living with a passive aggressive man

This comment was left on my page, The List.   I wanted to share it here, not because it is unique, but because it is what so many feel and go through.  And maybe you would want to leave encouragement for her and for others who are facing the same thing and feeling the same way.  

I just found this site. I have been married to my passive aggressive husband for thirty tortured painful years. Five years ago I started having panic attacks and had a near break down from his covert psychological and emotional manipulation and abuse. The lies, the gas-lighting, the silent treatment, the punishment. He rarely raised his voice to me, in fact, he drove me so crazy I would be the one to rant and rave out of frustration. But he tormented me just the same. Anything I dared ask for I was sure not to get, whether emotional or material. He would nag me to tell him “exactly” what I wanted for a gift, and then give me anything BUT that. If he did something or said something that made me happy and I told him how nice it was that he did that, or how happy it made me feel, he never did it again. Anything I asked him NOT to do- he would do more. If I said something he said or did upset me or hurt my feelings- he would do it more. He claimed never to be angry, only “frustrated’. I got into therapy when I almost had the break down and after TWO years I finally told the therapist what was going on in MY house. I never told anyone. Everyone thought we were the perfect couple, the perfect family. My husband treated me so well, on the surface. I didn’t think I anyone would believe what I said. How really cruel he could be, while still smiling. My therapist believed me. And I started to read. And there it was Passive Aggressive, but he is also narcissistic and sadistic – because he enjoys causing me emotional pain – I think all passive aggressive’s are – they KNOW they are causing you emotional pain – if they had empathy – if they had a conscience – if they didn’t enjoy it – they would stop. I told my husband the marriage was over. And all of a sudden he decided he would finally start talking, and go to therapy, and change and all the things I’d asked him to do for years. Well, it’s three years later, and he’s gone to therapy for three years and been on an anti-depressant for a year, and swears he’s changed, and every week or two he STILL plays some manipulative abusive “game’ on me. He STILL mocks me, taunts me, with holds what he thinks I like or want, does things just to upset me, pretends he can’t hear me, or talks quietly so I can’t hear him, games big and small, aimed at making me feel foolish or stupid or angry or hurt, all while smiling and “acting” like the best husband on earth. All while telling me he “loves” me. And when I call him on it, he lies, denies it, plays ‘stupid’ , but I won’t back down anymore so he’ll admit it then try to blame it on me, I tell him that’s not going to work , then he tries to make me feel sorry for him, then he says I have to “help him through it”, he tells me he’s changed so much (when he JUST did it again) that he just had a “slip-back” says he’s sorry it’ll never happen again, when I point out that he said the same thing last week he plays the defensive game tells me that I just want to look at the negative-what about all the positive changes he’s made – on and on as if that lets him off the hook for doing these things. So in reality, nothings changed, he has not changed, he’s not going to change. Why am I still here? Because I’m 51 years old. I’ve worked my whole life to have a 100 year old house that we still owe $60,000 on and a 20 year old boat. I have a full time low paying job and no skills to get a higher paying one. I have no family that can help me. If we split up neither one of us can afford to keep the house or afford apartments and the associated costs. So where does that leave me? TRAPPED. I’m so tired of living with this and being treated this way. And of course, no one should tolerate being treated this way, but its not as easy as saying well, I’m leaving and it’ll all work out. There are many reasons why women don’t leave, and my reason is one of the main reasons. And I can tell you, it’s a horrible life to be at the mercy of someone who treats you this way because you don’t have the money to escape it. My children are young adults , and I try to focus on them, find joy in them and being a good mother to them, but inside I am heart broken and beaten down by having to tolerate this abuse in order to have a roof over my head. What words of encouragement can someone give to a woman in my position- I am so desparate to hear from someone who understands.

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This entry was posted in covert abuse, emotional abuse, marriage, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to living with a passive aggressive man

  1. K says:

    I could have written that..

