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Old 04-06-2018, 09:45 PM   #1
seriouslyfunny
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Default Mind Games

Hello everyone,

Iím new to this forum and just need to vent.

Frankly, I think my husband is passive aggressive. I have read several articles and he fits the profile; however, he has not been diagnosed.

For example, yesterday, he wanted to spend some time together. I was busy at the moment and couldnít oblige. He got upset, but never communicated his problem with the situation. Instead, he stopped talking and left the house. When he came back and I asked what was wrong. He said, nothing, and that I was the one with the problem. He was fine. He further went on to say how bad I make him feel about himself, although two days ago, I was the most loving and supportive wife in the world.

This kind of thing happens often when he doesnít get what he wants, and when he wants it. He told me today that when I have a problem with him, I approach it in an accusatory manner, like itís always his fault. I feel he has self-esteem issue that is exacerbated by his love self-image (heís slightly overweight) and by the progression of my career and the stagnation of his.

With that being said, we got past it. He asked me to watch television with him. I did. Ten minutes in, he left to take a shower and stayed occupied for over 45 minutes while I was downstairs. When I finally went upstairs where he was, he went downstairs after kissing me on the forehead and acting like nothing happened at all. I felt like I was in this game or I was being punished for something randomly.

This interaction can be exhausting. Iím a pretty rational person, so I try to put things in perspective: he may process things differently or maybe I could be more supportive. Nevertheless, this is becoming too overwhelming.

Unfortunately, the byproduct of all of this is frustration, confusion, resentment and mistrust- things that donít really make for a good marriage. Weíve been married for over 17 years. Itís not easy for me to just leave. I do love him, and when heís not acting like this, he can be funny, kind, generous and loving. However, when things donít work out as he planned or you disagree or criticize him, he takes it so personally. I feel he has to retaliate by engaging you in some emotional hokey pokey to get you off balance thereby accomplishing his goal without you ever realizing it.
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Old 04-07-2018, 10:33 AM   #2
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Hmm, it sounds like your husband doesn't know what to do with disappointments and when he experiences emotional insecurities. The behaviors you are describing are of a person (I say person because anyone can struggle like this) who is disappointed in themselves and where they happen to be in their life. You say that you are doing well in your career venture, well, he wants that too and if he is not doing well he is most likely questioning his value and even wonders if you will still love him too.

It sounds like your husband would benefit from therapy/seeing a life coach. He needs to have some place to vent his concerns and get feedback that will help him with the stress and confused emotions he is experiencing that is coming out in this pattern of "I need you, I must not be worth your time". Passive aggressive type behavior typically comes from an individual who doesn't know how to talk about his/her insecurities.

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For example, yesterday, he wanted to spend some time together. I was busy at the moment and couldnít oblige. He got upset, but never communicated his problem with the situation. Instead, he stopped talking and left the house. When he came back and I asked what was wrong. He said, nothing, and that I was the one with the problem. He was fine. He further went on to say how bad I make him feel about himself, although two days ago, I was the most loving and supportive wife in the world
This is an example of behavior where a person is struggling and "needs" help but doesn't know how to put into words what he is feeling and needs your help and support. His saying "you" are the one with the problem is his way of saying how you can be dismissive with him when he comes to you "feeling" a need for reassurance. Unfortunately, this challenge can go way back for him to his childhood when he "needed" caring and support and his mother/parent sent him a message to "go away and don't come to me when you need help".
It's important to keep in mind that often little boys are encouraged to "not feel" and to "man up" and unfortunately this leaves them with feeling that when they struggle emotionally they should feel shame or are weak. They end up struggling when it comes to communicating their feelings and this often comes out in passive aggressive behavior patterns.

Last edited by Open Eyes; 04-07-2018 at 11:55 AM..
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Old 04-07-2018, 11:33 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mind Games

Open Eyes,

Thank you for your insightful and sincerely articulated thoughts. You definitely gave me a different perspective, so I can be more understanding and show less judgement when these scenarios occur.

You are so right; he has no coping mechanisms. He doesnít know how to address problems maturely, and he avoids situations that are too complex or require emotional engagement.

To your point about childhood socialization, you were also accurate. His parents tried to create this isle of idealism around him where problems didnít exist and perfection was reality. He was never directly told what to do, yet he learned through reactions and nonverbal cues how to act. In short, act perfect, do as I say, donít go against the grain or make me look bad and youíll be the perfect son.

