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Passive aggressive or controlling husband or is itjust me?

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Hi everyone - this is my first ever post. Thanks for your feedback!


A little background: I'm 45, 2nd marriage, children are grown, his first marriage 49, no children. We've been married less than a year and did not live together before marriage which in hindsight may have been a mistake. He's lived a bachelor lifestyle for a very long time and has done what he's wanted, when he's wanted, the way he's wanted. He tells me he loves me often and has many, many, many good qualities and an amazing sense of humor.


I'm starting to think my husband may be passive aggressive. There are red flags such as, he won't give me a compliment when I look nice - try extra hard to look good for date night etc - because he says I should already know he thinks I look nice. From the honeymoon on, he seems to have less interest in me sexually. When I tried to talk about this calmly without any drama or anything - seriously lowkey, he lashed out at me and said "It always has to be when YOU want it." This was an absurd statement as I've never once turned him down.


There are lots of little stories, but just today, he killed a spider for me (which I greatly appreciate lol) and it fell to the carpet. I called him my hero and then asked him where the spider landed. He teasingly responded that I would find out when I vacuumed. I reminded him that I don't vacuum (the ONLY chore I won't do) because his vaccum cleaner is very old, hard to clean, and EXREMELY heavy. I've talked with him about this before and explained that I used to vacuum two or three times a week and I was only able to vacuum once since we've been married because it's so heavy. He has a tendency to buy only high end items so I'm sure this clunker was expensive. Anyway, when we got married I sold or gave away most of what I owned since we didn't need duplicates of everything. I would have kept my cheap vacuum had I known. He knows this and knows it's up to him to vacuum which he has only done THREE times in the 8 months we've been married. I never ask him to vacuum even though it's driving me crazy. I NEVER nag. I did tell him that I would like to go get a new vacuum and he said that his mom has his grandmother's lightweight vacuum cleaner and I can have that one. (His grandmother passed away 2 years ago.) I told him I didn't want her old vacuum but that I really would like a newer, lightweight vacuum cleaner and he basically told me no way. And I responded very frustrated with, "So that's it? No. I can't have a new one?" He didn't answer.


I haven't gone out and purchased one on my own because I don't want to cause a fight and we are on a tight budget with a goal of paying off our mortgage early. He has a tendency of "punishing" me with silence/sulking/hanging out on his computer for hours when I do something he doesn't like. My first marriage was a hotbed of fighting and I resolved to not get sucked into fighting and arguing over things unless absolutely necessary.


I think my reaction is pathetic by the way - just go buy a new one! What's wrong with me???


Does this sound more like passive aggressive behavior or controlling-being-a-jerk behavior? Or is this more me because I'm "allowing" him to make decisions that aren't really his to make? Maybe I'm the passive aggressive one???


Thank you!!!

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OK, this is not the 1950s where you can't just go buy your own vacuum! You can get a lightweight one for $69 bucks or whatever. Or just use his grandmother's vacuum. Have you even tried it? And honestly, the bigger vacuum can't weight so much that you're a fragile flower who can't use it... the exercise would be good for you...


So you may see his behavior as controlling, but then you are playing the fragile flower who can't push a vacuum or needs 'daddy's' permission to buy one... he could see your behavior as very passive-aggressive because you are refusing to vacuum unless you get the exact vacuum you want, when basically you've had 2 different vacuums offered to you.


Regarding paying compliments, some people are good at that and some are not, and if you demand them, people will be less likely to offer them. And some men are more romantic than others about offering compliments... so he is who he is, and if you demand compliments he will just probably get irritated.


So is it worth a divorce that you don't get the exact vacuum you want? Or that you don't get as many compliments as you want? If it were me and I valued my marriage, i would just suck it up and vacuum with one or the other vacuum you've already got, then tell him that the only thing you want for your birthday or Xmas or anniversary or whatever is a new vacuum (and cut out a picture of the one you want and give it to him). Just not worth making a big deal over.

