Posted by: frogstale | January 10, 2014

Passive aggresive behaviour in Divorce

Say what you mean and mean what you say’.

That was my catch phrase with my husband while we were still married.

He would often confuse me with the things he would say that didn’t make sense or were plain old fashioned lies, big and little.  And when I say big I mean really big – like cheating on my our whole marriage and getting someone pregnant and trying to hide it from me!

I didn’t know not saying what you mean and meaning what you say was a classic hallmark of passive aggressive behaviour and communication.

I read a great post on Divorced Mums

There in black and white on the blog are the same words

“… when it comes to the passive aggressive and how ambiguous they can be… they rarely mean what they say or say what they mean. The best judge of how a passive aggressive feels about an issue is how they act.”

The passive aggressive behaviour escalated to an extreme level when I left him.

There are so many examples I could tell you but I don’t want to bore you and turn this into a novel (although I will write a memoir about this one day).  How about a couple of examples?

Example 1

When I finally decided to end our marriage he gave me permission to return to the area we had lived before we moved interstate for his job.  So I moved back into our old home and had lived there with the children for a year when I I received URGENT court documents.  These documents were sent to my solicitor on the last business day before Christmas, when all the legal offices would be shut for 4 weeks,

What where they for? He was attempting to order me and the children to move back to where he was living so the children could start school the next term.  Why was he doing that?  Not because he really wanted them but because he was using it as leverage to get more money in the settlement.  He knew he would never get those orders and his lawyer admitted that to me later.

Example 2

I attended 2 sessions of mediation with a court appointed mediator at which we reached agreement about a number of matters related to the children.  He was persuaded by the mediator to agree on some issues and I also compromised on some points. I thought it was a win win solution.  Did those agreements ever make it into signed court orders. NO.  Not once.

I even met with him in a coffee shop after he texted me

‘I have discussed a good solution to court orders with the children, I think if we could all meet this morning so you hear my proposal and think about it over a few days then we can close out all this court room drama for ever. 5 minutes of your  time just you me and the boys is all it will take.’

We came to a great agreement.  Three months later we were still in court and had to spend the day with a Family Report Writer to get agreement and it still took another month.

I learned never to mediate or meet with him to discuss things as they never ended up happening.

What does this article say?  Do you think my ex might possible be passive aggressive? I love that feeling of validation when I see him described on the page and I know my thinking is spot on.

And I say again, what’s in a  name (  Passive aggressive, high conflict, narcissistic, psychopathic – all different names for very similar behaviour. I don’t care what you call it – I just need to know I am not imagining it and ultimately how to deal with it.

When You Divorce a Passive-Aggressive Spouse

It’s one thing to live with a passive-aggressive spouse, but when you divorce one, you may quickly find yourself swimming in a murky soup filled with mind games, costly legal maneuvers, and in general – high conflict.

In “Divorcing a Passive-Aggressive Spouse,” divorce expert Cathy Meyer reminds us:

“ When divorcing a passive aggressive, expect the process to take more time than is usually and to cost more than you had planned spending…”

Why is that the case? Here are a few examples of passive-aggressive behaviors during divorce that can quickly spiral you into high conflict.

“ [The passive aggressive] will want to mediate… but then refuse to negotiate a divorce settlement. They will agree to a settlement then change their mind… Just like during the marriage you will expend a lot of energy on solving conflict with not much to show for your effort except wasted time and emotional stress…” Other examples? Try attempts to undermine your authority with the kids, to alienate you from friends and family, to go for more custody than they want, not because they want it, but to make you squirm. It’s a form of punishment.



  1. this posting was so well written. I am sorry you have had to experience this, but your examples are enlightening. I have seen this type of behavior by my husband’s ex-wife- it can be so discouraging and frustrating. thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I “escaped” from my passive agressive husband after barely making it out of 28 years of marriage in one piece. How did it happen to me? I wondered over and over. It happened in small increments, gradually….until I no longer recognized myself. He controlled everything, made sure I never felt good about myself or anything I did. He belittled and criticized everything about me all the time smiling and telling me (if I dared complain) I was crazy, overreacting, and ungrateful. He even delayed getting me medical assistance while I was having a stroke so long that I am now legally blind. He even blamed that on me.
    And all the time, I kept trying to do everything possible to change myself to make thing work.
    When I told him I was leaving he pulled out all the stops. When He failed to convince or manipulate me, he tried to kill me ny putting peanuts in my food – knowing I had ad life threatening allergy. He claimed it was a “mistake.”

    Now I am trying for the third time to get a divorce. He blocked the first attempt by cutting off my finances so I could not pay my attorney. The second time, all the papers were signed……but he never filed the papers.
    When I found out, I felt like I had been kicked in the gut, and should be wearing a sign that says “serial stupid”. He told me his accountant had told him it he finalized the divorce he wouldn’t be able to claim my business as a tax deduction.
    I have to get out this time, and I no longer care whether or not I get half of the assists. I just want to be safe and at peace.
    Living with a severely passive agressive man has been a nightmare.

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