Thanks again. Your words were so timely. I was thinking about separating, but I wonít be so quick to make that decision. Iíll try looking through a new lens. And, to his credit, he has always been open to counseling, so that is another option if we continue to struggle.
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Old 04-08-2018, 08:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Mind Games

I can relate to your husband because I'm afraid I'm being passive aggressive to my partner who I feel a little neglected by. I'm not a perfect person.
And like your husband I don't know how to communicate this to him. I would happily tell him how I felt IF he asked me.. if he showed interest in how I felt. I'm an observant person so I get frustrated when people close to me don't pick up on how I'm feeling by my actions..
I wish I could be one of those people who comes right out and say it but I'm not... I need to know that the other person WANTS to know. I have told my boyfriend things that have been bothering me for a while but, on one occasion, his response was silence. A number of times my feelings went unvalidated.

Anyways, I just wanted to give you another side to the story 😁
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Old 04-08-2018, 11:20 AM   #5
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It can help if you realize that when you experience behaviors as you have described that often you are seeing the child part in that other individual who was not helped to understand and deal with or communicate emotional needs.

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His parents tried to create this isle of idealism around him where problems didnít exist and perfection was reality. He was never directly told what to do, yet he learned through reactions and nonverbal cues how to act. In short, act perfect, do as I say, donít go against the grain or make me look bad and youíll be the perfect son.
Well, I think it's wonderful that you have been able to recognize this history of him with his parents. Often passive aggressive behavior patterns can reveal parental messages the other person received in their upbringing.

For example, the "its your fault" statement he makes towards you. He is playing the role of the parent towards him when he "failed" to pick up on a cue they wanted from him so he could fit into the "perfect child" syndrome they had created for him to have to follow.

When you get frustrated with his pattern of behaviors, think about how it must have been for that "child" in him when his parents practiced this behavior towards him. When "you" fail to pick up on a cue from him, how does he behave? These reactions were "instilled" in him. For him to change, he has to learn how this developed in him and then he has to learn how to interact where he can get his needs met better.

As a little child he most likely had to deal with a mother that kept telling him "go away, can't you see I am busy?". His behaviors are basically revealing to you that he was not really "nurtured". Unfortunately, too many parents have NO IDEA what child development is all about and how to NURTURE a child so that child develops their own "healthy" identity. Unfortunately, a lot of households are full of "barking orders" and that a child slowly learns that if he/she doesn't follow orders they are going to be shunned and often that comes to them with facial expressions that are negative. Passive aggressive behavior patterns are often what a child learns from a parent. This is what he is actually showing you.

It's good that your husband would be willing to reach out for therapy/counseling and he would probably benefit from DBT and CBT therapy. Actually, a lot of couples engage in counseling together so they can discuss their unmet needs and actually learn better ways of communicating with each other. Most of the problems literally stem from a person's childhood and what they saw their parents do with each other as well as the messages their parents gave them. It would work best with a therapist that doesn't leave your husband feeling "bad" about himself, but instead help your husband learn how his parents encouraged him to behave and interact in ways that were not good for him and now he can learn how to change that so he can feel heard without practicing this passive agressive behavior.
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Old 04-09-2018, 09:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zararose View Post
I can relate to your husband because I'm afraid I'm being passive aggressive to my partner who I feel a little neglected by. I'm not a perfect person.
And like your husband I don't know how to communicate this to him. I would happily tell him how I felt IF he asked me.. if he showed interest in how I felt. I'm an observant person so I get frustrated when people close to me don't pick up on how I'm feeling by my actions..
I wish I could be one of those people who comes right out and say it but I'm not... I need to know that the other person WANTS to know. I have told my boyfriend things that have been bothering me for a while but, on one occasion, his response was silence. A number of times my feelings went unvalidated.

Anyways, I just wanted to give you another side to the story 😁
Hello Zararose,
I am still trying to figure out the features of the site, so I hope I am replying in the appropriate area. If not, my apologies. Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective. And believe it or not, I get it. I can be rather outspoken at times, but even for me, itís difficult to express some things. However, you did tell your partner, on more than one occasion,how you felt - kudos for that.

My husband will tell me how he feels at times, but itís always on the backend of an argument. And if I ask him why he didnít share this information sooner, he casually says, ďIt just came to my attention.Ē

By your own admission, he is like you. He gets frustrated when I donít pick up on his cues. Heíll demonstrate certain behaviors; heíll play music to give subliminal messages and heíll be silent or leave the house. Yet, if I get frustrated by this, heíll call me immature.

