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Is my husband passive aggressive?


mel

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I have been married for over 10 years and have a semi happy marriage. I say semi as half of it is nice and fun and the other half is horrible. I tend to try to forget the horrible and move on to the fun parts. I have learnt this from my husband. I am a fairly happy go lucky person, probably sensitive so I worry its just me being over sensitive. We have an argument, I walk away seething or upset and he carries on as if nothing has happened then chats to me cheerfully afterwards, say 10 minutes or 5 minutes later or even less, about a different subject entirely. In the early days, I would be still upset and hurt and say What? you are talking about our holiday and you just said that to me? Then he would go nasty again or sigh as if I was this raging nutcase who would never let things go. So I have now learnt to just move on as well and start chatting about the nice normal thing with him and pretend he didn't just call me a whinging, screaming banshee in front of my daughter when all I had done was ask him something in less than a monotone voice.

He will mutter things to me as we are driving along for example. My daughter is in the back. we will be chatting away. He will say oh by the way can you not spend anymore money this week as we are on a thrift drive this week because of somethingorother. I will look puzzled and say oh i only had to buy that thing, I have been careful and you just spend alot on your new surfboard. I will laugh as I always try to keep it light. He will say, no, stop arguing in front of our daughter, what kind of mother are you behaving in this way. I will say, I am not behaving in anyway, I was just disagreeing with you. I will TRULy try and keep it light as I know to try to keep it calm as we are all together in the car. He will keep on repeating and then saying "why do you keep on and on, I was ONLY SAYING you NEED TO STOP SPENDING MONEY!" I will try and keep calm but when I feel completely wronged and indignant, I find it hard, so I will say I am not doing that, what are you talking about. lets talk about it later. He wont, he will carry on and on until I finally crack and say oh for gods sake, I am not doing that, then he will say, what a way to behave, shouting in front of your daughter. BUt I truly havent shouted, I have just said it in an emotional voice. My daughter (sadly) has actually stepped in and said "mommy wasnt shouting daddy". this sort of thing goes on alot, about any subject, he will raise it, keep on at it, preferably throw some lines in that I will emotionally react to, and then walk away shaking his head. I just gave the example of it in front of my daughter but he will do it anywhere or when we're alone. I try to be wise to it, and keep calm especially if my daughter is there. I actually walk away if I am in the house and say we will discuss it later or I laugh it off. BUt alot of times, I get really upset and afterwards I can't for the life of me remember what on earth we were arguing about. I thought it was me for years, I really thought I was too emotional or something but am beginning to see a pattern to it and realizing perhaps its him inventing the arguments. I wondered if he realized how cruel or catty he can be sometimes. If we have a normal discussion, like say, about where to go. I will be saying oh lets go to this place because of these reasons, he wont respond, he just says "god you have to be like this dont you, or well, Daughter and I will go then. you can stay here" when it has been a happy discussion. It goes from nice to nasty in seconds. I have called him up on it alot and pointed this nastiness out to him and if he is in a good mood, he will laugh and almost admit it with a mischievious smile but this is rare. A relative of his told me he could be very difficult and one time she was with us when he started on me, she could see it going on and asked him to stop it, but he carried on and on. He was pointing out repeatedly that we should have gone somewhere else first as it would have made more logistical sense. He went on and on, and kept going back to it, muttering about it in my ear. I tried laughing it off and saying oh stop being silly. lets just enjoy ourselves. But no, we walked on and he would make another comment, another comment, another one and another one until I finally cracked. then he is triumphant (in my opinion) and says god what is wrong with you? why are you getting so upset? She saw this and told him off and said god he is a nightmare but we eventually laughed it off. And he gets all silly and tries to make me laugh.

Can anyone give me any advice? The other half of my life is happy, he can be hilarious, very funny and kind, I just don't know who I am going to get. My daughter seems fine. She has noticed it I think, my worry is he will do it to her. He will try and discuss things with her which sometimes ends in her tears. She gets really frustrated with him. He is interested in her telling him about something, then interrupts alot, then argues a little with her and she often gets upset and does a frustrated sigh. He adores her so perhaps none of it is on purpose. Perhaps he has some whole other condition?? advice? Ideas anyone?

