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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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Beloved827 posted 2/12/2011 15:57 PM

LisaBrandNew&heartbroken_kk, thank you.

LisaBrandNew posted 2/13/2011 17:01 PM

Another thing about PA is that we are not having the marriage or relationship that we think we are. Many people in my husband's family are PA. His aunt would tell me how she would fantasize about torturing and humiliating someone at work that was rude to her. I asked her why she didn't stand up to her. She had so many reasons - won't make a difference, why should I have to, etc. Very much like my husband. My MIL would go days without speaking to me during visits because of unknown reasons. Later I found out that she was once upset that I reached for my new baby (after I worked 10 hours) while she was holding him. Rather than realize that I missed him, she told my husband that I took him away from her and didn't think she could hold him right or something to that effect. Very strange personality disorder. My husband has probably been plotting my death (emotionally or physically) for years and I thought we were happy.

sadandtrying posted 2/21/2011 10:52 AM

I'm you who have P/A spouses share with them that you believe they are P/A?
I've been reading here and on-line about P/A traits, relationships, etc for a while, and just last week shared my H that I believe this is what he is...
He was initially, briefly resistant, but is talking about it now with me and thinking about how he got this way.
He's even brought it up to his FOO.

imstillangry posted 2/21/2011 11:29 AM

I am thinking this fits the definition very well, just one example from many. We had a fight a couple of weeks ago and were in the car picking up the kids. My h got out of the car and walked away. We were 20 minutes early so I sat there and waited. He didn't show up so I went in and got the kids and drove them home. I then left them with big sister and drove back up there (in very foggy conditions) and looked for him, but didn't see him, so I drove back home and went to bed. When he got home an hour later:
Him: "you owe me an apology for making me walk home"

Me: "WTF, I didn't tell you to get out of the car"

Sounds passive aggressive to me

mrs. duped posted 2/25/2011 12:20 PM

Forgive me if this has already been brought up, I might have missed this if it has already been discussed.

My question is, do most PAs have exit A's? Someone posted something about this in another forum and I have been thinking about it ever since.

I guess it makes sense if they are passively trying to end their M. Admitting to their spouse that there is a problem, or even taking the initiative to D would be too much work for a PA.

I don't know a lot about the subject but I am pretty positive my WH is PA. He is a classic procrastinator and blameshifter. He definitely has an avoidant attachment style and is extremely conflict avoidant.

Anyway, the nature of his A has always bothered me, he admits it was an exit A. When their A started, or maybe even before it did, he told OW he was going to leave me pretty soon. On D-Day, he didn't envision any other scenario than me throwing him out of the house immediately. In fact, on D-day he knew he was caught so he had already packed a bag when I came home to confront him.

I believe he wanted me to throw him out so he could be free to be with OW.

However, I didn't, I was in shock but the first thing I did was call our MC(we had started MC about 3 weeks prior to me discovering the A) and offer R. He accepted working on R right away but it wasn't like he was begging for it, I believe it is possible he just went along with R bc he was too "weak" to stand up for himself and leave if that is what he really wanted.

I don't know if any of this makes sense, but I am wondering if they passively try to end their M by having an A, but then maybe passively go along with R when caught, even if it is not what they really want?

Seriously??? posted 2/25/2011 17:01 PM

My question is, do most PAs have exit A's

From what I have read, my understanding is "no". That is rarely the purpose of the A for the passive aggressive. Change is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them. And part of why they have the A is their poor self-esteem. Leaving the safety of the dysfunctional marriage would cause severe disequilibrium. I'm not saying it never happens. I'm saying I don't think from what I've read it happens much. And look...if they leave you (the likely focus of their passive aggression) their next spouse might not be as inclined to permit it. That is not what they want at all...they need that codependence.

I have also read that if you try to divorce a passive aggressive, anticipate A LOT of foot dragging...not showing for hearings (they will "forget" they had a hearing), not agreeing to previously negotiated agreements (usually this comes just prior to having to sign it) and otherwise being as obstructionist as humanly possible.

