Holidays, Passive Aggressives, and Stress



Holidays, passive aggressives, and stress, what a combination, aye? And isn’t it amazing how they just seem to go together? I feel like singing it to the tune from Wizard of Oz that goes “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” LOL. So we’ve got less than 10 days to go until Christmas (if you celebrate). Everyone still in one piece? Now take a deep breath, let it out very slowly, and relax. It may be the only minute you get.

The holidays bring about a stress like no other. It used to be this time of year brought about a little extra kindness from people that may not show it any other time, but this year, and actually last year also, I notice people are just as likely to knock you down as say “hello”. I don’t know if it’s the down economy or what, but God forbid someone actually say “excuse me” without sarcasm.  LOL.

This is also the time of year the little children in us comes out and we still want everything to be perfect. This is the time of year we hope the relative that we haven’t seen since last year and couldn’t stand has had a whole personality make over. It’s also the time of year that we hope our passive aggressive spouses or partners also are going to change, at least for the holidays. That we’re going to laugh and hang lights together. That we’re going to get some of the affection we’ve done without all the rest of the year. That this year he/she finally “gets it” and we get something personal for Christmas instead of a Swiffer or a new tie. LOL.

One of the big things that ads to our holiday stress is our own unrealistic expectations. We see the romantic holiday movies wishing so hard that would be us and everybody lives happily ever after. I’m not saying we can’t hope, but at the same time, don’t allow yourself to get set up for disappointment. This time of year has a way of accentuating the problems that are already there. The only thing we can control is ourselves, and if your partner or spouse has been one way all year, don’t think just because it’s “the season” that things are going to change now. You may be one of the lucky ones and say he/she gets hit with a Christmas miracle, that’s great! Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

It’s up to us now to really stand guard over ourselves. The holiday season only comes around once a year, enjoy it with or without him/her if you have to. I hear you. “Yeah, it’s only once a year so you would think they could be different just for that time” but no, that’s not how it usually works, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who got a passive aggressive with a lot of spirit. Since most of them are passive aggressive because of traumas and abuses in childhood, that’s not usually too likely.

For many of us this can be the worst time for feeling alone, unloved and getting depressed, but we don’t have to let them do that to us. There are all kinds of things going on to celebrate the season. If you’ve got a friend you can drag along, even better. If not, go yourself and maybe you’ll make new friends. None of us got in a relationship to do things alone or without our partners, but sometimes it’s just necessary. Remember things that brought you joy in the past. Find things that are still going on or are similar. The holidays through the eyes of a child are wonderous, even before the presents.

Besides, what better way to screw up a passive aggressive than not letting them get to you this year?  Holidays, passive aggressives, and stress, Oh My!

9 Responses

  1. Hi, I have a PA husband. What is the effectiveness of therapy in treating this behavior? My husband started going to therapy after I told him that I was thinking of leaving him. He has been going to therapy for over a year with very little change. One time the therapist wanted me to come in to give him some information about my husband. It turns out that my husband had not given the therapist any info. about his family background, or about the major problems in our relationship. The therapist knew almost nothing about my husband, and thought he was just the nicest guy. So can PAs change in therapy?

    And, how often do PAs manipulate couples therapists? We’ve gone to three, and it’s happened every time. I had thought that therapists would be able to see through that sort of behavior, but they don’t! I end up looking like the angry mean wife, while my husband looks like the abused one! I will never go to another therapist again! They just help him to emotionally abuse me.

    Any experience with this?

    • Hi Christy- Sorry it took so long for me to answer you. Somehow your comments slipped through the cracks, but I will do the best I can right now.

      Yes, you would think a therapist worth their salt would be able to see through their manipulations, but first they have to understand the person they’re talking to actually has a passive aggressive personality disorder. It’s amazing to me how many really don’t consider this a real disorder because it’s not in their book of diagnosis. It doesn’t sound like your therapist is going to be very successful if he/she can’t even get any background from your husband to tell even what the problems are. You’re lucky in the way that at least he’s willing to go, but obviously he’s more interested in playing the game than actually working on the problems.

      I’m afraid your chances of a therapist bringing about a change is probably slim and none. It sounds like your husband has figured it out and how to play just enough, but not really have to do any of the work. Even when a passive aggressive is sincere, it takes a really good therapist to turn things around. The reason statistically that therapy doesn’t usually work is because the PA isn’t really sincere in admitting that he/she could be the problem.

