Rekindling The Flame With A Passive Aggressive

Leading in to my post tonite, I wanted to post the results of the old poll on the left hand side. (Hint: If you don’t scroll all the way down to see what’s in my sidebars you may have missed it. LOL). 50% of you have been with your passive aggressive partner or spouse over 11 yrs. 38% of you have been with your passive aggressive partner or spouse only 1-5 yrs. (I say only like it’s almost nothing. We all know better than that, don’t we?) So tonite the 50% that are still with their passive aggressive partners have my attention and the 38% might want to read on because of a “don’t let this happen to you”. LOL.

I received an email and the headline was “Rekindle the flame”. I’m female. I’ve been with my passive aggressive boyfriend for a long time. Love-and-affection-wise it’s not the relationship I’d always dreamed of so I read it. The article actually is quite interesting. I just happened to notice a few flaws.

As we get older we start to appreciate long-term relationships more than we did when we were young. We are realizing that we are mortal and our priorities change as far as how much time we have left and how we want to spend it. We value the time (for some, decades) we’ve spent with our partner or spouse, we still believe in being faithful and committed, but we’re not getting the love and affection we always thought went along with all of that (you know, that stuff that makes you sigh in the movies). A good reason for that is all the resentments and anger we hold on to through the years.

According to this article, underneath all the resentments is still the love, but we have to work through the anger to find it. I agree with that whole heartedly. I started holding back myself when I started getting resentful at the lack of emotion, intimacy, and everything else that usually goes in a relationship when two people love each other. I get that part. I just want to know how do you “work through it” with a passive aggressive who rarely says a word when it comes to the problems you’re having in a relationship? (Which is probably why counseling rarely works with them).

The main person giving advice in this article like every other relationship counselor, once again brings up “date night”. If you’re new to this “figuring out your relationship” stuff it’s when you set aside at least one nite a week for a “date” with your partner or spouse. Her idea is to switch off weeks. One night it’s your turn to plan the evening, take care of any reservations, and take care of any child or eldercare that has to be squared away. Next week he does it all and makes all the plans. Can anyone besides me hear “Oh, was that tonite?” or “I forgot to…make reservations, get a babysitter, etc.?”

Then there’s the old “schedule a time for a discussion”. If you’re not happy about something tell him you need to talk to him and set a time within the next 24 hours. Am I just being cynical here or am I right that by 24 hours he “doesn’t remember” the incident, or he won’t talk at all?

The one thing I will say about the article is that this guy Hendrix writes on his Web site, harvillehendrix.org, that conflict is a natural part of relationships. “Conflict is supposed to happen. Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive, to get its needs met and become whole. It’s only without this knowledge that conflict is destructive. At least that sounds positive. “Conflict is a sign that the psyche is trying to survive”. Isn’t that the truth!

There’s more to go but this is getting way too long, so I will finish it tomorrow along with giving you the link in case you’d like to read the article or explore the site yourself. Until then…

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11 Responses

  1. From my perspective neither the date night or the scheduling of a discussion would produce anything productive when you’re dealing with a PA in full blown PA mode. They have a well honed ability of avoiding anything they deem “control” of them or their time, besides, this might actually bring resolution and that would mean they’d have to step outside their “comfort zone” and try something daring. Secondly, scheduling a discussion time means they’d have to CONFRONT their behavior. Heavens! We can’t have that. They will find at least three reasons or excuses why they can’t be there or else they’ll show up and not contribute anything productive. We all wish these suggestions would work like they would normally with normal people but we aren’t dealing with normal. Sorry. This article brings up a question I’ve had for awhile…CONFRONTATION: What does that word mean to you? To me it means something negative…argueing,loudly, yelling ,screaming, throwing things,defensive, attacking, perhaps physical,even violent expression. Whenever I tell my PA boyfriend that I need to talk about something he translates it in his brain as CONFRONTATION and he will make every attempt to avoid any discussion. I”m not after confrontation as I define it. I’m wanting a discussion between two adults that might bring a solution or at the very least, understanding. You don’t have to have a battle to do that . No matter that we spent a whole first year of our relationship DISCUSSING everything and building a close relationship…something clicked in his head a couple months ago and now discussing is confrontation and that’s bad! What does it take to reach this person? The Earth must move under his feet? PA relationships move along an inch at a time if you’re lucky. I’m in full realization that I’m thinking “if it was like that before, it COULD be like that again”. That’s why I’m still here..waiting..hoping and praying like the World’s coming to an end that things will somehow switch back because now I’m deeply in love with this man. I know what he can be…what he has been and I still believe that love conquers all.