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It's hard to say but I would guess for sure some PA. I am married to one and it realllllly sucks big time and a few of the things you mentioned are a carbon copy to mine. I've made it almost 7 years but there are times (luckily not real often) that I have been ready to throw in the towel. Go read up on PA and there is a lot of info on it with what qualifies as having that personality trait it will help you to see if he fits at all.

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Thanks for your feedback, Lavendar. I totally agree - not the 1950s. I think I may not be very good at explaining where I'm coming from. The point isn't really the new vacuum so much as it is that he basically vetoed something that I want, and it is something for the house - not a vacation, jewelry etc. We postponed going away for a honeymoon until some future time so that we could save money - it was my suggestion because I honored his goal to pay off debt/house. I'm not demanding or needy. If it was only a vacuum cleaner, than no big deal. (And yes, it really is THAT heavy. When I did use it, it caused an old back injury to flair. Not worth it in my book.) Somehow I've given you the impression that I see myself as frail but that's not the case at all. I'm more the DIY, get your hands dirty and fix it type. When it snows here and it snows a lot, I'm the first one outside to shovel the snow. I love working on the yard, doing home repairs, etc. And as I said, I DO AL OTHER CHORES around the house. I let him know early on that the vacuum was too heavy and difficult for me to maneuver on the stairs and instead of stepping up to the plate and vacuuming or buying a new one, he just doesn't do anything.


You're right - I am making it seem as though I need his permission. I will go out and buy one in the next week or two. Maybe he'll surprise me and not sulk etc. Oh well.


I've never once "demanded" a compliment - I don't get the point of doing that. It just makes me feel disconnected that he doesn't notice if I look especially nice or doesn't want to say nice things to me just because. He complimented me before marriage - just not after the vows were said. I compliment him all the time btw.


Who said anything about divorce? Maybe I posted this in the wrong place... That's not what I'm wanting at all. I'm just trying to figure out which self-help book to buy. lol.

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Thanks for the reply, True. It took a while to actually post here because I could just hear people thinking, a vacuum cleaner??? Are you kidding me??? I will be reading up on passive aggreesive traits and I have a feeling as Lavender pointed out, I might have a few of my own.

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What I am saying is that if you blow up things like not getting compliments or expecting him to buy a vacuum for you when he has offered you another one and you just turned it down, then those episodes can create distance between you and can end up in divorce if they pile up too much. You have to pick your battles, and not turn things like this into bigger than they are... if you want a vacuum, go buy one! He may be irritated or think you're a prima donna because you won't use his grandmother's vacuum, but that is his problem if you feel an inexpensive vacuum is essential to your happiness. Somehow mentally you've taken the leap from 'he won't buy me the vacuum of my dreams' into 'he may be passive aggressive'. I don't see anythign in his behavior that shows passive aggression because he has offered you another vacuum and you didn't take it, and he may think you are at fault for being too picky. There are two sides to every story, so be careful and don't blow things like this out of proportion.


And start dressing for yourself, to make yourself happy, and not to get compliments. If he compliments you, good, if not, he may just be being the typical male who isn't effusive about those kinds of things. Many guys feel awkward doing things that women see as romantic, and now that he's settling into marriage, he may feel more comfortable and not feel the need to lavish praise on you. He wouldn't have married you if he didn't think you were attractive, so you should take that as the biggest compliment there is.


It is also very normal for sex to drop off a bit after marriage... as they say, the honeymoon is over! Try spicing up your sex life in various way to make him more interested... man are greatly stimlulated by variety, so get a book on sexuality and start experimenting with different things!


Men can actually be quite relieved when they get married because the burden of most of the courtship (fussing over you) falls upon the man, so he may be thinking, oh good, now i can relax and she doesn't need all that dating fuss. so perhaps try to work in some fun things you enjoy, like a date night out now and again, or making a romantic dinner or whatever you need to try to bring some spice into the marriage without putting too much pressure on him to 'perform.'

