No, I’m not talking about the honeymoon, but actually the first time was disappointing. Which now is understandable given that a passive aggressive man will not make love to you. Hhmmm….. I wonder what it would be like to be made love to???
Anyhow, that’s not the topic of this post.
This memory stands out in my mind as the first time that I realized that my marriage wasn’t going to be quite what I thought it would be. Not that there weren’t other warning signs, because there were. I just ignored them.
We had been married about 4 years and our first daughter was around 2 years old. The dresser in her bedroom was a large, not-very-well-made one, a hand-me-down from one of my sisters who no longer needed it.
The drawers were falling apart and it was very difficult for my little girl to open and close them. I was trying to teach her to keep her room clean, but she would get so frustrated trying to open and close those drawers!
Thinking that my husband would be the hero, the head of the household, the leader, the provider, the daddy, the whatever, and fix the dresser drawers for me and my daughter, I did the dutiful wife thing and very nicely asked him to fix the broken drawers.
Well, I kept asking him month after month after month, for about 8 or 9 months!
Finally, I put my dear little daughter in the car and went to Ikea, found the cheapest dresser I could and bought it. I didn’t put it together when I got home; I just left it in the box.
When he came home from work, I explained that I had bought the dresser, but that I had the receipt and I would take it back if it was a problem that I bought the dresser. Me being submissive.
He thought it was fine and very happily put the dresser together. My daughter still uses that dresser!
I realized at that time that I didn’t have to get my husband’s “permission” to do something, that if I wanted something done, to go ahead and do it myself. Of course, the more I did this, the less he did. Not that he did much anyway. This set, or maybe continued, the cycle for our marriage.
He does whatever he wants – not much. And I do whatever I want – plenty!
Often what I want to do he will protest about. For years, in our previous house, I would tell him I wanted to paint the walls. He would say, “They’re already painted.” I would tell him I wanted a beautiful garden. He would say he wanted me to have a beautiful garden, too, but he didn’t want me to buy any plants!
Not only would he not do anything, he didn’t want me to do anything either.
Well, I am a fairly creative, rather industrious person. I often went ahead and did what I wanted, things that benefited the family, like sewing clothes for my daughters, decorating the house, by painting, making curtains, etc., working on creating a garden, home schooling.
But, in one way or another, over the years, he has criticized almost every single thing I have ever done or expressed an interest in. Even though he benefits from the things I do.
This comment from a reader of my blog on my post “Money and Me” explains a LOT:
Given that the husband is passive-aggressive, it means he is passive first, and then has hidden anger mixed in.
Passivity, as defined by John H. Lee, is “the compulsion to pursue the opposite of what we say we want.” It can “manifest itself as self-sabotage, settling for less, deferring dreams, or turning to denial or substitution.” John Lee says “I exercised my passivity by being a workaholic and telling myself that I was doing it for the benefit of others. I spread myself so thin that there was almost nothing left at the end of the day for me or for my loved one.” Passivity “is not to be confused with apathy, laziness, or procrastination.” Passivity “is what leaves many people feeling like they are giving up, defeated, settling underarchieving, or perpetually unsatisfied.”
“Unfortunately, many people have developed a connection to loss and feeling less than; they settle for unfulfilling relationships or careers that never quite let them achieve their creative potential. Surviving rather than thriving has become the state that many of us are not only used to, but compelled to pursue.”
“Passivity compels people to wait in a state of suspended animation until something or someone outside themselves ‘rescues’ them from their current circumstances; only then will they have the full life that has been eluding them. This knight in shining armor–whether a person, the world, society, etc.–is supposed to bring them something they feel they have lost or had taken from them. That something could be hope, energy, love, trust, or faith. It could mean a perfect job, an unconditional lover, winning the lottery, or good parents. It is a psychological, physical, emotional, and spiritual condition that plagues even the most educated and self-directed people, and therefore the whole person must be addressed.”
Thus, the passive husband is accustomed to being rescued, and has learned that if he waits long enough, his dad (his knight in shining armor — or overalls), or wife (princess in Daisy Dukes) will step in to fix his circumstances. Already, just by being passive, he has gotten a new bathtub, exhaust fan, dishwasher (not that this really matters — he doesn’t wash the dishes anyway), crawlspace ventilation, drainage system, clean air ducts, and souped-up machinery. If he is passive a bit longer, his wife may even pay for a new roof — though he may take it out on her (passive-aggressively, of course) because on some level he resents that she is more capable than he is. But he is comfortable enough with his living condition, and has learned that if he plays his cards right and waits long enough, someone else will improve it for him. Not a bad gig, if you can get it, eh?