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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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LionessQn76 posted 9/22/2012 11:46 AM

thanks realitybites you just summed up my feelings!!!

WheredoIgonow posted 9/27/2012 15:53 PM

Well, this is my first post in this thread.... and the more I read, the more I am convinced.. I AM married to a PA man.

I always heard that term before, but I guess I never really thought about it... but it really, really makes sense.

We've been married over 28 years... 4 wonderful children (2 out of the house - 2 in high school). I thought we had a wonderful life and a pretty good marriage....then the A's came up. My FWH went through a major MLC...

We've been working on R for amost 3 years. Counseling for the first 1 to 1 1/2 and IC for him.

So, we've worked through a lot of the A mess... though it's always there..

Now the focus is us.. and we both want it to be better.

I've been a SI fan and member for a couple of years.. and just this week as I've got some great responses from other SI'rs - and gave me some links to PA articles and this thread - and it was like WOW.... this is us! He definitely has PA traits... and I've been feeding into them for YEARS... without really knowing it. I thought I was just being the 'good' wife - and taking care of him, the family, the kids, etc... I was the strong one and could handle so much... I would take on the burden of finances, the children, school.. because that's who I was... and the As hit.. and I've been working hard through those - and trying to understand 'why'.

I am a 'fixer'. I am an "analyzer'. I am a "doer". I am a "take charge" kind of person. I have no problem making a decision.

He does. Big or small. He wants me to - but doesn't want me to.

Now I'm seeing so much in a different light as I've been reading about this PA stuff.

He IS a NICE guy. He IS a GOOD father. He does NICE things for me and others...I would put him in the category as one of the NICEST persons I know.... except to me at times.

Is it common for the PA type person to be only PA to his spouse? I really don't see that behavior of his with anyone else.

Did he become so comfortable with me over the years... now he treats me so poorly sometimes?

I've been very, very frustrated with his negativity towards me.... his negative filter of me... His blow ups over NOTHING... and I learned enough from MC and my soul searching - that I can't change him.. I can't "do" anything for him to change...

On my own, I've learned to behave differently. I don't react like I used to... I used to yell and scream back at him a lot.... "chase" after him - wanting to resolve our disagreement.... NO MORE...

But I need to learn how to "respond" to him when he treats me that way... I've got read more.

I don't know how to encourage him that if he wants our M to be better, he needs to recognize his behavior and make some changes. But I can't tell him that... no way. How do I get him to look at himself... Is there something I can give him and ask him to read?

I feel sorry for him realy. It is all he has known. His parents (who are still alive and in their 80s)are the most emotionally-detached people I know.. no wonder he turned out this way.... They're "nice" - but ZERO emotional attachments to each other, their kids, grandkids, let alone friends. They have none.

I came from a very stable, loving, supportive enviroment. Perfect - heck no... but pretty darn healthy I would say.

So, my FWH continues the dance with his parents.... super shallow... controlling father.... and jumps when his father says jumps... even at the expense of his wife and 4 kids... It's their dance..

His IC tried to work with him on that .. and that's about the time he said he didn't want to go to IC anymore or MC...

Now when I suggest counseling again, he said maybe, but "im not going back to those guys". I say why not and he said because he felt like they were picking on him".

My "helping" gene wants to help my FWH... but I'm just trying to focus on me.... and my behaviors.

But I'm tired of him viewing me and verbally accusing me of such negativiity.... making stuff up sometimes of what he wants to believe - just to make me look bad.. when there is no validity.

He is very insecure.. and hates to and rarely admits any wrong doing or mistakes - super small or big...

So, where do I start. I believe there is hope - but reading these posts on this thread scares me..

2kidsandadog posted 10/12/2012 15:16 PM

WDIGN, Welcome! I'm a little delayed in responding to your post.

I am by no means an expert on this subject, but I live with a PA and have for two years. The things I learned about MYSELF after doing some reading made me angry at myself for not handling things differently; for in some way I set a dirty precedent early, early on.

If I had to guess..... the "helper" part of you is probably codependent. Maybe not, though, but living with this personality is when I really noticed my codependency the most.

One thing that has helped take his "control" away is by working on my dependency. Little things I was doing that he was sitting back just absorbing all my love and getting me to jump through hoops for him.

Well, the transition has been difficult for him to deal with as it trickles down on the negativity you mentioned your husband puts on you.

Don't let this scare you because some of this stuff makes it sound like it's entirely impossible to live or deal with a PA. I felt that way and then realized that the only way to get any sort of change was to change myself and stop feeding this wounded sort of personality.

I am extremely independent and seldom turn to a man for ANY advice or help in decision making. I have been this way my whole life and it's, at times, not very conducive to relationship success.

Understanding that their underlying issue is repressed anger and rather than blow a gasket, they'd rather their partner do it for them and that way they can feel better (momentarily) while you are pulling your hair out. It's also a very controlling behavior!!

