Passive-aggressive is defined as a personality trait or a behaviour that expresses negative emotions in passive, indirect ways such as manipulation or non-cooperation. Persons with such behaviour are often smooth talkers who know how to lay on the guilt to trap or manipulate his friends, family members and even colleagues into doing things that they are not willing or uncomfortable to do.
If you are married to a passive-aggressive spouse, chances are that you have a rough marriage in which you are often the one who is to blame and he or she is always a victim of your ungratefulness or ungraciousness. When it comes to divorce, the characteristics which force you to ask for a divorce are likely to drive you nuts before the court proceeding is finalised. Before you go ahead and speak to your spouse about a divorce, find out what you need to take note of when you are going through a divorce proceeding with a passive-aggressive spouse.
1) You will have a long and passively conflicted divorce proceeding
Passive-aggressive persons are non-cooperative, so collaborative divorce or mediation is not going to work for you. What you will end up with, is a long and passively conflicted divorce in which your spouse will make things as difficult as possible without expressing his or her emotions. In addition to non-cooperation, passive-aggressive persons cannot handle anger in a direct way. This means that he or she will avoid confrontations. Strong outbursts of anger are suppressed and what comes out instead is hostility and denial, which stall things from moving forward in the courtroom.
2) You need to engage an experienced divorce lawyer
We cannot stress this enough. Engaging a passive-aggressive spouse in divorce proceeding is a lengthy and often stressful process. What you need is an experienced divorce lawyer who can help you to strategize and have an exit plan ready. Longer court proceedings also mean higher legal fees. If you are stretched in finances, be sure to highlight that to your family lawyer so that a package or some form of installment payment scheme can be arranged.
3) You must be prepared for plenty of accusations during the divorce proceedings
Passive-aggressive persons are experts at assigning blame to their spouse or children for everything that has gone wrong with the marriage. Nothing is ever their fault. He or she will decide that everything went wrong because of you. Even the fact that you are divorcing him or her is because you are tired of the marriage. While it is going to hurt your feelings and possibly affect your standing in court, you can trust your experienced divorce lawyer to respond appropriately and defend you against these accusations.
4) You must tolerate stalling and non-cooperation during the court proceeding
A passive-aggressive person uses non-cooperation as a weapon against his perceived “enemies”. When you pit against him or her in a divorce proceeding, he or she will regard you as an enemy. Using non-cooperation as a weapon, he or she will express hostility by not responding to what is required of them, such as submitting certain financial reports to the court. While a judge or your lawyer can exert some influence on this, you must still be prepared to tolerate such stalling and non-cooperation.
5) You might be given the silent treatment whenever there is important discussion
In order to sabotage the divorce proceeding and drag it out, a passive-aggressive spouse can retreat into silence in court. When he or she does that, the court proceeding effectively cannot go on. By refusing to communicate, or answer questions vaguely and tersely, he or she makes it difficult for the judge and the lawyers to move the divorce forward.
6) You might be “punished” for your decision to divorce
Your passive-aggressive spouse may try to punish you for any perceived mistakes, faults or sins that he or she thinks you have committed. He or she may not openly show any signs of doing so, but the punishments will come in sneaky little attacks. For example, in matrimonial property division, he or she may act magnanimous by asking for a smaller share, but will choose all the things which have sentimental value to you.
7) You will take a big hit in your self-esteem
A passive-aggressive person hits out at people around him or her to make himself or herself feels important. During a divorce, he or she will feel horrible because of the perceived victimisation. In order to restore the confidence in himself or herself, he or she could be hitting out at you with insults and demeaning comments in order to make you feel worthless, stressed and helpless. By doing so, he or she can manipulate you to agree to certain terms and conditions which are not beneficial to you or your children in the long run. Therefore, be cautious and do not reveal your emotions. If possible, let your experienced divorce lawyer handle most of the interaction and limit contact with your ex-spouse.
8) You will get a horrible legal and emotional child custody battle
When you are divorcing a passive-aggressive spouse, he or she is going to fight for custody, whether or not he or she really wants it. This is just one of the ways to get back at you for leaving the marriage. Keep your emotions in check on this one, especially in any interaction with him or her. Adopt the business attitude when speaking to him or her about the children and focus on the interest and welfare of the children. Keep the conversation away from yourself as much as you can. If you find it difficult, it will be helpful to engage a mediator to sit in on those meetings.
In closing, divorcing a passive-aggressive person needs patience and a ready exit plan. By swiftly concluding the divorce, you prevent long, unnecessary court proceedings that drains your money and your mind. As long as you engage an experienced divorce lawyer, she will ensure that you have fair terms and conditions at the end of the divorce.