turns out that practicing The Intimacy Skills is all about me anyway–getting to be calm, dignified, mature, soft, feminine, respectful instead of shrill, shrewish, controlling, hairy, miserable and overbearing. It’s the best self-improvement program I’ve ever undertaken. And my husband can’t do enough to make me happy, but looking back, my marriage was the vehicle for my own journey to becoming my best self. I like myself better now that I don’t hear myself shrieking. This is who I want to be.

      Also, good news on the book front since it sounds like you’ve read SW lots of times: I have a new one that you’ll love called The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

  5. I love u Laura Doyle! I have been married for 22 years, Thank G-d! I dealt with severe depression in my man, losing his job, man o man, I have dealt with too much!!
    But, I want to tell all the ladies out there who are dealing with passive aggression, depression, belligerence etc. ….
    What you are saying my dear Laura WORKS!!
    Thank you for helping me stay married.

    • Vivi, Awwww, so sweet! I love you back! This makes my day. I give you all the credit for the improvement in your marriage. I know it takes courage. I admire that.

    • Vivi,Thank God is right!! I too, just love Laura. The one, so cool quality that I so admire is her ability to get “On Point” without judgement!! Finally….. And thank God for you and your blog!!
      To my point, of replying to you, married for 22 years…(congrats) to someone who will be married only 13 years, my husband lost his business and secondly, back in April lost his job. You would absolutely think I was the reason for both. (I’m sure you know that feeling)
      I just need a quick fix for today. I’m going to buy 2 of Laura’s books, (today) but I’m going lose it. Going through what you went through, with all the same descriptions of your husband, that mine has…..too much!!!!! What was the 1 or 2 things you did differently? If I talk….. doesn’t help………if I give him space…..that doesn’t work. And if you have children, you’ll understand how this affecting our 10 year old daughter. Thanks so much for your time!! I appreciate you in advance!

  6. I tend to rely on body language (mind-reading) because I believe it will give me more truth. It seems asking questions only gives me stock answers or half-truths or–he doesn’t know what the truth is either anyway. Hence: mind-reading becomes default. It seems to work so well for me with all my animals (none of them are contradicting me!) In a safe, trusting, loving moment I can sense when I’m getting real information. But if I’m fearful or pressured, depressed, etc I know I often just trigger negativity or even hostility. Self-care is really important here. Feeling content, peaceful, pleased helps me feel safe and more likely to ask the right question at the right time in the right way to discover what he really thinks or feels.

    • Jewel, That’s my experience too, about self-care providing the safety and calm that I prefer. For me, focusing on my feelings and desires is more powerful than trying to decipher his anyway. If he wants me to know something, I trust he’ll tell me without me having to make something out of a furrowed eyebrow. Animals and babies need our help with identifying their needs. Grown men? Not so much.

  7. Hello. Just made 10 years of marriage and I thought things would get better. Something so simple to me to communicate about such as bills and our future is so hard for him. It’s getting worse and he doesn’t show or say I love you anymore. He can communicate with everyone but me. I feel like I’m only good for him to call me to complain about work, when he needs $$$ and when he needs his sexual needs met. I have expressed this to him but no conversations ever. I can’t live the next years of our life with him on the couch and not talking bout our bills. We both are veterans and have been thru a lot but that doesn’t mean stop communicating. He doesn’t pay bills on time and he hides finances or once or twice he has saved $$$ to fix his motorcycle and I’m here paying all the bills. I’m tired and confused and he refuses to go to counseling. I don’t understand.