My SO is constantly saying to me "if you tell me to do something then I'll do it". A strange concept coming from someone who loves to control the very air people breathe but he does, every single time!!

Building up your self esteem is vital to living with this personality IMHO. My SO and I had this type of friendship to begin with so much of what he says or does I tend not to pay attention to anyway, which has been a help and saving grace in some cases. Other cases, I tell him how his behavior made me feel and to not do it again.

Just curious..... who controls your sex life? Sorry if that's too forward but that is when I really see this behavior come out.

PM if you want!

Hope I helped.

WheredoIgonow posted 10/12/2012 15:32 PM


Thanks for responding... there are not many posts under this topic - or at least not very often...

My H is not really a controlling guy with ANYONE - compared to people I know I work with.. in fact, he's quite the opposite.

And he doesn't trip anyone the way he treats me - except maybe the barista girl he doesn't like - or the waitress that he doesn't like.... Everyone else?? he would be voted the nicest guy in the whole world.

So, that's where I struggle. He isn't passive aggressive to many people - mainly me.. and these other people that I just mentioned as I observe his behavior.

As far as sex, it's normally him...but I Certainly do often... but he'd be the one who would initiate it whether we were getting along or not.

Thanks again for responding..

jandjs1st posted 10/12/2012 15:45 PM

This is the first time I have ever read this thread. My WH is PA. The good news is I think my H is realizing it.

This PA behavior stems from his childhood. There is so much inside of him that he has never expressed and now he is finally trying to dig into it. Earlier this week (and a couple of weeks ago) he came home from IC saying he had some "aha moments." He realized the anger he has with his mother is being deflected onto me. He seemed to be having a breakthrough. Maybe this is part of his "why" Only time will tell I guess. I know I can't fix him. He has to dig into these issues on work on himself.

2kidsandadog posted 10/15/2012 08:54 AM


They seldom are passive with the "outside" world. It stems from intimacy issues underneath and significant others bring all that "fear" up for them. He is quite normal in that realm.

My SO met some friends and my ex sister in law who all knew my ex and at the end of dinner, one guy said that I "deserved" him (my SO). They all knew what an abusive man my ex was and my SO was able to put on that nice guy charm. Here's the thing though, he IS a nice guy but acts out his passive aggressiness on those closest to him. He wouldn' hurt a fly nor would he ever yell at anyone; that's the unhealthy part of this personality. They stuff, stuff, stuff it with no real way to get it out, so they create scenarios that make you angry, so as to allow them to stay calm.

In the end, your husband may not be passive aggressive. I would (and have) do some reading on it to get a better scope of what it's like to live with this disorder.

When I got through with the book, I was so damn mad at myself, but yet so incredibly relieved. It took immediate pressure off of me thinking that I was the one doing all this stuff wrong and creating the problems. He ends up creating 90% of my issues with him, but since I've learned to stop the control, he's come around some because now he doesn't know what I'm up to.

It's a weird game I never knew the likes of before. In the end, he's a baby (man) just like so many but I can count on him to do things I need him to do. That would NOT be a passive aggressive trait. Usually, they make you think they are dependable, but turn around and claim ignorance on the subject.

Hope I've helped.

[This message edited by 2kidsandadog at 8:55 AM, October 15th (Monday)]

BostonGirl posted 10/15/2012 15:26 PM

2kidsandadog, which book are you referring to? I'd like to read it.

I haven't posted here in a long while, but every story that has been written here recently really hits home for me. I am the supremely efficient doer, my husband is the consummate avoider.

Except in our case, he was totally avoidant about affection and sex, too. Didn't notice it had disappeared, didn't miss it, was totally unmoved by any of the 60 different ways I tried to address the issue and bring us closer, physically and otherwise.

Anything that made him uncomfortable made him withdraw further. Essentially, asking for what I wanted or needed guaranteed I would never get it.

God, what a mindfuck. After two years of serious struggle he is finally getting it, how abandoning and irresponsible and downright disrespectful that was. He is doing a whole lot now to make up for it, but I still fear in my heart that he will always emotionally abandon me when things get tough.

2kidsandadog posted 10/15/2012 15:54 PM

It's simply titled " Living with The Passive Aggressive Man" by Scott Wetzler.

It's very easy reading and doesn't make you think life with this kind of person is impossible. I was afraid of that at first, but it teaches you different techniques to handling them plus it defines the codependent person which is the biggest attraction to them, and then begins the cycle. Our attraction is one of control, strong, dependable (which in the beginning he was Mr. Perfect and conveyed such about himself. Boy, what I've learned now.

I had to read it at work cause we live together and I refused to let him in on this one. He'd for sure switch gears just to confuse me even more.

