The List

“I wish that we could sail our sad days away, forever.”


  • I’d have more money staying than if I was on my own (probably)
  • insanity (definitely)
  • emptiness
  • stress, stress, stress


  • will I have enough money?
  • what about my chickens?
  • I’ll have to start over on my garden
  • where will I live?
  • is it “O.K.” for me to leave?

41 Responses to The List

  1. HMT says:

    It is absolutely okay for you to leave. You have not done anything to be deprived of a real life.

  2. K says:

    Yeah, the financials is the only reason I stay. I’m not looking to devastate him, like he’s devastated me. I’m only looking to save ME.

  3. When we respond from fear, fear becomes what we see and therefor what we experience. Acting from love and standing in your power with a fearless attitude, brings forth unmeasurable strength. So looking at the statement above, how would it look if you were standing in your power, and you would loose nothing by doing so? If everything was possible, what would your life look like?

    • mery says:

      What I would see if I were acting from love and standing in my power with a fearless attitude is that I am sufficient to myself. I had budding talents when I was young and they will bloom now at this late date. The exposition of these talents will lead the perfect job to me, along with a group of wonderful new friends who find me very appealing. I would picture myself surrounded with love and acceptance on all sides, a place I was meant to be. I am smart enough and savvy enough to meet the world and find a place there of my very own.

  4. So very done says:

    I just found your blog after just reaching my boiling over point w my spouse. I’ve always thought he was abussive in some way but couldn’t put my finger on it. Passive aggressive describes him to a T. We’ve been married 22 yrs two kids ages 15 & 13 and I don’t want to hurt them by leaving but I’m beginning to realize that the hurt may b worse by staying.
    I’m so hurt and angry and done and get the story about the eggs like u wouldn’t believe. Why do they always say its about money? Pu-lease I’d live in a card board box if I could have a fulfilling and intimate marriage relationship.
    Thank u for writing.

    • For YEARS I used to say I would live in a shack if I could just have a close, fulfilling and intimate marriage! I completely understand what you mean!
      I don’t know what kind of realationship your husband has with your children, but it has ended up that neither of my daughters will speak to my husband, their father. Passive aggressive behavior destroys relationships! You have to decide for you and your children, but in my case, my daughters would be very happy to have me leave! Also my daughters are 18 and 23 so they are a little older, but there hasn’t been a relationship between them and their father for years and years. It’s so sad.
      I think they use money as a way of control, another part of the abuse.
      Thank you so much for reading my blog and for sharing your comments with me!
      Take good care of yourself!

    • Elaine McCollum says:

      I am so happy I found this site. After 23 years I have finally realized that I am not crazy and that there is no option but to get out. My boys are 20 and 22 and I just pray they see how destructive their father’s behavior is!

  5. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Think of all the other things you can add to the list of ‘Go’. You don’t need to be afraid. I feel that your life is waiting.

    • What would I do if I weren’t afraid…. Wow! I’ll have to think abou that one! Sometimes I feel like I am afraid of everything all the time! Thank you so much for what you said. Your words are very encouraging to me.

      • I think there is a great potential for you and I really hope for all the best! You’re welcome and happy to keep on encouraging you! I can see you want so much more than this.

  6. daXmom says:

    I stayed with an alcoholic spouse longer than my friends, counselors, & Al-Anon support said that I should. But, I knew that it gave me time to work on ME, to become ready for the greater responsibilities that would follow a split. When the end came, yes, it was hard, and yes, our daughter has some earmarks of an adult child of alcoholism. She has fewer than some other adult children, and she knows how to go for help/counseling because she watched me do so. But, she is especially susceptibility to verbal and emotional abuse, feeling they are normal because they are familiar.
    Another down side is that she and some of my friends think that because I stayed longer, they, too, must stay longer in their various situations.
    Each of us has to learn for ourselves what is our own right time and springboard to departure. We all have choices. If we choose to stay, we can choose to use the time to become healthier on our own.

    • Thank you for sharing this with me. I know I want to leave already and I know I need to leave already, but for some reason, I guess I am not ready yet. I don’t earn enough money yet, and maybe part of me still isn’t ready to accept that this marriage cannot be what I wanted it to be. I still have the conversations with myself… you know… maybe this evening will be different, maybe I just haven’t done/said the right thing, maybe it’s my fault and I am being unfair to him. I hope that within a year to be in a place where I can move out. I am trying to be healthier, even while I am here, but I am also seeing more and more realistically how much of a downward pull he has on me. Thank you for your encouragement.

