Happy Birthday to the Passive Aggressive

Yep, it’s the passive aggressive boyfriend‘s birthday, or it was a couple days ago. We did the whole “cake” thing and all. He was very surprised and in the usual passive aggressive style, very overwhelmed that we would do anything special for little old “unworthy” him.

When it comes to gifts or any kind of fuss made over him, he is extremely modest. I don’t know if growing up as farmers, they never had much so didn’t do much celebrating or what. I noticed when we first started going together that he was genuinely shocked at Christmas that we got him Christmas gifts, etc. We were living together by then so I couldn’t see where there would be any question as to him totally sharing in the Christmas festivities. Yet here we are almost 11 yrs. later, and he hasn’t changed much in that regard at all.

Most passive aggressive people, despite how they may act, have an underlying feeling of not being worthy. I’m sure this comes from the lack of nurturing or love, or from the abuse they have suffered as a child. My passive aggressive boyfriend is now “old” LOL, and it is very hard to undo all the damage done in the past. We have been together almost 11 yrs., as I stated above. In that time I have never called him names, never been abusive, (I know that’s hard to believe if you’ve been a reader of my blog) and always tried to build him up. Yet the abuse he suffered at the hand of his father, even though it was so many, many years ago takes precedence in his personality vs. the recent 11 yrs.

I’m sure one of the reasons for this is the passive aggressive rarely admits there is even a problem, so changing is not even a question. Second, they rarely can pinpoint the abuse or the lack of love and affection that they missed as a child and connect it to the problems they are having today.  In all the years we’ve been together, my BF has only once admitted that his father was abusive and then it was only to say if his father used the same disciplinary tactics today, they would lock him up.  Most passive aggressive people don’t realize that the way they were treated as a child, the very thing that made them passive aggressive, is not normal behavior. It is a “dysfunctional” family in one of the truest senses of the word, but it is “normal” for them. It is so ingrained in them that even after years of a different environment, a different circumstance, the passive aggressive ends up changing the current environment to fit what they are used to instead of changing themselves to fit the new environment, which is why so many partners and spouses end up feeling so frustrated and unloved.

The first step is and probably always will be to admit there is a problem before one can fix it.  For the passive aggressive spouse/partner, that’s a really big first step.


6 Responses

  1. I just joined this site last week. I just found out my wife is a passive agressive about two weeks ago. I didnt realize why she is the wasy she is until then. I thought is was me. We are going for counselling and I am unsure if he is picking up fully the P.A. in my wife. He has mentioned it a couple of times, but just talking in general about behaviour in marriage.
    We are continuing to go, but I sense an increasing resistance from my wife in subtle ways. So we will see how long it lasts.
    A week or so ago her big beef in the counselling was because the car I bought for us a couple of years ago was not in both of our names. I told the counsellor about it, and he just mentioned, “its not about the car”, leaving me to think he may be clueing in.
    Since she found out we will have to wait until I renew the license on the car to do it easily, she has backed off on that mostly.
    Now she is offended that the phone we bought that she has (which was included on a family plan) is not in her name. So she went and got her number changed and had the same phone included on another plan. So somehow she now has one phone and two plans. Of course she didnt tell me that she had changed the phone number until I tried to call her about an important issue with one of our daughters and my calls wouldnt go through to her phone. Now I know why.

    This was because I was trying to control her by the phone plan being in my name. Yet she was there when we signed onto the plan and somebodys name had to be on it, and I was doing all the talking to the salesman, she had little interest. So now I am surpressing her freedoms. So I got them to change it so she could make alterations to her part of the plan herself. But she told me thats not good enough.

    So its a roller coaster ride everyday. Yesterday, we went for a day trip, and everything was great. She got along well with me and our oldest daughter.
    By that evening she was miserable. Snapping at me and mumbling about ” I (she) am going to do what I want.”
    So she finally blurted out, “my girlfriends want to play cards and they want me to come over”. So I said “o.k., but dont be too late coming home. If you are, call me.” So she was fine again. Went out at 10:00 P.M. and got home around 1:00 A.M.. Which I think is a little late for going out to play cards, but oh well.

