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Passive Aggressive Relationships
Hi I am hoping I might get a little clarity from this forum. I found this forum while searching passive agressive behaviour. Anyway I'll try not to make this a novel.
Iv been in a relationship for 3 years and 8 months ago we had a baby girl. Prior to getting pregnant our relationship was great and a major part of my attraction to my OH was how he was happy to let me do what I wanted and he was so relaxed.
When I got pregnant there started the changes. If he did not like something I would not get spoken to. If I asked a direct question while he was having one if his "moods" I would get snapped at. If I ask what is wrong, or why he was upset then I would be told nothing was wrong and I had the problem cause I was asking him.
After I had our daughter the behaviour got worse. It's really hard to describe and when I do I feel stupid but he basically picks at everything I do. But often not openly he will just sigh or mutter under his breath and then bang things around. I get the silent treatment and told I'm causing a fight if I ask what is wrong. If I ask him to help with our daughter he will be all nice and act like he is happy to. But then when the time comes he will stop talking to me or when I get back he will act like he has done me some huge favour and he is so put upon. The things I ask is normally for him to get up once a month to her so I can sleep and extra hour or for him to watch her so I can have an hour to myself once a week.
Sometimes when I ask for him to do little things he will completely overreact and makes feel like I'm asking him to do the impossible. But if I don't ask and do things myself he gets angry because I did not ask him. He often gets angry at me and treats me like I'm stupid because I do not understand something he is talking about. When I say I don't know he tells me that it is obvious and I should know what he meant.
It feels like the more I threaten to leave or try and fix things the worse he gets. Lately it feels like he is trying to stop me from doing anything other than sitting at home with her and doing what he wants.
I don't know maybe I'm just being silly. I doubt myself all the time. He just tells me that he isn't doing anything and that I'm overly sensitive and the one with the problem. I just feel like I can't take anymore of it.
Sorry for the wall of text. It's hard to write something that is so intangible in your head. When I read this it's hard to believe I wrote it.
Edit: for the parts where I say "he gets angry" I mean he gets short with me and ignores me, or he will patronise me. That sort of behaviour.
[This message edited by Surren33 at 11:22 PM, August 10th (Sunday)]
Surren33, I can totally relate to everything you wrote. Doubting yourself, it's exactly what he wants you to do. It's so maddening the manipulation the P/A is. Silent treatment is a classic way of driving you crazy while making it very hard for you to respond in a healthy way. Blaming you for him snapping at you - like his outburst is your fault. Blameshifting is classic P/A. Making himself out to be a victim, even subtly - OMG you asked for a favor, don't you understand the EXTREME burden that puts on him!!!! Oh, and you are just so SENSITIVE - don't you SEE how that's the problem here, not that he's an asshole?
I found it was very helpful for me to start naming his behaviors
- that's blameshifting
- that's putting me down to make me defensive
- that's an inappropriate outburst
- that's acting like a victim
- that's failing to be responsible
- that's not doing something you agreed to
- that's dumping a task on me he can do himself
- that's expecting me to pick up his mess
- that is a lie (words)
- that is a trick (actions that deceive)
[This message edited by heartbroken_kk at 9:25 PM, August 17th (Sunday)]
People who haven't lived with a P/A will never truly understand how much they crush our self worth, whilst we appear to be the strong controlling ones.
Softcentre, you really nailed it.
And yes, it is maddening. Crazy making. A normal healthy person who ends up in a relationship with a P/A person can end up utterly crushed by the experience. It has taken me years to recover my sense of self. I've been in weekly therapy and have worked so hard to try to get back to who I was.
I graduated from an Ivy-league university with honors. I busted my ass to earn that. And for two years after D-day #6 and the end of false-R I could barely function, barely get out of bed.
I'm better now. But I went through hell with his psychological abuse.
It WAS abuse.
Yes. It is abusive. And right now, a big part of me is wanting to go back to the familiar pattern that I've been living for almost 2 decades. Need to get out of this funk. I need to remind myself that whatever he might want me to think, I deserve better.
