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Passive Aggressive Relationships

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OntheRocks posted 6/3/2009 17:26 PM

You know...

It must be really great to live your life, never believing that YOU are the problem. Never having to look inside yourself and say "I wonder if I could be doing this better, or "I wonder if I changed just one little part of the way I handle things, our relationship might get better" because GOD KNOWS my P/A WH has NEVER done this!!!!

I was just thinking about this the other day.

Wouldn't it be great to NEVER wonder if it was YOU that made that fight happen, or that made someone sad, or that broke a promise, or that let someone else down??????

What a total relief it would be to KNOW that I am perfect.

There is absolutely nothing that I need to improve on or that I need to change!!!!

My WH cannot take any criticism at all, not really to heart.

I pride myself on being able to change and adapt and improve, but if you never had to do that, life would be so easy.

It would always be someone else's problem or fault, never mine... how relieving!!!

To believe that I was always the smartest, the strongest, the best person in the room would relieve me of sooooo much effort, so much pain, so much anguish, so much responsibility.

It must be really nice to be them - truly.

NeedingGodsHelp posted 6/4/2009 03:30 AM

I pride myself on being able to change and adapt and improve, but if you never had to do that, life would be so easy.

It would always be someone else's problem or fault, never mine... how relieving!!!

I agree.

WH keeps telling me that it is hopeless because I will never change!!! WTF?!!

coasterrider posted 6/7/2009 08:58 AM

Hi all, been away from SI for a while but glad to see there's finally a P/A thread for all of us living this insanity!

Thanks to SI I found the boomerang article about 6 months ago and it just stopped us both in our tracks - it explains 20+ years of M and my H's whole life.

He's been working to improve but as so many here say it's insidious because neither partner in the P/A dance recognizes it when it's going on. And it's such deep-seated behaviour it's very hard to change.

I wanted to share a classic P/A moment - right out of a textbook - that happened just last week on our family holiday.

For years now I've been saddled with organising and running our family vacations - researching, booking, organising, playing tour-guide. Bugs the HELL out of me because it makes me responsible for everything, I never get a restful break and furthermore, my H is IN THE TRAVEL BIZ!!! Why can't he do at least some of this? I even had to book the flights to go home to my mother's funeral because he delayed and delayed, all the time saying he'd do it.

So this year I said OK, let's work on this together. How do we break up the responsibilities and the tasks so we both do some and we both get to relax and enjoy? Lots of talk and dialogue - he's really big on that end of things, not so great on the action - we decided I'd book the hotels for the first week, he'd look after the second. Driving vacation so lots of hotels in lots of cities to be booked.

Well I don't need to tell you that we left on our vacation with ALL my hotels booked and not one of his. I worked really hard at staying calm and detached - it wasn't my responsibility, not my problem. I went with the flow. He roped me in one day in an internet cafe into booking one of his nights - tried to even get the kids to do it for him!!! - and I kicked myself and promised I wouldn't do it again.

So last Thursday we're in our hotel room with checkout - and loss off internet connection - looming in an hour, still without a hotel for that night. He turned to my DD and said can you give your Mum your laptop so she can help search for a hotel with me? I said, well, I'll agree to that and to helping you out if you agree to NEVER leave it to the last day again.

He turned to me and lashed out saying, 'well, at least I don't book crap B&Bs that have us sleeping in the basement.'

I screamed 'EXCUSE ME??' 'EXCUSE ME????? I've been booking hotels for our holidays for 20 years and one night doesn't work out so well?"

I got up, told my DD that we were going to get breakfast, and walked out the room. Fuming, hurt and shocked.

Took me a couple of hours to calm down and see what a totally P/A incident this was - although he'd said he would do 1/2 of the work, he in fact wasn't going to do his part, he didn't want to do his part, he wanted me to be responsible and to take over for him, so he created a crisis by leaving it to the last minute, so I'd have to get involved and rescue him and our family vacation. Textbook P/A!!!

But it's so hard to see when you're in it. It just pushes all my buttons, as our MC would say. And boy is he a pro at it. I just hate it. So frustrating. I can't tell you how many times I've used that word to describe my M to MC/ICs. Frustrating. Makes me want to scream.

I have to say, though, that until that last minute with his attacking outburst I did a REALLY good job of just completely ignoring the P/A behaviour, of staying calm, of not taking responsibility for what he wasn't doing, or for reminding him of his responsibilities. He really pushed it to the limit, tried his level best to get me to dance, but no way I was going to.

I think that's the best we can hope for, is to change our own reactions, to not dance the dance. It goes against my core nature - I want to work together, to share responsibility, to step in when my partner needs me. But the sad truth is, they just play that against you when they're P/A.

realitybites posted 6/7/2009 09:10 AM

I have to say, though, that until that last minute with his attacking outburst I did a REALLY good job of just completely ignoring the P/A behaviour, of staying calm, of not taking responsibility for what he wasn't doing, or for reminding him of his responsibilities. He really pushed it to the limit, tried his level best to get me to dance, but no way I was going to.

I think that's the best we can hope for, is to change our own reactions, to not dance the dance. It goes against my core nature - I want to work together, to share responsibility, to step in when my partner needs me. But the sad truth is, they just play that against you when they're P/A.