    So today she told me I look like an old man. I guess I do after living with her for 23 years. It has taken its toll. I am 51 and look like 65. Yet she keeps telling me how much she is losing weight, and how she is going to start wearing more revealing clothes now that she thinks she is hot looking again (she is 44). So I guess she is hinting I am holding her back from being the cougar with a younger cuter guy. I dont know.
    It was my birthday today, she knew it, she never said anything, or bought me anything. My daughter made me a cake. Thats good enough for me, but it would have been nice for my wife to say something loving.

    I wanted to ask those who have known their spouse is P.A. longer than I have and have more experience dealing with it.
    What is the best way to react when they start?
    Is ignoring it best?
    Or do you confront them like a child and tell them you are not going to have your emotions hurt or controlled by their behaviour?
    If and when you confront them, do they get more desperate and act worse? Or do they back off?
    Are there any warning signs that they are about to try to drag you down?
    I think with my wife I see a definite mood change just before most attacks begin. She gets quite hostile in her attitude toward every one. Becoming irritable, agitated, and snapping out at me or the kids, then she starts accusing, complaining, and putting others down.

    As I said in an earlier post here, I am going to try to hang on and try to get some help for us. But I dont know if I will make it too much longer. Especially if she starts trying to have affairs on me.
    I feel tension quite a bit in the home as it is, like you are on pins and needles almost every day. Thats the way it has always been. Emotionally it is very draining and takes a lot of life out of you.

    I agree with this last post.
    I know her family life was dysfunctional and she probably suffered quite a bit. Her mother is very cold toward her daughters, as my wife is. Yet her mother wants the kids around her. I feel for the hurt she must have endured, but I am sick of myself and my daughters having to pay for what others have done.

    My mother in law got pregnant from my father inlaw, just so she could leave her mother. The mother in law told me that herself. So she never loved my wifes father, she just used him.
    So it was not a happy home. Now I have had to pay with an unhappy home too.
    I used to talk to my mother in law and try to be nice to her. But since I see what is wrong with my wife and I can see how she got to be that way, I cant stand my hypocrite mother in law.

    So if anyone has any comments or advice on my questions could you please let me know.
    Thanks everyone, and dont give up on your fight to protect who you are.

    • Welcome back Paul- First let me say, it is excellent that you are seeing the counselor and it doesn’t sound like he is completely blind to what your spouse is doing. I want to ask though, are you getting any thing out of it? Are you feeling like your feelings are getting validated at all? or are you feeling any more strength in being able to handle the things that are happening between you two? Do you feel like you are headed at all in a direction of resolution? You said you are feeling resistance from your wife. I should warn you that as she realizes she cannot manipulate the therapist, you will probably get more resistance.

      Your therapist is right. Evidently it wasn’t about the car if she turned around and had the same problem with the cell phone. Hopefully you canceled her off of your plan if she managed to get her own. She definitely has some kind of “ownership” problem here. Maybe growing up because everything belonged to her parents and they could take it away from her any time they wanted, which usually happens after a child misbehaves. If she hadn’t had a problem up until recently, maybe she’s going to or has “misbehaved” and she’s worried you have the ability to take these things away from her. As far as her not getting home until 1:00 am after playing cards, if she didn’t leave your house until 10:00 pm, 3 hours when you’re playing cards goes by really quick so I wouldn’t think much about that.

      What I am concerned about is this need of hers to feel so desirable and make you feel so undesirable. There isn’t that much difference in your age. My BF is 62 and I’m 55. It might have been a difference back in high school, but not really at this age. Do you pay her compliments on how good she looks, etc.? I don’t care how long you’ve been together or how bad things are, women still need to hear those things. It sounds like she’s looking to fulfill that need outside the marriage.