  2. Teresa says:

    I could have written this….I’m 52, a stay at home mom my whole life, a home school mom, with three kids still at home, the youngest, 13. And yes. I feel trapped also!
    The older two boys see whats going on. My 23 yr old says he hates coming home from work, because of the tension in the house…he asks me why I let his dad stay.
    I’ve asked myself why do I still love this person I’m married to. And I do love him, but there are days I look at him and hate him….I’m in counseling, but all I’m getting out of it is to make a life separate from my PAH…to do things that interests me….but I don’t WANT a separate life…I want a loving, warm, passionate relationship….they DO exists…I KNOW they do! And I want that kind of life!!
    I’m an attractive women….when I tell people I’m 52 that don’t believe me, then they ask to see my drivers license…and I feel like I’m wasting the good years I have left because he’s never going to change….I KNOW this!!
    I wish I could give some encouragement to this writer. The only thing I can say is, don’t play his game….separate but live in the same house, let him know you’re a wife in name only. I think I’m getting ready to do this. I slept in the spare room last night…well. I laid there, was to upset to sleep.
    Maybe that’s the only way to stop playing their sick game? But at what cost??
    We are throwing away the best years of our lives on these emotionally damaged men, who won’t look at themselves and see how truly damaged they are!! WHY??????? Why do we stay??

  3. mourninglight says:

    just a tired ditto here

  4. I never imagined there were so many other women out there feeling trapped (and often crazy) in marriages to PA men. I could’ve written any of these comments, too.

  5. mixedemotions says:

    yep, I could have written that as well. We’re going through therapy but he still plays the game, he knows he is too but he won’t admit it. sucks to be all of us, really stuck in this pattern, invested in such long relationships only to be heartbroken in the process. I keep thinking one day I’ll wake up and leave but I can’t do that to my boys, they are the only reasons I stay. He did change, it’s better I have to give it to him, but only after I said we were done, I’ve gone through this with my PA/CA for so long now that I can’t even imagine what a life with someone else could be. The only thing I can offer is this: you are not alone!!! there are so many of us out there, it’s unreal. We all came together on this site because of the hurt and pain we suffered and continue to suffer. One thing my therapist said and I remember this when he starts his manipulating games: I am the only one who allows him to do this. And now I don’t, I call him out on it every time, won’t do what he needs to do, or have conversations with people he needs to have. We cannot let them win, for that would mean to leave our souls and come hell or high water – he will NEVER had my soul.

  6. Karen says:

    I can add a big ditto to the list. I am 53 and have been married to my PA for over 26 years and been with him for close to 29. I only learned this behavior had a name last fall. Prior to that I have always blamed myself. Since then things have seriously deteriorated. I think in the end the only solution is to leave. We are all just wasting precious years of our life that we will never get back. I nearly copied the above to send to people I know because almost no one really gets it. But I kind of think it does no good. They only see the great person he pretends to be. Since last spring my PA joined a dating website and has been out with multiple women. His best friend who lives quite far away told me over the weekend that it is all in my imagination. But when my daughter confronted him he didn’t deny it, he just asked how she knew. Then bought a new cell phone with a locking featureto put an end to my snooping. My brother is working on our financials and making a proposal to offer him. Hopefully he will take it and this craziness will end. Otherwise it will probably be a year in court. I am scared but looking forward to being out of here. I don’t trust myself to choose another partner. Looking back I can see a pattern where this is what I am attracted to but if I can just live somewhere else in peace it will be better than this. Everyone in this position ought to remember everything you have as a couple is half yours and depending where you live you may be entitled to spousal support. In my state it lasts for 1/3 the length of the marriage. It may be enough to get you out and start over. You may be able to get some job training and improve your income. I was told not to do anything to improve my income until after the divorce. Many lawyers will give you a free consultation and educate you on your rights. I have been to 3 so far and will continue looking until I find the right one. Every one of them have told me I am entitled to quite a bit more than I thought. It’s just a matter of finding the one I think will do the best job for me if he doesn’t accept my brother’s proposal. Don’t look at getting out as impossible. Living like this is crazy. I wish we could all get together and help each other.

  7. Teresa says:

    Karen,
    Yes, you are right. My PAH goes out of town next week, and I’m going to make an appt. with a divorce lawyer….I need to see what I’m entitled to…..I’m wasting my life here.
    I no longer love my PAH like I should. His affair 3 yrs ago took so much out of me, I just can’t do this anymore. I love him, but not enough to babysit him and cheerlead for him, everytime he takes a baby step in the right direction!
    I’m emotionally exhausted!!
    Passives Aggressives NEVER change….WE have to change to accommodate them….and in the process, lose who WE are. I can’t do that….not anymore.
    I was out to lunch with a friend a few weeks ago, and this really attractive guy, sitting to my right, kept looking over at me….and I’ll admit, I glanced at him several times….and it felt sooooo good!
    I kept thinking, “If only I were single, if only I were single!”
    Yes, that’s how starved I’ve become for a little attention, to feel attractive once again.
    My PAH tells me all the time how beautiful I am, how nice I look. But his words mean NOTHNG to me anymore, he’s done so much damage, I don’t believe anything he says anymore, I’m always looking for an angle. HIS angle!!
    I’m done.