    • DJ, I’m sorry to hear things are so lonely for you. I still remember how painful that was for me. There’s plenty of hope though that you can make your marriage amazing again. I know it probably doesn’t seem like it now, but if you get your hands on The Six Intimacy Skills and start practicing them with him, you’ll feel like you have a new husband. Usually it takes about two weeks for women to say that. I lay out the Six Intimacy Skills step-by-step in the book, The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

      • Thanks soooo much. I will definitely pick up the Six Intimacy Skills. So I asked my husband if he loves me and is in love with me and he said he doesn’t know. That shattered my heart. Now I definitely and more lost and confused. I truly feel he is having a battle within himself since he left the active army. I guess me cleaning all the time and wanting to pay bills and talk about bills is not on his list. I guess my complaining has got him feeling this way. Not sure if I’m right or not but how can I continue my marriage with my spouse who is unsure if he loves me or not. We have trust issues for a while now and if I say anything about it he points, assumes and places blame on me. I’m more confused and hurt even more now.

        • DJ, That sounds heartbreaking for sure! I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. The good news is that he’s not the one who will make or break your marriage–you are, and it sounds like you’re seeing that for yourself. I can’t wait for you to get those Intimacy Skills in your hands and start experimenting with them!

  8. What if your husband is not the passive one, I’m the passive one in our relationship, do you have an article about that? I have a really hard time sharing my thoughts, ideas, what I want….
    Thanks Laura

    • L, I get the challenge here, because in a way I was passive when it came to honoring myself also. I was super mouthy about telling everyone else what to do, but when it came to honoring how I felt and what I wanted…crickets! For me it was quite a journey to find the courage to be vulnerable that way. Have you read The Empowered Wife? You’d find it valuable. You can read a chapter free here:

  9. Hi, I went for a 11 day trip, when I was coming back I messaged my husband, with the statement, I would love a greek salad when I get home.
    There was nothing for me to eat when I got home. Sure, I got upset, and had to ask him to run to the store and buy the ingredients.
    When I asked him why didn’t he buy the stuff , he stated I should have messaged him, The list of vegetables I needed. Which is what I was avoiding to do. To order Him.
    What happened here?

    • Jackie, Sounds disappointing. For me, expressing desires is not about getting him to do things, but honoring myself by stating them and letting him be my hero should he choose. I hear your hero went to the store for your groceries so you could have what you wanted, but not before you got upset that he didn’t do it when (how!) you wanted it. That makes it more of an expectation than a pure desire. You’re on your way though–a little fine tuning and plenty of respect and you will see him taking opportunities to be your hero.

  10. I was married to a man who had so many of the traits you talk about. Sadly it took me a long time to learn from 3 different therapists. He is mentally ill. One of the most difficult to treat. He’s a Borderline personality disorder. I now know many therapists won’t work with them. That’s because people with this sever disorder Believe they are never wrong! It’s always someone else. He expected me to agree with everything and anything he said or did. If I didn’t,when we were alone he would stand over me screaming demanding I tell him he was right. To everyone else he appeared to be a kind man, full of life. Always helping others, even if someone he disliked ask him to help them. He’d drop everything. Then come home and take it out on me! He slowly convinced people that I was inept ie he’d say that I was a terrible housekeeper! He’d take a bath in our lg hot tub and never cleaned it. He’d invite his friends to come for the weekend and not tell or ask Me if it ok. He was a builder and several days in a row he’d wear the same really dirty clothes. I have to admit I did feel good when I heard his nick name at work was “PIG PEN”! I inherited a large amount of money which he spent most of it. He became increasingly volital when I’d disagree with him on any thing! He became verbally abusive and physically intimidating. He’d chase me around the house while I was telling him to leave me alone.Demanding I agree with what he said.
    One day I waited until he went to work, grabbed what I could and left. I now live in low income Sr housing. I was able to get a $350.00 an hour Pro Bono attorney. For my divorce. Unfortunately I waited 3 yrs before I found I was
    eligible. I thought I wouldn’t qualify because I never called the police! By then he’d spent all of his retirement 5 yrs too early. So I receive nothing from him! He now has the home I paid for. Living with his new wife.

    He became verbally and physically abusive.

    • Anne, I’m sorry to hear about all you went through. For me the headline of this post is that he was physically abusive! That must have been terrifying. I’m glad you made it to safety.

