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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've posted and deleted and now am posting again. I want to see if I am crazy. Married 20 years - second marriage. I think my husband is passive aggressive and I really don't know what to do about it. Some things he has done . . . forgotten birthdays (multiple) forgotten anniversaries (multiple), started and never finished multiple househould projects . . . one - a major renovation - is going on unfinished for 10 + years . . . "forgets" to tell me when his kids are coming over for dinner, visits, if I am sick (which thankfully is rare) - he pretty much ignores me - etc. Tends to be at his worst when we are either traveling or have company . . . usually my adult kids and their families. Sometimes he is ok but sometimes, when I ask for a small favor - retreive an item or something, it turns into a major issue - he makes it a grand point of doing exactly what he wants to do . . . or pretending he doesn't hear and then HE gets mad at me saying he is blamed for everything. Then he turns around and acts as if everything is fine. Because it is usually when we are around other people I am not able to call him on it without creating a huge scene - which I won't do - and I think he knows it. But I am finding I am resenting it and then I am refusing to talk with him . . . which I think just feeds into it . . . making him feel like the poor victim. I am at my wits end. This ruined the last few days of a visit with kids and grandkids, since he tends to sulk and avoid everyone when he is like this. The other thing I need to point out is that he is extremely critical of everyone. The neighbors are all idiots. His boss is a jerk and an idiot as are all the people he works with. Neither of us are young chickens and I know that much about his childhood has made him like this. At one point, several years ago, I told him I thought he was passive aggressive and gave him an article to read and he said, "yup, you are probably right . . ." and that was the end of that. If anything gets done, plans made, research on anything like refinance, etc., I have to be the one to do it. I am just plain tired of this. I have tried counseling before and did not find it terribly useful and now money is even tighter. So I am feeling a bit stuck.[/SIZE][/FONT]
 

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Please remove the size from your font size. It's too small to read easily. the default size is much better.
 

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You cannot change him. You can only change the way you interact with him.


Have you done any online searches for books and material on passive agressive behavior? You need tools for how to change the way you interact with him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes I have done some research. What, specifically, would you suggest that I change in my reaction to his behavior? Call him on it immediately in front of everyone? Ignore it completely?
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I wouldn't really say passive-aggressive (at least my understanding of it).. but more like a complaining soul. Never happy. Just sounds like you have finally gotten the last straw of his unpleasant attitude toward everything lumped onto your camel back & now you are ready to shrug the whole load.

I don't blame you one bit. But, in fairness to your mean spirited hubby... You've put up with him all this time. you've let him talk negatively, plan negatively & been foolish with the money. It's going to take a bit for him to see the light & to see that you are done putting up with it all.
 

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Yes I have done some research. What, specifically, would you suggest that I change in my reaction to his behavior? Call him on it immediately in front of everyone? Ignore it completely?
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I would do whatever is 180 degrees diffent from what he would expect you to do.

There is a book that talks about this.. "Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again" by Michele Weiner-Davis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I would do whatever is 180 degrees diffent from what he would expect you to do.

There is a book that talks about this.. "Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again" by Michele Weiner-Davis.
In all honesty, I have tried just about everything, bringing things to his attention as they happen, ignoring things entirely, writing him love letters, writing him angry letters, using "I" phrases rather than "you" , trying to simply sit down & talk w/him when I am not angry/frustrated and the results are the same. He sits and says nothing. No reaction, comment, etc. or says that I am treating him like a child and then walks away. I have bought several books and did do some counseling. He will not go to counseling. Perhaps I need to just laugh it off and forget about it. BTW, he no longer sleeps w/me - says the cat bothers him - this after 10 years of not mentioning it. Instead he is sleeping on a bed he had when he was married the first time and refuses to get rid of.
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
I wouldn't really say passive-aggressive (at least my understanding of it).. but more like a complaining soul. Never happy. Just sounds like you have finally gotten the last straw of his unpleasant attitude toward everything lumped onto your camel back & now you are ready to shrug the whole load.