  7. Lucy says:

    I discovered my husband had an affair nearly 7 months ago–He and I immediately went to counseling , he couldn’t do enough for me, but 2 of our daughters cut him completely out of their life. He moved to the basement and I have continued to live upstairs. I tried to go out with him in hopes he would come clean which he still hasn’t. He is even saying now to one of our daughters that he didn’t have an affair which is absurd because I have more than enough proof. About 2 months after doing much research, I discovered he has a covert aggressive personality. I always knew he thought differently but I thought it was just him. After I heard him tell my daughter about 4 weeks ago that he did not have an affair, I stopped contact with him unless absolutely necessary. From the very beginning he told me he would fix our family but he hasn’t. I am miserable. He works and comes home and there are no calls on his cell phone. He tells us we never appreciated anything he did which was only material things which we do appreciate, but his dishonesty and all his lies has us devastated. Books and the internet say these type people have to recognize they have a problem like alcoholics, etc. I have been married for 26 years and I feel like a stranger has been living with me. I still love him and don’t know why. We don’t seem even important enough for him to attempt any kind of honesty or change. I have prayed all my life with him and things have gotten worse.
    When I told him I no longer wanted contact with him I also told him what I expected from him to remain married to him–still no comment. I wake up every morning (if I sleep) with all of this on my mind and my mind cannot get any peace. I don’t want a divorce but I don’t want to enable his dishonesty and the question in my mind if we meant anything at all. I would do anything to make my family a family again but I can’t do it alone. My mind is in torment over this. I cannot believe he did this to his family. Again it is a money issue–he pays for my health insurance and he has saved for our retirement and if we sold the house right now, we would lose a lot of value. I don’t make enough money to live on my own. This would be a long drawn out process and it would be so stressful as well.

    • I’m so sorry. I hear so much pain in your writing. You are absolutely right – no one will change unless they see the need to. You said that you expected to remain married to him – why is that? Are you hoping that somehow things will heal if you don’t divorce? Do you love him because you are addicted to him? Does that make sense? I know that as much as I want to leave my husband, part of me can’t deal with the thought of leaving him. I think maybe because he has been there for so long that I am very attached to him and very comfortable in my unhappiness. I went to a talk from a lawyer about divorce. She said that divorce is a horrible process, but at least it ends at some point. Staying in a bad marriage will never end. I know I’ve had ladies comment on my blog saying that leaving was so hard, but in the end it was worth. It may be a long drawn out process and extremely stressful, but if it is the step you need to take, start making your plans. Have you gone to counseling for just you, to help you deal with the emotional trauma of all of this? Also, depending on the laws where you live, he would probably be required to pay alimony and child support. Do you have a family and/or a church that is a support group for you? I understand, too, that social services can offer advice and counseling for abusive situations, including emotional abuse. I so completely understand praying all your life and things just getting worse. That has been my case, too. Hang in there, Sweetie. Take really, really good care of yourself. And check back and let me know how you are doing.

  8. mourninglight says:

    Never underestimate the power of trauma bonding, or what happens when covert behaviors reinforce over and over and over that you are not quite enough to be loved, or have committed some wrong that results in your spouse withholding affection and intimacy. To have someone say they love you, at times behave lovingly, but ultimately live with you as though you’re just a roommate is a crazymaking kind of dissonance.
    Trauma bonding (Stockholm Syndrome) is almost inexplicable to those outside of it, but quite powerfully real. The person who tears you down offers their hand to build you up while their other hand prepares to put you in emotional jeopardy again.
    Covert abuse disguised with a passive mask is a terrible chipping away and erosion of the human heart and spirit. While any person at times is capable of behaving in a passive aggressive way, and some people may exhibit it more strongly as a character trait, to experience a truly passive aggressive person is extremely difficult to explain to anyone who has not. People understand overt abuse, overt neglect, and overt disrespect. The abuse from a passive aggressive person is like having carbon monoxide in the room. You can’t see it or smell it, but it’s toxic nevertheless.
    A person who has been the victim of physical starvation is not expected to run a marathon, but people don’t understand that a victim who has been conditioned over time to endure starvation of the heart and spirit may have difficulty leaving a toxic relationship.

