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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm trying to decide what to do about my wife's behavior? I've struggled for years with our relationship, always seeming to be in the doghouse or in trouble with her, and no matter what never seeming to meet the ever moving mark.

Finally, a friend suggested I read up on passive-aggressive personality disorder and manipulation and control issues. What an eye opener, it's my whole marriage, my wife to a tee, everything she does is described and identified. Amazing.

I thought this would empower me, actually for a couple of weeks I was walking on air, thinking I could figure out how to deal with it, help her understand what was going on. So I bought several good books on the subjects, read them carefully and sat down to try to have a mature discussion about what seemed obvious to me.

Huge mistake, she practically exploded, yelled, cried accused, you name it, all the same stuff, only here I am instead of getting emotional I'm just ticking off the PA behaviors....and pointing them out. Bottom line, she denies everything, it's all in my imagination and we go through about 4 weeks of "punishment", ie cold shoulder, no-sex, mean comments. etc etc.

So that set me back on my heels, but I thought "well this may take some time, keep your frame of reference and controls centered"....No going, she's adamant she doesn't have a problem.

This last two weeks she started out by punishing me with no-sex/cold shoulder for 7 days because I parked in her space in front of the house, then when she found out about a wine-tasting at some friends out of state, she gives me a great nite of sex, then the next day asks me if we can go...

I'm totally at a loss, denial denial denial, how can I get past this? Will marriage counseling really help, all I can see is her selling all this crap in some way that makes me out to be a monster??? Really need some advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
And another thing...she's really this awesome woman. She home-schools our kids, is a big part of our church, people trust her and rely on her for advice and support. But she's a totally different person with me, it's like I hear her talking to a friend on the phone and I'm so jealous, because she's alive with them. She'll hang up and turn to me and she's emotionally dead, eyeing me like judge, jury, and executioner...what is this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Drover, can you tell me what "sh*t testing" is? Cause variations on this theme make up most of 18 years of marriage for me, and I'm clearly not getting it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, so my wife of 18 years is giving me immature tests of manhood? Is that all this BS is?

Here's another behavior, she likes to embarrass me in public. She'll bring up something from my childhood or family that is painfully embarrassing at the most inappropriate moments, and then laugh it of and say she's just joking. The other nite we're having a nice meal and watching the super bowl with two of her female friends and she starts talkin about my first marriage and what a disaster it was. Painfully embarrassing, wanted to punch her in the face, but tried to laugh it off and change the subject. WTF is that? Sh*t Testing???
 

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Ok, so my wife of 18 years is giving me immature tests of manhood? Is that all this BS is?

Here's another behavior, she likes to embarrass me in public. She'll bring up something from my childhood or family that is painfully embarrassing at the most inappropriate moments, and then laugh it of and say she's just joking. The other nite we're having a nice meal and watching the super bowl with two of her female friends and she starts talkin about my first marriage and what a disaster it was. Painfully embarrassing, wanted to punch her in the face, but tried to laugh it off and change the subject. WTF is that? Sh*t Testing???
It's not immature. In a way it's a sign she cares, even loves you. If you never meet the test, why shouldn't she continue it? It's entirely possible she doesn't even realize that's what she's doing. She just knows she's not happy with you, not happy with the fact you let her run all over you, not happy with you letting her to make the decisions. She's pushing you to do something about it...maybe consciously, maybe subconsciously.
 

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Here's another behavior, she likes to embarrass me in public. She'll bring up something from my childhood or family that is painfully embarrassing at the most inappropriate moments, and then laugh it of and say she's just joking. The other nite we're having a nice meal and watching the super bowl with two of her female friends and she starts talkin about my first marriage and what a disaster it was. Painfully embarrassing, wanted to punch her in the face, but tried to laugh it off and change the subject. WTF is that? Sh*t Testing???
Why laugh it off when she's publicly being demeaning? You don't argue. Never argue. You tell her to knock it off. If that doesn't work, you walk away and leave her there to find her own way home.
 

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Okay, wow, I thought this thread was going to be a wife talking about her husband and I found out it was the opposite. And your problem sounds alot like what I struggle with day to day with my husband.