Reading your accounts of life with a PA mate is helping me see how truly, horribly, maddening life must be for my BH. I know that I minimized the true impact my attitude has had on him because whenever he told me I was being passive aggressive, I thought he was joking and meant it in an "aw, isn't that cute" sorta way. (Which sounds like so much bullshit now as I type it.) I am beginning to recgnize PA behaviors in my FOO, too. Not that that excuses me, but does help me understand how toxic a non-confrontational lifestyle can be.
Nez - in may ways, he's better off if he was able to recognise it and name it,even if you ignored that.
I was unable to understand what was happening and why I reacted like that. I thought I was a horrible,terrible, shouty person. I 'knew' how nice he was, how he hardly ever got angry. I felt awful for keeping on asking him to do things that he'd promised.
Pre-dday, we hardly ever argued, but when we did all my anger fear would come out and it would go on for hours, mainly because although he'd sometimes admit to the surface incident, he'd refuse to talk about the deeper and ongoing patterns. He'd say sorry, but deflect the conversation and we'd go around in circles for ages. Me getting more and more frustrated because he seemed to think that if he said sorry, the conversation was over. If I kept going, somehow i became the 'bad unforgiving spouse who couldn't accept his apology. I could, but me (being codep), i wanted us to work on the deeper issue and he just...kept trying to make it slip away, like jello. So the awful dance kept going on...and he resented me more and more.
Throughout our M I worked so hard on improving myself so that I could live up to my 'wonderful nice guy' husband. No matter how STBXH would like to paint out M. I thought we were happy (he let me think we were) and that it was only my own insecurities and issues that caused any friction. So I worked on them.
I KNOW that I became a healthier person the further our M went on. But STBXH painted me (both in his head and to others) as worse and worse as time went on. Can you imagine living like that? And then when he started flirting with a friend of mine via email ( ) it got worse. But he hid it from me. The he met Fat Bottomed Girl and he stopped hiding his contempt for me, so much.
I STILL didn't understand what was happening. I had no idea this was passive aggression and no idea how to deal with it. My self esteem had sunk. I assumed that the anger i saw in him was caused by me. So I started doing this thing called 'assume love'. You basically assume that your H loves you, no matter what. That if you think they're angry etc, it's you just projecting your own issues. You act lovingly and they're supposed to respond. The more I did it, the worse he got and the more he plunged himself into the A. You see, he didn't want that from me. He WANTED my anger and did worse things to try and provoke it. And I still blamed myself for it all.
So when dday happened. I was a trembling devastated mess. I had zero self esteem. I begged him to stay. He was openly unremorseful for 4 months. Then he pretended for another 4 months of false R. And I let him treat me like sh*t. He never stopped blameshifting.
Even after he left, for months I kept hoping he'd come back,trying to start deep and meaningful conversations with him. Trying to fix it all by myself.
When I told people about his A (after he left). No-one could believe it because he's "such a nice man". And then i started finding out how he'd been making me look bad to people for years...because it made him look better. His p/a, by the time he left (whether conscious or not) had left me quite isolated. He'd dissuaded me from keeping in contact with any of my old friends.Tried to turn me against my family and his, with just small comments and looks, pretending he was looking out for me. He had full control of the finances. I genuinely didn't know how I could survive as a single mum.
I wasn't like this when we were married. I had a lot of flaws, but I had very good self esteem. I was a go-getter. nothing could phase me. Living with him for 14 years changed all of that. I own my own codep & am working on that. But part of it was that his p/a abuse happened so slowly and gradually that I didn't realise.
Now I know. Now I'm getting myself informed. Now I'm working on myself & learning to let go of who he is (he's unremorseful & refuses to admit he's p/a despite being diagnosed by our MC). i wish I'd known about p/a years ago and had the tools to deal with it. and,if it wasn't for our children, I wish I'd known the warning signals so i would never have married him. But that's mostly because of his lack of remorse and denial about p/a.
Nez - You've taken 2 huge steps that my STBXH won't. You're facing your A. You're admitting your p/a....If your BS is willing to work with you, then I hope you make it and I admire your courage to face what you've done and who you are. I wish more people could do the same.
Wondering if this is him also
Older man ,police officer , married 3 times
Has cheated on all 3 wives has no trust for S but S must trust him, likes to be helpful and everyone to know he's helping out, doesn't spend alot of time w kids but excepts kids to be around when he wants., can put his job first but S can't put her job first, calls taking care of his own kids babysitting . These are some trates i feel make him pa.