  11. Hi Laura, I’ve read your article with interest and I agree with you on your tips, as in most relationships it will work to rely on the husband to tell you what is wrong as he is an adult, most certainly respect is the most important need for a man, and surely we have to work on being happy in ourselves, regardless of our husband’s moods. But….. obviously you were not in a relationship with a passive-aggressive man!!!! A passive-aggressive man won’t tell you what is wrong first-up. They just don’t do. They may even agree with you at the time about what you suggest as if it is the best thing ever, but deep inside he doesn’t, and will either procrastinate in following through with what “both” of you have decided (or so you thought) so that in the end it cannot be done, or he will wait until you least expect it, and probably in front of other people come out with his true feelings about an issue, leaving you doubting yourself, whether you have ever understood him correctly!!! They have 2 very distinct parts to their personality. In some situations they can be mature, especially around other people he wants to impress, but very often you are left to wonder why he got stuck in his development, somewhere between a tantrum throwing toddler and a moody teenager. In those moments it is really very difficult finding any respect for him, ask me, I know. Yes, on the outside I treat him with as much respect as what I can muster, but at times I really just have to walk away in order not to show him how little respect I have for him at that moment. You never know what to expect next, because they live by their emotions, which may be up one day and down the next, taking you with him on one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. And the woman is always the one who has caused it, because they just do not take responsibility for their actions. They twist the truth the way they want to see it, making them the victim, and you are left to feel as if you are the worst person ever, and very much controlled but they will blame you as being controlling. So, making sure that you are happy when everything is always up and down, you always have to walk as if on you are on egg-shells, is just not possible in a relationship with a passive-aggressive man. So, your ideas sound so good, but they are just not practical with a passive-aggressive man and will most definitely not put an end to your suffering!!!! It is after all a personality disorder, and what works in fairly “normal” relationships do not work in a relationship where a personality disorder is at work. I have been on this journey with my husband for the last 3 years since we got married. How it came about that I actually got married to him is a long story in itself. Suffice to say, he was not the man he is today otherwise I would most definitely not have married him!! I’m not that stupid. Have I caused it then? For a long time he wanted me to believe exactly that, and I have fallen for a lot of his controlling issues, trying to fit in with his requirements, so much so that I have lost much of my personality. Ironically, those aspects I had to change to please him, were exactly those he “loved” and admired so much when we were dating?!?!?! I prayed and asked for wisdom to know what I was dealing with and through a miracle from God I came to know that it was passive-aggressiveness. Since that realisation, I understand him better and can identify when what he does is part of that. Understanding doesn’t solve all the problems, but it makes it easier to keep emotions from escalating, most of the time anyway. I agree, most counsellors will probably not be able to heal him, or the damage done in yourself and the relationship, but there is One who can, and if you approach it from a spiritual perspective and understand the spiritual reasons of where it all started and how it came to develop into passive-aggressiveness, you can reach a higher degree of happiness for yourself because God helps you. I pray for my husband everyday, I do spiritual warfare, and I know that I can stand in faith that true healing will happen for him as the passive-aggressiveness usually originates from what has happened in childhood, and with deep healing the change is possible. So, unless a counsellor understands the spiritual origins and can help to address the roots of the problems, they will not be able to help you. So much I have to agree with you.

    • Esme, It sounds like you have suffered with a passive-aggressive man and I get that it’s painful to live as you describe. I know for me being so focused on him and what was wrong with him and what he needed to heal was very tempting and felt like it was getting me somewhere, but it never did. I suffered the same way. It wasn’t until I focused on myself–what I wanted, how I felt, that I got the amazing relationship I have now. I didn’t need to understand his condition or the origins. Once I changed how I behaved he changed for the better too.

    • Kim, It can be scary for sure. But I have a feeling you wouldn’t be reading my blogs if part of you also didn’t want to feel loved every day. Learning the Intimacy Skills helps a lot and anyone can do that. “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” — John A. Shedd

  12. I get the impression you genuinely believe men aren’t capable of being passive aggressive. To me this reads more like a denial of the issue than a solution.