      Yes, if she is nasty, or muttering things under her breath, call her on it. The trick is to remain calm, but to ask her “I’m sorry I didn’t hear what you said. Would you repeat it please?” or if she’s treating you badly tell her you did nothing to deserve that kind of treatment and maybe ask her what she’s really upset about.

      I wish I could tell you it gets easier, My Friend, but it rarely does. I do agree with you that it sounds like she’s getting restless. You may want to try talking to her about the two of you, what she sees for a future, what is really going on with her. I don’t know if you’ll get anywhere (my Bf just clams up) but it’s always worth a try. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

      • Good to hear from you again.
        As far as the counselling is going. Its not bad. We are making some progress in learning to communicate better.
        Althought my wife is cooperative so far in the sessions, she always seems quiet after we leave the sessions, I notice the attitude has some varying degree of dissatisfaction on the way home and then into the evening. She can get a little nasty, and critical with me.
        Usually by next day she is somewhat calm again.

        The counsellor is staying pretty neutral so far. We are getting at some general communication rules. I am doing my part to learn and follow the exercises he asks of us. He did say we will discuss “unmet needs” in the relationship in the weeks to come. So when that happens and sex will be center stage, who knows how it will go.
        I hope he sees more than what meets the eye with my wife. I think he does to some degree.

        I think he is being careful and gradually moving toward addressing those things he is aware of with my wife. I think he feels if he goes directly for it, she will withdraw, or maybe refuse to continue.
        But who knows what she is saying to him about me, when we take turns talking to him.
        I have been tempted to get a little impatient with him though. We have only scratched the surface regarding my issues. But, I will continue to try it his way for a bit more, then I may question him on where he may be going, and when.

        I agree my wife and I are not that much apart in age. Although I am closer to your age then hers. But she is very young looking.
        I have known other people like that too, and they seem to be people who usually dont allow much stress in their lives. My wife would be in that category, because I know I worry more and feel stressed far more than she does. She continually tells the whole family, “look at me,I dont get mad or upset”.
        If you saw her, you would think she was 22, not 44.

        She is not a swimsuit model, but she is certainly very pretty.
        I find her sexy, and I tell her that all the time. Usually she puts up a wall when I do. But if another guy tells her that, she goes to mush.
        She is a little heavy, but some men find that to be more sexy than a slim woman.
        I would always tell her she would look fantastic in shorts, or a short skirt, or some nice lingerie. But she usually turns away and tells me I am trying to control her.
        I have told her if I had my way, I would be all over her, all the time. She knows I have had a pretty high libido in the past, and she uses it against me.
        She would always wait til I was too tired at night before coming to bed, or restrict me to a certain day and hour every week.
        Once a week if I was lucky.
        The only time she went beyond that for the most part is when she wanted to get pregnant. And she told me numerous times, that sex was to have babies and nothing more.
        I am not agressive with her in bed. I am patient, I try to provide plenty of foreplay, and personally I find gentle conversation during love making should create a great atmosphere too. But all that hasnt helped much.
        I have tried many things to make that time more appealing for her, but she just snubs it and turns me away. Or, she hurrys through it and then roles over for sleep or leaves.
        Over the last 6 years, we have only made love, maybe 10 times tops.
        It was only about 8 years ago, that she finally conceded to allowing me to help her reach orgasm. For about 18 of those years, she wouldnt not let herself get to that level of excitement.
        If I offered to help her, I was told I was trying to control her.

        I remember she made the comment to me once while I was reaching an orgasm, that ” now I have control of you”. I found that to be a real turnoff.

        Sex should be about giving, mutual satisfaction, sharing, bonding physically and spiritually,and focusing on pleasing your partner, because it gives the other partner pleasure to do so. It has nothing to do with control.

        I can very easily relate to an earlier post I read from you last year, about your frustrations in this area, even though you were eager and willing.
        I think that is fantastic that you offered your love to him as freely as you did.

        It makes it even more difficult being a man. Although I have learned to cope without doing anything to make myself feel guilty and ashamed of how I handle it.