Wow wow wow. My XSO to a t. I didn't realize there was a description that could fit so perfectly right down to the forgetfulness. Explains so much that was confusing, heartbreaking and emotionally draining.
I'm pretty assertive, emotionally intelligent, and I'm good at talking stuff out calmly, but I became a shadow of myself. Placating, begging and swallowing my hurt to make things right. He did me a huge favor when he left after I discovered his CL casual encounters with men and women. If I'd known all this earlier, maybe that wouldn't have come as such a shock. Of course he was afraid of intimacy, that's why I was so lonely.
I was missing him before reading this, but now I have a bigger picture, and know it would never have worked.
Thank you, yet again, good people at SI. You all have been my lifesavers these past weeks.
It's a revelation, isn't it? When our MC diagnosed him, I looked it up and, WOW!
But even with that knowledge, I still wanted him back.
I'd been trained to be codependent by him, right from our first 'date' when he stood me up to be KISA to another woman. He managed to talk me out of dumping him by pretending he just lost track of time and had told people (we were going out in a group so I could meet his friends) to let me know what was happening & that they must not have told me the full message...he also implied that one of his friends fancied me & tried to sabotage things by not telling me everything.
Now I realise that he was testing me out to see if he could treat me badly, but act like a nice guy and talk me round. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE ( incl his friends, his family, the lot) fell for his p/a nice guy act. We all thought he was genuinely the nicest person we knew, someone to live up to. Truth is, if he'd been honest, he would have been just a normal guy, and probably a fairly nice one. Instead, he's spent his life lying about who he really is, about how angry he gets, about what he really wants...and blames everyone else for that...and then justifies being a jerk behind our backs.
However,he's also groomed those around him to believe him. We're used to trusting him, that's our default. It takes a long time for that to fade. Mainly because we want to see the best in people.
Reading the book "Codependent No More" has been really helpful with that.
I have a question that I think I know the answer but would like to confirm it with you.
Do any of you have a parenting plan in place with your XWS? If so, how did you get him to agree to one being Passive-Aggressive?
We're basically parallel parenting. We have a contact agreement and did that via email. Doing it in person is not a good idea with a p/a because they will deny what they agreed, claim you misunderstood etc.
Some vital things I included
- Each parent is responsible for keeping themselves informed about school and children's activities/events, and is to give their email address and other contact details to the school/activity organiser....This means I don't have to wait for his input on parent's evenings/meetings etc (he was using that stuff to manipulate/frustrate me...now that issue has disappeared).
- Each parent is the decision maker during their contact time with the children, but will consult with the other parent over any issues that will affect the other parent's contact time. (Can't remember the exact phrasing,but it was about making sure each parent could agree or not to party invites on their time - I just text him the details and text the person who invited, letting them know it's his decision)
- In the case of a stalemate, I am the final decision maker for all things except medical,where that will fall to the decision off the medical practitioner.
These three things have already saved me a lot of grief.
I was also going to include right of first refusal, but he used it to try and control me (refusing to answer quickly/within agreed time, wanting to know if the children spent ANY time with anyone else) so I ditched that idea. Instead, I do ask if he wants to look after them, if I can't, but always have a back-up plan in place. He never asks me to look after them.
Also bear in mind that you can't expect a p/a unremorseful WS to keep to anything they have agreed unless they know there are consequences that you can and will follow through on. But they WILL expect you to keep fully to your agreement. Being faithful, loyal, truthful types, we do want to keep our word...but that can lead to a very lopsided agreement, where you keep it,they don't, and there's nothing you can do about it. Be VERY careful only to agree to things that both of you will actually do and/or that you can enforce.
Anyone have a book recommendation for the p/a person? I've looked around a bit bit haven't found anything directed at the p/a woman.
Sorry, can't think of anything. Does it work if you just mentally change the gender language?
SoftCenter, the few I've looked at discuss how a man ends up being p/ a by watching the relationship between his two parent figures and how he reacts to their dynamic. I don't recall how it all fit together, but I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't work quite that easily (to just change pronouns). I'm left-handed and I know some things are easier to flip around than others. After I get done with the three books I'm currently working on, I may pick up a p/a book just to get any insight.