    • Debbie, I can see why you think it’s just denial. If the issue isn’t on my side of the street, it’s not my issue. People tend to live up to what’s expected of them. If I focus on how someone is passive aggressive, that’s what I experience. I used to think that my perception of the situation was “THE TRUTH!” but it turns out the truth has much to do with what I focus on. I like having the power to choose what I focus on.

  13. Right on Laura! We’ve been trained from childhood to look after others, take care of others. Focus on others. And if we do a good job we’ll be taken care of.


    You are absolutely correct and I love that you are sharing this with the world.

    To the ladies who feel resentful about having to change. I also felt that way. Until I started realizing that my husband was/is actually a great mirror of my blind spots about me. So I thank him for showing me what I can improve on. Not out loud – inwardly. 😉

    Then I go about improving myself – not for him but for me. So I’m happier. Totally selfish

    And it works. I ease up on him, he relaxes and is more loving and sweet to me. Crazy how that works.

    And he’s lately been telling me how much he learns from me.

    So ladies give up the resentment, be open to seeing a different perspective, this is the first leg of an interesting and life changing journey.

    Blessings to you all.

  14. Great article!! I wish I read it last week- it would have saved me a lot of needless emotional turmoil and I would have enjoyed our vacation much more. ? When I found myself asking if he was mad at me- he snapped back with “not everything has to do with you. I just stressed out.” I told him that I could tell he didn’t want to be at the event I had chosen for us to go to and he kept telling me that he wasn’t upset about being there. I got upset and left. ? I will definitely start incorporating these suggestions, firstly by getting off his page and out of his head. Thanks for always being a great source of advice and support.

  15. Laura, I find this post interesting, I have the exact match to your definition of narcissistic in my husband. I really love him, I’ve been working on your skills and practicing them for about 5 months now. I have noticed some really great moments and days, but I am still struggling in some areas. I used the famous and oh so scary “I can’t” two days ago and he hasn’t talked to me since. He just leaves without saying where he’s going , mopes around, and is acting even more vocally controlling than normal. I have been doing my self care which is allowing me to handle this much better, but I’m getting tired of it and am glaring at that fence again….it’s been very freeing to be off the fence, and I don’t want to go back. How do u suggest breaking the ice here? My husband is a workaholic and feels that my 40 hours is not hard work like his so that when I get home he expects I will help him do his work, and that was when I said “I can’t”.

    • Stephanie, I’m sorry to hear about the cold war at your house, especially from you honoring yourself by acknowledging your limit–really great job! I’m sure that was disheartening, but you’re going in the right direction! I’m so happy to hear you’re off the fence, and I would love to see you get some support. I invite you to have a complimentary discovery call with one of my coaches to uncover what’s standing between you and having everything you know is possible in your marriage. It will be so valuable for you. You can do that here:

  16. My husband has has had a second affair. There is no trust, plays the blame game to excuse himself, doesn’t want me asking him questions, tells me the affair is now in the past & I shouldn’t make a big deal about because every man cheats, says he wants to make the marriage work, says he knows he has a problem, he is seeking counseling with a pastor from another church because he doesn’t want our pastors to know our business, although they do because we had counseling with them in the past, he is a narcissist & very egotistic and I’m struggling making a decision because we have been together 24 years and have 5 grown kids (one 24 yr who is out on her own, 21 yr. old twins, still home & struggle with a learning disability, 16 yr old & a 14 yr old.) He only seeks help when he gets caught and pretends everything is good & doesn’t want me to bring up the matter or hear my feelings. How can I heal and continue to restore this marriage if I don’t see or feel genuine sincerity? I love my husband but I will never be able to trust him. I trust in Christ and pray for wisdom & decernment daily. How can I discipline myself to ignore his individual issues & find joy again in this situation? I know I have to focus on God and surrender everything to him but I’m still struggling. I have good days and bad days. I have an appt. to get counsel from church but it’s definitely a spiritual warfare & it’s tough. I know I need to look at God as my everything but I struggle with my thoughts. How do I take care of myself without having to wonder about what he is doing at work? Did he really go to work? Did he meet up with the younger woman for lunch & then get a room? How often are nude pics being sent to my Husband? I look at him as a liar Everyday he walks in & out our home and wonder. He is really good acting like he is this loyal committed Husband & Father to others & yet his guilt gives him away & distances himself & would rather be left alone. How do I focus on myself in this situation to change my attitude, bitterness & resentful ess? We have a beautiful family but my Husband lives a double life style.