        She did used to spy on me to see if I was looking at anything inappropriate on the internet. I found a note book once where she was writing in detail what she saw me do while I was surfing the net. But that was a few years ago.

        I did ask her this week, if she is going to stay if I am willing to give it another try.
        She said yes, but I am wondering if she is deceiving me. If she is, there is nothing I can do about it.
        It does hurt to see her wearing clothes to get others attention, especially when I used to tell her how sexy she was, and I got snubbed.
        She told me over a week ago, that I was not “a real man”, because I told her I would find it emotionally difficult if we broke up.
        I know she could find someone else easily, I couldnt.
        I would likely be left alone and even more hurt.
        She was hoping I would tell her it was fine if she went off with another guy, and that we could stay great friends. She was mad when I said I dont think I could do that. So I was told I was immature.

        So she seems to be agreeable for now, at trying. I did mention to her about us getting new wedding bands, since ours dont fit anymore, and we dont wear them. She said “no”. So I told her I am going to get a new one and wear it anyway.
        I have had to detach myself from her mentally and emotionally before, so I may have to be ready to do that again if she starts sleeping around. If she does, I have to get out. I cant stay and be belittled and humiliated anymore than I am now.

        I have also had problems with E.D. for about ten years due to her rejection.
        I went to a mens clinic about 5 years ago, and they did a bunch of tests.
        They told me that I had no physical cause for it, that it was emotional or psychological.
        I know why too.
        They provided an injection therapy that was fantastic, more than what I had hoped.
        I thought she would be happy.
        She told me it had been a waste of time and money, and there is nothing wrong anyway.
        When I eventually said to her that I think my “brokenness” is because of her pushing me away constantly. She gets angry and says “dont blame your problems on me”

        If I try to buy her clothes, or lingerie, for gifts at times like Christmas. She laughs at them and then returns them every time.

        When we were younger, and she refused to go out and work for several years. I was so stressed about financial issues, I would wake up at night now and again with me screaming.
        I remember the awful stress and fear I felt in my sleep that would just overtake me, that we were going to lose everything, because I didnt make enough on my own. It was like having a recurring nightmare.

        She never asked why I would scream out, she told me I scared her, and then she told everyone about it over and over through the years and laughed about it .

        Thanks for the advice on how to handle her.
        I am trying already with what you suggested about staying calm, and not letting her get to me.
        I am beginning to try to” call her” on more and more things too.

        So we will see.
        There is some slight signs there is some progress. But I have seen something similar before and then it disappears again. I think a lot will hinge on how this therapist handles the situation. I hope he doesnt blow this opportunity to get some things dragged out and dealt with.

        Thanks for sharing with me and your kind words of support.
        Anyone in our situations could certainly use a friend who understands.

        It sounds like you have been through a lot with the boyfriend too.
        Has anything changed in the affection area, or is it still hit and miss?
        I find it totally bizarre that a man would shut out a wife who is willing to show affection and love as you were and are.
        It funny how we get stuck with these people. Those of us like you and I hope to find someone who will respond to our needs readily. Instead we get stuck with these people.
        Meanwhile someone who would have less need for love and affection, would be able to handle them much easier.
        But they dont get those people, they get us.
        But I guess like me, you have to learn to detach.
        Its so sad really.
        Passive Agression is most certainly abuse. The sad thing is its so hard to prove that to others who dont know what its like.

        You mentioned your boyfriend seems amazed when he gets gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I wonder if you have ever asked him about whether he ever got gifts when he was little? If you have, how did he react?
        I ask because I have thought before of doing something similar with my wife in relation to things I feel have affected her from her past.
        I know she lost a baby when she was 16. I think she always hated that boyfriend, and blamed him for the babies death.
        When I try to show I am willing to talk about that hurt with her, she clams up , or brushes off my offer.
        It would be nice if they would be able to see, what we see, or at least try to.
        In that the past is connected to the reasons for some of their present behaviour.
        If they would, it could be the beginning of a healing process.
        I have read some pieces on the internet where some people do post messages on sites, saying “help. I am a passive aggressive and I need help to stop”. But I think that must be very rare.