Thanks for chiming in
With a P/A who is "pretending" to be good without getting some help, like a dry drunk, they will be good for awhile and then one small little thing will all of a sudden ramp it up again. Or one big thing depending on their maturity level. That is why we always feel like we are walking on eggshells, or we become very controlling as we have gotten used to cleaning up their messes.
I agree that they WANT you to get angry, because they can't. They know how to push certain buttons that get you to address a problem that they won't.
But what I have been finding lately is I have been working really hard (because it takes awhile to break your own bad habits) on learning to not respond, to catch when he is trying to 'get me' to react to something. I am working on learning to walk away when he does something stupid, let him clean it up.
But I find the harder I work the more he ramps up the naughty or bad things he does. My therapist said this would happen and I have read it here as well. And this is where my patience tends to wane, where my stress level goes thru the roof.
Example: We took our sons out to dinner the other night and my oldest fiance, so there were 5 of us. The credit card we always use just got updated and new ones were sent to us, you have to however activate them. I told my H earlier that I had updated mine but he needs to update his....well at the restaurant he was absolutely sure that since I had done it already he did not need to do it (same account, 2 different cards/numbers)I whispered to him to not give the waiter the new card as I felt he needed to update it, nope big man felt he was right and I was wrong. Well you can guess it, waiter comes back (very quietly) and tells my H that the card was denied. At this point other children can see but get busy going to the bathroom and trying to ignore. My H just laughs and hands the waiter other card. Then looks at me and gets mad that I am "looking at him weird, giving him the look" and I am thinking "no, I am thinking you are an asshole and there was no need to do that".
And truly there was not....why? Why do that in front of everyone? Thats what I mean by ramping it up...now he doesn't mind looking stupid in front of others. But he makes sure to get mad at me somehow??
Ok my WH had two very limited discussion the other night.
I say: What would you like to do after dinner?
He says: I don't know. What ever you want to do.
I say: Really, what would you like to do after dinner? I am completely open.
He says: Whatever you want to do. Well, we could go to home depot and walk around, but you are probably tired and want to rest.
I say. Nope, I am good. Sounds good.
He says: We don't have to if you don't want to.
I say. "Let's go. I'm good with that."
He says. "well alright."
We go, we wander around for about 45 minutes or so. Now I am starting to get tired. He is looking at the same paint chips he has for more than a year. I start to sit down on the shelf and look at chips. I point out a horrid, shocking bright green and say jokingly how about this one? ha?
He says; "that kinda matches your sweater you are wearing."
(not so subtle put down for me.) Stung I say :
"well, I guess I won't be wearing this one again."
He rolls his eyes, like I misinterpeted his comment.
Then he says, "Well, you are getting tired. Let's go."
I say ok.
In the car he is quiet. I ask him "Are you mad at me?"
he says, "Why would you think I'm mad at you?"
(he never answers a direct question - always turns it back on me - why would you ask that.. or why, what did I do now kinda thing).
He never answers my original question and I refuse to get dragged into talking about how quiet he has suddendly become because he turns it back on me - "like what I HAVE to talk all the time, now? or you think I'm mad?".
Inside later on the couch, he's completely shut down so I try to engage him in conversation. How was your day? "ok". Where you busy, "yeah, same like yesterday." Ah, ok, what did you do at home today? "I just got home when you called." I say, "I'm not trying to interrogate you - I'm just trying to have a conversation here." Silence.
He gets up to make his lunch for tommorrow. I come in and he is about to set the coffee and I say I will do that cuz there is still some coffee left. He pulls out a mug from the cabinet and pours the remainder of the coffee in a cup - a different cup than mine. I am like - what - why can't you just let me do one THING for you! I am so pissed I pour the coffee down the drain. He's pissed and says "Why did you do that! I was leaving it for you. Why do that!" (Now I realize it's because yet again he ignores my requests and does what he wants anyway). But I just say - I guess I'm just immature and didn't know what I was doing because I wanted to make coffee for you! And you refuse to let me do ANYTHING for you to show you that I care!" He's standing in the kitchen like I have two heads - I feel like it, I walk away to cool off and have a smoke.