    • C Brown, I’m so sorry to hear about the betrayal and pain in your marriage, and that it’s happened more than once. That’s so devastating for your family.

      I know it must seem impossible that your marriage can ever recover, but I hear the seeds of a beautiful, monogamous marriage in your future from what you shared. Because of your commitment and dedication, this could be the breakdown before the breakthrough. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and determine the best move for your relationship. You’ll find it so valuable. You can do that here:

      • Thank you for the quick reponse. I started crying just because I actually was heard & got a caring response. I’ve been holding in my grieving emotions trying to be strong. My husband thinks crying is being dramatic even though I let him know it actually cleanses the spirit. Thank you for your kindness. (I’m 46 yrs old & my husband is 48 yrs old. I feel embarrassed & too old to be going through another affair.)
        I would love to get that one on one but the truth is I’ve been dealing with some financial hardships. I’ve been working part time for 20 yrs as agreed with my husband yrs. ago in order to care for our household family needs. My husband & I don’t share bank accounts anymore due to his mismanagement of money which has left us in financial debt and we just about make ends meet. God is good, so I will pray for a way to pay for your service soon. Thank you again, you blessed my day. God bless you!

        • C Brown, I’m glad you felt heard and understood and got to grieve some. I hope you can maybe get the book The Empowered Wife at the library to start. You’ll find it so valuable.

  17. Laura,
    I’m a big fan of your books. I have one on audiobook and listen frequently to stay fresh and I subscribe to your blog.
    Your advice helps so much, but I still have slip ups of disrespect, mistrust, emotional nights. While this is less frequent it still happens.
    It’s so hard for me to let go of how I think our relationship should be.
    I respect him and feel blessed to have married a wonderful man, but I also struggle with loneliness, fear, confusion. He’s very passive aggressive. In fact I had never experienced someone so passive aggressive in any other dating relationship. Now that we are married it has only increased.
    For example
    Things will be wonderful for a few days, I’m happy, he seems happy, we’re talking, connecting, things are pretty easy and then boom out of no where the next afternoon I get home and there is a thick thick tension in the air. My husband won’t touch me hardly. He looks unhappy. Hardly smiles. All the love is sucked out of the air. Wr communicate the casualties but barely and with no emotion and I try to shake off the abrupt change and tell myself he’s stressed about work, something is bugging him..
    but it’s different… I try to lighten his mood with cheerfulness, and remaining happy it doesn’t work.
    I ask if everything is okay sometimes Which I know probably isn’t the best option but at this point I feel like something awful must have happened by how he is acting/treating me.
    He says nothing is wrong. This mood usually continues for two full days or longer and hurts so bad. Because I go from feeling happy, bliss, and contentment to feeling unloved, unworthy, inadequate, and like failure at being a wife because I don’t know if I did or said anything to make him this way.
    I thought I had been respectful, why is he treating me this way. He’s distance emotionally, physically, and has this awful inner turmoil look on his face. The air is so thick,
    My intuition and heart are screaming fear fear fear at this time and I finally I can’t take it anymore I
    try calmly to figure out what I did or said? Or what is wrong? I feel so disconnected from him and it breaks my heart so much. What did I do??
    We are young. I’m 26 he’s 30. Vivacious. Married for 3 years. We don’t have kids. Shouldn’t this be the time of our lives? Shouldn’t We feel connected at least 89% of the time. Am I in denial about something?
    My husband is fiercely passive aggressive and so I never know if I did something wrong. I just feel unloved for a couple days or more and I don’t know how to deal with this feeling of abandonment and fear during these times. It’s all that I can take and I feel like so fearful and start to think omg..Is he looking at porn? My biggest fear!
    (I’ve read so much how it completely destroys connection and intimacy)