I can hear everything you said here. I have one of these to a T. Leaves everything up to me, he will tell me because I am so much better at it then him to try to "compliment" me into it and then when that does not work he will wait to the very last second and pick the very worse thing. Then wait for me to implode. So then you try not to, go to the very worse place, keep your mouth shut and then they up the ante and do something even more childish to just finally get a reaction out of you.

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.

down4now posted 6/7/2009 10:02 AM

How many of your P/A spouses have agreed to go / are going to IC to try and cope with their behaviour? Did they go willingly?

We only discovered a 'name' for my H's behaviour during MC. Once we started to look up the condition it was like a 'light bulb' moment for both of us. It's as if all the frustrations and arguments etc of the past have suddenly been explained - it's a great relief to find that all the niggles and doubts I had were not wrong!

H for his part almost feels relieved that he has a name for how he's been behaving. He read through a passage of 'traits' and couldn't help exclaiming 'fuck' at almost every line.
The fact that he has acknowledged his behaviour and is currently going to IC (anger management and assertiveness to try and break out of the pernicious cycle), does give me hope and so far, when I see his P/A behaviour rearing itís ugly head I pull him up about it. Iím not saying I get a positive reaction from him when I do this but for the first time he is questioning his motives and actions. That canít be bad can it?

heartbroken_kk posted 6/8/2009 23:00 PM

How many of your P/A spouses have agreed to go / are going to IC to try and cope with their behaviour? Did they go willingly?


H for his part almost feels relieved that he has a name for how he's been behaving. He read through a passage of 'traits' and couldn't help exclaiming 'fuck' at almost every line.
The fact that he has acknowledged his behaviour and is currently going to IC (anger management and assertiveness to try and break out of the pernicious cycle), does give me hope ... for the first time he is questioning his motives and actions. That canít be bad can it?

My WH is going with me to MC. Our C is focusing on two things: my pain, and his behavior. It is helping and he is having some of the same reactions as your WH.

I have found that the best thing I can do is to try to not attack him as a person when he lets me down, but to let him know specifically what behavior of his is causing problems for me and trying to phrase it in terms of my feelings rather than his motivations.

good luck, kk

OntheRocks posted 6/10/2009 11:21 AM

I am starting to feel that the only way to cure a P/A is to just walk away from them.

I'm not sure that walking away is a way to cure *them* - BUT (and it's a big one) - walking away can sometimes be the only way to save *yourself*

I just finished reading "Living With the P/A Man" by Scott Wetzler and quite honestly according to him, you are either going to have to learn to be a psychologist yourself, everyday, and for the rest of your life with him, or your only other option is to remove yourself from his influence.

Only you can decide if the extra effort and self-control that you are going to have to exert on a daily basis is worth it.

How many of your P/A spouses have agreed to go / are going to IC to try and cope with their behaviour? Did they go willingly?

My WH begrudgingly went to MC with me for 3 or 4 sessions. He canceled the next appt. without telling me until it was time to go again. His reason at the time was that it was too expensive.

Now that we are S he has stated that he canceled because I was controlling the counselor, turning all her attention on to him, and that she was letting me.

I had no idea until a few months ago that my WH is P/A, now that I do, I see that he could not/can not stand to be criticized in any way - and he cannot understand that I/we were addressing his behavior and not attacking him personally.

The book has been a complete eye-opener for me as to what happened in our relationship. And has also helped me to see that his behaviors and attitudes, really don't have anything to do with me, and definitely are not my responsibility or fault.

realitybites posted 6/10/2009 11:48 AM

You are absolutely correct. I phrased that completely wrong.

To cure *myself* I may need to walk away. It really never ends. They seem to get better for a bit because they will try really hard to hide it for awhile but it does come back out if they never seek any kind of help for it on their own.

pitofdespair posted 6/14/2009 10:40 AM

I only recently started posting, but among other major issues, I always THOUGHT my WH was p-a. Reading through these posts, I was so shocked at how perfectly the behavior described my WH. The anger below the surface, the insistence that nothing was wrong, the distancing, the double standards, the onset of aggressive-aggressive behavior, the maintaining the most ridiculous logic until I was in an absolute frenzy of anger...and then the calm satisfaction of having made an absolute bitch of me (I know; I had to be part of that). The absolute absence of any kind of intimacy or sharing.

Thank you, thank you for this info. I can't believe how complicit and problematic I have been in this push and pull. Every behavior written about p-a in this thread could apply to my WH!


Faulty_Hope posted 6/14/2009 14:00 PM

Absolutely amazing.

Here I am, officially divorced July 23rd, bravely and happily moving on with my life, but there's still been this personal feeling of guilt on my part for my role as a wife during our marriage. I've felt like a monster, a woman that treated her husband like a child during the marriage, because I couldn't "accept him for who he was" according to him, and I really felt I couldn't either. After reading this thread, and the responses from everyone, it is now becoming evident that I'm NOT a complete monster, that his PA behavior is why I felt depressed, hopeless, and a complete raving bitch all the time!

