Coping With Stress and The Passive Aggressive

This time of year can be so stressful even when everything is “peachy”, but if your coping with the holidays and a passive aggressive spouse of significant other, it can be especially trying. The following are a few of my own “practice what I preach” suggestions for getting through to the New Year.

1). Try not to count on them for anything.If you’ve lived with a passive aggressive for any time at all, you know that they conveniently “forget”.  They are very good at undermining your projects in the guise of “not on purpose”. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Try not to count on them to do anything out side of what you want them to do that minute with you. My passive aggressive puts the lights on the tree every year. I get the tree and ask him to trim if for me and get it in the house. If he’s willing to go with me to get the tree, then this is a natural progression. I lay the lights by the tree and ask him to put them on as soon as he has a minute. If I see him watching TV or sitting around, I ask if the lights are done. Usually I get the response of either “I thought I would do them tomorrow morning” or “I was just about to do them”.  If the answer is too far in the future I ask why he can’t do them right then or explain that I need them done right away so I can get the rest of what I have to do done.

2). Do some of the holiday things you enjoy. The kids and I used to go to “Christmas in The Park” every year and we love it. We also used to drive around looking at Christmas lights in the neighborhoods that go all out. As the kids got older we started to lose track of some of those things, but I also quit because the passive aggressive BF didn’t want to do them. If you have things you enjoy with friends or your children through the holiday season, bring them back. You’re missing quality time that brings you some happiness and probably those around you as well. Don’t force the passive aggressive to participate, and accept it if he doesn’t want to. If you drag him along and he doesn’t want to do it, chances are he’ll ruin it for everyone. You may feel a little guilty when you first go out without him/her, especially if he’s working the guilt trip on you, but you’ll get better at it the more you do it. You need these special times in your life. Don’t let your partner’s lack of enthusiasm cheat you out of them.

3). Don’t expect compliments, etc. when you don’t get them normally. No matter how pretty you may feel dressed up for your Christmas party, if he doesn’t normally compliment you on how great you look, don’t expect them now. If you get a compliment that’s wonderful, it’s icing on the cake, but if you don’t you’ll have to be satisfied with the compliments of others to give your ego a little much needed stroking.

4). Don’t set yourself up for some romantic, thoughtful gift only to be disappointed. This is a biggie. If all you’ve gotten in the past are things like a new vacuum or a lawn mower, don’t expect some romantic, thoughtful gift for Christmas. We can always hope, but don’t put your heart in it. Since I’ve gotten older there isn’t really much I need or want, so anything is nice. When it comes to something I really have my heart set on, I usually have a plan to go get it myself after Christmas and it’s usually cheaper. Years ago I had wanted a jacket so bad. I told my ex (then husband) exactly what it was, where it was and how much it cost. He couldn’t go wrong. Did I get it? Not from him. A couple of days after Christmas I went right out and bought it myself. Sure it would have been nice if he’d have got it for me, if he actually cared enough to get me something I really wanted, but he didn’t. Instead of brooding about it and building resentment, I fixed it.

I’m just saying that we put up with enough in our lives without bringing added stress and disappointment to ourselves. If you can stick to the list above and then muster up a sense of humor, you’ll be a lot better off when it comes time to bring in 2009.


6 Responses

  1. Hi

    I am in a long term (26 year) relationship with a women who is without question–really– passive agresive. I kick myself that it took me so long to figure this out but appreciate the fact that I finally have an explanation for her, at times, bizarre behavior. I’m not perfect either and my wife has properties that I appreciate. Also, sometimes I think unfortunately, I love her–a lot. I don’t want to leave her and don’t think I would be happy if I did.

    Since discovering her PA a couple of years ago I have realized that, classically, I had lost my self esteem and become someone I, not only didn’t want to be, but didn’t have to be either. I’ve made a lot of progress and have gotten my life back on track–I’m happy again.

    I’m the type of person that reads manuals. I need one now. I’m familiar with all the tricks but still get tricked. It’s inevitable, it’s like living with someone who wants to steal your wallet. Even if you know what they are up to; eventually you will let your guard down and–no more wallet.

    What I am searching for is a manual on what to do when this happens. I’ve heard you should just walk out of the room and this works, but PA people are smarter than that. They’ll wait until there is no room to walk out of . A few examples would be: you are on a bus,train,airplane to another city; you are at a party with business associates and can’t just leave; etc. A PA will stop at nothing to get you, and get you they eventually will.

    So–any suggestions–a perfect thing for me would be a point by point guide to help one through a PA episode, when leaving the room is not an option.


    • Dear AJR- Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion.

      It sounds like once you discovered the problem, you’ve done really well on learning how to cope with it. I can read how much you still love her by how much you are willing to do to preserve the relationship. Is she admitting that any of the problems may stem from a problem she has? I know this is pretty rare, but I thought I would ask.

      If you click on the Amazon link on the left hand side, there are a few links there to books for being and dealing with some one who is passive aggressive. One of the ladies on here that she herself is passive aggressive said the book “Overcoming Passive Aggression” is a really good book. She discovered she was passive aggressive when researching someone else’s personality flaws.

      There’s also a link on the right side to a passive aggressive discussion site and it has a lot of great info on it. You might try that also.

      I wish I could offer you more. My tendency is to act as if nothing is going on when I’m in a public situation, because I really don’t want to open the door right then to get into the problem. Until I started doing this I would have quite a few outings turn sour due to the lack of enthusiasm or the sulking of my passive aggressive BF.

      Good luck to you and stop by anytime to let me know how you’re doing. Sometimes it just feels better to unload a little and get it out.

  2. Hello Again

    Thanks for pointing out the discussion group link. I just went there and had a look around. It has a lot of what I’m after. This reminds me of when I was just starting out in management and went to my first big convention. It felt good just knowing that other people were having the same problems I was.

    Today’s incident was so unbelievably funny even she laughed. In spite of the fact that I had a stack of work to do: she insisted that we take a few photos we have been planning. From across a narrow but busy street I shouted, “lean on the statue!” I knew she could hear me, but now that she had me taking the photos she wasn’t going to co-operate–sound familiar?

    So I patiently wended my way through traffic to repeat my request, hoping now that the punishment had been doled out she would co-operate. As I approached, before saying a word, she looked at me scornfully and said, “I couldn’t hear you ask me to lean on the statue, you have to speak up.”

    I had a great laugh, put away my camera, and went back to doing what I should have been doing in the first place. Only problem is every time I think about it I break into hysterical laughter.


    • Glad you stopped back by AJR and you found the links helpful.

      Also thanks for sharing your story. That is cute. Caught in her own trap. I just love it when that happens. LOL.

  3. Great post,

    ..lowering our expectations is one way to avoid disappointment.. but there are ways to find fulfillment in life even if every human relationship that we have turns sour.

    There is hope!

    -James Thomas
    Stress Management Coach

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