Passive Aggressive Husband


Wishing to resuscitate a dying marriage just now?

 I just received some reader's letter, where she describes her utter desolation because she is watching her ex-husband doing to his new fiancée all those nice behaviors she was dreaming of:
  • being attentive,
  • showing care,
  • sharing his time,
  • introducing her to everyone,
  • praising her in public, etc.
And her question was: "If he is able to behave in this way with someone else, what was missing from our marriage that he never behaved in such a way?" Was it something she didn't do or provide?
Of course, you can hear a lot of familiar feelings creeping in: self-incrimination, blame, and despair...The deep feeling that she didn't do enough to save (unilaterally) her marriage was taking hold of her.  Was there something she could have done better?
Of course, we always have some regrets. Looking back, some aspects of the story now look like we could have done retrospect, we have all this clear view of productive and unproductive attitudes. And this reader letter got me thinking:
Suppose that you are in a marriage in the terminal state, where the only dignified option is to leave now:
Imagine that, at the last-minute, (and only to conjure future regrets and be able to remind yourself and others:  "I did all that I could,") you decide to try something totally outrageous, out of the blue...really being sure that it would not change the situation an iota. Just to have the last confirmation that your relationship is truly dead.
Then, what would you try? Radical forgiveness!
What is that? a purposeful effort to stop looking at the negative aspects of your partner, and those of your relationship.
Gather all the memories and their negative labels, put everything in a box named "Learning Experiences of my Life" and take it to the basement, stored way back far away from you. 
Now, comes the heroic aspect of this technique: you have to look at this person as if he is a new person, and treat him with interest and respect. Common courtesy also would be welcomed. Nothing comes back from the past, so no resentment or recriminations, only an attitude of: "what can we learn from each other?" that has no demands, but positive expectations. Of course, there are no expectations that this alone can resuscitate a dying marriage, at the point of separation. But, the absence of acrimony and hate can do marvels for the dignity of a peaceful separation.
What would it take to carry out this radical forgiveness before that point, where you begin to see miracles?  It takes a lot of courage to decide, out of the blue, that we are going to do something radically different!
Notwithstanding what we got to believe about this person, (and the list of his bad behaviors can be very long)...if we decide to erase all negativity and show appreciation of whatever small kindness is there, of a little attention offered, of a glass of water in impossible for the other side not to notice. And there resides the beauty of this practice: when we do it, is so surprising for the other side, (only focusing on defense against "aggression") that this new behavior rips away all those defenses...and allows some different connection to be re-established.
Trust? perhaps a bit; understanding? also, appreciation? You bet!
In this week, it is impossible to accept that there are people so hardened that would not accept and appreciate some respect and kindness. It is the chain of reciprocal behaviors: someone does something positive, and another person appreciates it, and then the first person is motivated to do more of that behavior...and we have a circle of positive emotions doing the miracle. Perhaps it's impossible to restore the initial amount of love and trust, but we could aim for reestablishing trust and respect instead of resentment and anger. This is not a small bargain when you share children and grandchildren, but some attitude change that all will appreciate heartily.
 Do you think that in your case resuscitating your marriage would take some saintly forgiveness and a miracle too? Tell us! 
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Reply to  Norafem
10 years ago

Dear Nora,
Fine! LOL!
You do a good job. I have referred several people to your site, even some men. I tell them all to put he/she in for gender. Because it is the behavior we are looking at not the gender. It may be more prevalent in men, who knows?
Just like the books I have read on Borderline Personality Disorder say that it is 3 to 1 more prevalent in woman. A common thread I see in both is the effect of a parent on personality development. Both PA & BPD put a lot of emphasis on the mothers part.
Thank you for the welcome. You have been a big aid in my recovery :)!
Most of all I want to express my gratitude to you.
Happy Easter!

Reply to  JWF
10 years ago

Dear JWF, you don’t know how many times we think about this side of the problem..but there are not so many takers: men complaining about PA wives. Just in case, if you are serious about your interest in the issue, you can go to our alternative site:, and post there your comments…You are 100% welcome!

10 years ago

Hello Guys! In my opinion! You are right on target but only 50% accurate.
PA is not a gender based problem. So you only address men with the disorder.
What about women who are PA, and their affect on a relationship & family? I would think you would address both? In my experience it is just as prevalent in women & just as detrimental, maybe even more mental. LOL!
I sure appreciate 50% of the work you do well 100%.

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