I feel somewhat freed after reading about all of this. My stbxh could never:

-Make any decision on his own
-be spontaneous
-grow a spine
-converse with anyone in an adult manner
-plan and execute anything
-complete even simplest of tasks
-be the husband I needed

I would lie in bed at night, completely depressed and often cried silently, feeling like this neverending hell-hole cycle would eat me up. I felt I was being unreasonable (for asking that he act like a husband and not a 10 year old?) and coming down too hard on him. I had enormous guilt, and prayed that he would cheat or I would find out he was cheating just so I could escape this terrible state. 2 months later I got my wish, although no one really wishes to find out their partner has been having an A their entire marriage, I feel I was given a second chance.

Thank you for posting this thread. I am just one step closer to being healed.

heartbroken_kk posted 6/14/2009 19:02 PM

Our MC talked to us about the "parent-child" dynamic, also said you could call this type of relationship as it becomes more disfunctional "controller-controlled" or worse, "accuser-blamed" or "punisher-victim".

In talking about Family Of Origin (FOO) issues, she said that adult children of alcoholics have certain behaviors that they learned and developed at an early age to deal with their chaotic and "unsafe" homelife, that they bring with them into adulthood that don't necessarily create problems for them in non-intimate relationships. They can get through life being the way they are at work, and with friends, because they can change jobs, move around, etc, spending only a limited amount of time with any one group of people or individual person so that their behaviors do not become dysfunctional because others do not develop habitual responses to them and mold themselves to work around their quirks.

The point she made to me was that the home life was not a safe place to show your own emotions due to the dysfunction and unpredictability of drunken adults, and that it was very important to read the other person to find out whether they were going to have an outburst or whatever, and to figure out how to get what they wanted/needed indirectly rather than be upfront and risk rejection/condemnation/abuse/whatever. So the child learned to A) push down their own needs and emotions so they wouldn't feel so overwhelmed by what they couldn't have (things, love, respect, etc) or reveal the truth about themselves which would set them up for more abuse and B) become sensitive to others in a way that allows them to effectively soothe/not upset/manipulate the other person so that there's a chance they might avoid trouble/get what they want.

I don't know if this is making any sense but MC said passive-aggressive is a bit of a misnomer, that a better term is passive-resistant. That passivity is the key -- don't react, don't act, don't do anything that might get you in trouble. That the world is out to get you. You are the victim. Find a way to get out of trouble without pissing off the big guy. If you don't like something don't ever say so directly right then. Let it come out indirectly, eventually, later, when you are far enough away in space and time that you won't get hurt. Try to imagine what its like for a little kid to learn how to survive when being raised by drunks. What would you quickly learn to do or not do? Right away those behaviors would be established and developed and when the child finally left home that's what they would do as an adult.

MC said these behaviors do not work for adults who are in long term committed relationship without the other person in their life becoming very angry because the PA partner doesn't say what they really mean, do what they say, etc. The subtlety of passive resistance makes the partner crazy because the thing that is the cause of frustration isn't right there in front of you any more. It's gone. It was last week when he said he would do the laundry and now you are out of clean pants. You are angry because of his INACTION and his deflection. He said he would do something to get you off his back in a way that would keep him out of trouble right then. Only later does the truth come out that he really didn't mean it. He just wanted you to quit nagging so he said whatever to calm you down (see he's keeping himself safe from your emotions). And HE didn't know he didn't mean it at the time. He WAS sincere, on the surface. To your face at that moment he wanted you to believe him and relax and let it go. He just underneath wasn't into it all that much. He never 100% acknowledged that he was taking responsiblity for something and would later be held accountable for it. And then things got in the way, and you calmed down, and he forgot that he said he would do it. And so when you lash out at him for not doing laundry he feels victimized by your anger. Why are you being such a nag and a bitch to him? It's so unfair and uncalled for. He's just sitting there eating his breakfast all innocent while you're trying to get dressed and getting enraged over something that in his mind has nothing to do with him.

So anyway, long way of me rambling, I've come to terms with his P-A behaviors as being a defense mechanism he has from FOO issues that have nothing to do with me. My approach is to try not to fall into the trap of "parenting" him, or of allowing him to be vague or brush off stuff when he needs to be clear.

I'm still hopeless most of the time identifying when we are getting into the parent-child mode but we are both more aware of where we've been if not where we are.


heartbroken_kk posted 6/15/2009 13:33 PM

Has anyone here had any experience using the Enneagram of Personality Types to try to understand yourself and your partner better?

My WH, who has well established P-A behaviors, has been "typed" by someone very experienced with the Enneagram, as a type Nine, the "Peacemaker" or the "Mediator". I am a type Seven, the "Enthusiast" or "Adventurer".

The Nine description on this website

reads in part "can also be too willing to go along with others to keep the peace. They want everything to go smoothly and be without conflict, but they can also tend to be complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. They typically have problems with inertia and stubbornness."

"Key Motivations: Want to create harmony in their environment, to avoid conflicts and tension, to preserve things as they are, to resist whatever would upset or disturb them."

the following descriptions describe someone who is basically very healthy and has functional relationships with others:

"At their best, Nines become self-possessed, feeling autonomous and fulfilled: have great equanimity and contentment because they are present to themselves. Paradoxically, at one with self, and thus able to form more profound relationships. Intensely alive, fully connected to self and others.