I am currently reading a book called The Angry Smile. It's a text book on passive aggression, but reads much better! It's a must read for a codependent spouse of a passive aggressive.

Edit: I have found that 180'ing works WONDERS on my PA spouse. He HATES to be ignored. I never ignored him during the A, but I am now. It's pretty funny, really.

[This message edited by Seriously??? at 5:42 PM, February 25th (Friday)]

LisaBrandNew posted 2/26/2011 11:10 AM

PAs definitely need their anger target - the spouse. However, if the spouse is not playing the codependent role anymore, the PA will leave the relationship. Of course, in some dysfunctional, PA way. Always as the victim, always blaming the spouse. The AP will most likely be damaged and codependent (if it is an exit affair and the intent is to replace the spouse with someone who will participate in the messed up dance). The OW is my situation felt so sorry for my "sweet, kind" husband. I have to laugh at the "poor me" image he projects. I sucked it up when I met him and wanted to rescue him, give him the love he never had, blah, blah, blah. I guarantee his next wife will a flaming codependent rescuer. PAs are also much more likely to have MLCs and leave the spouse. mrs.duped - you were accepting such crumbs from him when you offered R. He continually acts out his hidden anger through his passivity. Why do allow so little conviction and effort on his part. You will never know his intent for trying to R because you don't want to know, IMHO. You are still in the codependent, managing role and he is a bowl of mush. Have you thought about your issues, doing 180, and requiring true remorse and accountability from him as a condition to R.

beyondalllimits posted 2/28/2011 06:55 AM

LisaBN, how did you stop the cravings? I just can't seem to do it. I wore a rubberband on my wrist yesterday, but forgot to put it back on after my shower and gave into my craving in the afternoon.

Has anyone tried hypnosis? I've done it for weightloss in the past and it worked well. I'm considering that for my cravings or 'longing' for love...

mrs. duped posted 2/28/2011 11:17 AM

LisaBrandNew, I know you are right. I didn't discover SI until a couple months later and initially did everything wrong. Now that I am about a year out and getting out of the initial crisis mode, I am starting to see that unless he addresses his issues, we can never have a successful R. And my codependence as well.

[This message edited by mrs. duped at 11:18 AM, February 28th (Monday)]

LisaBrandNew posted 3/1/2011 20:24 PM

BAL - How to stop the Codependency/Longing For Love cravings? I think for me that I get "it" so much now that reacting, fixing, reaching, etc. doesn't have the same impact or fill the same need as before. Codependency simply does not work. It doesn't work!! If you think about why we are codependent, why we accept crumbs, reach out more than half way, fix, manage, analyze, excuse, and basically scream I will do anything if you will love me and not leave me, the truth is
pretty clear. Self-worth. And the PA, emotionally unavailable, and damaged people of the world can see us a mile away. If you see yourself as less valuable (by putting up with shit, not asking for and requiring the moon and stars to stay), then you will be treated as less valuable. Those quick "love" fixes don't work at all, just a big neon "I have low self esteem" sign. When you say, through words and actions, that you are so too good for such a jackass, spell out your high expectations(but healthy and normal)and needs, and follow up by moving on if you are not getting those needs met, your message to yourself and others is one of high self worth. Realize that no one can validate you - only you can. I focus on myself and healing the issues that led to my codependency and low self worth. I practice assertiveness, healthy boundaries, and requiring respect from those in my life - sometimes it takes great willpower. But everyday I feel better, stronger, and more valuable to me.

Mrs.duped - Once you address your codependence, you won't accept anything less than a deeply remorseful, loving, committed H. Funny thing about codependence - it never works. The relationship in whatever dysfunctional form may be intact (if that is the word), but it won't last or will be a continual source of pain and unhappiness. On the other hand, self worth, 180, and zero tolerance for crumbs, at the very least will strengthen you and build yourself esteem. And also happens to be attractive. And is also more likely to encourage healthy change in others (but remember you are not doing it for that reason).

