How to Deal with a Difficult Husband

dealing with a difficult husband

 Want to know how to deal with a difficult husband?

 

When we did a recent survey about the impact of your husband’s behavior on your own emotional situation, the results show a consistent perception of not being loved, or worst feeling openly rejected. That, combined with some isolation from your loved ones, due to his lack of ability to develop supportive relationships with your own family and friends, makes a very worrisome perspective.

Let’s be clear: deprived from loving support from your spouse, and unable to tap into connections with your own relationships have to be the basis for your present isolation. It becomes almost paralysis, as many of the posters in AskNora tell, when you realize that you don’t know what to do to improve your situation, and see the emotional support network missing. The question: “what can I do, being by myself, no family or friends, and his passive aggression leaves me isolated and stuck in this emotional desert?” is too frequent and begs an answer.

Most of the attempts to deal with a difficult husband are based on changing him. Lots of thought, prayers, and conversations are geared towards:

a) making him realize how wrong he is behaving in his marriage, and the damage caused;

b) hoping that after realizing point a), he will make the necessary decisions to improve his behavior.

If you have been here, now you know that this plan doesn’t work! Is a terrible loss of time and energy to try to change him…when he is being difficult and more even difficult because he feels threatened by your change program.

We have proposed here that in order to preserve your sanity, you need to drop all attempts to change him. If and when a difficult husband decides to improve his behavior, is his own decision making. There is no way you can make the horse drink, even you you push it to the river…

What if you, in a brave conversation with yourself, face the following question:

What am I postponing or blocking in my own life by having the focus on his change? What is the task I need to do to develop myself into the person I want to be, if I can dedicate all that emotional energy to improve myself?”

We all have a mission in life, something larger than us that gives our lives a sense of meaning. Either it’s your children, or your vocation, you need to discover and to respect your mission in life. Doing it will allow you to continue your personal development and achieving maturity. Now, being stuck in the drama that a passive aggressive husband abundantly provides, you forget what is your personal mission, get lost in power struggles with him, and all that leaves you in a swamp of immature wrangling with him and his tricks.

I’m inviting you to see yourself from this vantage point of view: What would you like to be, if you could use your energy, brain, skills and endurance to that purpose? What would you love to accomplish, being free to put your emotional strength to better use?

The most interesting point of my proposal is that, once your mission becomes your focus in life, and not your husband long wished for changes, he is left without the most basic reason for his behaving like a difficult child: you are not there anymore to validate that behavior! Simply, you ignore him because you are busy with your own mission, and having fun doing it…and receiving emotional support from the people around you, now that they can respect and appreciate your gifts. He has nobody to frustrate, because you get your emotional nurturance from other source different from him.

If this suggestion resonates with you, then perhaps you are ready to think on how to redesign your life plan….towards more happiness, self-confidence and emotional security? We will talk about that soon! meanwhile, talk back to me, using the comments below. I’m always happy to get into a conversation with you! Many thanks!

About Nora Femenia

Nora Femenia, Ph.D, is the CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions and the author of the book: "The Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband," a field guide for women that have to deal with passive aggression in their partners. Nora also posts regularly on her blog Creative Conflicts. Visit her blog and join the community to discuss issues related to Conflicts, Relationships and receive also Free her book “Breaking Free From The Silent Treatment.” You are warmly welcomed here, because we care for your happiness!

Comments

  1. How would you work on this if you had a chronic illness and so your life (work, social, leisure etc) is v limited?

  2. My thought is why be married to someone you can’t share your physical or emotional life with? I have for 33 years and left 6 months ago. I stayed because he would have tried to take my children ( to hurt me) when they were young and our son had Asperger syndrome and is just now living alone. He finally hurt me and humiliated me enough to leave…sadistic aggression is part of his personality too. Learned from mother and brother…horrible

  3. My thought is why be married to someone you can’t share your physical or emotional life with? I have for 33 years and left 6 months ago. I stayed because he would have tried to take my children ( to hurt me) when they were young and our son had Asperger syndrome and is just now living alone. He finally hurt me and humiliated me enough to leave…sadistic aggression is part of his personality too. Learned from mother and brother…horrible

  4. Hi. Thanks for that yes I do need to focus the thoughts back on me as when I say stuff to him about passive aggressive he doenst even know what it is. It’s not just him anyway, I create my own reality, but I thought it until recently was the reality form me being a really nasty person, and it wasnt until I got objective with distance that I realised that it was not that, I am a good person, just in a bad relationship with alot of low self esteem as a result.

    It really screws with my mind.

    I feel so weak from it, right now I feel like crying. It seems really hard to leave, and I did do that 2 years ago. but he wouldn’t leave me alone and just didn’t move on and now we are back together as he seemed as if he wanted it. But now he just does the same angry crap without telling me why and not talking and not doing anything but being depressed. He wont take responsibility for the kids and when I get angry the kids get angrier at me as I am always the one having to do the making sure they are on track.

    I actually dont know how to move forward as the energy it takes to be in the relationships is enormous. I have tried working on me and my business, but I feel worthless with nothing to offer.

    I have little money and depend on him and to get away from that I have to have self esteeem to build my own business up.

    I do need some kind of support I tell you.

    Thanks for this website.

