“Are You Too Passive Aggressive?”

I did NOT write this article.  It was written by Rhoberta Shaler and you can find the article here: Are You Too Passive Aggressive?  12 Telltale Signs.   While I agree with much of what she writes in this article, I have trouble with her premise that passive aggressive people will actually recognize themselves if their behavior is pointed out to them.

Are You Too Passive Aggressive?  12 Telltale Signs

Are you pushing people away with confusing and inconsiderate behavior?

How do you know if you are passive-aggressive? Aside from the obvious wake of people who won’t get close to you, there are certain things to think about to determine if your behavior is passive-aggressive according to a life coach.

Good news, people are not passive-aggressive by nature. It’s their communication and conflict management patterns that are, and these are learned. Luckily, those patterns can change with some insights, skills and relationship help. So, if this post helps you see your passive-aggressive behaviors, you will understand why others find it difficult to be around on you, trust you, and respect you as you would like to be trusted and respected. You confuse them. People move away from folks who purposefully confuse them — if they are smart.

In order to make passive-aggressive traits abundantly clear to you, I’m offering you a very straightforward list. You may find it harsh. I hope you find it home-hitting and immediately revealing. If these traits describe you as you usually are, I invite you to sit up and take notice. You likely do not even realize you are doing these things. Once you read them and ponder your own behavior, you may finally understand why you are having difficulties having the relationships you most want, at home and at work.

More good news, the more willing to work on yourself you are, the greater your chances of having the life with others that you crave. When you realize how you are pushing them away by your crazy-making behaviors, you can change things within yourself. When you a trustworthy within yourself, you will be perceived as trustworthy by others.

Although men and women express their passive-aggressive behaviors somewhat differently, generally, you are behaving in passive-aggressive ways if you are regularly:

  1. Unwilling to speak your truth openly, kindly and honestly when asked for your opinion or when asked to do something for someone. How this shows up in communication is being “assertively unassertive.” You say “Yes” (assertive) when you really mean “No way” (unassertive). Then, you let your behavior say “No way” for you. People become confused and mistrusting of you.
  2. Appearing sweet, compliant and agreeable, but are really resentful, angry, petty and envious underneath. You are living with pairs of opposites within, and that is making those around you crazy.
  3. Afraid of being alone and equally afraid of being dependent. This is the case of “I hate you. Don’t leave me.” You fear direct communication because they fear rejection. You then often push away the people you care about because you don’t want to seem in need of support. All the while, you are afraid of being alone and want to control those around you so they won’t leave you. Very confusing!
  4. Complaining that others treat you unfairly frequently. Rather than taking responsibility for stepping up and speaking your truth, you set yourself up as the (innocent) victim. You say others are hard on you, unfair, unreasonable and excessively demanding.
  5. Procrastinating frequently, especially on things you do for others. One way of controlling others is to make them wait. You have lots of excuses why you haven’t been able to get things done. You even blame others for why that is so. It’s amazingly unreasonable, but you do it even though it destroys relationship, damages careers, loses friendships and jobs. And, you tell others how justified you are in being angry because, once again, others treated you unfairly.
  6. Unwilling to give a straight answer. Another way of controlling others is to send mixed messages, ones that leave the other person completely unclear about your thoughts, plans or intentions. Then, you make them feel wrong when you tell them that what they took from your communication was not what you meant. Silly them!
  7. Sulking, withdrawing and pouting. You complain that others are unreasonable and lacking in empathy when they expect you to live up to your promises, obligations, or duties. Passive-aggressive women favor the silent treatment as an expression of their contempt. Passive-aggressive men prefer the deep sigh and shake of the head, while walking away.  Both expressions say “You poor confused person. You’re not worth talking to.” when the real reason for their behavior is that they have not, cannot, or will not take responsibility for their own behavior.
  8. Frequently feeling inadequate but covering it up with superiority, disdain or hostile passivity. Whether you set yourself up to be a self-sabotaging failure — “Why do you have such unrealistic expectations of me?” or a tyrant or goddess incapable of anything less than perfection, “To whom do you think you are speaking, peon?” you are shaking in your boots from fear of competition and being found out as less than perfect. (P.S. You likely picked this one up in childhood!)
  9. Often late and/or forgetful. One way of driving people away is to be thoughtless, inconsiderate and infuriating. And, then, to put the cherry on top, you suggest that it’s unrealistic to expect you to arrive on time, or, in your words, “think of everything.” Being chronically late is disrespectful of others. Supposedly forgetting to do what you have agreed to do is simply demonstrating your lack of trustworthiness. Who wants to be around that for long?
  10. Dragging your feet to frustrate others. Again, a control move somewhat like procrastinating, but the difference is you begin and appear as though you are doing what you said you would do. But, you always have an excuse why you cannot continue or complete the task. You won’t even say when it will be —or even might be — done.
  11. Making up stories, excuses and lies. You are the master of avoidance of the straight answer. You’ll go to great lengths to tell a story, withhold information, or even withhold love and affirmation in your primary relationships. It seems that if you let folks think you like them too much, that would be giving them power. You’d rather be in control by creating a story that seems plausible, gets them off your back, and makes reality look better from your viewpoint.
  12. Constantly protecting yourself so no one will know how afraid you are of being inadequate, imperfect, left, dependent or simply human.