Sorry to be preachy, but I live this to my core. I am holding firm on not R with my blame shifting WH. He either has a "Come to Jesus" moment at rock bottom and owns his shit, has deep remorse, and does the deep internal work or I am done forever. I will not help him figure himself out - I am not his mother. I am an amazing woman that deserves a grown up man. And I say it over and over until I believe it. Divorce is final in 6 weeks.

[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 10:55 PM, March 1st (Tuesday)]

Lotusborn posted 3/3/2011 16:18 PM

Does anyone know of any other message boards for working through or ending a relationship with a passive aggressive spouse?

ohgoodgrief posted 3/13/2011 11:22 AM

Lisabrandnew, what an affirming post! Thank you so much!
This is one I will read over and over again.
I am really going to have to study this PA thing--the most recent thing I heard from my PA H is how 'concerned' he is about my hate and anger issues. (As in, man, there's something really wrong with you!) Sound PA?

LisaBrandNew posted 3/15/2011 22:51 PM

ohgoodgrief - Thank you for the kind words. I really live what I say and it is working. I feel so much better every day. There are so many control issues with PAs. Your PA husband is using an old trick. He is projecting his issues onto you, trying to make you question and doubt yourself, undermine your perception of him and his issues, and put you on the defensive. A subtle way of breaking you down and controlling you. You know they are never to blame. Big victims. And it's all our fault.

[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 10:53 PM, March 15th (Tuesday)]

oceanwaves posted 3/17/2011 14:00 PM


Oh my gosh. I was reading Lisa's post in wayward and had a massive insight.

For almost all of my life I have felt "controlling" choosing partners and relationships where this controlling aspect came out. My H (PA) said after his A that he thought that I wanted someone weak and controllable. I responded no, I want someone who can take care of themselves.

Anyways. I just get it finally.

I have hand picked these people. My Dad was PA and my mom was "controlling". I have chosen partners that from the start show me that they procrastinate and don't take care of themselves. I step in and try to "help" they shame me and build up a fantasy that I am so mean and controlling because they are avoiding conflict.

We are both contributing.

But anyways, my insight is that Im not some controlling maniac. I am reacting in direct and normal relation to them. Their would be nothing to "control" if they met the bare minimum of their promises or duties.

Being called controlling hurt me and made me back off- but my H still saw whatever he wanted.

It wasn't just me!!! It may sound so silly but this is a big deal to me. It really wasn't just me- I don't "like" to control people. My problem is I tend to enter into relationships with people who avoid conflict and are PA.

This feels like a huge step for me.

LisaBrandNew posted 3/18/2011 23:48 PM

oceanwaves - looks like we have a lot in common (unfortunately) Ok, looks like you are ready for something more. It gets really interesting when you stop controlling (address your codependency). Remember, PAs need an anger target. If you are not controlling them, telling them what needs to get done, etc. then they will try to force you to control them (chicken or egg?), so that they can be angry with you and act out passive aggressively. They must have an anger target. My PA STBXWH really turned it on when I talked about changing roles, wanting him to take over the finances or another household responsibility (I did all the adult tasks). I asked him to take over anything that he had resented me doing (because I decide everything ). He loved to be resentful, blame, etc but he absolutely refused to step up. He knew that my codependency days were ending. I had a significant shift in self esteem and could see the parent-child relationship for what it was. It lost it's appeal completely. I was ready for a grown up and had mentioned divorce due to his extreme resistant in dealing with issues. Soooooo - he cheated on me with a messed up teenager (former student of mine). Was it to find a new codependent to bounce his PA off of? Or passive aggressive acting out? Or was he feeling that he was truly a victim of a controlling bitch? Who knows. And frankly, I barely care anymore. Yes, they drove us crazy, but "stepping in" to help adults be grownups could also be called a little something.