I don't blame you one bit. But, in fairness to your mean spirited hubby... You've put up with him all this time. you've let him talk negatively, plan negatively & been foolish with the money. It's going to take a bit for him to see the light & to see that you are done putting up with it all.
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Really? You don't see P/A in this? I can't remember how many birthdays and anniversaries he has forgotten. If you talk w/ anyone they would tell you what a nice, easy going guy he is. But at home, if I ask him to do something it is "are you trying to start something w/me?" or just ignore my request. On trips he can be fine with everyone and stop talking to me & I haven't a clue why. Then he does things like hurry way ahead if me on sightseeing trips. As for putting up w/ this - yes I have but not without trying to talk w/ him about it. It seems like I am just going to have to completely ignore his behavior and let him do what he will.
 

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Really? You don't see P/A in this? I can't remember how many birthdays and anniversaries he has forgotten. If you talk w/ anyone they would tell you what a nice, easy going guy he is. But at home, if I ask him to do something it is "are you trying to start something w/me?" or just ignore my request. On trips he can be fine with everyone and stop talking to me & I haven't a clue why. Then he does things like hurry way ahead if me on sightseeing trips. As for putting up w/ this - yes I have but not without trying to talk w/ him about it. It seems like I am just going to have to completely ignore his behavior and let him do what he will.
PA is very deeply rooted behaviour. It’s right down there in the foundations and cornerstones of the PA’s psyche, their mind, consciousness and it’s right up there in their highest levels of awareness and behaviour.

PA’s know what they do, they know why they do what they do and they know what the consequential affects of their behaviour on their “target” will be. A lot of that consequential behaviour is that their target feels like they’re going crazy.


PA’s want to hurt and cause pain and they’re exceptionally good at doing it while at the same time covering up their tracks with deceits, lies, blame shifting and denials such that they’re never “caught”. PA’s are absolute experts at what they do because they started out at a very young age and with experience honed their skills.

Will he change? NO. At least he wont change while he’s with you because he’s marked your card many times over the years you’ve been together and has all his grudges stacked up and ready to be used against you. It’s doubtful but possible he’ll change if you leave him and he goes with someone new. But that will only be in the honeymoon phase, if she upsets him at all his PA behaviour will raise it’s ugly head again. Although there are exceptions with those who finally “see the light” and work on changing themselves.

You know what the future holds for you if you stay with him. That particular future is guaranteed. Just depends how much self-esteem, self-respect and of how much of a risk taker you are to start off out by yourself. One things for sure that you cannot guarantee and that’s that you’ll get a second chance at “life”.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
PA is very deeply rooted behaviour. It’s right down there in the foundations and cornerstones of the PA’s psyche, their mind, consciousness and it’s right up there in their highest levels of awareness and behaviour.

PA’s want to hurt and cause pain and they’re exceptionally good at doing it while at the same time covering up their tracks with deceits, lies, blame shifting and denials such that they’re never “caught”. PA’s are absolute experts at what they do because they started out at a very young age and with experience honed their skills.
Sounds like you know a P/A quite well. So you agree that these appear to be P/A tendencies? Sometimes I wonder whether he REALLY realizes things. Some of the things that happen would be funny if they weren't so sad . . . or so annoying . . . it is like being married to a shape shifter.

I know that part of the issue is due to intimidation and physical abuse as a child - so I am trying to keep that in mind. He is also aware of that & has tried to overcome that in raising his child.

What is compounding my frustration is that he picks the times that should be fun, time with family, vacations etc to be at his worst - and I don't feel I can call him on it at that moment. I don't want to make him feel worse/embarrased, but at the same time I want him to see what he is doing WHEN he is doing it. One time before a family vacation I told him that I expected him to be civil and not pull anything funny. If he was angry at me about something, he should come out and tell me privately and we could work it out but he was not to sabatoge my vacation and that of everyone else. That actually worked. He was ok through the whole thing. :smthumbup: The first time this happened was about 8 months after we were married and on our first family holiday. I swore to myself that I was filing for divorce when I got home. Alas, here I am 20 years later . . .
 