    • Hi Marilyn- Welcome back, and thanks for your input. I see we think alike when it comes to “date night”. LOL.

      As for the word “confrontation” I agree with you. It’s usually a negative discussion built on anger, etc. as Webster defines it:

      : the act of confronting : the state of being confronted:
      as a : a face-to-face meeting b : the clashing of forces or ideas

      With the way he feels that any discussion is the same as a confrontation, I see two possible ways you might try handling it.
      1) Don’t tell him in advance. Just spring it on him when you have his attention. I don’t mean ambush him, but maybe lead him into it, which I guess is still an ambush, but gentler. LOL.
      2) When you mention you want to discuss something with him, tell him what it is so he doesn’t build up these ugly ideas in his head. He may still not want to discuss the subject and feel like it’s a confrontation (especially relationship issues) but at least you put it out there.

      I use #1 myself as #2 gives him an “out”. As for believing things can go back to the way they were when you got together, just remember, that’s usually how they trap us. Everything’s all warm and fuzzy and they’re the man of our dreams long enough to get us hooked. It’s not until they have us hooked that they feel they don’t have to set the trap anymore and the real passive aggressive person can be unleashed.

      Good luck to you. I think we all would like to believe love conquers all, or at least started out that way. (Did that sound kind of cynical? Sorry. LOL)

      • There’s one thing I know to be true. The PA that I love craves the affection and gentleness that he gets from me. He can fight it off for a while but he needs it like the air he breathes. I felt pretty certain of that and tonight I confirmed what my senses have been telling me for the last few days. Even after the pronouncement that he would not be seeing me as much, maybe once or twice a week, he has been here six days for lunch and four evenings. I love to do dumb stuff like brush his hair, work the kinks out of his neck and just plain pamper him. In the last few weeks he’s tried to pull away from the attention so I stopped making the attempt but in the last few days he’s started to inch back into the closeness. He’s started to touch me again. last night he let me brush his hair and tonight he laid in front of the fireplace while I gave him a two hour massage. Yes, it sounds like he’s the one getting all the attention and that’s fine for now. He fell asleep and relaxed probably for the first time in weeks. I know he hasn’t been sleeping well at his place…there’s a lot to be said for that security that comes from that person who loves you lying beside you. Priceless. Thing is, I’m pretty sure he needs it more than I do which is saying a lot. I put a lot of love and tenderness into that back rub and he’s not made of steel..I know he could feel it. He can put up the barriers…I’m building the bridge.

        • Hi Marilyn- Maybe his threatening to only see you a couple of times a week scared him more than it did you. LOL. It sounds like ever since he said that he keeps checking to make sure you’re still there. Good luck with the “bridges”.

          • Agreed 100% I got more attention when I moved out than at any point during the relationship. They are so scared to be alone.

        • Oh Marylin, I wish there was something that I could say to help you understand that you are pounding sand into a rat hole. All of the energy you are pouring into making this manchild feel loved is not going to bring the return that you deserve. There is no one on the other side working to extend that bridge back towards you. His entire focus is on defensive positioning and the more you succeed at making him crave your affection, the more you also become his enemy.

          I can’t think of a thing that could have been said to dissuade me from investing in my two PA husbands of 6 and 20+ years. I hear the same determination that I once had. The underlying logic was that I could help this wounded creature reach his potential by modeling a loving, nurturing relationship. He would learn to trust, value my loyalty and devotion and realize his human potential by reciprocating. I was blinded by what I knew he COULD be.

          Take a minute to list all the loving things you do for him both on a daily basis and special occasions. Factor in the time planning and doing theses things and see if you can come up with some quantifiable ammount for a given period. Now do the same for him. Any two hour back rubs or hair brushing in that equation for you?

          Create a visual aid so that you can see the (lack of) balance in the relationship. Let go of the idea that this will change. Multiply the deficit by the length of time you forsee yourself investing in this guy. If you are strong, like me, you will be able to hang in there for a long time before you hit your breaking point. I refused to believe that I had a breaking point – had to find out the hard way.

          Marilyn, why is it “fine for now” that he is getting all the attention? Why don’t your needs matter? You already know that you are unhappy. He is being trained to dig in deeper by rewarding this selfish behavior. If I want to be treated like a king, all I have to do is ignore Marilyn and she’ll welcome me with open arms. The more I pull away, the harder she will work to get close to me.