Missymomma posted 10/16/2012 15:31 PM

This book has been eye opening. Think most addicts fall under the PA title. Started MC today and said I felt we fit this mold. The MC knew what book I was talking about and wholeheartedly agreed! Thanks so much for this thread and book info.

quirkina posted 10/27/2012 19:10 PM

After attempting to R for the past 2 years, I have finally realized that a lot of the issues are not EA related at all---they are PA,at least I think they are. I am going to buy the book that was mentioned in this thread and see if it makes sense.

Maybe some of you can comment on the following:
H will blow up at the slightest hint of criticism--and have a long list of things I have done wrong--right at the ready to spew at me, but I don't think he would have said anything if I hadn't brought up some issues first.

The things he says have nothing to do with me--in fact, they are more descriptive of his actions. It's like a double gaslight and distraction at once. You become so defensive and have to defend yourself against a wrongful accusation--which has nothing to do with the original situation that you brought up.

And he mishears what I say. If I said, "I am having trouble living like this" (which is bad enough)

He'll say: "Thanks for saying that you can't live in this horror of a marriage!"

When I say: I didn't say that.

He says, yeah you just said it. and on and on. And the subject I wanted to discuss conveniently falls by the wayside.

Thanks for listening.

AJB100412 posted 12/31/2012 10:35 AM

All- my H to a "t". Conversation yesterday
I ask him if he's planning on buying a new mattress (our son over heard him having sex with OW, while I was in Afghanistan. Son described sounds coming from our bedroom)
We hadn't talked about it past the night our son told me. I told him I'd try to sleep in our bed, but was making no promises. Slept (night mares, trouble falling n staying asleep, constant thoughts and mini movies of them in our bed) told him two days ago I was sleeping on pull out because I couldn't stand sleeping/being in our bed. Told him why. His response? Snickers at me, says "I told you we didn't have sex in here!" Hmm. He's lied and continues to lie about details. Our son doesn't lie, he's eight, how would he know how to describe the squishy wet sound of sex? His response is to jump up, snicker, get angry but yank the mattress out of our room and throw it outside. Then comes back in and says ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT ME TO BURN.? I told you I wasn't getting rid of it but you keep nagging me!
1/2 hour later
Me-(out with kids at park)
Him- went to Walmart
Him- your movie starts at 1155. Call ur mom n ask her to go.
Me- what r u talking about
Him- you need my people's card
Me- huh?
Him- there's two jack reacher tickets in Gpt.
him- no reply at all
Me- so you made a date that doesn't include you?
Him- figured we shouldn't be around each other today.

Background- about two months ago, a month after I d-day, he's made plans for him n his friends for a weekend thing, he's made plans for man time, he's made plans for hunting. I ask " when are you gonna make time for us? We haven't been on a date since June." No answer.

Fast forward to later in the day after the movie thing. I get home with kids, he's in the attic. I figure, I don't want to go to the movies, I'd rather go see my best friend whom I haven't seen since July. Tell him I'm going to see her and get no response.
Texts on way down road-
Him- I make plans to go to the movies with you but you'd rather hang out with your friend!
Me- unbelievable
Him- your friends are more important
Me- you're amazing (inside I'm livid but am trying not to fall into his trap)

I've gone out one other time since I returned in may, with my friend shay, her mom, and my mom, to supper. Out of he house for 4 hours.

Daily he throws stuff in my face, doesn't want me to assume, and to ask him if I think a certain way, but when I do he gets angry. But, he assumes the worst about me, puts words in my mouth and tells me what and how I'm thinking. Tells me he wants to make decisions together but when I mention the kids clothes getting too small, house needs tp, what to get for Christmas I get a nod, or an okay and that's it. So I wait, a couple weeks, bring it up again then he says I'm nagging. Or I go buy our kids whatever they need (not want, but need! Shoes cause they can't wear theirs with socks, pants cause the hem is at their upper ankle and they can't button them shut...) and he throws it in my face, saying I do whatever I want to do, so why ask him. Btw- we make 80k a year take home- and I'm a bargain shopper!!

His father treats his mother like shit. Their family never argues! NEVER! My family is the opposite. He is his father, says he doesn't want to be, but when he disrespects me in front of our children, friends, etc. I tell him later on that I didn't deserve or appreciate it. He tells me don't bring his my family ever! He refuses to see them as dysfunctional. I could write a book, 1000 pages long on his pa ways. But I won't bore you any longer. He refuses to see IC or MC or to talk to ANYONE for that matter. I'm in a lose lose situation.

AJB100412 posted 12/31/2012 10:50 AM

Can I change my name to "wheredoigonow"? Everything she said about herself is me and her husband is my husband, but younger. I haven't been very good at relaying information but she hit the nail on the head in regards to me n my husbands relationship, his parents relationship, my H whole being, with me, our kids, other people. I will read the books recommended in this thread. I'm miserable and don't know how to change.

oceanwaves posted 12/31/2012 12:12 PM

I am in the group too. It has been almost 3 years since Dday and I am still living, loving and supporting my my PA husband.