  5. Thank you so much for this article. I am moving forward now. I recently find my life goal on my own and can finally free of my emotions. I am sure there still be up and down living with my husband. But I will stay focus. Thanks

  6. Thanks Kera for this comment…and congrats for finding your life purpose! You will have now so many happy days, working and creating and feeling centered in your own project. Then, marital frustration will not be the main point that defines you….it gets to be a secondary, inconsequential one….You go, girl!

  7. Dear Lou Lou

    First, congratulations for discovering this truth:

    “I am a good person, just in a bad relationship with a lot of low self esteem as a result.”
    Up until the moment when you are strong to leave him, your immediate focus has to be becoming stronger yourself. You have learned the lesson when you left: he would come back begging, because he needs a slave to process whatever feelings he can’t deal with. So, next time, you need to leave him when you feel so strong as to stay alone, without him, regardless his requests and promises.
    Make a simple plan, composed of baby steps:

    list your positive aspects, and make a duty to remember them each day;
    find little things to do that give you pleasure: gardening, cooking, writing;
    surround yourself with old or new friends, face to face or online, who can know your good qualities
    AND, LASTLY, remember that feeling worthless is only a consequence of low self-esteem…find all the activities that raise your self-esteem, embrace them daily and have joy seeing yourself feeling better/happier.

  8. That is the crucial question..people don’t leave because still think they have to help him heal (without signals from him of wanting change); perhaps they have hopes; perhaps they are afraid of having to live alone and start over.

    Recovering your self-esteem, being able to respect yourself and to find people who truly appreciate you is a life-saver….Staying put has a terrible price!

  9. I would focus only on what gives me life: pleasure, joy and self-esteem….I would stop at once doing things to please him. Even in limited ways, I would make a list of the possible activities that would grant more respect, appreciation and peace for me. And would be sure to make some of them first thing of each day…
    Having more joy is no silly project: will make you feel better and surround your chronic illness with a cloak of invisibility: you would focus only on the joy!

  10. My husband has already been diagnosed with major depression on top of his passive aggressive nature. For awhile he was managing it. He has been without a job since 2009 so no income, no friends, no life in his eyes, causes the depression, I get that. But when he completely shuts down, just sits in the chair and watch tv while I handle everything, work, household, teenagers, bills, finances, I am at a lost of what to do. A simple of thing of me not bringing home souvenirs for our teenagers (from a place they have been a zillion times) sets him into a rampage on how selfish I am. When I shut down and say I am not talking to you or doing anything for you until you apologize, then the rampages are frequent, meaner. He doesn’t mind calling me derogatory names in front of the kids, telling them that I do nothing for him, and then also refusing to do anything for them – I have to insist he takes them or picks them up (neither one of them drives) during times when they need to be and I am at work. Those confrontations are him cursing in front of the kids even when I am calm.

    I am trying to stay focussed. I just don’t know how to get him to do the things I need him to do, for the kids specifically, without being like WWIII.

  11. I realized that my whole marriage is based on PA. I feel like I am being punished because I do not do things the way my husband thinks I should do but he never really says what that is. It is usually focused around my son and around money. He refuses to take care of any of the financial planning like wills, trusts, budgeting, planning for retirement and mostly because I am helping my son with his tuition and care while he is in college(at least that is the excuse currently). I do feel very alone and frustrated. I am a businesswoman and well respected in my profession and I find it hard to understand why we can’t even take care of the simple things. Everything is kept in secret and I have been trying to get him to dowork with me as a partner instead of keeping everything secret and separate because I love him and we should be looking out for each other but it seems his goal is to keep me from what I want most to be loved. It is just a big mess.

  12. I realized that my whole marriage is based on PA. I feel like I am being punished because I do not do things the way my husband thinks I should do but he never really says what that is. It is usually focused around my son and around money. He refuses to take care of any of the financial planning like wills, trusts, budgeting, planning for retirement and mostly because I am helping my son with his tuition and care while he is in college(at least that is the excuse currently). I do feel very alone and frustrated. I am a businesswoman and well respected in my profession and I find it hard to understand why we can’t even take care of the simple things. Everything is kept in secret and I have been trying to get him to dowork with me as a partner instead of keeping everything secret and separate because I love him and we should be looking out for each other but it seems his goal is to keep me from what I want most to be loved. It is just a big mess.

  13. Mrs Wallpaper says:

    After 2 years of lurking on this site I finally downloaded “Art of Living with a Passive Aggressive Husband.” Not only am I married to a PA he is also a sex addict and I am a very severe co-addict. He fits the avoidant and I fit the anxious types perfectly. You are absolutely right that my whole being was focused on getting him to change. After so many years, thousands spent on rehab and counselors, the light finally went on today–he’s not going to change. Ever.

    I also realize that I CAN change. I can still do most of the things I want to and stay married to him. And perhaps if my life is fulfilled in other areas I won’t want his attention so much and the sex a few times a month will satisfy me. Reading the e-book is like reading my life story. Also read “Sexless Marriage” and boy was that an eye opener. He totally controls me by withholding. He admitted to me recently that he’s angry that I decided “unilaterally” (his word) to quit doing certain things with him that I found distasteful. It’s hysterical because he unilaterally makes decisions all the time but when I do it he’s enraged.

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