See for the last week I have been making him lunches to take to work as a means of reconnecting with him and then all the sudden he doesn't want me to do it for him or make the coffee or anything.
ANyway, after I cool off I apologize again for over-reacting and he goes to bed.
WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR?!?!
I'm dumbfounded how I actually made a joke in MC that I'm not passive aggressive, I'm just AGGRESSIVE because I mean what I say and
I feel like I was purposely ignoring this somehow. My MOTHER is a master passive aggressive, and I'm always hooked into hers, but at 87, I still try to make her happy. She had a crappy life and she is NOT going to change at this point, so I'd just like her to have some comfort.
How did I not see IT IS OUR WHOLE RELATIONSHIP FROM START TO (probably soon) FINISH!
And I've gone through all the teacher, mother, and THERAPIST roles.
He's classic PA. The severe acting out 8 years, 100 strangers Wow. This is an eye opener!
We didn't see it because no-one really saw it. P/a is a hidden personality disorder...you see it's completely socially acceptable to be 'polite' and 'deferential' and p/a people are lovely to those around them, just not those closest to him,but we just think we must be horrible, sort tempered & angry people...after all, everyone else loves them and they're not shouty people like us.
So, there were high winds and a fencepost snapped and two panels came down with it. Our neighbour on that side has a toddler and our garden is not toddler safe right now. I can't fix it myself (medical reasons) and can't afford to pay someone to fix it for me. STBXH knows this.
I texted asking him if he could fix it. He texted back asking what needed doing. I texted back telling him. Then...nothing. You see, he doesn't like DIY. I was expecting this.
The next day I texted to ask again, reminding him about our neighbour's toddler and that we were jointly liable if anything were to happen to her. Suddenly he's going to fix it (legal words work well on him, reputation is important, as is money). I texted back to get him to name a day (otherwise it's always "soon" or "when I have time".
Today was the day to fix it. This is how it went.
- He had agreed to arrive here at around 8.30am. He arrived at 10am. He texted me just before he arrived that he had arranged somewhere else he had to be at 11am, so he could only spend 45 minutes. I didn't get angry, I was expecting something like this. When he arrived I said that it would take more time than he had, and he agreed to comeback after his appointment to finish the job.
- He started digging to get the old concrete & bottom half of the post out of the hole. He hadn't finished that part when he needed to go.
- I had a nice lunch and watched The Blacklist
- He came back...with a new fence post that is a foot shorter than the old one and a completely different colour. I said nothing. I expected this. I know that it will still do the job and if I mentioned it, he would be able to resent me and take longer putting off doing the job...and he'd get ego kibbles because he'd pushed a button. He got crickets. And I told myself that at least he'd got a fence post.
- I'd decided that if I offered to help I'd be resented and/or he'd get annoyed with me if things went wrong. I'd also decided that if I kept checking, I'd get anxious. So I took myself away and did something I can't normally do with the children around (it was his time with them and they were in the garden with him, popping in and out to give me hugs). I left him to it and decided to watch tv and then have a nap on the sofa. Lovely
- Two hours later and the job was done. It was actually a good job! I thanked him...and he admitted that the next door neighbour, NOT the one with the hole in the fence, but the other side...had done most of the work. This is the other reason I stayed out of it, his need to be rescued from things he doesn't like doing. I wouldn't rescue him, so he played the victim enough that our neighbour did. I'm going to buy the neighbour some chocolates.
- Oh and just as he left, STBXH mentioned that he'd broken both my spade (shovel) and hammer. Both were fairly new, good brands and in good condition. I was expecting this too. Whenever he did DIY he'd break things,lose things, or leave them out in the rain to go rusty. Every time. I didn't get angry. I simply asked him when(not if) he was going to get the replacements to me. He's promised them by the end of the week. I expect them to be bottom of the range versions. But beggars can't be choosers.
I actually feel it went very well...but the codep in me feels I was a bit rude. That codep is getting quieter, though
[This message edited by Softcentre at 2:12 PM, October 28th, 2014 (Tuesday)]
I stumbled across this site by accident and it blew me away, so I had to stop and make a post. Never have I seen so many husbands described as clones of my XH.