    • Never underestimate the power of trauma bonding, or what happens when covert behaviors reinforce over and over and over that you are not quite enough to be loved, or have committed some wrong that results in your spouse withholding affection and intimacy. To have someone say they love you, at times behave lovingly, but ultimately live with you as though you’re just a roommate is a crazymaking kind of dissonance.

      You nailed this right exactly on the head! This is what I survived. Oh, I feel so much less crazy because you explained this so well.

      Moonlight, may I quote your comment on my blog

    • nessa3 says:

      Ive been trying to make the decision…to go or stay…first time on this site…im in counseling…but my religious back ground is screwing my is good to read similar stories…I feel very confused

  9. yyyy says:

    Staying or leaving is the toughest decision to make. I finally made up my mind and told my PA husband that I want a divorce. So what does he do, he ignores all of my attempts to discuss the divorce and come to an agreement. I don’t know if I should just continue with the process and wonder if he will contest? Or hope and wait until he finally is able to talk about it. As of today, the silence has been 14 days and going.

  10. knowledge is power says:

    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.

    • I do understand. You are not alone. I am still here because I can’t afford to leave. Other women have left comments on my blog saying they can’t leave because of money, because of health, because of children. These reasons do keep us trapped. You said you focus on your children; may I suggest you focus on yourself, too? Do what YOU want to do. I understand that often this might involve money, but find what you can do for YOU that makes you feel better that is low-cost or no cost. Long walks in a park? Going to the library? Joining some sort of club – gardening club, book club, something like that? Go to Al-Anon or CoDa. See if there is a cheap dance class somewhere. I joined a gym. I pay $30 a month. It has been worth every dime to me. And I know there are cheaper gyms. I also joined Toastmasters, a speaking club. I do have to pay dues for that, but again, it is worth it for me, to develop a talent (that may even lead to speaking gigs – PAID speaking gigs!) and to increase my self-confidence. Volunteering is free and it helps you and the organization you volunteer for. And gets you out of the house! These kinds of things make it about YOUR life and YOUR worth as person and NOT how he treats you. Detach from him. We have to live under the same roof and they will do everything they can to control us and manipulate us and punish us for being us, but we do still have some power. I have decided, too, that I am no longer going to even try to get anything from him emotionally. He can just be someone else who lives in the house. I am not going to look to him any longer to fulfill any of my needs, emotionally, or otherwise. He pays for the groceries, he pays for most of the insurance, he pays the utility bills. I cover the rest of my expenses and my daughter’s expenses. He simply will not, is not going to give me what I need emotionally and I am going to accept that and not even try anymore. I am going to do the best for me. There is something else I have decided. While I can’t afford to leave yet, it is my plan and goal to leave so …. I’m going to start sorting and packing. Sweetie, you are heart broken. You are beaten down. But you are also a loving, lovely person. Don’t put any more of your energy into him. Put it into you. I wish you well.

    • K says:

      Hugs to you. Our stories are nearly identical. I hate thinking other women suffer this. If you’d like, I can give you my email and we can talk. Hang in there.

      • Webizen says:

        Thanks for sharing. It is indeed reassuring to note I am not alone. Have been married over 20 years with 2 wonderful teenaged kids.
        I spent many years trying to get my husband out of his protracted silent spells reserved only for me, and more often then not, never knew what I was apologizing for. I just snapped out of that one day 5 years ago – and the sullen, silent treatment has gotten far far worse. My self esteem has taken a real beating – I am a very ‘people’ person and deplore being treated as an inanimate object within my home. We have many common friends and they cannot imagine that this wonderful, kind, helpful, most amicable guy could put his spouse through so much stress and heartache. I have little support from my own family for the same reasons. He cannot deal with the idea of living separately – dependent that he is – and brings in the ‘poor me’ factor in any such conversation.
        I find it very very hard to deal with the rejection and isolation and have been through periods
        of intense depression – yes even I do feel trapped by my own circumstances.
        There are rare moments when he seems to care – like sending flowers on a birthday – but I find it even tougher dealing with this on – off yoyo behaviour.

