Let me tell you what it’s like living with a passive aggressive spouse. It’s a world of take-aways.
Husband #1 is passive aggressive. Our time together felt like an emotional prison. The cycle starts simply enough. I would mention how much I liked it when he would brush my hair. Over the following week, he would phase out brushing my hair completely. I would tell him how much I liked a dish he used to make us for dinner. Suddenly he would stop making it all together.
On several instances, he would blurt out gems like these just before we arrived at a relative’s house for a visit, “I don’t know why my parents don’t like your cheesecake. I think it’s fine.”
One of the more extreme examples…I told him how much I enjoyed having sex with him at night. Not only did my romantic, candle-filled evenings with him disappear, all sexual activity came to a screeching halt, followed by the explanation, “I just don’t need sex as much as you do.”
These clever little manipulations by my passive aggressive spouse effectively put me in an emotional prison of no-win situations. I was forever on edge wondering what would be taken away from me next, what would my punishment be?
I recently stumbled across an article on Huffington Post titled How To Avoid Passive Aggressive Behavior In Your Relationship. Included in the article was a listing of common passive aggressive behaviors:
- Behaving beneath customary standards
- Pretending not to see, hear, remember, or understand requests
- The silent treatment
- Sulking and withdrawal
- Refusing to engage
It turns out that the more Husband #1 would do these things, the more frustrated and angrier I would get. I looked like the crazy, out of control one in our relationship. I’ve since learned that “passive aggressive adults are experts at getting others to act out the (passive aggressive spouse’s) hidden anger“.
One interesting highlight in my relationship with Husband #1. We rarely fought. We didn’t need to. I was single-handedly covering all the conflict in our relationship and filling the roles of protagonist and antagonist on my own. Husband #1 could calmly sit back and manipulate the strings from behind the curtain.
I was a puppet in an elaborate charade.
I wish this article would have appeared 20 years ago. Maybe then I would have had a chance of standing up to the hidden anger inside Husband #1. I’m not saying it would have saved my marriage but it certainly would have helped me to save my trust in others.