      I think if it were me, I would seek out my own therapist or a support group to have some support on your side. If this couples therapist can’t even get close enough to your husband to even find out about his childhood, they certainly aren’t going to be able to be any good to you. Maybe it’s time to try a different approach. At least get some validation for your own feelings. Maybe also, instead of getting upset with your husband during the couples sessions, you could try a different approach there also. Start guiding the therapist with what you want to work on. Sort of like “I can’t get my husband to emotionally connect with me. When he was a child blah, blah, blah. Do you think that may have something to do with this?” Then the therapist should start digging a little deeper. Something like that. Maybe as you think of things during the week, being able to write them down so you’re ready when you go to talk to them.

      If you feel this therapist is bad and supporting your husband’s bad behavior, and you don’t think there’s any working with him/her now, then get out of it. You don’t need someone else enabling your husband. If he wants to keep going that’s up to him, but you don’t have to take it. You have choices. Just understand that you’re probably not going to get what you’re looking for from your husband or that therapist, and now it’s time for you to be concerned with your own mental health.
      Good luck. Really, getting your own support system behind you is so important and it makes you stronger to be able to handle what you’re going through.

  2. Great. We finished dinner and I asked my PA husband if he was going out to the garage (his man-cave). He said yes, so I said, good, I’m going to wrap your Christmas presents.

    He said “I thought we weren’t buying Christmas gifts this year.” I said “When did we decide that??” He just looked down – no answer. I asked him again… “When did we talk about that??” He said “I asked you one day what you wanted for Christmas and you said ‘nothing’.”

    Well, la-de-fucking-da. I sure don’t remember THAT day! If he DID ask me what I wanted for Christmas, I would have had a list as long as my arm, so I’m sure that conversation never took place.

    I said “Okay, then… I’ll just send your stuff back.” He said “Nooo… I’ll just have to go shopping.” I said “If you haven’t done anything about it up till now, don’t worry about it.”

    We have never gone all out for Christmas anyway, but holy crap – NOTHING??? I bought him a pipe, a cigar sampler, a hoodie, a book, and some underwear. I’m going to toss all but one thing.

    So, on Christmas morning, he’ll have a package of 6 tighty-whities to open.


    • Hi Karen- You’re probably right. The conversation probably never took place (with you). LOL. They have a tendency to do that, as I’m sure you know, or heck, you may have even said it when you were angry or something. Doesn’t mean you meant it. LOL. I loved the last two lines of your comment. When you finally got him straightened out, I hope you gave him your list. You may not get any of what you actually want, but sending him out unarmed just gives an excuse to by something really dumb. LOL. Good luck.

      Don’t worry. I edited out the link, so this is just between you and all of us. Merry Christmas. Feel free to comment anytime, just don’t fill in the “website” part so you can stay “anonymous”.

  3. Ladybeams, I want to wish you a happy but very serene holiday. I look forward to your continued insights into PA behavior throughout the new year. I hope you are settled in your new home, are comfy and secure. I hope your PA has a job come knocking at the door for the new year. And that the things that brought you together are the things that you experience throughout the holidays and the new year. PA son in bringing my daughter home from college tomorrow. A big time commitment for his weekend. But he was eager to do it. It will give him and his sister some talk time and hopefully some common ground on the ride home. He hasn’t actively pursued the idea of returning to college, which I would have been surprised if he did, but I did lef him know what he had to do to go back to school. I resisted the temptation of enrolling him in school, buying his books and school clothes. and all the other things that gave me a lot of joy to do. But instead just left the ball in his court. Its still sitting there. I have avoided making any suggestions for his future or making any statement that begins with “You know what you need to do?” I have also resisted getting excited and talking about any plan to go back to school that he brings up. I state for a fact i will help him on tuition and help him get to school meaning providing dependable transportation, but the grunt work of getting back in and enrolled is up to him. Overall I think he is developing trust that he can express himself and not have me contradict him. It is has taken some self control on my part to hear some of his thoughts on living life. Fortunately these ideas change frequently The old drill sargent that worked great with the other 4 kids, just doesn’t get the expected the this one. So it has been back to the drawing board to reconfigure new and different tactics in relating with him. We have progressed a great deal in our relationship. I hope he is able to release the resentment and anger that he built up over the past few years. My resolution for the both of us is that we may begin to relate to our PAs in ways that are meaningful and constructive. Again many thanks.