Deeply receptive, accepting, unselfconscious, emotionally stable and serene. Trusting of self and others, at ease with self and life, innocent and simple. Patient, unpretentious, good-natured, genuinely nice people.

Optimistic, reassuring, supportive: have a healing and calming influenceóharmonizing groups, bringing people together: a good mediator, synthesizer, and communicator."

The following describes someone who is sort of average in terms of mental health, a mix of good qualities and not so good personality traits:

"Nines fear conflicts, so become self-effacing and accommodating, idealizing others and "going along" with their wishes, saying "yes" to things they do not really want to do. Fall into conventional roles and expectations. Use philosophies and stock sayings to deflect others.

Active, but disengaged, unreflective, and inattentive. Do not want to be affected, so become unresponsive and complacent, walking away from problems, and "sweeping them under the rug." Thinking becomes hazy and ruminative, mostly comforting fantasies, as they begin to "tune out" reality, becoming oblivious. Emotionally indolent, unwillingness to exert self or to focus on problems: indifference.

Begin to minimize problems, to appease others and to have "peace at any price." Stubborn, fatalistic, and resigned, as if nothing could be done to change anything. Into wishful thinking, and magical solutions. Others frustrated and angry by their procrastination and unresponsiveness."

And the following describes very unhealthy traits when the disfunctional behaviors and thought patterns take over:

"Nines can be highly repressed, undeveloped, and ineffectual. Feel incapable of facing problems: become obstinate, dissociating self from all conflicts. Neglectful and dangerous to others.

Wanting to block out of awareness anything that could affect, them, they dissociate so much that they eventually cannot function: numb, depersonalized.

They finally become severely disoriented and catatonic, abandoning themselves, turning into shattered shells. Multiple personalities possible. Generally corresponds to the Schizoid and Dependent personality disorders. "

It seems to me that many of our P-A partners may fit into this personality type and that when they are healthy we love them dearly and when their behaviors become dysfunctional they can be sucked into fantasy and the fog as a way of escaping what is going on inside.

I would LOVE some feedback on this if anyone else can relate.


roccodom posted 6/17/2009 17:52 PM

Just had a lovely fight with my PA H.

Earlier in the day, we were at the pool and saw a friend of ours. I immediately say - "why don't you two take the boys to a baseball game this year". Well - after the friend left. I already realized what i had done - volunteering him. So I turned to him and said - "I'm sorry - I don't know why I did that. It was completely wrong and I apologize"

Well, a few hours later, he starts to get really angry at me about it. I stopped him and said "Wait, I recognized it and apologized to you for it - why yell at me?"

He goes on to say "You always volunteer me". And you know what - "I don't". I am very careful about including him in anything. My policy is "You have to ask him, I can't speak for him" If anything, what I did today was an anomoly.

He seriously was trying to make a huge statement about me and a right to be pissed. He went on and on. I remained calm and asked why he was getting SO angry. which of course made him angrier. Ask him to give me an example of when I might have done that to him in the past? He got even angrier.

I wouldn't let his anger run me off though. He acted like a jerk. I kept asking why he was so angry

So tired - never gonna change

hollow-promise posted 6/18/2009 10:09 AM

The Affair and the P/A FWH:

There is much discussion about the P/A spouse; but having looked back on his affair, it was clear that he had sex with the MOW when he didn't get something he wanted because I wouldn't go along with it.

He had sex with her 4 times and each time was shortly after he was denied something.

Number one: He needed my help with his business and resented the fact that I was "smarter" than him. She had been offering sex for about 5 months before that and when he got mad at me he had sex with her to get back at me, without actually dealing with his frustration.

Number Two: He wanted to retire early; and I pointed out the fact that he would not make enough money and would have to get a part-time job. He was mad that I stopped his "plan" and had sex with her.

Number Three: He made a mistake at a shop in Mexico because he didn't understand pesos. He thought he was buying a watch for 79.00 and the charge to the room was 790.00. It was on my credit card and we could not afford that purchase. The shop refused to take it back so we had a huge fight over his impulsive spending. When we returned from our trip he had sex with the MOW to get back at me.

Number 4: He decided he wanted a new boat and told me that the payment would be the same as the old boat. I said that would be OK if we didn't have to take on a larger payment. I got to closing and found out that it was double the amount of the old payment. I refused to sign the loan and canceled the sale. He had sex with her the last time to get back at me for denying him his "dream boat".

This explained why get could throw her under the bus after she told me about the affair. He used her to get back at me. Unfortunately, by this time the MOW was "in love" with FWH and refused to let him go. She made his life a nightmare for 18 months after he dumped her. He quit his job to get away from her, and that is when she emailed me.

Before I read about P/A persons, I was at a loss to understand why he would have an affair if he didn't love her; I couldn't make sense of it. Now it clears up many unanswered questions.

We went to Retrouvaille and that was the first step in teaching him how to communicate and not stuff his feelings. I am trying very hard not to buy into his P/A behaviors.

Another thing P/A people tend to do is withhold sex when they don't get their way. It gives them control over the situation without saying a word. My P/A FWH still will do this; but I do call him on it and he is getting better about discussing his frustrations in a productive way.