    I try to figure out all these reasons why he might be punishing me passively out of nowhere. After such a wonderful weekend.
    I wonder what I did or what he did.
    I don’t know how to deal with this Laura. I’m so confused about everything now. I feel so alone, abandoned, unloved, fearful when this happens. I don’t know what’s real anymore. I want to protect my marriage and our connection.
    I know marriage counselors are a No No, but what about a psychologists for myself? What is your take? I feel like I need to get to the bottom of this if this is me or I am in denial and maybe my husband is really going through something he can’t tell me or is afraid to.
    Sorry for the lengthiness of this comment I’m just feeling sad and desperation tonight, I had to reach out!

    • Aliz, I can see why you’re struggling with going for days at a time with the thick tension and discomfort at your house. I wouldn’t like that either–it sounds very lonely and terrifying. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. We used to have that around here too, but I’m happy to say that it’s a distant memory. The good news is that this is completely solvable. I would love to see you get some support with this! I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call where you can connect with one of my coaches and uncover the best move for your relationship. You can do that here:

  18. Hey Laura, this morning my husband was being passive-aggressive, and I was so irritated and rattled – and he sure could tell. He left for work right afterward, and I remembered this blog post, so I looked it up. (I read and reread the blog posts going back to the beginning, for inspiration and help). At first I didn’t think your suggestions were applicable in this case, but after thinking about it a little longer, I decided to try it after all. And I think it did help! It certainly helped me be less irritated and rattled. Anyway, just thought you’d like to know. Thanks for all your help!

  19. This was very profound. This really made me see a pattern in my partner’s (our) behavior, which obviously after years of perpetual habit has developed in such addictive, irrational, defensive mechanisms at times. It can be almost undetectable. I have overcome many of the manipulative cycles, at least the ones which wrap ME in his trigger guilts, self neglects, over analyzing and over tending his self victimasations. I one day began to LIVE and enjoy MY life and allowed him to continue to enjoy his own self demise, self pitties, poor dramas, miserable attitudes, lack of daily enjoyments. I learned I can NOT change him. The more I let him be, the more he is revealed in all of his disfunctional behaviors. Then he tries to creep out of that shell by himself and be a part of our family’s life. Then is when there are normalities that fall into place. Having children and raising them one day I realized all his behaviors were that of an uncorrected child who became a man EXTERIORLY. Interiorly he was just having an ongoing tantrum and resented being an adult fully. But this, this profound insight will definitely HELP even more, so that I do not engage in these advice seeking interviews he creates, were he seeks my opinions about everything and then recents me when all my predictions about his job or people come to pass, because he does the exact opposite. I will also be more respectful which in all honesty the undetected every day disrespects as small as they may be definitely do not help this injured and traumatized child trapped in all his insecurities. THANKS FOR POSTING IT

    • Sheila, I love your willingness to try something new to deal with the challenges of having a passive aggressive husband. I so admire your commitment to showing respect and relinquishing control. I’d love to empower you with more ways to do that through my upcoming webinar: How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for free at

  20. Laura, I think your advice is good because it actually tests the passive-aggressive person to see if their behavior continues. I read a book on dealing with passive-aggressive spouses and tried positive reinforcement, speaking even more kindly than I normally do, and complimenting my husband for taking action (usually he procrastinates, stonewalls, and obstructs progress). I felt better about myself and I felt I was sending a positive message to my son.


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