Okay, so you’ve noticed a few things about yourself. What’s next? Get some relationship help — help with the relationship you have with yourself and with others. I’m happy to work with you to help you have the relationship you long for with others. Becoming conscious of your passive-aggressive behaviors is the first step. Changing them to positive-assertive ones is the second. The best way to do that is to work with an expert who can help you see and understand yourself, and your behaviors and how they affect others. Then, you can choose to respond and behave differently.

We all come by our passive-aggressive “stuff” honestly. There’s no blame here. If you read this and see yourself, you have two choices: recognize what’s not working for you and change it, or continue to blow it off as other people’s problems. Choose the first so you can feel more accepted, loved, wanted, appreciated and respected immediately. You cannot do it any younger!

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive husband, relationships | Tagged | 7 Comments

here’s one…

Scene:  At night, in bed.  He has been moody, huffy, kind of slamming things a little, all evening. I can tell he is upset, but he hasn’t said anything.  Finally…

Me:  Do you want to tell me what is bothering you?

Him:  It wouldn’t do any good.

(I leave it be.  I detach.  There is silence.  And then…)

Him:  Reading that book made me mad at you and I need sex.

(So there’s a come-on line for you next time you want to entice someone!)

Anyhow, the book he was reading that made him mad at me was Love and Respect.

I simply told him that sex makes me cry and he said, Sorry about that.  He did sound a little sorry, but he also sounded a little sarcastic.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive husband, relationships | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


Several weeks ago,  I wrote about talking to a realtor/pastor who works in my building who offered to counsel my husband and me.  (see this post)

Well, my husband and I met him for lunch today.

It was awful.

It didn’t start out bad.  He told us a little about himself.  No problem.

He asked us how we met and how we envisioned what would make a happy marriage and stuff like that.  No problem.

But as the conversation went on, my husband would tell half-truths.  Or, maybe I should say, he would tell the truth, but not the whole story.  And then when I would try to fill in how I viewed it, I would end up looking like the bad guy.  Or in this case, the bad wife.

For example, one of the things we discussed was money.   At one point, the realtor/pastor asked if we had done Dave Ramsey (link) or anything like that.  So my husband said, “I’ve done Dave Ramsey, but she hasn’t.”

Okay, so that’s the truth.  He did a Dave Ramsey online course.  I refused to take it with him.

And here’s the back story, the part he didn’t tell.

For YEARS I asked my husband if we could do a family budget, and then, when I learned about Dave Ramsey, I asked if we could do Dave Ramsey’s course.

And my husband would not.

Then, suddenly, about three years ago, when I started working and opened my own checking and savings accounts, then, he wanted me to do Dave Ramsey with him.

Why the change, you might ask.

Well, Dave Ramsey advocates that in a marriage, the money is not “his” and “hers;” it is “ours.”  To me, this was a way my husband thought he could manipulate me to get his hands on the money I was earning.

For the record, I agree with Dave Ramsey.  However, I also believe that there are times when a woman (or maybe a man, depending on the situation) may need to protect herself.

So that was one example of my husband telling the truth, but not the whole truth … and I ended up looking bad.