          This man is nursing wounds that don’t have a thing to do with you or your relationship. You can’t make a loving relationship with a person who isn’t present. He is locked in the past and protecting himself from the lack of security/autonomy he felt in his childhood. He associates love with control. There is no such thing as win/win. There are winners and losers and his goal is to win. The idea of partnership does not exist in their world. That is how he is able to keep taking from you, without even attempting to reciprocate in a meaningful way.

          He is terrified of his need for affection because it makes him feel weak. These men punish with silence, withdrawal, forgetting, mimimizingand pretending that nothing is wrong. It is not your responsibility to “heal” him. Your responsibility is to be honest with yourself and your partner, if you can bring yourself to call him that.

          It took me a very long time to learn that I had to know what kind of a relationship I wanted. Do yourself a favor and sit down and concentrate on yourself. What do you want from a partner? I wish that I had not trained my husband to believe that he could ignore my needs and punish me with silence. Once they have internalized that the world is about them and our function is to make life comfortable, the pattern is extremely difficult to change.

          All of the talking, gut wrenching disclosing, bargaining and promises of things getting better did not change a thing. It didn’t hit him until I moved out. He was not open to counseling until I consulted a divorce attorney and we sat down and talked about dividing more that twenty years of stuff. It is not real to them until there is tangible proof that you are on your way out.

          The words, passive aggressive, must be spoken. There is no back door approach, no hint or secret strategy that will fix this. The quality of the relationship has to be a goal for both partners. If you can not be honest with this man about how his behavior is affecting you, then there isn’t anywhere to go. Please don’t delude yourself into believing that this is just a temporary dilemma. If you were not in pain, you would not be posting on this site and looking to others for help and support.

          I wish you the best, Marilyn, even if the best is letting this guy take responsibility for his own problems.

          • Linda- Very good and kind advice. Thank you for your input. I’m sure when Marilyn sees it she will appreciate your encouragement for her to “save” herself. I too am taking some of this away with me. 20 yrs. aye?

  2. […] Posts A Way To Cope With A Passive Aggressive SpouseWhen A Passive Aggressive Witholds SexRekindling The Flame With A Passive AggressiveExamples of Passive Aggressive BehaviorDefinition of the Passive Aggressive…Intimacy, Emotion And […]

  3. Sounds all so familiar Marilyn. You’re the giver now, he’s the taker. It will never be anymore as it was. He’ll only give you crumbles while you want the whole sandwich. Discussion are confrontations, yes, and they will become true confrontations, because he’ll drive you crazy with his promises that are never followed through. These people run away before you do, leaving you alone with the relationship problems. Pull out before you become too attached. It’s like an addiction, being with a PA. They make you desparate. You’ll feel ‘if only he’d be a bit more considerate’. But he never will be. You’ll feel that there’s never enough reason to stop the relationship, because they seem like small things that are easy to change and handle. But the truth is that PA’s regard the smallest thing as huge obstacles. They postpone every responsibilty. They are like children, they need your care, but once you give all this help and care, they feel like you’re controlling them. Then they start sabotaging and hiding things and, the worst, minimizing. Whenever you explain how you feel and what you wish from them, they regard this as huge demands and a loss of freedom. Also, they want the emotional connection, but once they feel you know them, they get angry inside, because they don’t want to feel emotionally dependent. They are just not capable of gaving a mature, equal relationship, and will never be able to provide the support you need. They sabotage by alwayscoming too late at appointments, by forgetting stuff etc. And it all sounds so innocent, because it is never their ‘intention’ to upset you. That is the easy way to say ‘I don’t want to taje responsibility for how you feel and I want to follow my own course’. Unfortunately, this course is not a goal-driven life, but a life lived according to impulses and cravings. These people really don’t know how to get in touch with their emotions, they are desperate, depressed, and try to fill up their inner void and hurt by claiming your attention. They are emotional vampires, and once you have tried everything and are desperate and confused and exhaustef, they leave you standing alone, without even notifying you. They are prone to cheating (i.e. emotional and/or sexual). They love you, but they don’t know how to love, and prefer sabotaging, escapism, everything to push you away and then pull you back again. It’s an emotional rollercaster. Be alert when they start claiming they want to marry you. They’ll forget to say that this means that they secretely want to pull out. Again: these relationships are highly damaging. It’s like a heroine addiction. Stay away and don’t let yourself be fooled by their charm and helplessness. Good luck.

    • Marty- Thank you for your response for Marilyn. Hopefully she reads it.

    • Spoken like a true veteran, Marty. Did you tough it out or leave? I am still searching for stories of redemption.The only ones that seem to be happy are the ones who left. I am still on the fence as things are getting better, but you know how it is…

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