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He sounds like my ex husband so much. Yes he sounds PA, abusive, miserable and unloving.
I got to the point where I saw through his facade 100% and wouldn't tolerate it. He couldn't handle that his Jedi mind tricks no longer worked on me. And yes he had a list of grudges, he was abused as a child, he decided whether we were going to enjoy something or not. If it served him we would. If not he did everything he could to make me miserable by starting fights, giving me the silent treatment, huffing, eye rolling.
He hated visiting my family do he would stay up until 3 the night before and then go sleep in a bedroom half the time we were there.
He didn't do anything for my first mother's day then told everyone that it was because we had agreed to wait a week because my mom was there that morning. When we had our first night out after our baby was born he ignored me, wouldn't talk, then started a fight so we didn't have sex.
Prior to the baby being born he was able to manage his behavior when he wanted something from me, for days or years at a time. But the lady thing he wanted from me was a child and when he got that there was no reason to fake it anymore.
I don't know what to tell you but people like this rarely change.
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I don't know... I guess I've never really had to deal with someone like that.. (other than a few in workplace.. .I just ignore them.)

He just really sounds like an a$$ to me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Funny how many of us have stuck with this behavior for so long! Is it that the good times are pretty good or are we as stuck in our patterns as they are?? Sadly, when we were on vacation one time I was feeling particularly loving and talked to him about being my soul-mate. He simply stared at me and said he had no idea what a soul-mate was. I picked up my pride (and my heart) off the floor and went on to try to enjoy the rest of the trip. Is it that they simply have no idea of what a relationship is?? As I mentioned before, this is a second marriage for both and his ex has been labeled psycho. But I think I would like to have a frank conversation with her. Apparently she had an affair (or affairs) but I am wondering . . . I have no desire for an affair. I would only like to have a great relationship with my husband for the rest of my life. Not looking so good right now.
 

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Katiebird, my good times with my wife were many and fabulous. You don’t stay with a woman for over 40 years unless she has an abundance of seriously good qualities and you’re deeply in love with her. I’ve literally thousands of magical memories that go way back to the late 60s.

But there are two sides to every coin. As people we have our good side and our bad side. Carl Jung refers to the latter as our shadow. Others can see, hear and feel our shadow while we can go through life somewhat oblivious to it. Or at least oblivious to the affect of our shadow on those around us.


My wife was totally non confrontational which meant our home was for 95% of the time a very peaceful and pleasant place to be. But the other side of that aspect to her character, her shadow, was that instead of confronting she shoved things under the carpet and let them build up into very long term and deep resentment. She never ever forgives and she rarely accepts any form of apology. At the end of the day I recognised I was in a no win situation.


These things are very deep and her expression of her resentment was her passive aggression. It slowly but surely led to her withdrawing her love which began as conscious behaviour but later became an unconscious habit. And her habit became her way of life and so love slowly but surely left our marriage even though we loved one another.


I got to the point where I literally could not take even the risk of one more passive aggressive act from her because the last one was so very painful and I was in fear of her. So in essence I ended my marriage and never got it going again out of fear of the pain caused me by my wife’s acts of passive aggression.


You’re still with your H. Reflecting that back to my situation that will be because you still love him and the pleasure you get from him is greater than the pain. He just hasn’t hurt you enough for you to eject him from your life, for you to pull your hand out of the fire such that you never ever put it back in.

I’ve never regretted splitting up with my wife, not one time in over two years. And although at times I miss her terribly after the first 12 months I settled in to a very nice way of life. I would never take her back unless she woke up to and worked on her shadow (her passive aggressive ways) such that it’s no longer capable of hurting me. But in the decades we were together she refused to do that and I can’t see it happening now.
 

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Funny how many of us have stuck with this behavior for so long! Is it that the good times are pretty good or are we as stuck in our patterns as they are??
Interdependency is the thing to have in marriage. Two independent people somewhat reliant on one another to function as a couple within a family. This is most needed when raising children and is easy to see.

But within that interdependent relationship there may well be some codependency. For example the wife who needs her husband’s pay check yet he’s a drunk. She tries to get him off the drink and in walks codependency trying to change someone else.

The term codependent came as a way to described the partner of an alcoholic. But the term is used for the partners of people with personality disorders. Passive aggression when seriously bad (we all have some pa) is being considered as a personality disorder by way of embitterment.