It is my hope that with improved communication he won't act out by having an affair when he doesn't get his way. I can only hope that this is the case.

coasterrider posted 6/20/2009 05:09 AM

I have to say that my WH was shocked but felt a tremendous relief and liberation when he read about PA. He knew it was him to a T - he was the one who took on the label before I gave it to him. And his therapist confirmed it - certainly this explains so much and makes sense from his FOO issues.

He says he hates being that way, never chose it for himself (nightmare narcissistic mother who was an enmeshed control-freak who invalidated and squashed everyone's emotions because hers came first and she couldn't stand to hear about anyone elses) and has been working his BUTT off to change.

And it IS possible - to at least improve and lessen the behaviour. I think they have to see it in themselves and want to be different, and work really hard at it - you can see my earlier post where he slid back into it really badly. But after I posted we talked about it, and he laughed and said, man oh man, you're so right! I can totally see what I was doing. Let's try and catch it earlier next time. I'm sorry. I'll try and do better.

I've had to really change too, though. It's a dance. One that we reluctantly get drawn into, but a compelling one, too - hard not to react to this behaviour when it's so crazy-making!

But I've worked to try and see it when it appears and calmly point it out, not shriek or yell - his mantra from his mother was 'Don't upset your spouse' which really meant, don't upset your mother, and which he internalized as don't upset me (him).

I've tried really hard to create a safe-zone for him to change. Safety is a big deal for him - PA is just one of his issues, intimacy being the other - are they entwined? probably. But making it safe for him to try and change and to look at the pain inside has been key. Our MC says that's making a huge difference for him. It's really hard to do when I'm in pain myself and he's pushing my buttons, but I want him/us fixed more than I want to be the victim or feed my pain (not always successful, I'll fully admit!).

My H is trying to get in touch with his anger. It's coming. But as he says, it's coming out in blasts and bursts and not very elegantly. I've had to endure some of his outbursts - justified anger at something I've done but not handled very well - but at least he's dealing with his feelings IN THE MOMENT, not chewing on them, suppressing them, having them eat away inside and come out some other way. And I think this has been the source of the greatest improvement. And my response to these outbursts is a big smile, actually - it's not about the content but about the behaviour - he's honestly feeling something and expressing it. Yay!

He's learning to be aware of his own emotions - is he stressed, is he angry, and why? What's causing it, and deal with that in the moment. That has made SUCH a difference to who he is. He's living honestly and openly and in the moment. He doesn't have secret emotions and feelings. He doesn't create secret worlds where he can escape those emotions because he doesn't know how to deal with them, express them, liberate them.

Yes, he still can slide back. But he feels so much better about himself, stepping up to being who he really is inside, and feeling emotions and owning them instead of running from them. Huge improvement in his self-esteem from this. Moving out from under his mother to stand on his own two feet in the world.

Just want to give some hope here - it feels very bleak reading about PA and the life-sentence of living with it. But it CAN change. They CAN change and be much happier, more liberated people.

heartbroken_kk posted 6/20/2009 18:28 PM

Wow, thanks coasterrider,

This came at a really helpful time for me.

I am a bit peeved at WH about a couple things right now. One of them is that he comes to bed late. Sometimes as much as an hour after me. He is on the computer, and since much of his EA/PA with OW#2 was done via chatting on facebook, I usually brood when he does this and feel suspicious. I don't trust him yet and feel that it's possible there is still something (or something new) going on with OW behind my back. I don't know, for sure but I can't shake the sense that it is possible and that he's lying to me about NC and good boundaries.

So I trigger, I'm suspicious. I told him I wish that he would come to bed at the same time as me, that my dozing off feeling suspicious makes me angry, and then he wakes me when he comes to bed, I harbor unpleasant feelings and don't want sex.

So, he blames me. Tells me it's because I make too much commotion going to bed and he gets bothered by that. So he waits until I've settled in. He says he gets nervous about not being able to go to sleep (sometimes he has a bit of insomnia and when that happens he gets very anxious, upset, and messed up the next day).

The other thing I'm stewing on is that he hates taking separate cars to work (we work together). Even if this means that I have to drive back and get him after doing an errand that would be on the way home for me, or if I have to stay at work late (sometimes for hours) while he finishes a project. I would like to move our home and rent some place closer to our business so one of us can use a bike to get home. I don't like it when he bikes home really late because I feel it's dangerous. I feel trapped at work and conned into being his chauffeur, and disrespected as if my time is less valuable than his.

So I tried to bring this up as well and he just gets angry. Tries to come up with all kinds of solutions to my wanting to go home that are really not acceptable to me and doesn't address the fact that I feel disrespected. Makes it sound like I'm the one who is creating barriers to getting home when I want to be home. Tells me I don't communicate that I want to go home. Again, makes me at fault. He is angry that I want to leave where we are living because he really likes it there.

And it just makes me want to lash out at him and really let him know how I'm sick and tired of the blame shifting and being made at fault when I've got a complaint about our home life.

And I know if I lash out nothing good will come of it because it just makes him defensive and unable to process his feelings because they get so buried underneath feeling attacked. At the same time I feel like I can't let it drop because it's affecting my life, dammit. And if I bring this up again, I feel like I'm the one taking responsibility for our relationship, that I'm parenting him and letting him avoid the responsibility he needs to share in working on our M.