So now our Why for choosing PAs? No, we weren't at fault for the A, but we certainly did want to control. That is why we choose PAs and that is why they choose us. Maybe we can call control a different word - care take, rescue, manage, assist, analyze, direct, etc. There is something right off the bat at coming into contact with a PA that triggers a codependent - probably the emotional crumbs (but we say, "they NEED us. So hard to see our true motives). If we didn't get the love and safety in childhood or if it was inconsistent, our child brains believe it is a reflection of our self worth. The PA reminds us of a parent or some childhood withholding. So we try to "earn" the love or "control" it. If we are needed, if the PA needs us, they are less likely to leave us, to abandon us. If we earn their love and commitment by being indispensible, we are Ok, we have worth. Big lie to ourselves, but you can see the dynamic. So, it is a dance. When my WH offered reconciliation crumbs, I said "No Way." My codependency had broken.

I am done, not because I blame my WH solely for the codependent-PA/parent-child dynamic in the marriage, but because his response to my healthier changes was complete emotional annihilation of me. The A and the continued PA, blameshifting, etc. show that he is deeply soul sick. I can not help him. He must help himself.

[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 11:49 PM, March 18th (Friday)]

southsidecali posted 3/19/2011 00:03 AM

What helped me tremendously was reading the book..Women who love too much, Robin Norwood.

Opened my eyes, that just like Lisa said.. we picked them for a reason, to fill one of OUR needs.

We become obsessed and they become our main focus, we get "lost" and place their self worth above ours, because we are trying to "Fix, rescue, change..etcetc.." that is why when they leave or cheat, we turn it on even higher- refusing to let go. Wanting to change and fix the relationship and we start accepting blame for things because we don't want to let go of the unhealthy part of our relationship..because as long as they remain "broken" we are having "our" need to be wanted, needed met.

That book is awesome and I highly recommend it.

LisaBrandNew posted 3/19/2011 00:09 AM

SSC - great information and insight! I'm getting the book tomorrow. You can never understand too much about yourself, your choices, and motives. Thanks.

southsidecali posted 3/19/2011 11:47 AM


I realized that in part I played a DIRECT role in helping him slide more into a PA.

I recognize now that whenever he tried to assert himself, I could not handle feeling so out of control.

For me it became a "control" mechanism, for things to be done my way and because that is what worked and his way did not make sense.

Granted he probably brought his issues, however, I think I played a very strong role in how this relationship played out. I picked him because deep down inside I felt superior to him, I knew I was smarter, financially secure, and had alot going for me. I picked him because I knew that if things didn't go my way, I could ALWAYS just walk because I never truly needed him.

I think the only thing that we end up missing is the companionship. We get used to having someone there, whether they are there emotionally to me was irrelevant. At least to me it was, we had kids and at one point, I told him that I didn't care if he said hi to me, but when it came to the kids I wanted him to show affection and tell them he loves them.

With the kids he could show affection and was loving, something he couldn't be with me but was something I need. I was willing to settle for him doing that for the kids in exchange that I go without, that was a small price to pay in my mind.

I realize now that I had emotionally shut down and detached myself from the situation a long time ago. All I wanted was for my kids to have a Dad, and under my conditions..I truly didn't care for him because if I had I wouldn't treat him with such disdain.

I cannot respect him and granted he has definitely done things that are not worthy of respect, but I know I helped create the parent-child why can I respect myself and yet not him?