I did tell the realtor/pastor that for years I had asked my husband if we could do a budget and he wouldn’t, but that by the time my husband wanted to do the class, that I had a bad attitude and wouldn’t do the class with him.  The realtor/pastor said, that’s sin.  You should have jumped at the chance to take the class with your husband.

When lunch was finished and it was almost time for me to go back to work, the realtor/pastor said something about attending church.  Oh, he was telling us that we had to do things together – eat together, spend time together, go on mini-vacations together, go to church together.   He stopped and said, you do attend church?  My husband said that he attended church but that I didn’t.

Okay, so technically, that is true.  But, once again, it is not the complete story.  Yes, my husband attends church.  He shines at church.

While I do belong to a church, I don’t have a physical congregation to attend and I watch and/or listen to services online.

But then this pastor starts preaching about that if you don’t attend church, you are going to fall away from Christ, etc. (quoting Heb. 10:25) And my husband knows my church situation, but he said nothing to defend me.  I was stunned by the preacher and my husband.  And then I was offended; this man knows nothing of my relationship with God!

Anyhow…  his “assignments” for us are for my husband to find us a Dave Ramsey class to actually physically attend, for me to buy the book “Love and Respect” and its accompanying workbook(s) and for both of us to decide within the next week whether or not we want to council with him (my husband does).

(I’ve read reviews that say that book is heavy on the “respect” stuff with very little on the “love” stuff, but I have not personally read the book.  Have any of you?)

So, I ended up feeling shredded and crazy.

I should have known better.

Oh, and “always the gentleman,” in public, at least, my husband paid for my lunch.

Chalk up another point for him.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, family, marriage, money, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive husband, relationships | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

I slept in the living room last night

I slept in the living room last night.

I asked him to, but, well, you know…

You know, when he starts accusing me, the thing is, he’s not completely wrong.

Last night, after I had asked him to sleep in the living room, he told me that I only remember the bad things.  That is partially true.  I do tend to be more “glass half empty” rather than “glass half full.”  I guess the bad things cause more pain and somehow pain sticks with you more than pleasure?  Or maybe I am afraid of pleasure because so often pain follows?  I don’t know.

He told me that I don’t forgive him.  I asked him what he had asked me to forgive.  “Everything I have done to hurt you.”  I told him that maybe it wasn’t about forgiveness.  Maybe it was about that I don’t want to be hurt anymore.

I do believe forgiveness is vital.  But I ask him, how many times should a woman forgive a man for hitting her?  An issue like that is not about forgiveness.  It is about abuse and I told him that.

He said that he tries to do nice things for me.  I told him roses on the table didn’t make up for the fact that my daughter couldn’t come sit at the table with me.  He said that was her choice.  He still maintains that he was there for his daughters and that it isn’t his fault that they have nothing to do with him.

When he started to talk about that people aren’t perfect and that there are just going to be problems and that that is just the way life is, I grabbed my pillows and a sheet out of the pile of clean laundry and when to sleep in the living room.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, divorce, emotional abuse, family, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive husband, relationships | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

It’s me.

“You don’t know what you want so I have a hard time giving it to you.”

Oh, and apparently, he is compassionate and  I’m just too stupid to realized it.  (He didn’t call me stupid.  That is my sarcasm.)

He just wants to love me and get along with me and make me happy.

Obviously, I am the difficult one.

Yep.  That’s me.

The terrible wife.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships | Tagged , | 3 Comments

his mom – or rather, me

Last night, halfway through dinner, he said, I’m worried that my mom is going to die.  I think this thing that she has is going to kill her.

(His mom has bone cancer that is in remission.  However, she is very frail and currently has some sort of respiratory infection that can’t be treated.  Apparently they can treat the symptoms of the illness but not the illness itself.)

He said several times that he was worried about her dying and I told him that when the time comes, that my job would give me time off.

I asked him if she had been to a different doctor.  (The current doctor that she has has been proclaimed a quack by my husband and his dad.  I keep telling him that they should find a different doctor for her.)  He said that they will find her a new doctor after she gets over this illness.

He said he had gone to visit her that afternoon, but that she was taking a nap.  He could hear her breathing and was worried about her.  I asked him if he needed to go back and check on her again that evening and he said, no.