    • Karen says:

      I think you are right Teresa. They never change. They just drain the life out of us. I feel like my husband is like a reptile. He only looks to get his needs met. He really doesn’t care about me or anyone else. He only cares in terms of how I and or others can make him feel good. The same with compliments. My husband is full of them. I think early on it was to pull me into his web. Then I heard him making the same compliments to other women when we were with others. I realized they didn’t mean anything. It was just his way of wining someone over or to make a dig at me. And as special as he would make me feel when we were alone when we were with others I was suddenly invisible or worse. I couldn’t understand it. Now I know it’s a classic PA trait. And all the compliments are just meaningless flattery. My husband has no real passion. He wants sex but never can loose himself in passion. So he rarely enjoys it and then is resentful. I know what you mean also about the slightest bit of flirting feeling so good. It’s the crumbs WP talks about and I live for them. I just don’t trust myself not to make another lousy choice. I hope you get some good advice from the lawyer.

  8. Teresa says:

    Ok, read this today….what do y’all think? http://voices.yahoo.com/how-find-joy-staying-married-passive-aggressive-6241172.html?cat=41

    Personally, for me? It’s a bunch of horse crap!!! What about the PAH honoring HIS vows?? Huh?? AGAIN, the wife has to handle ALL responsibility, and treat the PAH like a poor, injured soul! I want a MARRIAGE, NOT a mother/son relationship! AUGGHH!!
    So THIS would be my life for now on??? “Oh, honey, you opened up for 30 seconds and talked to me…yay you!!” Or “Ok, baby, I KNOW this is difficult, but I loooove you soooo much, we can do this, yes we can!! Can you open up and let me into your life, just for today now, not the rest of the month, pleezy wheezy??” UGH!!!!!! No thanks!!

    This paragraph just floored me! “Recognize you hold the power in the relationship. The PA personality does not have the social skills to build and maintain a healthy relationship. You do. Be gracious and loving. Be consistent in how you communicate your thoughts and feelings and over time your husband can learn those skills from you. Mirroring the very behaviors needed to have a healthy marriage.” LOL!! RIGHT!!!!
    She’s obviously NOT met MY PAH because NOTHING I did worked!
    After his affair came out, known as DDay in infidelity circles, I bought sexy lingerie, spoiled him, talked nice and understanding to him, planned a weekend away, LOL….you would have thought HE would plan a weekend away, since HE cheated! But nope. He let me do all the work, then reaped the benefits!!
    Yea, makes me sick when I remember how I REWARDED him for his behavior! BTW, that’s called “hysterical bonding”….trying to win my man back! UGH! I should have let the cow have him!
    Anyway, sorry once again for the rant! This article just pissed me off!!

    Passive Aggressive behavior is a personality disorder and until THEY decide they’ve hurt enough people, and want to change, nothing I say or do will change him!!

  9. Karen says:

    I read the article. She doesn’t say how long she has been married now or how long she has been working at this. I think it took all of us a long time to realize how hopeless a situation this is. Maybe 15 years ago, long before I ever heard of PA I tried the idea of killing him with kindness. Trying my best to be understanding and thoughtful and doing everything I could for him. Not that I was ever selfish or mean. But I really bent over backwards, trying so hard, thinking he would return my efforts. How could he not, right? But after months I realized the more I did the more he expected. I got nothing back at all. Just a man who thought he was finally getting what he deserved and was happy with the situation. Me jumping through hoops for him and him doing nothing in return. She may not be very far into this and still has hope. I’d like to hear from her 26 years in when she has worn herself out trying to make someone happy that will never be happy. I thought until just a couple of years ago that once this changed or once that happened he would finally be happy and in turn we would be happy. I finally looked at his mother one day and thought to myself she is not happy. She was in her 80’s at that point and just so negative and oppositional. I realized he was just like her and nothing was going to change. The only thing we can do is get out and move on.