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im not trying to make this an age thing but the guy is 49, i know its his first marrage but he might of had gfs before and telling girls that they look nice all the time was something in the past. after so many years men stop been so romantic and just want to live life. and for the vacum thing just buy a new one. he isnt doing anything wrong. hes not been mean or rude to u. just living life.

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Form 3 accounts; his, hers, and ours. The ours account functions as the pass-through for all the money you each pay into it for expenses, joint savings and investments. As long as you both pay your agreed amount into that fund, the rest of your money goes into hers, the rest of his into his. Neither partner can control what's bought with the others' money.


This would enable you to buy a cheap vacuum and keep your home as clean as you desire it to be. Failure to do so is the passive-aggressive act.

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Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and respond to my post. I decided to talk this over with my husband last night and as it turns out he was in effect "punishing me" for some things he was upset about - some of which I was aware of but thought were resolved, other things I was not aware of. I love my husband very much. I take what everyone here has said seriously, although I know there is no way any of you can really understand all of the dynamics at play in a couple-of-paragraphs post. I read some more about passive aggressive tendencies - I have some of them and so does he, as apparently do most people. You can't fix what you won't acknowledge so this has been helpful.


Cat, I totally agree about the three accounts - I have suggested this many times and it makes him extremely upset so I've tabled it for now. The funny thing is, I was "backing off" as the note at the bottom of your post suggested. Are you suggesting that I set up the three accounts regardless of his wishes and if I don't on my own, I would be passive aggressive?


The idea that I shouldn't expect my husband to pay me compliments because he's 49 and had to give compliments to previous gfs is laughable! I'm sure he's happy I don't feel the same way about BJs. He's worn out... poor guy and here I thought he still had a few good years left in him.


The one sure take-away from my first ever post is that it's extremely easy to assume and judge based on a couple of paragraphs. I've never had anyone characerize me as a diva or a princess before...

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Cat, I totally agree about the three accounts - I have suggested this many times and it makes him extremely upset so I've tabled it for now. The funny thing is, I was "backing off" as the note at the bottom of your post suggested. Are you suggesting that I set up the three accounts regardless of his wishes and if I don't on my own, I would be passive aggressive?


No, the passive aggressive part is punishing both him and yourself with a filthy house because you're unwilling to resolve the simple issue of a vacuum without the desired response from him.


You're both fully grown adults with a long history of operating in the world before you met. If you're going to turn a simple household chore into a power struggle of paralysis, then that's a voluntary choice to deliberately disable yourself from any degree of autonomy and healthy, mature, responsible action without express approval from the other.


That's not about a vacuum cleaner.

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I see what you're saying, Cat, about punishing myself. I just don't see how I'm punishing HIM when he can vacuum the carpet and doesn't.... (By the way, the carpeting in question is in the basement and is primarily his domain - the rest of the house has hardwood floors. I keep a very clean house.)


No, this is not about a vacuum but neither is it a simple issue. And in another post I related that he admitted to trying to punish me/frustrate me because he was upset about other things. And THAT is absolutely passive aggressive behavior. If it were the only instance, then I would have NEVER posted on this site. This was just one example. Remember, we are supposed to still be in honeymoon phase - I naively thought that being partners in life meant trying to meet the other's needs - not only trying but WANTING to meet the other's needs. (Yes, before you go there, I know, we cannot meet all of the needs of another person.) I realize this may seem like a minor thing, but it's something that the average guy would have done and never thought twice about.

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I'm not sure what you want then... do you want help to make your marriage better, or do you just want us to agree that he is passive aggressive? Putting a label on someone is counterproductive to solving problems because you start framing him as 'the bad guy' and seeing everything he does in terms of that label.


Most people do do passive-aggressive things sometimes, in fact, everyone does. And people want to meet their partner's needs EXCEPT when they're angry or annoyed at them, and it is guaranteed that partners WILL annoy each other sometimes because they are living with each other and people have conflicting needs and it is not always clear which need should be paramount or the best way to try to resolve the differences.