So frustrating. I am so happy to know that someone out there with a P-A SO is finding improvement and success in their M.


ReGenerate posted 6/20/2009 19:38 PM

This thread makes so much sense to me! My STBXH is P/A and now things seem to fall into place. I am not to blame, I did not drive him into the arms of the OW. His refusal to act or take responsibility drove me into the role of MANAGER and thus began the end of our marriage. The only time he ever took a stance was when he WANTED something (house, child, etc), but as soon as he got what he wanted, he shirked the added responsibility that went along with it.

My P/A stbxh watched at least 2 hrs of TV a day, and on his day off, sometimes 10 or 12! And he TAKES NAPS! For HOURS! Good Lord, I am glad it's over.

NOW, what are the early warning signs that someone is P/A, so I can avoid thoses types? And I have a son, how do I raise him to NOT be P/A?

hemademesingle posted 6/20/2009 20:08 PM

I to unfortunately married a p/a, if I had only known 21 yrs ago when his mommy said "he's never completed any projects" to run not walk.

We are currently separated, which is for the better. We were to move 3000 miles away from everything we know. Three days before we were to leave I called him on a lie, and he got aggressive and told me I wasn't worth moving with, sounded good to me. He left and I have stayed in the house with the kids.

The thing that baffles me the most about him is that he now won't communicate at all not that he did much while living together. There will be no discussion of child support, are we selling the house, is he taking the dog, it will be total silence.

I'm glad he's thousands of miles away last time we were separated he creeped me out everytime I saw him.

He was diagnosed by an IC but he only went to about 6 appts. I've done alot of research on the subject and I keep going back to this one line.

"Sometimes, the best thing to do is just walk away from the relationship. To change their passive-aggessive behaviour, a person has to want to change and in some cases, they just donít believe there is anything wrong."

realitybites posted 6/20/2009 21:10 PM


I so felt that way I can't tell you how many times! When I would not take care of one more stupid mistake I got punished. His A to this day was about punishing me, I think this is what has me so unwell to this day. I just cannot comprehend it.

Very good post. Spot on.

hollow-promise posted 6/20/2009 23:28 PM


Once I discovered the P/A affair; many things made sense to me. He had a very controlling father and was taught not to express himself or show his feelings.

He wouldn't discuss his frustrations with me so we could deal with it; so he was ripe for the MOW to move in on him, and she was his sounding board. He didn't have to deal with his shortcomings (pun intended-he has ED issues) with the MOW because he didn't care about her and she had no control over him.

He admits he never had feelings for her and frankly didn't really like her at all. She was his release for his anger toward me. He even told her it was just sex and if he were single he wouldn't have a relationship with her. She still kept coming around though.

We worked through some issues after our house was hit by a tornado and we had to work together. Right after that he dumped her and tried to be a better husband to me.

The key issue is will he do this again if communication breaks down and he gets mad at me. We have addressed old issues and I think we are on the right track. I will call him on his P/A behaviors and don't buy into the "silent treatment".

He needs to want to change and so far he is trying very hard to do so. But P/A behavior is part of his personality and will require tremendous effort on his part. It is better now than it was before. I keep hoping that it will continue for the sake of our marriage.

Zolotas posted 6/26/2009 11:05 AM

I'm a first time poster here at this forum. I've been reading through the threads and I think I need to be here - I need advice as I don't know how to handle or deal with this on going issue that is definitely having a huge impact on my marriage. It's taken me a while to understand really how passive aggressive my fwh really is. I don't think I can condense it enough to give a real picture...first, let me say, thank you to anyone that can read this novel, digest it and give me sound, level advice..It's really long and I apologize in advance for this. I feel like I'm ready to jump off (pushed) the Golden Gate head first...this whole saga has been brewing for 27 yrs...I need help. I believe it's residual from my fwh messed up, emotionally bankrupt childhood, all the things that led and allowed him to have an A.

I'll start this with the fact that I am a LTA survivor - it's been over 4 yrs since d-day...I'm past it, I have healed (as much as one can heal from this traumatic painful hammer to the head and heart) fwh has done everything to help me heal, for us to heal and to go forward...for that, I'm grateful. My marriage is good - he shows it in every way and everyday...except when it comes to his family.

I understand why and how the A started and continued for almost 8 yrs...I get it and accept it (not condoning it)...I get it was not me, and certainly not her (the Slut Monkey that she is)..but I get it...I get it was his dysfunctional childhood, his abandonment issues, his lack of love and touch from his father, his stepmother (since he was 3 yrs old) and always being the 'odd' kid out that allowed him the permission to feel better about himself and have an A.... I get that he realized the OW could destroy his world, she manipulated and blackmailed him (she admitted this) and was not a big enough person to call it off out of fear, I get the coward part and the P/A...I totally get it...we've worked hard on us, our marriage and our's all good...except...............

His family...this is my biggest problem. It's been my biggest problem and I fear for the future of our marriage.