He doesn't use anger blow ups, he uses procrastination and pity to control me. Sadly, he doesn't get it and of course is the NICE GUY and a great dad. He is willing to give me everything- except for financial stability....which is the 1 thing that I am asking for.

It is so frustrating and I imagine leaving him everyday. If we didn't have our amazing HB baby, I would have left him. My feelings have changed and I feel more pity than attraction to him. I have no one to talk to about it and I don't even want to post on the regular boards because I feel so frozen about what to do.

I'm going to order that book that was recommended above and come here often. I really want to get out of this PA cycle.

whatdoto posted 1/2/2013 08:25 AM

Well, here I am in this forum. I too, have lived with a PA man for 17 years. Didn't realize it until just after dday. I researched and discovered, yep, he's PA. I do know what I need to do when he "jabs" me or accuses me of whatever or twists the conversation into somehow it's my fault. I just find it so hard to keep walking away when he does that. I can't tell you how many times I've told WH that when he says X or does X it hurts my feelings and he needs to stop and walk away. He apologizes, and turns right back around, and does/says it again. Uh, so tired of this game.

He was PA all day yesterday, stuck in the house due to crappy weather. Wanted to go hunting, but wouldn't go hunting, then mumbles under his breath behind my back "maybe moms right, I should just never go hunting again". Boy, I just flew right over to him and said "WTF! You seem to be unhappy, why don't you just crawl in your truck and go make yourself happy! Quit blaming me and our son for your unhappiness, and quit mumbling behind our backs about stuff that isn't true!" Then I walked away. He mopes, some more.


Then, of course, later he wants sex and when I say "no", well, I must not love him because I am not giving him what he wants. Whateva.

How do you resolve sex issues when their PA actions push you away? I know he loves me, I love him, but...

TeaLight posted 1/4/2013 18:27 PM

I am starting to feel that the only way to cure a P/A is to just walk away from them. As there are many days I truly feel like I am going nuts.

I agree. My ex was PA. He had two affairs during our marriage. The only thing I could do to save my own sanity was leave. Which I did.

It was the best thing I ever did. I'm now engaged to a wonderful, non-PA man and I've never felt more 'normal'.

trebleclef posted 1/6/2013 18:33 PM

That about sums it up: "lose/lose".
Endless frustration. Endless games. Endless eggshells. Endless no-win encounters.

If an A or two isn't enough to end it, a lifetime of this, is.

whatdoto posted 1/8/2013 21:22 PM

Again, how do you deal with having sex with a PA man? he is remorseful, etc doing everythig he can. But his PA tendencies have our sex life at a stand still. How do you girls do it?

I need any help...plz

SweetheartVixen posted 1/8/2013 23:06 PM

Wow. I can relate to everyone here. Could have spoken the same exact words you stated about your spouses/Ex's.

It drains me to live like this... Tho I rarely see him now.

sadandtrying posted 1/25/2013 12:03 PM

I am alone in the house today, so I came on SI hoping to get some insight and support.
I am married to a PA man also. Ours is a 30 year M.
I felt his PA ways, but we were so happily distracted raising our 4 wonderful children that we didn't address it..until they were all off on their own.

And then...

The shit hit the fan when he had his last A (almost 5 years ago, and as soon as our youngest went off to college). Since then things have been rough, but we are together. He has been NC for 4 years.

Early on after dday I seemed to realize on some level that my H's A was PA behavior. Kind of like "if you don't know enough to give me what I need, then I'll show you"'s somehow my "job" as wife to read his mind, know what he needs, and "deliver" - "or else"....

My eyes have been so opened to the dynamics of our relationship - due to the hours and hours and hours I've spent researching and soul searching....who is he? who am I?

Finding out about the A and the TT that followed, the broken NC was beyond horrible.
Now - it's down to our core relationship. We come from VERY different FOO - his, non-communicative, mine very communicative.

And he mishears what I say. If I said, "I am having trouble living like this"

He'll say: "Thanks for saying that you can't live in this horror of a marriage!"

When I say: I didn't say that.

He says, yeah you just said it. and on and on. And the subject I wanted to discuss conveniently falls by the wayside.

This is us, over and over again...
If I don't play co-dependent, he mopes, and says I don't care about him.

I am so stumped -

I need some solutions and some strategies to help get out of this cycle.
Maybe I need to head to a bookstore now and pick up one of the books that have been recommended here....

Sending love and empathy to everyone here.

n0tm3 posted 2/6/2013 06:36 AM

I am going to explore this topic more. I do feel that this does explain my husband to some extent. Since DDay I have been thinking that this was part of our dynamics in our relationship.

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