Meeting a partner's needs doesn't mean instantly giving them everything they ask for every time they ask for it. If it did, many men would be riding around on motorcycles rather than in minivans, and many women would be spending most of the family budget on trips to the salon and dress shop while the roof was leaking in on the family. You have to apply reason and negotiation when looking at people's needs, because there will ALWAYS be conflicting needs.


So let's look at the vacuum cleaner situation. You wanted a new and lighter vacuum. He thought he could meet your need (and save money to start paying off your house) by having you use his grandmother's vacuum and offered it to you. You got mad because you didn't want to use an 'old' vacuum and wanted a new one, so you refused to use his grandmother's vacuum. Then he gets mad at you for turning down what he thinks is a reasonable solution/compromise via Granny's vaccum, and gets passive aggressive and stomps around about it. You get mad because he doesn't instantly give you what you want (a new vacuum), so you stomp around being passive-aggressive and refusing to use Granny's vacuum or in fact vacuum at all.


So this created a giant passive-aggressive stalemate for both of you. You could sit around and label him passive aggressive, but it doesn't solve anything and creates distance and attaches a negative label to him, that might equally be attached to you because you responded in a passive aggressive way yourself.


The tone of your posts show that you are already setting him up on a negative pillar, as in calling him passive aggressive, as in saying the 'average' guy would be different (implying he is abnormal in some way), as in saying he doesn't want to meet your needs when he tried to meet your need via Granny's vacuum and you basically spit in his face and said not good enough!


So this is an unheathy dynamic you are setting up where you are framing him as the bad guy and making the terms of your marriage dependent on vacuum cleaners and frequent compliments or else he gets labelled a bad guy. It would be far better if you framed this as you are a couple of newlyweds who are adjusting to living in each other space and sharing resources, which is ALWAYS a source of conflict in newlyweds. Yes, they have a honeymoon period, but that is immediately followed by the period you are in now where you are discovering the realities of having to blend two households, your budget, how to split up life's tasks etc.


You also do yourself and him a great disservice by slapping labels on him and then being determined to frame this as he done you wrong rather than this is something you both need to work out, how to balance conflicting needs without fighting or ending up in opposite corners or becoming passive aggressive on either of your parts. And I wouldn't stick any labels on him at all if you want to have a good marriage and resolve things. You could scream 'passive aggressive jerk' at him all day and he could scream back 'self centered witch' and it wouldn't change anything, only drive you farther apart and not resolve your issues.


Avoiding negative labels (whether only in your head or vocalized to each other) is paramount to avoiding polarizing a marriage and building walls between you and extremely counterproductive to building a good relationship.


So work on negotiating with him, sitting down once a week and talking about any source of conflicts and what to do about it. If you can't resolve this on your own, then go to a marriage counselor who will be a neutral party and advocate for the marriage and for you both as individuals.

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I hear everyone loud and clear. No labels for my husband which was not really my intent. I’ve readily admitted that I am also passive aggressive as is most everyone on the planet. Why isn’t anyone trying to protect me from that label? lol. I wasn’t trying to hurt him by posting this, hence talking to anonymous people as opposed to friends and family members. I was online trying to sort things out. My first marriage was brutal. My ex beat me to a pulp and would have killed me if a neighbor had not heard my cries for help through the walls and intervened. (He went to jail and I divorced him.) There were signs in the beginning and I didn’t listen to my gut (or to family and friends).