  11. Kaye says:

    I used to think, he treated me this way because of not enough sex. Now, I see why I dont have desire. Sex is all about him. How do we provide for their need, when PA makes wife have no desire. I have guilt for having no desire.

    • Elaine McCollum says:

      My husband constantly complains I don’t pay attention to him and that he is sexually deprives. It’s hard to want to be intimate with someone that literally sucks the life out of you on a daily basis. Everyone thinks he is this sweet, nice guy and I am so lucky but they don’t live with him. If he knows it upsets me then he is sure to do it. For years I thought I was crazy and losing my mind but 6 years ago I went back to school and got a better job. I have finally realized I am not the crazy one and it’s him with the issue. If only I had the strength to call him out 20 years ago like I do now then maybe divorce wouldn’t be the only option but I am only 41 with grown kids and I refuse to be miserable the rest of my life!!

      • Patty says:

        You are right you are still young with lots. of life to live. Sighhhh on that note, I’m the same age but my daughter is only three. Yes I know, why bring a child into this situation ( oh I too live with a passive aggressive spouse. It’s maddening). My reasoning is that my years were getting up and I didn’t know if/when/how I’d ever get to be a mom if I left so I didn’t. I digress. I’m trapped. I don’t want to miss a second of my child’s life. My leaving would most likely mean shared custody. I’d miss 50% of their life. Feeling trapped only adds to the stress of living with someone like this. Anyway, good for you. I hope you left. Live it up…for all of us! I miss my old happy, positive, healthy self.

  12. Prajnaparamitanath says:

    Dear,u suffer a lot,this is not easy to leave the person,who main part of your life,when get marriage u saw colourful dream to build your happy family,that broken in front of u is painful but go forward donot go back see your children’s feature,after sometime u find a peaceful cool life,may god give u strength and happiness,best of luck to u.

  13. Cubby says:

    I so glad I have found you guys. I have been married for over thirty years and I feel like I am just now seeing the picture clearly. One account talks about the covert abuse, which I believe I’ve suffered. Wish I knew what to do. I am trying to put my house in order and not take any crap any more. It really does feel there is no way out. I can’t be responsible for someone who won’t or won’t own his feeling and always deflects.

  14. Patty says:

    Know that you are not alone in your situation. I’ve made similar ‘lists’ a few times. I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia basically chronic pain and I firmly believe a big part is being married to a passive aggressive spouse. You feel damned if you do and damned if you don’t…aka crazy and then apathetic and then crazy again. But it all goes inward whether its chronic pain for some, headaches, blood pressure. It’s affecting me physically and the stress level scares me. Anyway, know you are not alone. I totally get it.

  15. Elaine McCollum says:

    I have two sons in the Marines and the oldest one deploys at the first of the year so I won’t ruin the holidays but come the first of the year it’s time to take care of me and quit worrying about everyone else. My middle son used to be his biggest defender but he is now starting to see the light!!

  16. Sarah says:

    A good friend told me today “you deserve to be loved”. It’s true for all of us, I think (except maybe I don’t believe it about me).

  17. sulkysnail says:

    You might add to the “Go” list
    •reclaim your sanity
    •gain some self respect
    •begin to feel whole again

    -just a few ideas

  18. Karen B says:

    I just found your List, and it brought me to tears because it’s my exact list, even down to the chickens and the garden. Just yesterday I moved out of our bedroom and into my daughter’s old room, and all of the anxiety and panic I have been feeling for so long lifted off of me in an instant. I am not deluded enough to think I will remain anxiety-free, but just doing something proactive at this moment helped me a great deal. How long I remain is another story, and the consequences of my actions, I am sure, will be forthcoming from my PA spouse, but for this moment I am clear-headed, and happy, and yet crying over what I have allowed myself to be put through for so long. At any rate, thank you for the List, I don’t feel so alone anymore.

  19. Ginny says:

    Who are you ? You have I every way nailed it for me. Iam married to that man you described. But what’s the answer what do you do now.

    • What’s the answer? The answer is leave. But having said that, it is NOT easy. I am still here. But I think maybe I am a step closer mentally to leaving. It is a huge leap. If you can’t leave, at least detach as much as possible. Do as much as you can for yourself. I wish you well.

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