So, she has a “quack” doctor, which they have known for a number of weeks now, if not months, and yet they haven’t set her up with a new doctor.    And he is worried about her, but evidently not worried about her enough to go back and check on her again.

That was last night.

This morning, I was sitting on the floor eating my breakfast, reading emails, when he said that he had something to say to me.  I set aside my laptop.

Him: I need to say something to you and I know this is going to sound cold.  When you were pregnant with [older daughter] and you had to stay in bed [for three months], even though your mom lived next door, she never did anything for you.   Other people said it was really nice that your mom lived next door and could help you, but she never did help you.  Other people cooked food for you, but your mom never did. *

Him:  You never visit my mom.  Other people go visit her but you don’t.  She is not strong enough to do much housework, but you  never do anything for her.  I know you think they should hire someone to help her, but they think about money the way your sisters do instead of the way you do.

I asked him what he meant by that and he said that money is to only be spent when absolutely necessary.

I asked him what she needed done.  He said she needs the floor vacuumed and dusting and stuff.  He said his sister comes sometimes and helps her but that isn’t enough.

I asked him if he wanted me to come home from work and go help her instead of coming home and making dinner.  He said, no.

Him:  You said your job would give you time off for the funeral.  My mom doesn’t care if you come to the funeral; she would rather see you now.

I told him that I said what I said about my job giving me time off was for him, that I would be there for him when his mom died; it wasn’t about her.

Him: My brother’s adopted children who aren’t even related to her go by and see her, but you and [younger daughter] never visit her.  She would love to see [younger daughter] and see her art.

I started to say something about that our younger daughter won’t visit her because of him, but he stopped me and said – don’t say anything.  I know it’s all my fault.

With that he walked away.  He was getting ready to leave and went into the bathroom.  When he came back out, I just sat on the floor, where I had been for the whole conversation, and didn’t get up to give him a hug good-bye like I usually do.  I had my arms hugged around myself and tears were rolling silently down my face.

He said, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to upset you.  I just know that my mom would like it if you would come visit her.

I didn’t say anything;  I just shrugged.

There was nothing I could say.  He said exactly what he meant to say.  He wanted to lash out at me and he did.

He didn’t start the conversation by saying I’m worried about my mom and I know she would like to see you.   He started out by telling me he was going to be cold, by criticizing my mom and then criticizing me and then criticizing my daughter.  What was there to say?

He has his own business.  His shop is on his parent’s property, less than 100 yards from their house.   Surely he could take a few minutes and go vacuum and dust every so often since his parents need that.  But he would rather kick back with Josh and go to Wal-Mart or wherever and then have ammunition to blast me.  Oh, he did tell me that he  helps his parents however he can, like taking his mom to the emergency room when she needs to go.

Yes, I should be a good daughter-in-law and a good neighbor and go visit her.  Yes, I should do that.  There are probably no excuses there.  Well, there are a few reasons, but probably no excuses.

Anyhow, he left me in shreds.  I had a rough day yesterday (did you know that being co-dependent causes problems at work, too?) and I woke up depressed and I was struggling already.  But, just to be sure I didn’t enjoy my time at home without him, he had to go and tear me to pieces.


* In defense of my mom, at the time she was a widow, working full time with three children, ages eight, thirteen, and fifteen, still at home.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

“prison dinner”

Last night, my husband made dinner.

I told my daughter that the food was ready and she could come get some food.

My husband and I sat down at the table to eat.

In case you don’t know, my daughter hides in her room when my husband is home.

I heard my daughter’s door open and then close again.  But she didn’t come out of her room.

I left the table and went into her room.  I asked her if she was going to get dinner.  She just looked at me and told me that she wasn’t hungry.

I asked her if it was because of him.  She nodded, yes.

I asked her if she was hunger.  Again, she nodded, yes.

I went back out to the kitchen and fixed her a plate of food and took it to her.  She told me thank you.

It made me think of those scenes in movies where they pass a tray of food to prisoners through a slot in the door.

Anyhow, after I finished eating dinner with him, I went and hung out with her for awhile in her room.  She like that.

And maybe it eased my guilt a tiny bit.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, family, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

first date…

This morning he reminded me that today is the anniversary of our first date – twenty-nine years ago.

Wow – that’s a long time!

He asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner tonight.