At least, you are self-aware and can admit your imperfections like most of us can. Iím not sure he believes he has any beyond very surface stuff. I think heís arrogant and immature. Itís a dizzying fusion.

Again, thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
My husband will tell me how he feels at times, but itís always on the backend of an argument. And if I ask him why he didnít share this information sooner, he casually says, ďIt just came to my attention.Ē
This sounds like your husband gets "anger and frustration" first and doesn't get to "why" until he vents his anger out in an argument. This is typical of a person who experienced childhood emotional neglect. Men can have a hard time articulating their emotional challenges and what you have described is showing this is how it is with your husband. Your husband really would benefit from therapy that is designed to help him better articulate his emotional needs not only with your but for himself internally as well.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Open Eyes View Post
This sounds like your husband gets "anger and frustration" first and doesn't get to "why" until he vents his anger out in an argument. This is typical of a person who experienced childhood emotional neglect. Men can have a hard time articulating their emotional challenges and what you have described is showing this is how it is with your husband. Your husband really would benefit from therapy that is designed to help him better articulate his emotional needs not only with your but for himself internally as well.
I absolutely agree. I am trying to consider his emotional composition before I respond to actions, reactions, verbal or nonverbal antics. In the moment, it is challenging.

For example, today, things are back to normal (if this situation can be called normal). We were laughing and joking, then, I said something humorous. He chuckled, but then said, ďThere can only be one comedian in the house. Leave the jokes to me.Ē Again, he said the jokingly. However, knowing him as long as I have, I know he was serious. He is an extremely playful person, and sometimes his playfulness can be overbearing. On the other hand, if I say or do one thing funny or clever, heíll say ďStay in your lane.Ē

Honestly, I feel like I have to morph into someone else, so he can be the person he is most comfortable being: I have to be serious, so he can be funny; I have to passive, so he can be aggressive or the other way around, depending on the situation. I have made several concessions during our union to keep the peace, and in the back of mind I know he is experiencing some sort of ďemotional arrested developmentĒ but he still needs to take accountability for his actions.

I have to remember that the source of his anger and pain is not exclusive to me. When he was young his mother, who was married, didnít let him cut the grass, paint, wash her car because it was never up to her standards. I would assume the message he got from that was ďyouíre not good enoughĒ ďI donít have confidence in your abilityĒ or ďI donít trust you.Ē Meanwhile, his father was a workaholic who was extremely quiet and didnít interact with the family much, which sent the same type of message.

So, I feel when I as his wife offer suggestions or criticisms, he recalls his childhood anger at his mother and if I donít engage because I maybe legitimately busy, Iím being dismissive like his dad. Tough spot...

Thereís a quote I love that says ď we scream our insecurities and whisper our apologiesĒ Iím paraphrasing it a bit, but this is so accurate as it applies to me and my husband.
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Old 04-11-2018, 10:33 AM   #9
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From what you have described of his parents and upbringing, it's not surprising he presents you with these challenges. Unfortunately, the parents definitely contribute to the deep inner workings of their child and this can affect that child their entire lives. A mother who sends a message of "I need this done in a certain way and it has to be perfect so you can't do it", really instills a terrible ongoing narrative in her child's mind of not being good enough that that child ends up stressing about his/her entire life "unknowingly". Actually, that is what he keeps saying to you "I need to you behave this way and if you don't I am going to have a fit and punish you in some way". From what you described his parents were not approachable and did not allow him to explore and participate and feel safe having his own identity. He is actually showing you the way he was "taught" to relate and it's not "healthy".

The only way he is going to improve and relate better is to get help to see where this comes from and learn how to overcome this behavior. Some people can learn and improve and some people NEVER change the way they behave and relate. He will need to learn about his behavior patterns that are unhealthy from someone other than you, he is not being open to your suggestions and that's where he ends up switching into his mother's behavior patterns sadly. He probably dislikes his mother, yet he is a lot like her from what you have shared, that actually happens a lot. He actually sounds like he has picked up some narcissistic behavior patterns, which is probably what his mother is. (Mind Games is a perfect title to this thread). Your husband plays the same game his mother played with him and he isn't really aware of it.

Unfortunately, a person imprints a lot of behavior patterns from their parents, long before they even have any idea they are doing so. That being said, they also imprint or develop emotionally from whatever they are exposed to as a child too.

Last edited by Open Eyes; 04-11-2018 at 10:59 AM..
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