I’ve read a lot of stories on the web of what people are going through, living in a passive aggressive relationship, and I consider myself quite lucky actually. My particular PA isn’t too bad when it comes to angry outbursts, or actually blaming me out loud for anything particular. It’s quite the “status quo” relationship. For me at this time in my life, it’s okay. I’m older. I have many life changes going on, and I have some messes to clean up from my last business. I’m busy. I don’t know what will happen when all that’s done, but for now…
There are a lot of people out there living with a passive aggressive spouse that aren’t so lucky. Their hearts have been breaking for years. They have gone from independence to co-dependent, from strong to begging to be loved, from confident to feeling not worthy. People living with passive aggressive spouses are often confused, not realizing what they’re dealing with, thinking it may be all their own fault. Many people living with passive aggressive spouses still love their spouses so much, even tho they’re terribly unhappy, they can’t bring themselves to give up on the marriage and leave.
As I read through these heart wrenching stories of the failed marriage counseling, the failed tries at communication, and the failed tries at intimacy, it occurred to me that living with a passive aggressive partner is a lot like living with an alcoholic. Alcoholics are good at mental abuse. Yes I realize a lot are also good at physical abuse, but I’m just talking about the similarities to passive aggressive behavior.
The alcoholic goes and gets drunk, feels guilty, comes home and starts some kind of fight to feel better about himself, and make you feel bad. When he sobers up, he says how sorry he is (sincerely), says what an idiot he is, and asks you to forgive him. You feel sorry for him because he obviously feels so bad. You forgive him, he’s manipulated you, you’ve enabled him, and so it goes until the next time. (Unless you’ve already been through that so many times it doesn’t work anymore, but until then, this is usually how it goes). Sound familiar?
Voila! Al-Anon. Al-anon is an organization for helping sober people cope with Alcoholic spouses. When I attended Al-anon many years ago while married to an alcoholic husband, they were teaching men/women how to live their lives with their spouses, but without them. Let me explain.
It was supporting spouses of Alcoholics to pursue their own interests, to unwrap their world from around someone else. To regain their independence and realize they didn’t have to feel guilty over what the spouse did and the spouses behavior. I haven’t really seen many support groups for spouses of Passive Aggressives, especially since Doctors don’t even classify it as a personality disorder anymore. This seems like the almost perfect first step to getting the support we all need so badly to get our lives back to some sort of sanity. For me, I started emotionally backing up (detaching) a while ago. If you feel like you just couldn’t stand being without him/her, maybe this would be a good starting point. It’s like group therapy with coping skills.
Filed under: abuse, alcoholic, coping, mental health, passive aggressive behavior, personality disorders Tagged: | Al-anon, alcoholics, coping skills, passive aggressive behavior, personality disorder, spouses