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He has issues alright, but it's not clear what they are. It has elements of being controlling about it (e.g., when he says things that are completely inappropriate and off - but designed to shut you up, like "stop arguing in front of our daughter, what kind of mother are you?" when you weren't even arguing). Calling you a bad mother is fairly emotionally abusive - which is also, again, controlling.

 

But it's very weird - I think you have to do something about it. Can you ask to see a counselor to talk the "other half" of your relationship over with? A psych might be able to give you some perspective on what's going on with him.

 

You've lived with him for 10yrs - what do you think his issue is?

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He is convincing you that it is all on you, and insulting you in front of your daughter and other people. Every serious conversation you have with him you are stepping on eggshells hoping he isn't going to snap. He has a terrible temper, getting angry at the smallest things such as what order you go to places in.

I don't know if that is classed as passive aggressive, if it is, then that's the nicest word for it. Words that came to mind when I read it were abuser and bully.

He is abusing both you and your daughter. He is mentally manipulating you to believe that you are worth pretty much nothing. He will target your important roles such as you being a mother and completely pick them apart. Your daughter is being hugely affected, she too will learn not to ever speak unless spoken to. Your daughter speaks up because she is frightened for you, she sees the injustice happening and the only person she is left thinking badly of is her Dad.

This is a man that has no idea how to say sorry. Instead, he will create a situation in his head where he is never to blame. When he is being proven wrong, or made to feel silly for what he is saying he will throw the "bad mother" card out in order to diffuse the situation and distract you away from the original argument.

He is unable to have a serious discussion about your feelings and how he makes you feel when he says those words. The most you'll get is laughter and a "mischievous smile". That isn't an apology, that isn't remorse. That is still pride.

I don't know what you would want to do about this other than take him aside and put your foot down here. He seems like he has had a life time of turning things around off himself that he would probably twist anything you have to say. I'd suggest marriage counselling but convincing him to go might be a different story. Your husband needs to learn how to communicate because right now he is bullying and emotionally abusing you

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The most you'll get is laughter and a "mischievous smile". That isn't an apology, that isn't remorse. That is still pride.

 

I think that is a really important observation. It does seem like he's proud of himself for manipulating and hurting you.

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He has issues alright, but it's not clear what they are. It has elements of being controlling about it (e.g., when he says things that are completely inappropriate and off - but designed to shut you up, like "stop arguing in front of our daughter, what kind of mother are you?" when you weren't even arguing). Calling you a bad mother is fairly emotionally abusive - which is also, again, controlling.

 

But it's very weird - I think you have to do something about it. Can you ask to see a counselor to talk the "other half" of your relationship over with? A psych might be able to give you some perspective on what's going on with him.

 

You've lived with him for 10yrs - what do you think his issue is?

 

I have had many ideas... I have thought for ages I was over sensitive, I have wondered if he has aspergers, and genuinely has no idea if what he says is hurtful, but am probably wrong on that! he is definitely a Jekyll and Hyde. I am not into star signs really, but he is a Gemini and I have looked it up and he really does change into a different person. I have wondered if the problem is that he actually doesnt like me anymore and finds me annoying. But then the same day, he will say how wonderful I am and how good I am with our daughter, and how he respects my work. (I work with children). He tells everyone about how proud he is about the work I do with kids but then tonight I mentioned something, and he said "god you go on and on about it." and I mean in a REALLY nasty way. his lip will curl as he says it. I really was surprised as I hadnt talked to him about it in ages and had just had a piece of good news. He looks really bored if I mention anything. It just seems to depend on his mood. About the controlling part, he does try to look at my emails, and texts and has an iphone tracker thing. He has never had any reason not to trust me. It's not as if he worries about me having an affair, he just likes to know. he watches the computer for my purchases and when I walk through the door says " why did you just spent $33 in the book store? or whatever... I dont know. I dont want to just moan on and on. If I suggested counselling to him, I think he would not be happy at all. Would you suggest counselling alone?

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Yes, I would absolutely suggest counseling alone. I think you very much need someone to give you clarity on what you are on the receiving end of because you are starting to believe it's your fault. You also have an obviously sweet and trusting disposition and you are excusing/explaining away a lot of really crap behavior on his part.. and feeling bad for complaining about it when you have every right to be very disturbed.