    • Teresa says:

      Karen…after learning my H was PA, I then realized that his father is also!
      He would mock my mother in law in front of all of us…He would actually whisper, “Hey watch this..” then he’d belittle my MIL and say rude things to her, until she’d yell “F off, you SOB!’ And he’d then laugh, like it was a huge joke!! And my PAH would laugh right with him!
      At the time, I didn’t understand the dynamics of his family….this was when we were first married, and we only saw them every 2-3 yrs…His father is a cheater and an alchoholic, his mom, a VERY bitter, angry woman…but now knowing what I know about PAs…who can blame her? She should have left him 40 yrs ago!
      Now, looking back…oh.my.word! I was seeing a master Passive Aggressive in action but just didn’t know it!
      And yes, I agree…..why should I bend over backwards…to make my PAH feel so good about himself…when HE’S the one that’s hurt me so terribly? First his affair from 3 yrs ago, that he’s NEVER helped me recover from..I did all of that on my own, and now, when he acknowledges he’s PA…and he won’t do anything about it!

      He actually asked me tonight if I wanted to go out with him tomorrow night…on a date! This after he hasn’t talked to me hardly at ALL since Monday, when I tried ONCE AGAIN to tell him how very lonely I am!!!
      But he’s leaving on a business trip on Monday…guess he wants a little fun in the sack before he leaves! HA!! Fat chance!!
      And that’s another thing….why does MY PAH want sex all the time…when I read so many others complaining that they want it, and can’t get it?? Do you think it’s because he KNOWS I don’t want it….so this way he’s “punishing” me by always wanting sex?? Kinda like other PAH who won’t have sex with their wives, because he knows she wants it? Just curious….

      • Teresa says:

        And yes, Karen…I meant to respond to what you said about being nice to him, and how he felt that he was FINALLY getting what he deserved! YES, GLORY HALLALUAH, YES!!!!
        We ARE talking about passive aggressives here….they will give you NOTHNG in return, all they do is take, take, TAKE from you, like the emotional vampires they are!!!

      • About sex – he will do EXACTLT the opposite of what you want. You want sex – he won’t give to you. You don’t want sex – he will manipulate you into having sex with him. And even then, it isn’t loving, giving sex – it is about his needs and NOT yours. My husband used to say, I can’t read your mind – you have to tell me what you like. So then when he was doing something that felt really good to me, I would tell him that I really, really like what he was doing. And he would stop. Instantly. And then when I would ask him to do it again, he couldn’t remember what he was doing.

      • Karen says:

        Yes I think it’s him wanting he opposite of what you want. If you were after him to have sex he would never want it. My friends husband will bug her for sex but only when he knows it’s not possible. If she tries to initiate it then he has some excuse not to. My husband would claim to want sex constantly but could rarely um…. rise to the occasion. He would want to try for hours and then pout the rest of the day because it didn’t work out. And complain to friends that we never had sex. It drove me crazy and turned sex into something I hated. I spent years thinking if only I were thinner or sexier or something. So glad I finally just said no. Moved to another bedroom and don’t have to deal with it. I would love to have a truly intimate relationship with passion. It took me years to realize all we had was sex. Never passion. Maybe some day.

      • “All we had was sex.” Yep, that’s it. No passion. No emotional connection. Just a physical act. And even that was, well, …. I just think it could be SOOOOO much more than it ever was. And, yes, maybe someday….

      • Karen says:

        WP I don’t know he many times I have said to my husband the minute you know I like something you stop. I can’t believe I lived like this so long. It’s just way too much work.

  10. mixedemotions says:

    I’ve read it and laughed, obviously she has a heck of a lot more patience than me OR she has been married for a short period of time because these PA people are MASTERS at making everyone around them think they are bonkers, no thanks, I know what the deal is. My PA and I have been in and out of therapy several times during the course of our long marriage and it’s better now but not perfect, and it will never be. It sucks, up to me to figure out if I can still handle it or if I eventually just say: Sayanora…. we’ll see, time will tell I guess.

    • Teresa says:

      Lol…welllll, the article WAS written in 2010…and she’s never responded back to what others have written…maybe because she’s divorced his sorry butt by now!!?? LOL!!!

  11. Cali says:

    “Anything I dared ask for I was sure not to get, whether emotional or material. Anything I asked him NOT to do- he would do more. ”

    I could have written the above. I’m together with my husband for 14 years and I’m not sure how much longer I can do this. I really don’t know what to do anymore. He goes to counseling, keeps promising he’ll improve but he just wónt. And I know it’s not mý fault, but I keep thinking: “what have I ever done that’s so terrible that I deserve this?” It just hurts so much, too much.

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