For my fwh's entire life, he has jumped up and down, waving his arms and screamed "here I am, I've done GREAT, I'm educated, I made it, I've achieved the ultimate dream, I have succeeded" (none have them have achieved anything other than making more dysfunctional kids) husb (no more "FWH", he's my faithful, loyal husb) has for his entire life, since he found out his real mother abandoned him at 9 mo old (due to infidelity and threats of physical harm from his bio father), has only wanted his bio father to recognize him, love him and show it...Not once while I have been married has his family, particularly his dad, ever recognized my husb for anything...not even being his son. My husb has done everything he can do to shout over the silence and dysfunction.... nothing works...I get this, however, my husb does not..and keeps working and trying to be the son of all sons.It's all happening at my expense. It makes me so sad and sick to realize this situation. It makes me sick to hear my husb tell his father via phone "I love you" and his father doesn't respond. I see the sadness this brings my husb.

Not once in my husbs life has he heard from any family member, "I love you" or anything other term of endearment, no recognition, no conversation about feelings, wants or needs. Every problem is pushed under the rug and ignored. The entire family is emotionally retarded. FIL was a cheater, Grandfather and uncles were cheaters, Aunt was a cheater(her BS committed suicide after learning that 4 of his 8 children weren't his), his brother is a cheater. His sister is a 40 yr old never been married alcoholic that's 250 pounds overweight - she's a miserable hateful person. No matter what you say, she says opposite - rude comments fly out of her mouth continuously. Her attitude is that she is better than everyone else, knows more than anyone else. If you're not blood family, you're nothing but a piece of shit and she's quite clear about this with her behavior and her words.

MIL is quiet - but talks behind your back. She is unable to carry on a conversation about anything other than the weather. Her actions speak louder than any words - she is mean and spiteful. Not once in my 27 yr marriage has she picked up the phone to chat with me (I've tried but got the cold one word answers -that was 25 yrs ago, I've never called her again). She's never recognized our son (the first grandchild born). On birthday's she sends money to each person - $20 and a card - on my birthday, she sends me $10. Not once has she been hospitable towards me. Example: a group of 6 of us were on the deck and she offered to make coffee - she asked out the window who would like a cup? - all 6 of us wanted some, including me. I offered to come and help her, she said she was okay. When she brought out the tray with the coffee and cups, she poured a cup for each person in the group, except me - there wasn't even a cup for me to pour my own. My passive husb just sat there and never said or did a thing.

Before D-day, my husb moved me to his hometown..a small Midwestern, in the middle of no place town...where his family lives (pop 900). I bought a business, worked 19 hrs a day, tried to be part of his family...did everything I could do for my husb..I didn't know he was in the midst of an 8 yr A but I knew something was wrong with him and I was willing do to anything to make him happy...Our goal was to make the business work, have him retire there and build our dream home and live a peaceful quiet life in the country....I never knew that he was actually running and trying to hide from the Slut Monkey...and trying to keep Slut Monkey from finding me...(that's another story).

For 27 yrs, I have tried to be part of his family. I've done everything possible to get on and love the family that I married into.(my own parents died when I was young).. it's been useless. His step mother has zero emotions, his father says NOTHING, his younger sister (by 9 yrs) is nothing but a raging, bitter, 40 yr old spinster and a drunk..his two brothers have dysfunctional (one cheated big time) marriages.

While I lived there in this small town, after moving from a major metropolis (LA, CA) to a town where I couldn't purchase a loaf of wheat bread without driving 125 miles through blizzards, wind or rain.....running a business alone (my husb was still in CA and commuting back and forth every 2 weeks), that was the hub of a public gathering place.. I was in a place that was totally foreign to me..the weather, the language, the lifestyle, the food, everything....I never once had his family to lean on..not once while I lived there did they acknowledge that I was there, except that I heard my MIL was saying horrible things about me behind my back. I was alone completely to deal with life in a small, rural, gossip filled town, where I didn't know anyone, except my own employees. Not once did my MIL call me, invite me, or acknowledge me. After I moved there, I only heard gossip from the locals about the nasty things my MIL said about me, our bad decision to move there, our business we bought, and our attempt to relocate 2000 miles from what we knew as home. We made this move for my husb to be near his family that he really sees as a wonderful loving family.

All these yrs, my husb has tried in vain to be acknowledged..his family is without emotion, without words, without feelings, without anything.... I see it, I get it...

I've never been treated so horrible by anybody, much less by family - my husb is treated the same way, however, he doesn't see their actions as hurtful, instead, he makes excuses for them and their behavior.

The following are just examples of a few of the things they've done in the last 27 yrs:

No acknowledgement of any gifts, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, birthdays, - nothing. I"m still not sure they ever received them.

Thanksgiving - we traveled with a small child 2100 miles to attend Thanksgiving at their home - we left home at 3am - got stuck in a blizzard in MPLS, finally arrived at the closest airport (125 miles), rented a car, arrived at their home after 16 hrs of welcome, no offer of a meal, nothing for our young son ( 8 yrs old), no place in the town to eat, - I ended up going to a gas station and buying cheese sticks for our son as he was hungrey. On Thanksgiving, everyone had a chair, except me..I ended up on the basement steps, alone and without food - (MIL cooked a 13 pound turkey for 19 people) the time the platter went around..I was standing without food...this after 2 days of no food and no offer of food...that was 1996 - it's only gotten worse since then.