 

He monitors your movements and emails and tells you off for spending money?? Noo.. this is really bad - you should definitely get some counseling so someone can put the relationship in perspective for you.

 

There is something very wrong with him.

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I can't vouch for his behaviour being simply because he is a "Gemini", and even if I wasn't one, turning to astrology to explain his abusive behaviour is clutching at straws.

It is interesting to note however, that his compliments to you contradict his insults. I take this as he is either "erasing" the insult, or "erasing" the compliment when he does this depending on what order he has given them.

From what you've said, it seems he enjoys challenging you and arguing - and of course winning the arguments. As well as counselling, I would also take away the arguments. I wouldn't usually advise shutting up when he starts on you but in his unique case try it. "What did you just spend $33 dollars on?" - One word answer, then leave the room. Or sit down.

 

The case of his tracking you needs to stop. Just because you have nothing to hide doesn't mean he has a right into your private things. Put a lock on your phone, put a new password on your email. If he approaches you about this then you tell him that any important text or email you get you will forward to him immediately. For the rest, it is yours to view and he has no "right" or obligation to read anything you receive in your inbox. This isn't about proving to him that you are trustworthy, this is about taking away his control over you.

His issues with money are a method of control as well. Do you work? It almost sounds like because he is the only one who works, he is therefore the one in control of the money. It is a constant reminder that he is the one that gave you that money, therefore it is still his.

If you do work, then his purchases are just as much your business as yours are his.

I am glad you were able to speak up about this because you recognise the signs, and know that it isn't good. You are still making up excuses for his behaviour though, which you need to stop. Half of your marriage is peachy but it comes at a price. To make this man happy you need to have no privacy, no say in any important decision, no right over any money, and he needs to constantly build his ego with pointless arguments and winning them. That is not half good half bad, that is all bad - plus tolerable when he feels like it.

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CeeLambrini and Circe, you are both so nice. I really want to cry you have been so kind. Its so nice to get it out of my system and realise my internal worrying isnt crazy. Thank you so much. You have made me feel much better and given me alot of strength. I will take comfort from your words. I am going to definitely deal with this better. Seek some counselling and I think I realize that I need to consider getting out if it doesn't improve eventually. Obviously my daughter is number 1 in all of this. BTW, you were right on the money, I do work, BUT I earn significantly less than him. My contribution is about 20%. And your observation on the pride thing. YES! god its good to talk about this!!! I never talk about this stuff to my friends as it just sounds so awful, I don't want them to hate him, you know? Thank you. (I don't think you have heard the last of me though, sadly!)

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I get what you're saying, your friends would hate him if they knew all of this. Of course they would, you are much more important to them than he is so any advice they could offer would be completely biased, I think they'd all pool together and hand a big suitcase over! But things aren't always so black and white. You love this man, but you don't understand his mood swings. It's about getting the strength to tell your partner (not guardian, not ruler - your EQUAL partner) that the way he communicates with you hurts you and makes you question his feelings towards you.

Keep us updated, you are completely welcome to - it is still going to be tough from here out and you may need some more venting in order to keep things clear in your mind. Good luck mel

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Oh, I'm really glad this has helped. I think if you see a counselor you'll be able to get it all off your chest and see it for what it is. I hope you won't have to leave him and he'll be able to work on himself .. but it may be that the two of you will have to enter into a really rough patch (where you put your foot down and really require change and effort on his part to address all this) before he is willing to change. Good luck and keep us updated!

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I just wanted to add that I too would suggest that you seek individual councelling for what you are up against. His behavior is not 'normal'. In addition, as a way to understand more about what is going on I would suggest that you reflect on/look into the relationship he had with his parents, on the kind of relationship they have with each other and on what you know about his childhood upbringing. Sounds to me that he grew up in a very unhealthy family environment and as a child he was treated in a way that made him develop all sorts of dysfunctional 'defences'. However, this is not an excuse for you to be emotionally abused. In fact, you also need to reflect on your own upbringing and on whether something feels 'familiar' in the way he is treating you...And make no mistake: your daughter is affected by this as much as you if not worse - this is what 'normal' will feel to her when it comes to relationships and there is a risk that she will grow up to be attracted to that kind of behavior.

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