The decision to divorce anyone is a very difficult one, but it can be especially hard if you are married to a passive-aggressive. Because one day he is acting nice to you, and seems as loving and nurturing as the day you married, and then the next day, he is making your life hell. It can make you question your decisions about divorcing your husband.
Today, we'll be sharing with you the top 5 questions you should be asking yourself.
How Do You Make Your Decision?
First: Have you used this free survey? It helps determine how much passive aggression there is at home:
Now, let's follow up with your questions...Notice that these questions are issues you need to answer in order to prepare for what happens after divorcing him:
1. How Much Pain Do You Have To Suffer To Be Able To Say "STOP, No More"?
Within your passive aggressive marriage, you have been giving up your own dreams to satisfy your husband's child-like need for support and attention. Whether out of love or fear, you learned to stop talking about the things that you wanted, because it made him jealous and angry.
Not only that, you have lost your dignity, by having to be a mother and a wife to your husband. You've had to squash your own thoughts, opinions, and ideas to keep "the man of the house" pleased and calm - it's either your dignity or peace and peace is what keeps a family together, right?
Except that, when your dignity is trashed, and when you go along with his game of passive-aggressiveness, he forces you to give up your self-respect, as well. Remember that he's passive-aggressive - he won't just take your self-esteem and self-respect, he'll make you give it up willingly, which is all the more heart-breaking.
How Much Is Enough? Is Today Enough? When Will It Be?
2. Where Is Your Self-Esteem?
Divorcing your husband requires a little self-esteem - you have to feel that you deserve equal treatment before demanding it. You won't be full of confidence for a while (it will take time to heal), but you can get on the right track by looking at how your husband has hurt your self-esteem and how divorcing your husband will help you get your self-esteem back.
How do you know that you have diminished self-esteem? You don't trust your ideas or gut feelings, you wait for permission/confirmation from others about actions, you second guess decisions about what is best for you and select poor options, you don't think that you can make a good life for yourself or your children without someone else's help. All of these need to be recognized in yourself so that you can see how deeply entrenched in your husband's game you are. You need to break off the mentality that "I can't live without this man as my husband." You can, and you have to show him that you can.
3. How Are You Going To Avoid Feeling Guilty?
In a marriage where gender roles are strict, or if you come from a family where you were taught to be a "proper" woman, being invited to focus on yourself and your life purposes can make you feel guilty. They told you that you were in this life to take care and serve others (namely your husband), and focusing on making yourself happy can feel like a terrible thing to do.
Meanwhile, your husband has told you that you are not able to survive without others helping you (making you a psychic cripple). He'll do anything he can to make you feel like you're "abandoning" a "loving" husband, a "perfect" family, your kids, your livelihood, your dignity, or anything else within reach he can throw at you.
How are you going to avoid his guilt trip or that of society? A good place to start is questions 1 and 2. Compare what the guilt-trippers say to what you really know. Is there any possible logical reason, at all, that you should feel guilty for leaving an abusive husband?
4. How Will You Detach From Him Before Leaving?
Here is a danger involved with divorcing your passive-aggressive husband: your husband, knowing exactly what you have been waiting all those years to have (a loving, understanding companion to share life), will now promise that all that will happen. And a part of you thinks: what if I leave now and he was finally going to deliver the answer to my dreams? It's like waiting for a shooting star to pass: you haven't seen one, but you're haunted by the idea that one will pass just as you turn away.
This is what you need to be prepared for. What should your response be? Tell yourself the truth. Ask yourself, why is he telling me this? What has been waiting for, if he's really capable of it? Realize that his speech is a verbal mirage that he is weaving to keep you here (without asking for more and or leaving, because you'll now wait patiently). He knows what you need and wants perfectly; he has been manipulating you all this time (dangling the "happy marriage" carrot in front of you), telling you that he can be the person you need.
Tell yourself that it is a false promise; either he can't or will not deliver that kind of relationship.
To detach before divorcing your husband means looking reality in the face and tell yourself: "Whatever he says, he was unable to deliver before, and he can't deliver this in the future. I must not be lured by false promises; he is doing this to break my resolve, knowing damn well what I have been wishing for and waiting for all our married life."
5. What Will My New Life Look Like?
Imagining your new life, pain-free, abuse-free, is extremely important. Maybe you're going to pursue that college degree you never received or the position at work that requires you to move to a new city. Perhaps you're going to spend more time with the kids or with some distant family. Whatever it is that your passive-aggressive husband has been holding you back from, now is the time to seize it and realize that you can finally do it.
Your husband will try to lure you back by conjuring up images of your "perfect marriage" and the "good life" you have together, about how he's a "great provider" and a "loving partner." You may need to rehearse a speech, or bring cards, or have some another reminder with you that will help you focus on what you're really trying to say: "You've hurt me, and I won't let you do it anymore. I can't stay with you."
Your road to divorcing your passive-aggressive husband will be a bumpy one, and you need a guide that you can trust. Talk to our marriage coach, Dr. Nora, to get personal feedback on your situation and in-depth relationship coaching on how to tell your passive-aggressive husband that you want a divorce.
Nora Femenia, Ph.D. is 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 and need to remain married to them.
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