I told him I would see how I felt.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships | Tagged | 6 Comments

later that evening…

So my previous post was about Sunday afternoon.

Sunday evening, well, Sunday night, as I was getting ready for bed, I checked my email.

He had sent me an email with the subject, “an interesting article.”  And the only thing in the email was a link to this article: “What ‘War Brides’ of the Greatest Generation knew about Marriage.

(By the way, I had seen and read the article all on my own the day before.)

I ignored the email and went to bed.

About half an hour later, I was almost asleep when he put his hand on my waist and said…



“Will you make love with me?”

I was quiet for a long time and then I replied, “Having sex tears me up.”  *

Next he said, “How about if we just kiss and cuddle?”  **

Again, I was quiet and then I said, “Did you hear anything I said this afternoon?”

He said, yes.

Then he said, sometimes I want sex so bad I can hardly stand it.

Fine, I said.  Stick your penis in me and use my body.  I don’t care.

He said that wasn’t what he wanted.

I told him, yes, that was what he was asking for.

He said he just telling me.

Thankfully, oh, so thankfully, that was the end of it and he went to sleep.

*   In case you don’t know, I started crying after sex almost every single time we had sex after about ten years of marriage.  So that means sex has made cry for over fifteen years now.   That doesn’t seem to bother him.

**  Okay, this may be TMI, but while I felt nauseous about having sex with him, I felt absolutely revolted by the thought of kissing and cuddling.  I can detach, to a certain degree, if he is just in me.   But kissing and touching I can’t detach from in the same way.

Posted in codependency, covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships | Tagged , | 14 Comments

another “discussion”

We had a “discussion” this afternoon.

I was studying for my final exam outside under “my” tree.  About mid-afternoon he came and asked me if I wanted to go see the new barn of somebody he knew and pick up some tin for a roof and then go out to eat.

I didn’t answer for a minute or so, but then I told the truth.  I told him that it sounded stressful.

He asked me why.

I told him that don’t feel close to him and that I feel a great conflict being with him when there is so much hurt to my daughters because they don’t have a daddy.

He asked what would make me feel close to him.

I tried to explain that he seems like he doesn’t care about me, that he is wrapped up in what is important to him, but he is not that concerned about me.

He said that we never do anything together because I don’t want to.  He said that our daughters decided that they didn’t want him to be a daddy.

I told him that he asks me to do stuff when it is not convenient for me.  And gave him the examples of him asking me to go canoeing when it is a hundred degrees and ninety percent humidity.  Or asking me to go see a barn and go out to dinner when I have a final in two days.

He said that I went to concerts by myself and didn’t invite him.  (Yes, I’ve been to two concerts on my own – in the past three years.)  I told him that a few weeks ago I offered him baseball tickets and he turned me down.

I told him that I know I have done many things wrong as a wife, but I feel like that at least I cared.  At least I tried.  I told him that I felt like he doesn’t care, that he doesn’t have empathy.

He started telling me things I do wrong and blaming me.  He said that he has told me that his love language is touch and that never touch him.  (That is not quite true.  I give him a hug when he leaves in the morning and sometimes I hold his hand in bed.  But, no, I don’t want to touch him.  Not anymore.  I used to be much more affectionate than he was.  But that died.)

Anyhow, the whole thing went nowhere and I ended up feeling very drained and worthless when it was over.

I went back to my studying and laundry and food prep, etc., and he went off to his fort in the woods.

There is no way for this to get better on its own.  It is just not going to happen.  At least I can see to some degree some of the things I have done that have hurt the marriage.  But he can’t see, or at least, won’t admit, that anything is his fault.  Oh, yes, he’ll say, “I’m not perfect” but it is in a “poor me – you are being unfair to me” kind of way.  Not –  I’ve made mistakes.  Let’s look at this and see what we need to do differently.

I told him that I felt like we never learned to work together, to be a team.  I told him it wasn’t about either one of us being perfect, but rather learning to be connected, to be partners, to be a team.  I told him that for years I wanted to be connected with him but that he seemed like he really didn’t want to connect.  He just wanted to do what he wanted to do and liked having me around.  He, of course, disagreed with me.

When he left, I looked up into the tree and told God that I couldn’t fix this.

Posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments