Passive Aggressive Husband

toxic relationship


How to protect your mind?

Being able to recognize every day who you are, what you are here for....pretty basic stuff, isn't it? I do remember that in my past work as a therapist in a psychiatric hospital, our everyday mantra was: "always remember who you are, and where you are working..." Silly, perhaps, but pointing to the difficult conditions under which we had to remember who we were, and what was supposed to be our task there....Otherwise, the emotional waves of so much psychic suffering you had to deal with would break on us and keep us captive of hurt, pain, and confusion.

Not easy, of course. Like in, when you are often near a person who is delusional and hear observations that make your brain need to remind yourself that those phrases are only delusional, not reality.

I learned at the psychiatric hospital ward the spontaneous steps to keep your own brain centered:

Detach, frame the interaction, deep breath to center and preserve your brain...repeat.

In some cases, you have the same experience while being the child, or the partner of a delusional person, and the same process applies:

Detach, frame the interaction, deep breath, center and preserve your brain...repeat.

Detach: Step back and ask yourself:  do I have to believe in this view of reality? is this a universal truth? or should I consider this proposition as the product of a different kind of mind, with its own rules?

Frame the interaction: What kind of ideas can you expect from a person having a serious psychological crisis? comments, suggestions, etc, are the product of a mind that has problems

Deep breath: as to center yourself with your whole body, and validate who you are and what experience are you having. What is my own perception? How is it different from the one proposed to me? How do I respect my own take on reality?

Being able to trust your own perception is such an important aspect of life, that can make or break your self-esteem. If you accept the negative opinions of others about you, you are cooperating with other people's imaginations about you...which will end up poisoning your self-perception.

Being in a passive-aggressive marriage slowly chips away at important parts of your self-perception. And you need to keep a sane mind to steer your own life!

Please, can you look at the possible negative messages you are receiving?

  • You feel constantly ignored and made feel insignificant: You receive the message: "you are insignificant"
  • You feel abandoned in the satisfaction of your emotional needs: You receive the message: "you don't matter"
  • You feel sexually unappreciated: You receive the message: "you are not sexually attractive for me...or for others"
  • You feel silenced when you mention the starvation of support and affection you experience: "you can be ignored"
Let's use now our modest plan of action: Detach, frame the interaction, deep breath to center and preserve your brain...repeat.
First step: DETACH:
"I recognize that those actions, and possibly his opinions about me, are only his opinions, but not my own truth. Whatever the origin of his opinions/ I have nothing to do with his perceptions of me because I'm my own person."
"As he grew up under conditions that forced him to compensate for his past hurt by becoming a passive-aggressive person, his behavior towards me is the only response he can do...
Whatever he is feeling towards me, is contaminated by his attachment, and potentially can be toxic for me. So, I need to detach."
"I'm different from what he sees on me. I'm a kind, lovable person who needs respect and affection...Whatever he does, I'm my own person and I know who I am and what do I need."
Even if you are still feeling insecure about why you feel this way, you need to decide, here and now, that you are a person worthy of attention:
This is a task that nobody can do for you: You need to begin just NOW to work on appreciating yourself.
Perhaps the impact of your husband’s lack of appreciation is building upon a deficient self-image from your childhood?
More reason to make a commitment with yourself, and begin accepting that you can’t keep waiting to feel better through his positive comments.
You need to know your own worth regardless of what other people see in you.
 You don’t need to know why he is doing it, because you are not his therapist!
The only aspect that matters now is the confusion between his perception of you and your own self-image. Keep breathing and repeat:
"I'm a kind, lovable person who needs respect and affection"
Of course, there is always more you have it:
Boosting Your Self Esteem: Be Your Own Heroine!
Waiting for your comments, and suggestions….
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9 years ago

After so many years I have realized that he won’t change – or possibly, it’s because he doesn’t want to change. Either way, it still brings you back to You. You can change. You can stop responding the way you have in the past. It’s not easy, and it hurts – and very sad for me after 39 years of marriage – but now that you are aware of the dynamics in your relationship, it would be self sabotage to do anything else.
Haha – a lot of what I said is still me trying to be my own cheerleader! But when i’m doubting myself I know that’s what I have to do. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and sadly I still love him but I know he’s incapable of returning it. I just refuse to let him continue to hurt me.
I stopped lashing out and getting angry at him in self-defense little while ago. Our conversations/arguments were toxic – it was a game of ping-pong that never stopped. I’m still working on realizing that I don’t need his validation.
I know you want them to hear you but, It’s actually easier when you decide not to play the game and lash back out at him. Because when you calmly listen to him (I mean really,really listen to him and what he says and what he does) – you can see and hear clearly their inability to connect or to care. This helps to reinforce your belief in yourself. When you’re angry you’re in capable of seeing them as they truly are because you’re caught up in your own emotions.

Reply to  Maria
9 years ago

Hi Maria,
thanks for writing here. If this husband changes or not depends of several variables: age, duration of the marriage, degree of insight of the person, and others.
When I hear a question like this, I have to ask: how many years have you been living in this situation? This is to know how comfortable he has become in this situation. If you both are in your sixties, the way of life is the only one he knows, and is almost permanent. I mean that for him, being and behaving as a PA husband is the most convenient way he has found, and why would he like to change that? If the marriage is below ten years, there is more motivation to want to change. And all of this if and when you both get to a shared understanding of his behavior. He has to recognize the strong influence from his mother or caretaker, the quality of his attachment, (never a secure one, but an insecure and/or avoidant attachment is the norm). Having a not secure attachment means that the person never learned to trust, always is expecting a blow from the partner and as a result, hides inside a shell of silence and privacy. If they had avoidant attachment (being rejected, abandoned, etc) means that it is almost impossible connect emotionally, because they blame themselves (“I’m never good enough to be loved or accepted”)and don’t expect anyone will love them. So, they escape into isolation and abandonment of their partner.
This is a short capsule of what I have learned working with clients in this situation. Younger men who really want to stay married and appreciate being valued by their wives will understand what kind of effort they have to do to relate effectively with their wife and distinguish between the wife and the hated mother…But the spouse has a role also: has to be accepting and patient and understand the ways in which she can help him “snap out of it” and re-connect. Will be providing more information about what to do soon. Meanwhile, remember that the best antidote to the silent treatment is to value yourself having a strong self-esteem and focus on a clear mission in life, for you, to be done with or without him.

9 years ago

can a passive aggressive man really change… husband said he wants to make things right ..but after years of the thing he said and did and made me feel….i just dont trust him….any words of wisdom on this ..thanks

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