LisaBrandNew posted 3/19/2011 13:41 PM

SSC - definitely some similarities. I adored my WH for the first 14 of the 16 years together. But it was always a parent-child dynamic. I complimented him constantly and showered him with affection. His PA was frustrating, but I justified it somehow and filled in the spaces by overworking and managing everything in the relationship. I started HATING it and resented that he would not grow up, be direct, take initiative, etc. I asked many times, but he would resist, avoid, always seemed detached, etc. The last year was really hell. His MLC depression and negativity exacerbated the PA. My responses were so unhealthy - controlling, critical, rage (when PMSing), disgust (rolling my eyes), and not being able to listen without plowing over him. I threatened divorce because I knew I could no longer live this way. It was changing me into someone I hated. I truly got lost in a crazy dynamic. I could see what was happening and tried to explain it to my WH. I said I was losing myself, that I needed him to talk to me, connect to me, grow up, change roles, etc. He just got more difficult and PA. I was very unhappy at the end - before DDay. Even though I made mistakes, I do respect myself. I have done some very hard work to see myself clearly. I have changed. I would never conduct myself as before. But I also would not remain in a relationship with someone who is PA, emotionally unavailable, conflict avoidant, etc. again. My respect for him is not there because of his cheating, but most importantly, the post DDay mess. Continuing the A, leaving me, trashing me, leaving his children, etc. etc. and not an ounce of remorse. He has not done any work on himself. He continues to justify the nightmare he created. Maybe I should be grateful. Although he left me, I would never have stayed with a cheater. Without the A and lack of remorse, I think I would have stayed for the children and been destroyed in the end. So I am free.

[This message edited by LisaBrandNew at 1:44 PM, March 19th (Saturday)]

ladies_first posted 3/19/2011 17:33 PM

Wonderful insight from wincing_at_light:

Most affairs are not exit affairs. That's why they don't leave. They don't want to. Affairs happen in the space between "I don't want to leave" and "I don't want to do the work to change it".

Chalk it up to fear and selfishness.

oceanwaves posted 3/20/2011 11:06 AM

Hi Lisa and All,

Our stories are very similar.

Last year I kinda bottomed out with some bad family news. My H and I had been together for 4 years(at that point) and we both brought our bad parent/child dynamic issues in. Right away there were signs that he was procrastinating and not in an appropriate place financially. I thought that I could help and he would change. Of course he didn't change and I tried everything I could think of to "help" including shaming, blaming and straight up yelling. I was confused and because of my FOO- I just didn't get what was happening. All I knew what that I hated it.

In some ways I wonder what would have happened if he would have changed, would I have loved it- or found something else to be critical of and to fix- back then nothing ever felt like enough to me and I felt that my god given role in the world was to help people.

Anyways, In January I found out my mom was homeless from her long term drinking issues. We were estranged, but it affected me deeply. In Feb. my H couldn't "afford" Valentines day or rent a few times over. I was just at my wits end. I told his that I was done trying to get him to change and my life was falling apart and I need to live apart from him for a few months to find some clarity.

In April I left and started a 12 step program, deciding that I was done with codependency and that I wanted to heal my past, my PTSD and move forward with life.

My H lived close by- but only accessible by a 2 hour ferry trip. On his own he because very depressed, he became very angry at me (because of his secret resentments over the years). He didn't reach out for help, instead turned to sugar, anger and depression.

As he saw me take my focus off of him and get healthier and so so happy- he got even more angry that I "left him, after everything he put aside in his life for me" and fell right into the town tramp who had been pursuing him ever since she met me when I came to visit. I refused to judge things in his life and when I started- I stopped and told him that I trusted him to direct his life and finances.

I was putting myself completely back together and his A very much blew me all apart again- right into PTSD and my issues. It was like all of my limbs were cut off. I was totally vulnerable to him again and could give no more.

The only reason why I have stayed is because this A blew him open too. He turned to himself and admitted his childhood sexual abuse, PA and his selfishness and cruelty. He started therapy and a 12 step group and is starting a sexual abuse group next month. Since I was down and out- I could not work, or be a support to him at all.... in a weird way it really turned thing over to him to fix and although it is still a struggle- he is more honest and forthcoming.

One of my deep troubles is the way he completely sabotaged my progress- although in the long run it has deepened it and I have healed more.

But anyways- it is still a struggle and I never want to live in the PA/coda dynamic again.

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