Before I start I will let you know that I, too, homeschool my son and am relatively active with my church and friends. There are days when I feel quite exuberant and then when my husband comes home I just feel something switch off. Sound familiar?

What I am learning over 12 years of marriage is that most people use passive aggressive tendencies to get what they want. Some are far worse than others. My husband often does the "just joking" thing. (By the way I deal with this by 1. understanding that he is not trying to deliberately hurt my feelings and then 2. telling him that I know he's joking but it hurts my feelings and if he continues to say things I will then assume that he is trying to hurt my feelings and I will react accordingly. It's something he struggles with but it works in the interim) It wears you down over time. The flat out manipulation is also tiring. I also know that I use passive aggressive tendencies on him. Maybe not as frequently or as snidely but I do use them. So cast no stones at a glass house if you know what I mean. I feel like I am a combination of you and wife in terms of life experiences so I will try to be as unbiased as possible.

First you are trying to fix her (most men do). Don't do that. As you noticed it blew right up in your face. When you read those books on PA (I've read them all) just go into it with the knowledge that those books aren't meant for them. They are meant for you. There's some really great advice in them though so don't throw them away

Secondly it's interesting that you should say that she gave you really great sex to get you to agree to go to a wine tasting. On the surface that sounds like flat out manipulation, and I believe your wife is capable of such, but I wonder a few things. First, had you discussed it ahead of time and you told her you didn't want to go? Or were there more important plans? Or did she just assume that you would say no and headed you off at the pass? If that's the case why would she think that? Some people are amazingly selfish and manipulative to get what they want. But this particular story doesn't quite ring that way.

I know I haven't offered you real advice yet. I just feel like the story is a little too incomplete just now. I do most definately feel for you, though!
 

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Hi and I'm so sorry you're having a difficult time in your relationship :(

May I ask what are the exact behaviors labeled as PA? You mentioned cold shoulder and withdrawing sex as punishment... did she SAY she was doing that as punishment? Or did she just not talk to you and not want to have sex with you because she was upset?

And I have to say, a lot of women naturally employ SOME passive -agressive techniques to communicate their needs, but that doesn't mean they're using it abusively and with unusual intensity.

It may help to explore these PA actions one by one to see if she truly does have a problem, then go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
Okay, wow, I thought this thread was going to be a wife talking about her husband and I found out it was the opposite. And your problem sounds alot like what I struggle with day to day with my husband.

Before I start I will let you know that I, too, homeschool my son and am relatively active with my church and friends. There are days when I feel quite exuberant and then when my husband comes home I just feel something switch off. Sound familiar?

What I am learning over 12 years of marriage is that most people use passive aggressive tendencies to get what they want. Some are far worse than others. My husband often does the "just joking" thing. (By the way I deal with this by 1. understanding that he is not trying to deliberately hurt my feelings and then 2. telling him that I know he's joking but it hurts my feelings and if he continues to say things I will then assume that he is trying to hurt my feelings and I will react accordingly. It's something he struggles with but it works in the interim) It wears you down over time. The flat out manipulation is also tiring. I also know that I use passive aggressive tendencies on him. Maybe not as frequently or as snidely but I do use them. So cast no stones at a glass house if you know what I mean. I feel like I am a combination of you and wife in terms of life experiences so I will try to be as unbiased as possible.

First you are trying to fix her (most men do). Don't do that. As you noticed it blew right up in your face. When you read those books on PA (I've read them all) just go into it with the knowledge that those books aren't meant for them. They are meant for you. There's some really great advice in them though so don't throw them away

Secondly it's interesting that you should say that she gave you really great sex to get you to agree to go to a wine tasting. On the surface that sounds like flat out manipulation, and I believe your wife is capable of such, but I wonder a few things. First, had you discussed it ahead of time and you told her you didn't want to go? Or were there more important plans? Or did she just assume that you would say no and headed you off at the pass? If that's the case why would she think that? Some people are amazingly selfish and manipulative to get what they want. But this particular story doesn't quite ring that way.