My husband's affair was the best thing that happened to me..why? Read on..
A potted history.
I married my husband after a long distance relationship and he was very keen for us to get together. I only knew him a year before we got married, and most of that time was w/e meetings.
He was charming and so, so reasonable, never got cross or upset about anything. I ignored the fact he seemed to be estranged from his family, had no friends and only seemed to be happy when he was out with friends. I ignored the fact that the house he shared with 2 other guys was a pigsty. I put his obsession with work as ambition and felt proud to be with such an ambitious man.
He was a shift worker, so I rarely saw him and put his moodiness down to his work pattern. This also meant we spent a lot of time sleeping apart. Our sex-life was practically non-existant.
He was always taking on projects at home and never finished them, but I put this down to his work demands.
After 5 years I was still living with no wallpaper on the hall walls or carpet on the floor. He knocked a wall down in the kitchen, removed the rubble and left it. His dad re-papered one room for us.
By this time I was getting fed up with living in a bomb site and taking care of all the household tasks and also paying most of the bills ( I earned more than he did). I also felt very lonely. So I suggested he move to permanent days so we could have more time together and he would have more time to get jobs done about the place. He agreed.
He moved to days which were supposed to be 6am to 2.pm but he still never got in until 5.00pm just after I did.
I thought things would be better, but they went downhill fast.
After the evening meal he was asleep for 2 hours and then wanted to sit and watch TV and ignored me. He refused to help with chores because "he had been working all day" (like I hadn't ?) When I asked for help with grocery shopping at weekends he said "I've been working all week, I need time off". If I nagged he just went silent on me and/or walked away. Finally I asked him to sit down with me and discuss things I wasn't happy with, so he sat down and I explained, in a non-threatening manner why I needed more help about the house and what i wanted him to do. He set up rotas for jobs which were pinned up in the kitchen and then ignored by him.
He stayed up till midnight every night and refused sex saying that " he had to get up early for work". When I complained he said that I would be more attractive if I lost some weight ( I was 5'3" and 126 pounds at the time !) He started criticising my clothes.
He took up bowling and was out quite a few nights. If I complained he said "aren't I allowed a hobby?"or "do you want me to let the team down?". He stayed in bed until noon every Saturday then went to play bowls.
We started having arguments but an "argument" was just me shouting. When I got upset he just walked away usually with a nasty smirk on his face.(of course when he started his affair he could tell the OW what a nasty "shouty" person I was.)
I became depressed and tired. I felt trapped and hopeless. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't get the warmth and intimacy I craved.
We'd been married 7 years when he "forgot" my birthday. When I asked him why I didn't even get a card he said " you don't deserve anything". I got upset and said "why do you have to say all these nasty things to me and upset me?" He said "I don't upset you, you only upset yourself".
I totally lost it. I yelled at him like a woman possessed I told I was sick of his nastiness, his continual criticism, being taken for granted, paying most of bills, doing most of the work about the place, being ignored etc etc. I said that I wasn't prepared to spend the next 40 years of my life living like this and I wanted a divorce.
He went white.
I put wheels in motion for a divorce and made plans to leave. He begged me to wait as "he didn't want his parents upset over Christmas" and stupidly I agreed.
Two months later I found out that he's been cheating with a girl at work (10 years younger than him) for 6 months.
On the night I found out I punched him in the mouth and he spent the night in hospital, I was so angry I scared myself. (Of course now he could tell the OW that I was a complete madwoman.)
However, it was a relief, as now I could divorce him for adultery, which I did and I made him leave.
He procrastinated all through the divorce, not answering letters or going for appts etc etc but I finally got it finalised after 5 months.
He didn't marry his affair partner for 4 years after we got divorced, and then it was because she was pregnant.
I understand from the "grapevine" that she's been hospitalised 3 times for depression and has had one suicide attempt.
I almost feel sorry for her.
I firmly belief that his affair was the best thing that could happen as it enabled me to get out of a destructive relationship that was destroying my sanity. I took me about 10 years and some therapy to get back to being the person I originally was.
I really feel for anyone who is staying together and trying to make it work.