        Anyway, Ladybeams, we, along with others, understand each others, hurt, tears, sadness, frustrations, and unmet needs. The gutwrenching loneliness, and the feelings of hopelessness and even helplessness at times too.
        When I think of it, why do we stay with these people. The only answer I guess is that we need to love them, even though they dont love us as they should.
        Maybe we are just afraid of the alternative, that it may be total loneliness.
        But then again, maybe that would ge easier to handle. I dont know.
        Anyways, I will remember you and the others who are victims, in my prayers. I guess we have some kind of duty to pray for those who hurt us too.
        Take care my friend(s) and lets keep sharing what we are going through here, with each other, no matter who it is.
        Because that is one strength we have. We know we can encourage each other out of our common pain.

        I will pray for you to have comfort and strength during those empty lonely nights my friend.
        Be strong and dont put yourself down.
        You are a wonderful and gifted person.
        We all have gifts,and we look for opportunities to do good for others.
        To give love, encourage, and support to each other is one of the greatest gifts, and you are using that.

        Dont let the P.A. take that away from any of us.

        • Hi Paul- Welcome back!

          That’s great that you are seeing any progress at all regarding the therapy. You are way ahead than most. Maybe that’s a good thing that your wife is rather quiet after the sessions. Maybe she is thinking about 1)either things in her past that she’s kept buried 2) or maybe she’s thinking about the two of you and the situation you’re in and how much is up to her. Try to be patient with your therapist. Your wife has had years and years of practicing this kind of behavior. She’s not going to give it up over night. I do think you are correct in the way that if he is too confrontational with her, she’ll just quit. Then the two of you don’t get anything solved.

          No, there isn’t any intimacy between the BF and I either. In fact, to tell you the truth I think I only know of one case where someone involved with a passive aggressive wasn’t cut off from sex completely. It hasn’t been quite as long as you and your wife I don’t think (time flies so quickly) but it’s been awhile. The one thing I will say is he hasn’t ever rejected me the way you say your wife does, he just never initiates anything or makes me feel like he “wants” me. So, we just quit. LOL. I have learned to detach and it works ok for me for now, for where I am in my life. I can see where for a man constant rejection would definitely have an effect on his abilities, just as any other kind of attack on his performance, etc. It can be quite devastating.

          Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers. I will keep you and your family in my prayers also. I look forward to us being able to share stories and offer each other support in the future. Sometimes we even get help from others out there that are going through the same, or have been there and are happy to be out. It can be very encouraging. And don’t forget to follow your own advice. LOL. You sound like you are probably pretty special also, so remember that.

  2. Hey my friend.
    Hope your day is going well.
    I found an interesting article in the Toronto Star online.
    I think you would like to read it.


    • Hi Paul- Thanks for sharing. I did read it and am also going to pass it on. It is interesting.

      I personally have found that whether it be e.d. on the man’s side or lack of libido on the woman’s side, it usually boils down to emotional issues. I know for me as a woman, when my emotional needs are not being met it’s very hard for me to feel sexually attracted to my partner. I think when a man has been rejected many times or made to feel less of a man, it’s possible for him to have a problem performing. While Viagra may help alleviate the symptom, it doesn’t help with the underlying cause which would explain why so few are satisfied with the drug. It also explains why a man may not be able to perform with his wife who constantly berates him, but has no problem with a mistress (not that I’m suggesting anyone cheat on their partner). It’s just that with a mistress there is not the every day problems and disappointments, etc. that you have in a marriage.

      The article is good for discussing the normal course of things. Unfortunately a lot of that goes right out the window when it comes to a passive aggressive. Their reasons for withholding sex is for control, for punishment, and sometimes I’ve thought just out of downright meanness. LOL.

      Thank you again for sharing the article. Hopefully others will read it also. I used to have a link to the “experience project” on the blog here. Maybe I should put it back. LOL. Hope things are looking up for you also. Take care of yourself.

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