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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had a discussion with my husband a while back about his behaviour possibly being passive agressive, because after a good number of years of knowing something seemed off and reading from a variety of sources, thats the way its coming over to me.

Hes a lovely guy when we are on track but it really only lasts for four/five days before we hit a bump then it really does depend on one of us backing down to avoid an argument. Backing down is probably healthy way to avoid problems but there is only a certain amount of backing down you can do before you need to discuss whats going on, if you are with a partner who feels its mostly you who has the problems, which we both do nowadays, its a problem.

The thing is, its very easy for a passive agressive to deny everything and make their behaviour sound so reasonable so when you try to pinpoint the cause of the blow up, argument, or you just got so frustrated with the behaviour (the silent treatment, not telling you whats going on, the "I didnt speak because I had nothing to say", I forgot, Im just being honest ... thats what you want isnt it? and the ever popular "why cant you just move on?") that you lose your cool, which is so fricking hard to keep, you then undeniably become the bad guy.

A recent post by Gwiz "Problem with husbands lack of compassion and hostility" had two paragraphs I really related to

"it pains me that instead of a loving and supportive partner, I have a man who enjoys pushing my buttons. It pains me that I can't really expect emotional support from him. When I am having a hard time, I feel even lonelier, because I know I can't count on him to understand"
and
"If I don't get over something or my reaction to something is beyond what he "thinks" it should be, he treats me with contempt--eye rolling, telling me to get over it, refusing to talk to me about it--and that is a regular thing.
"

Trouble is, my guy doesnt see this in himself. He really does think I am being unreasonable and I should be putting up with his occasional moodyness, forgetfulness, venting as none of us are perfect and my expectations are just too high.

I know all that but when he forgets, diminishes/ignores me/my feelings when he is angry or frustrated and treats me harshly then wants me to just get over it or move on as if it was no biggie it really is damaging my trust, my friendship with him, my feeling that I can depend on him ... and depending on what I am try to get over/accept, my self esteem, Its just so hard.

I find that despite my attempts to deal with the situation and focus keep my own spirits high, I am getting increasingly anxious around him when we discuss anything that might lead to an agrument or if I need to make a request that may not mesh with what he wants.

Its improving but going in the wrong direction for me and I am now becoming the distancing one, like the more I protect myself the more like him I am becoming. Im not nasty to him but I do protect myself more nowadays by putting distance between us when I am really hurting, its getting just the same as he claims is all he was doing all along.
 

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Not sure it's passive aggressive, but it does sound dysfunctional.

Your feelings are your own and no one should be telling you they are unreasonable. He can decide not to behave a certain way, or do something for you. But he shouldn't be telling you your feelings are not valid. Feelings are not right or wrong, they just are.
 

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Can you give us some examples of topics and conversations you have had?

Passive aggressiveness contributes to bad communication but more often than not, it is the dynamic between two people that causes the dysfunction. It's probably not going to be something like, "He's passive aggressive, so I have no hope."

There is usually a change you can make to spark a change within him, in other words.
 

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I am getting increasingly anxious around him when we discuss anything that might lead to an agrument or if I need to make a request that may not mesh with what he wants.
I think you could help yourself by being more assertive and proactive.

My husband is a lot like yours and GWhiz. Been married to him for nearly 30 years. I used to have a destructive theological belief that he was "the head of the household" and I would have to always check with him and be bound by his "wants".

This led to deprivation of things which the children and I needed. Because he suffers from empathic failure, such deprivations rose to the level of abusive along with a lot of resentment and fear on my part (eg, inadequate heat and hot water which contributed to chronic illness of our infant). You mentioned being anxious. Anxiety is a form of fear.

Now, I never "request" anything. I take care of my own needs (and the needs of the children). For instance, if it was up to him, none of them would have got orthodonture because "it's too expensive!" (he would rather spend money on his antique tractor collection :rolleyes:). But I took them in and wrote the check.
 

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Passive-aggression is one of those things I've had the hardest time finding solutions to, partly because I do not have the patience for it.

It's critical for a PA person to feel safe in talking about what's bothering them. If they anticipate conflict, they will resort to PA. Unfortunately, their idea of conflict often means ANY position that's even a tiny bit different from their own. No loud words are necessary for a PA person to perceive a conflict that justifies their way of doing things.

So... make it safe by reassuring him that your goal is to make things better for both of you and your marriage. Try to keep him focused on what's best for the marriage when he veers into blame. You can say "Blame isn't helpful for solving problems. Let's focus on what actions will fix this."

On the flip side, I've noticed when dealing with PA people who say that my feelings are unreasonable, etc., that I have a tendency to magnify what I'm feeling, which makes their position seem more believable. When I'm not being listened to, I get louder, and then I'm hearing "Stop yelling!" Well, yes I'm yelling! It can be tough for me to remember that getting louder doesn't make a whit of difference, but backing off doesn't either. I've learned to resort to my behaviors instead of words in these instances. If we cannot have a productive discussion, then I do things my way and will continue to until he's willing to have a blame-free discussion about something he'd like to see done differently.
 

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Oh, and he wouldn't listen and would judge me as "nagging" and "contentious" if I complained about the lack of heat, the smoke in the house from the woodstove, my chronic migraines and the baby's chronic ear infections and failure to thrive...

Nowadays, I don't nag or complain or depend on him to take care of anything. Recently I needed another car (daughter in a program where she needs to drive) so I contacted 6 dealers for prices (I'll take the new one and she can drive mine :)

Hubby immediately got on Craig's list and searched out a used one and checked with me if this was a suitable selection. :D
 

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PA is very difficult to deal with because a lot of it is insidious. Some forms of it can be very much like emotional abuse, especially if you find yourself changing who you are or how you feel, react, live, etc., in negative ways in order to placate the PA person.