It's like my MIL does anything and everything she can to stab me and hurt me without does my problem, my husb dismisses their actions because he wants so desperately to be recognized by them and believe they are a loving normal family.

I lived there, on my own, waiting for my husb to join me during 04 and 05 which is when he confessed to the A and him running and hiding from it and the fact that he tried to hide me from the Slut Monkey...Not once in the time I lived there (I lived across the street from the Inlaws) did they even acknowledge that I was there, much less owned a business in town, was part of the community, was there alone, was lonely...nothing from them.

While I was there, I needed emergency surgery. The Dr. at the small clinic called my MIL at 7pm to advise her that they ordered an emergency medi-flight to take me to the closest major city for emergency surgery (450 miles). I was there alone and in pain. My MIL worked at the clinic and had for 30 yrs. The Dr. asked her to accompany me and help communicate with my husb who was at the time in AZ for business. Her response was that she likes to go to bed at 10pm, so therefore, she couldn't go. This woman is only 62 yrs old, not like she's 80. The Dr. called one of my employees to go with me. Not sure which hurt worse, the pain or my MIL's lack of care. My husb was mad, but never said anything to her about it.

In 27 yrs these people have NEVER acknowledged my existance, our son's existence...he doesn't get it. My husb blameshifts their behavior on to me like it's my fault. Or his solution is that I should not have gone with him when he visits...I disagree..I should be able to go anyplace he goes, especially on vacation. While my husb has earned my trust back and our marriage is once again solid, I still have fear about infidelity, and especially with him in his hometown, lots of alcohol flowing and the fact that I know which women, both single and married in town have no problem hitting on married's rampant there. I know and trust my husb would not go that route again, however, I'm uncomfortable with him going alone. I shouldn't have to stay home while he goes on vacation. We still own properties there, I have a right to go there and with him.

We were there 14 months ago.., my SIL treated me like shit, she antagonized me, criticized me, slammed me, controlled my conversations with other relatives in a social setting... it was all bad. My MIL said nothing, sat back and never made a comment, even though I am sure she saw the whole husb on the other hand, I told him, brought it to light with him what was happening.... he ignored it all. On the way home, mind you a 4 hr drive to the airport, 2 layovers because of connections, and a long flight..blamed me...told me that I should not have gone on vacation with him and the whole situation was a big mess.

There's so much more...27 yrs of abuse by his family and his need and desire to be the "good son"...we're supposed to go there in 3 weeks for his fathers big 75th birthday and 300 relatives in attendance...Not sure how I am going to cope...I'm having huge triggers, crying daily at the thought of going and seeing this family. My husb was very hurt when I told him that I didn't think I could go and why. He said he would stop his sister and mom and take them aside and confront them as soon as they misbehave again...he has said that before, but instead, I was blamed. His history shows that he is not going to stand up for me.

While I lived there,.. I learned of his father's infidelities which is why my husb was abandoned as a baby by his bio mom. I found out a ton of family info about this family I no longer want to even know...In fact, I want to take back my maiden name because I don't want to be associated with this family.

Nothing I say, or do has an effect on my husb..when I make a mention of how they have treated me, us and our son, he gets defensive, and a fight erupts..A huge one at that. I'm so at the end of my rope...I am so dreading this 4 days I have to spend with this dysfunctional hurtful family...and yet my husb doesn't see any of it..he defends them. He won't stand up for me, our son or our marriage..even though he says he will...he doesn't.

What am I going to do? .... this ongoing problem is having a HUGE impact on my marriage, our relationship and my ability to work this in hell do I deal with this, how do I get and allow my husb to see that his family is not "Leave it to Beaver" and they are all messed up and hurtful to his wife and family?

Only in the last couple of yrs, since d-day has he stood up for me with others that have been out of line, but not with his family. He called his mother on the carpet about a couple of things, such as the Thanksgiving we were there and she didn't set a place for me - apparently his mother told his vile sister that my husb talked to his mom and she threw it in our face and said that my husb hurt his moms feelings...WTF? My feelings have never mattered with these people.

It's so apparent and in your face with their behavior that our 23 yr old son refuses to ever visit or speak to them again. He was disgusted with them the last time he was there - that's another story as how they treated him..lets just say, it wasn't nice at all.

There's so much more about this family and the yrs of abuse from them. I truly and wholeheartedly believe they are the reason he had an A. Deep dark hurt from his childhood, lack of emotional love, confusion and survival as a child led him down the dark path when things in his adult life were stressful, especially his job. He never learned to communicate.

Today, our marriage is good, his communication is on top...he's done everything right, except this problem with his family. I realize he can't change them, but I do believe it's his job to protect me from them and stand up to them.

I guess what I want him to say is "if you can't treat my wife with respect, then I won't be coming here again". He won't do that. When I said this to him, the look of horror on his face told me that he would never say anything like this to them. I truly believe he would pick his family over his wife and son..yet, in every other area of his life, I am top priority as is our son.. I just can't understand all of this...I'd never let my family treat him with such hurt and disrespect, why does he allow this?

If you've made it this far - thanks. I'm desperate for sound advice. I need to know how to draw a line in the sand and not allow them to cross it anymore and be disrespected by this family and yet not cause any more problems in my marriage.

Thoughts, advice, comments??
Again, sorry it's so long.

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