    • Hi PA’s Mom- so good to hear from you again, and thank you for such wonderful wishes. May I send nothing but the best back to you. I’m so glad things are going so well. Look at this, he’s bringing your daughter home from college and less than a year ago, your said your son didn’t get along with any of your other children. That’s wonderful. Maybe she’ll be able to give him some guidance about enrolling for school. My son just got enrolled for next semester last week, but he did it because my middle daughter is right beside him enrolling also and helping him along the way. I’m going to have two applying for the FAFSA this year, so I better get all my back taxes done. LOL.

      My son isn’t going the traditional route on school. He found an HVAC (heating, airconditioning, and refrigeration) certification program at the same college and he’s going for that. He’s actually excited about going through it and having some kind of a career after about a year and a half. He is taking a couple of general ed classes, but they weren’t required. They just told him they may help him in his chosen field. I’m sure his sister had a little to do with that. LOL.

      I am so happy for you that your son is learning to get close and trust you again. It makes such a difference doesn’t it? We want to love them so much, just like when they were little, but sometimes they make it so damn hard! LOL. I think your son knowing he can get help from you if he wants it is just enough. In a way it sends a signal to him too that you trust him to be able to take care of himself instead of doing everything for him. With you two on the same side now, I’m sure he’ll find his way.

      You, My Friend, have the merriest of Christmas’s and God Bless you all in the New Year. Looking forward to sharing it with you.

      • I’m delighted that your son is enrolling in college courses. Your son has made a lot of progress as well. Again best wishes for a great holiday and even greater new year.

  4. I have been living with a PA for the last 28 yrs. A life of HELL. I tried everything possible with No success. In the process of trying to make this relationship work, I lost my identity, who I was and what I wanted. He was driving me to suicide and in order to survive and not lose my self esteem, I had a long distance emotional affair. In the process my children suffered – He was never a Father to them and my son quit his studies and moved out. I am now holding on to my daughter and concentrating on her.
    This week I asked him to move out of the room and am hoping to separate. He has killed every single dream I had and will look for any excuse to blame me. Some of it, I am depressed, menopausal, before that it was my period, my body, my childhood, and finally my vegina walls need to be strengthned. That finally made me throw him out of the bedroom.
    My family and close friends are well aware of his manupilation and have always advised me that this relationship was toxic to my health. I need to move on and have realised I need counselling. Any thoughts how I can start the process

    • Hi Ophelia- Welcome! Wow, 28 yrs. is a long time to be so unhappy. I don’t know how you and so many others do it. We have some here who have been in their situations for 36 yrs. or more before they finally decide they’ve had enough. One thing about it, it’s never too late to do the right thing for you and get control of the rest of your life, for your sake and your children’s.

      Therapy is an excellent move. The best way to find a therapist is to get a referral from a friend or family, but if you’d rather not go that route, on the right hand side of this blog, if you scroll down a little, there is a link to finding a therapist in your area. Just remember, you may have to visit with a couple before you find one you like, so don’t get discouraged. You may want to ask when you call if they specialize in personality disorders, or something similar. Also seek out a women’s support group. Al-Anon is good for support and learning to re-live your life without worrying about him. If they’re too religious for you, a lot of times your county mental health department will have support groups or assertiveness training classes, all of which are extremely helpful, and usually not very expensive.

      It also sounds like you have support from your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to use that has a life-line. Take your daughter with you, or go on nights she’s at a friend’s or what ever, and visit with the people you feel good around. Start doing things you enjoy, things that make you happy. Obviously this has taken quite a toll on you, and you’re going to need your strength if you want to get out of the relationship. Start building yourself up as soon as possible. I know it’s hard, especially when you’re depressed, but that’s when you need to push yourself the most. Maybe there are some holiday things you can go do with your daughter, or church or mass on Christmas Eve, something that could help take your mind off things for a little while. Your daughter would probably love the time together. You can start building better memories.

      And last but not least, you’re always welcome here. Feel free to let out the frustration, look for help, or celebrate the steps your taking as you move forward. We’ll be glad to help where we can.

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