The thing I would echo the most from the other posters here is that you do your best to maintain your personal inner strength and self-respect.

If your H is truly PA, it's a form of manipulation. By not caving or allowing yourself to be drawn in to his antics, you take away his power. OTOH, just doing everything yourself to avoid fights, or because you know he'll just 'forget', etc., is no way to live, either. Why have a partner, if you are doing everything yourself, dealing with his manipulation and having it constantly in the back of your mind?

If this is seriously affecting your quality of life (mentally, emotionally, or physically), tell him. Let him know that this is not a situation that can go on indefinitely. That if he cares about you and your marriage, you expect him to join you in counseling. If he flat out refuses, even knowing how it affects you, then you may have to consider whether or not you're willing to sacrifice more of your health and sanity for him.

PA people don't just snap out of these behaviors, and they don't change at all unless they feel they have to. If the behaviors get them what they want, they'll continue to employ them.

Some of the things in your first post really resonated with me, like telling you when you 'should' get over something, or constantly 'forgetting' things, even (or especially) if they're important to you. This happened a LOT with my STBXH. I know dealing with it made me very resentful. He could see my resentment, but not his part in it. Since I've been living away from him, not dealing with that PA behavior has been such a positive change in my life! I actually didn't see it for what it was til after I moved out and started learning more about relationships in an attempt to work on myself and NEVER have another relationship like that. There were things that I was told I made too big of a deal out of, but the fact that those things were nearly constant over a period of years, with nary an attempt to change them, was not something I should have had to put up with in silence.

Good for you for recognizing this as dysfunctional. I hope your H is receptive to counseling and that you can work this out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all SOOOOO very much for responses, they have all helped me a lot and I can resonate with everyone of you here.

I have been reading up on this for a while so I am familiar with the aspects mentioned, but so often after a spat I find myself back to thinking, could it really be me.

I consider myself pretty confident but this really drains me when it starts and being calm or assertive while he is in (what I consider to be) a mood is just inviting more buttons to get pushed, and that can get painful. Ive found its far better for now just to withdraw, and thats the thing.

My aim is to try and get to the point where I have a partner I can depend on and treat as my equal and not have to resort to "methods" to deal with him. Cuz when I do that, I really do feel I am becoming him.
 

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.

Some of the things in your first post really resonated with me, like telling you when you 'should' get over something, or constantly 'forgetting' things, even (or especially) if they're important to you.
I asked my PA husband to get a pregnancy test for me recently, because he was going to the drugstore and I was late and had already been worried for a week (and, uh, we were using withdrawl then). He "forgot" it. And I was like, dude, you can't PA your way out of me being pregnant, so major poor-coping-techniques FAIL.

Ok that's not what I said. And fortunately, I wasn't pregnant.
 

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It's critical for a PA person to feel safe in talking about what's bothering them. If they anticipate conflict, they will resort to PA.

....

If we cannot have a productive discussion, then I do things my way and will continue to until he's willing to have a blame-free discussion about something he'd like to see done differently.
While this certainly does not apply to all situations, I do have to say that I have seen some relationships where the PA spouse's main complaint was the other spouse's overpowering/controlling behavior. I would imagine this strategy would just makes things worse in these cases.
 

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While this certainly does not apply to all situations, I do have to say that I have seen some relationships where the PA spouse's main complaint was the other spouse's overpowering/controlling behavior. I would imagine this strategy would just makes things worse in these cases.
I understand what you're saying, but I see this as part of the manipulation in most cases. The PA spouse sets this up by not being assertive, and then complains about not having the influence he refused to have. A person who isn't PA will fight back against controlling partners, at least until they come to believe they will never make progress or have influence.

While there ARE controlling, aggressive people out there, a PA person is still part of the problem by teaching that they don't want to take a stand.

In either case, what benefit can be had by continuing to beat a dead dog?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The points that Acorn and Kathy are making are what is at the heart of my questioning what I am feeling right now.

My behaviour in trying to deal with the situation assertively can easily be turned on me and frankly, if I was wrong in my assumptions and H isnt being PA, then I am in fact treating him unfairly as he so often claims when these thing arise.

I think the answer lies somewhere in the intent behind the actions, is anger being acknowledged or hidden and misdirected.
 

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That is why counseling would be of great help here. He may not be able to even acknowledge his anger. If he was raised in a situation where, as a child, it wasn't 'safe' to show his emotions, particularly anger, that's where PA starts. If you ask him if he's angry, he will of course say 'no,' because being angry is inherently 'bad.' He may be the beneficiary of programming he's not even aware of. Since you are now part of the dynamic, third party might be the best way to get to the bottom of this.
 

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The points that Acorn and Kathy are making are what is at the heart of my questioning what I am feeling right now.

My behaviour in trying to deal with the situation assertively can easily be turned on me and frankly, if I was wrong in my assumptions and H isnt being PA, then I am in fact treating him unfairly as he so often claims when these thing arise.

I think the answer lies somewhere in the intent behind the actions, is anger being acknowledged or hidden and misdirected.
The best barometer of whether you're being controlling might be found by thinking about your relationships with other people. Have your siblings, parents, friends, or ex-partners ever claimed you were pushy, dominant, aggressive, selfish, always trying to get your way, etc.? If you've heard any of these (or variations of them) from even one or two other people, that's a pretty good sign that people see you as controlling and dominant. If you've heard it repeatedly, then it's time to make some changes!

If it's just one person saying it, then it's probably true that they see you that way, but it doesn't mean their perceptions are accurate. If multiple people perceive the same thing, then there's a much more likely chance that it's an accurate impression.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
No, Ive cerainly never been described as agressive, pushy or controlling, far from it. I think my problem is that I have always tried to keep the peace and been too much of a pushover to his viewpoints ...and Ive let it go too far.
 
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