I know I haven't offered you real advice yet. I just feel like the story is a little too incomplete just now. I do most definately feel for you, though!
I appreciate your perspective, yes it does wear you down, quite often I lay in bed while she's sleeping trying to sort through the day's list of interactions to understand what she wants, how she feels. AT any rate, there is more to this and it's hard to capture all the little twists and pushes and nudges, it's hard to notice them sometimes.

The wine tasting...well we hadn't discussed it, I didn't even know about the invite, but on 04 Feb she comes to bed, I'm reading, usually she reads a bit, says good nite and turns away and goes to sleep. We NEVER have sex before bed, she says it gives her insomnia, so when she practically attacks me I'm just sitting there wondering WTH is this? Even the next day, I asked her "what was that all about" it was that odd, seriously it was odd behavior. Mind you I was happy to participate. Then the next evening she asks me about the wine tasting. I found out after that that she received the invite on 02 Feb.

Now this is a pattern I've noticed before, when she wants something big, like an expensive vacation, or for me to do something she knows I won't like. We have a great date nite or great sex and next thing you know I'm agreeing to shell out $$$ for something extravagant. It's not like I'm selfish, I'm the earner, but she works her ass off with the kids and home, we have joint accounts there's nothing that I earn that she doesn't have every access to. Anyway, like I said, I have had my suspicions about this pattern in the past, and this one was like a smack in the forehead. Especially after reading all the PA stuff.

Now this particular wine tasting. We had been in a bible study between 8-11 years ago for a three year period. During this time we were very close to five other families, and my DW developed a friendship with one of the other husbands. I was never suspicious of anything and was very close with him as well, but after we moved away, and while I was deployed to the middle east this husband visited my wife and kids several times.

The first time time I was glad he was checking up on them, but he never emailed me or anything to let me know how the visit went. Then he visited again, still nothing no letter no email. At any rate my DW denied anything, and I told her he was not to visit again, as far as I know she complied, I didn't accuse her of anything just that it was odd behavior. But after this I was persona non-grata with this man. After I returned we attended a small reunion with the Bible Study and he was clearly uncomfortable around me. She knows I am very sensitive about it. At any rate he will be at the wine tasting, and it is hosted by one of the other families from the bible study. She has recently friended him on FB and begun playing "Words with Friends" with him.

I've been putting her off so far.
 

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Well, Woody Allen once said the main difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for free costs a lot more.

I think she's up to no good, and that if you want your relationship to change, you'll need to change how you do things, starting with some effective detachment like the 180.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
"....she gives me a great nite of sex..."

Here is part of your problem. As long as you see sex as something your wife "gives you", you will continue to accept crap behavior from her.
You're absolutely right, I don't even understand how I got to think like that. This isn't me at all, it doesn't even resemble how I see myself, but here I am typing that and thinking like that.

I have been thinking back, you know our first 6-7 years of marriage I just ignored this stuff, I was really happy, had lots of friends was popular in my job and with our friends. Lately, it's like I'm completely isolated, I've let her neuter me physically and emotionally. I'm so damned exhausted by it all.

About 10 years ago I became very concerned about our marriage, she was very unhappy, had been since we were married and although I never understood it, I decided I had to do everything I could to "save" our marriage. And I've been at it ever since, slowly giving up everything I was interested in one at a time to try to make her happy and our marriage "work". I don't even know what I'm doing anymore or why.

I really miss that happy, fun guy I used to be, I used to love life so much. In some ways I still do, I love my kids and really I love my wife or at least the woman I thought I married. I don't know if she still exists or ever existed anymore.
 

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You're absolutely right, I don't even understand how I got to think like that. This isn't me at all, it doesn't even resemble how I see myself, but here I am typing that and thinking like that.

I have been thinking back, you know our first 6-7 years of marriage I just ignored this stuff, I was really happy, had lots of friends was popular in my job and with our friends. Lately, it's like I'm completely isolated, I've let her neuter me physically and emotionally. I'm so damned exhausted by it all.

About 10 years ago I became very concerned about our marriage, she was very unhappy, had been since we were married and although I never understood it, I decided I had to do everything I could to "save" our marriage. And I've been at it ever since, slowly giving up everything I was interested in one at a time to try to make her happy and our marriage "work". I don't even know what I'm doing anymore or why.