So research the term codependent and read some books about it. Codependents typically have poor boundaries and put up with forms of abuse that others wouldn’t tolerate for just one second.

In my mind PA’s are basically cowards, bullies even. The only reason they can hurt us so very much is because we love them deeply and let them right inside of us. They can hurt us because we are vulnerable and because we have let them into our lives.


If that is true in your case and if you ever acknowledge and accept that your H when he hurts you it is at times very deliberate and premeditated and planned (In the way you’d plan and prepare a meal) then like me with my wife you may well eject him from your life.
 

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In my case there were good times on his terms. He would get into really goofy silly moods and I used to think it was funny. After years of his abuse I got sick of the roller coaster and refused to let his moods dictate mine. He would say in a boyish voice on a Friday "let's just have a good weekend this weekend". Which meant he has decided not to be an ass for three days and I'm supposed to be grateful for that.
I just got sick of him needing me to reflect his emotions. If he was mad he had to make me mad. If he was happy I had to be happy too or he would get upset.
It took years for me to see the patterns, to see the cycles, to see how abusive he was. I grew up with an abusive father so I wasn't familiar with covert rage and I didn't get how manipulation was abusive.
The worst thing was how hard he tried to keep me from being successful or feeling good about myself in every aspect of my life. If there was something just for me that would cost him time, money, energy or make him feel like I was better than him
he would put up obstacles to it and come with "rational" reasons for why I couldn't do/have whatever it was.
If I somehow got it past him then when it was happening or after it was happening he would start in with his tantrums and moods and try to bring me down.
Sound familiar?
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PA is very deeply rooted behaviour. It’s right down there in the foundations and cornerstones of the PA’s psyche, their mind, consciousness and it’s right up there in their highest levels of awareness and behaviour.

PA’s know what they do, they know why they do what they do and they know what the consequential affects of their behaviour on their “target” will be. A lot of that consequential behaviour is that their target feels like they’re going crazy.


PA’s want to hurt and cause pain and they’re exceptionally good at doing it while at the same time covering up their tracks with deceits, lies, blame shifting and denials such that they’re never “caught”. PA’s are absolute experts at what they do because they started out at a very young age and with experience honed their skills.

Will he change? NO. At least he wont change while he’s with you because he’s marked your card many times over the years you’ve been together and has all his grudges stacked up and ready to be used against you. It’s doubtful but possible he’ll change if you leave him and he goes with someone new. But that will only be in the honeymoon phase, if she upsets him at all his PA behaviour will raise it’s ugly head again. Although there are exceptions with those who finally “see the light” and work on changing themselves.

You know what the future holds for you if you stay with him. That particular future is guaranteed. Just depends how much self-esteem, self-respect and of how much of a risk taker you are to start off out by yourself. One things for sure that you cannot guarantee and that’s that you’ll get a second chance at “life”.
As someone who also has a PA spouse -- and thought I had a good handle on understanding it -- I can't thank you enough for writing this. I have read it probably 20 times since you originally posted it, letting the message that "he won't change" sink in. I think that's one of the reasons I've held on longer than anybody else would have -- thinking that there's no way he *knows* what he's doing. To read here and other places that he does in fact know, and does it purposely, makes my stomach turn...and quite frankly, that's what I need to get to the point of letting go.

Living with these people is nothing short of maddening, and like the OP, sometimes I wonder why I've stayed so long. Admittedly, for a lot of years, I didn't recognize it; only knew that something was off, wrong, and honestly thought it must be me. For the last year and a half, though, after my therapist pointed out that the problem is his PA, I started reading about it, and watching it happen before my eyes, I've tried everything to "beat" him at his game. I've tried calling him out, I've tried leaving him behind on family gatherings because that is when he would always pull something, I've tried the 180 -- which doesn't work on these people; they are that good that they adjust quickly and go right back to their games.

It's like this post says, they won't change with US because the dynamic has been set; and as my therapist says, you can stay around and try to win every battle, but his skills are so honed that he WILL win the war.

I just can't imagine what it must be like to be so effing miserable and so willing to repeatedly hurt someone who loves you. My "normal" mind can't make sense of it.
 
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