Not that it matters at this point, but his grannie’s vac is ANCIENT – the equivalent of an avocado green replacement fridge. I guess that shouldn’t be insulting to me at all. Not in the least. The bills are ALL his – the debt repayment – ALL his debt. I GLADLY signed on to this situation because I love this man. I am not demanding. I am not petty. I drive a 10 year old car and ride the bus to work. I'm hoping it lasts another 2 years at least! (Please, oh car gods!) He drives a brand spanking new car off the lot, purchased since we got married. He drives to work and does not offer me a ride even though we work less than a mile away from each other. I will ask him for a ride when there is a BLIZZARD - not a gentle snow fall. lol. He doesn’t offer. He parks in the garage. I park on the street - it’s a two car garage and he’s been unwilling to clean out the other side (his stuff). I don’t cajole. I don’t beg. I don’t nag. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t do this just because. Yes, I’ll say it again – just because he WANTS to. Seriously, no one else in cyberspace thinks this is odd????

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Hi S, Nowadays it’s seems like we are all expected to be amateur psychiatrists.


You don’t have to be! You’re his wife…that’s all you need to know. The following is how to act like one.


(This is going to be hard. I don’t want to get an infraction notice.)

When he tells you about other person’s old vacuums….


Tell him this;


(B) as in baloney head, (I) as in imbecile, (T) turd, (E) as in egghead.




S...keep it simple.

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Not that it matters at this point, but his grannie’s vac is ANCIENT – the equivalent of an avocado green replacement fridge. I guess that shouldn’t be insulting to me at all.
Does it work? Have you got somewhere to store it so it doesn't clash with the colour scheme? If it works and you can hide it when not using it - what's the problem?
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I don’t cajole. I don’t beg. I don’t nag. I just don’t understand why he doesn’t do this just because. Yes, I’ll say it again – just because he WANTS to. Seriously, no one else in cyberspace thinks this is odd????


What I find odd is that instead of resenting him for not reading your mind, why don't you negotiate to get what you want? Offer something of value to get something of value. People do it every day. You both get something and you both give something. You may not agree on first try, so up the reward for compromise.


Withhold and punishment don't 'work'. The idea is to view one another as being one the same side--not as adversaries.

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Synch- you may not cajole, beg or nag. But the above really makes it sound like you are harboring some amount of resentment towards him.

Maybe it's possible the two of you just don't see eye to eye on some issues. I'm also curious why you feel the need to defend yourself so much.

I say this not to critisize you at all, just wondering if maybe you're a bit disappointed in some of your incompatabilities ? I am also wondering if he knows all that you expect of him or want ? You need to be clear with him, not just assume he knows what is considered important to you.

So many times, people want to think (and trust me, I've done it too !) " He/she LOVES me, they should KNOW what makes me happy ! He/She should WANT to go out of their way to do little things for me"- Remember, it's not always apparent to a partner (especially in the beginning of living together) all the little things that are expected of them. Sometimes it's not the the other person doesn't care, just that some things may not occure to them or seem a big deal. When things go wrong is when one partner assumes the other person should know something that hasn't been communicated clearly, and then said partner either lashes out inwardly (resentment) or outwardly with a full fledged fight.


Say, for example, he wanted you to help him shave his neck hair. But he doesn't ask you to shave his neck hair, he just thinks you should WANT to and volunteer to the minute he steps out of the shower. Then if you don't, he thinks, " Wow, she should want to do this for me !"

But if he never fully communicated this to you, why it was important to him, would you think it was fair for him to be angry or disappointed in you ?


You are still getting used to each other. Now is not the time to assume, but to learn from the other person, and explain what you want in turn. You need to open up those communication lines, and when you do- Do it with love and real explanations. For example, instead of saying something like, " But I want a NEW vacuum !" say something like " It's really important to me to have a new vacuum. I appreciate that you're trying to save us money. But I know we could find one inexpensively, we can talk about what price you think is reasonable. I think it's an investment worth making. Since Granny's is not going to last very long, I think we might as well make this investment now". It's possible he still may not agree- BUT- you have a better chance of being heard out, he may feel more comfortable explaining his reasons against it, and most importantly, you'll have a better idea of how to resolve conflict together and feel more comfortable expressing yourselves calmly when it does come up. All the Best

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