I really miss that happy, fun guy I used to be, I used to love life so much. In some ways I still do, I love my kids and really I love my wife or at least the woman I thought I married. I don't know if she still exists or ever existed anymore.
That's what the 180 will let you do, too... find that guy that she fell for in the first place and who you liked better too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi and I'm so sorry you're having a difficult time in your relationship :(

May I ask what are the exact behaviors labeled as PA? You mentioned cold shoulder and withdrawing sex as punishment... did she SAY she was doing that as punishment? Or did she just not talk to you and not want to have sex with you because she was upset?

And I have to say, a lot of women naturally employ SOME passive -agressive techniques to communicate their needs, but that doesn't mean they're using it abusively and with unusual intensity.

It may help to explore these PA actions one by one to see if she truly does have a problem, then go from there.
Well the cold shoulder/no-sex (CS/NS) has been going on for 17 of our 18 years, sometime as long as 6 months. But it's always tied to something I'm doing or have done.

It is always pretty clearly intended as punishment, or provided as I say used as a downpayment when needed. This pattern has repeated, last time was prior to asking for a very expensive beach house vacation two summers ago, so I've had suspicions about it but never had her be so obvious about it before.

The other PA symptom is that she never responds to or gives affection. I am a very affectionate guy always wanting to hug or kiss or stroke, while she responded to this while we were dating for four years, about 1-2 years after marriage just started ignoring it. Now she complains immediately and insists I stop.

She complains about my financial management of our investments and savings, but refuses to discuss potential strategies or to take responsibility for these herself. Although I have asked her to take it over, she does very well with her own IRA, but won't touch our shared Checking, savings, or investments.

Ahhh, and my favorite, which now that I look back she demonstrated before we were married. She often invites me to make a choice for us, like say choosing a restaurant, and then will proceed to reject choice after choice after choice. It's like she's trying to make me explode, I've actually caught her smiling when I finally get sick of the game and get upset with her.

Most recently she's baited me into play-wrestling in our bedroom and then as we're wrestling shouted out loud enough for the kids to hear "stop hitting me". We're having fun, or I think we are and then that, it's happened twice in the last two weeks, most recently earlier this evening.

I'm up right now because of it, I can't sleep, WHAT is she doing WHAT is she thinking? What am I being set up for? I'm actually terrified.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
God, I must seem pathetic. But all I want is to get to be a Father to my children, I would settle for a peaceful marriage, but I feel like I'm being set up, like there is a plan in place and steps being taken to take my life away from me. It's like I woke up one day and found myself married to someone who hates me and wants to destroy me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
What's weird about the play-wrestling bit is that this is the exact behavior she claims her little brother used to use against her when they were little, i.e. setting her up with their parents by hitting himself and claiming she was doing it, often just around the corner or out of sight of their parents.

I'm wondering if she told me that story quite the way it really happened.
 

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Okay wow...

It's almost like she's bored and has turned you into a game or something. She has no respect for you.

I can attest to the while passive-aggressive sex thing, I think we all do it to a certain degree. Mostly I say something like that as a joke though, not because I have a plan I need to execute.

The putting you down in public and saying you are hitting her etc is very concerning.. I have a very close male friend who got involved with someone and almost got into serious trouble. (the girl admitted that she made them up, he wasn't making "enough effort" in their relationship.
She was eventually diagnosed as bipolar.
I can't imagine that my friends would even want to listen to me bad mouth my husband in front of them, how uncomfortable and rude.

There will always be issues in a relationship that you have to discuss and find a compromise for, I really think that some of the things going on here are RIDICULOUS, and you are making too many compromises.

I don't think you are out of line in giving her a piece of your mind when she starts doing any of those things. See how she reacts when you confront her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Funny you say that, I keep getting the feeling that I'm being toyed with, cat and mouse style. I guess I have to admit that it's entirely possible that this woman that I have loved and admired for 22 years feels nothing but contempt for me, and that she really is trying to destroy me emotionally. That is hard to think, hard to type, hard to breathe through.
 
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