Another new member bio (sort of)

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Aug 5, 2008, 12:01:35 PM8/5/08
to Passive Aggression
I've just recently recognized that I am passive-aggressive.
Unfortunately, to get to this realization my marriage has gotten to
the point where it may not survive. I've been married for over 8
years, and with my wife for over 11 years. Just yesterday she gave me
an article about it, and I match nearly all of the behaviors.

I know now I've had this behavior my whole life, it just never was
that big an issue while we were both in school, not moving or changing
jobs. Now that we've had to move and had several other stressful
event occur, I've really let my wife down.

I've promissed to help, then done nothing. I don't communicate with
her about what I'm feeling or even what's going on. I get defensive
and make reactionary excuses when she tries to tell me how she's
feeling. I back down when dealing with work authority figures,
basically putting family second. I procrastinate. Basically any of
the P-A behaviors, I do.

For years I denied anything was wrong. She would tell me I was being
P-A and I would always think she was being completely unreasonable.
She's a psych major, she knows what she's talking about.

It's so automatic that if I don't stop and think about what I'm going
to say, the excuses and deflection just come out and it isn't until
I'm told what I've done that I really see it.

I'm really hoping I can get my eyes opened and change the way I am. I
know people don't often change. But I'm about to loose someone I
deeply care about. And the way I've acted and not let her in, I can't
say that I blame her. She's an amazing woman and in many ways I've
treated her as an accessory in my life.

Growing up I had a perfect stew of passive-aggression. My mom (I
realize now, but not then) is controlling. In the nicest possible
way, but still controlling. My step-father is incredibly P-A, but is
very capable of becoming aggressive (not violent, just going off if
not everything is going right). He's an adult child of an alcoholic,
but has never acknolwedged it. You can tell if something frustrates
him because he won't usually talk about it, or just say "Never mind"
then go off and do what he was going to anyway. Mom doesn't confront
him on his behavior, and will often tell him one thing then do
another. Usually with money, but can be anything.

I didn't live with my biological father, but he is probably the most
passive aggressive person I've ever met. He has a way of turning
things around on you, no matter what it is. If you confront him on
it, he becomes incredibly defensive and lashes out. In fact, he
hasn't called me in over a year because I confronted him on how he
treated my wife. That confrontation was probably the hardest thing
I've ever had to do, and it should have been second nature to step up
and defend my wife. I called him from my car on the way home so my
wife wouldn't see me back down as I knew I would. Of course she was
incredibly hurt by this. We called later, and I was so anxious I
needed a xanax. And of course that's when he lashed out. I tried a
couple of other times to talk to him, but it just kept getting
progressively worse. It finally ended with him telling me he was glad
my wife was not comfortable going to their house and saying that I was
immature (I was 28 at the time) and allowed myself to be controlled.
My step-mother joined in later saying that it was all my wife's fault
and that I would be happier when I had my second wife.

And now I see I repeat alot of these behaviors. For a P-A it is so
ironic: To get better and avoid the relationship killing conflicts
that have plagued us, we have to be assertive, and honestly put our
emotions out. The very things that we think cause conflict.

I can't tell you how many fights have arrisen between my wife and I
because I was trying to avoid conflict by not telling her something,
or hiding something, or trying to defend myself when no defense was

I just really hope it isn't too late. A lot of damage has been done,
and she has lost almost all trust in me. I know she still loves me,
but she hurts so much from my actions.

PS: I've found some resources on the web, but if anyone has any good
suggestions I'd really like to hear them. Also, any recommendations
for a type of councilor to handle this? There are a few licensed
professional councilors, licensed clinical social workers, and
psychologists around where we'll be living shortly.

Howard, Alan

Aug 6, 2008, 2:08:16 AM8/6/08
Hello nadmonk, welcome to this group. Thank you so much for writing such a detailed description of why you're here.

When I started learning about passive aggression, one of the things that stood out for me was that wherever I looked, all the 'experts' were telling me that passive aggression cannot be cured, and that all they can do is hope to control it.

I'm not so sure that's true.

What are some of the common traits of passive aggressives? Procrastination, inefficiency, avoidance, blaming others....

It's very easy for a passive aggressive to continue the trend and find reasons why they can't be 'cured'. They may even use the diagnosis itself of being passive aggressive to justify why they can't change who they are.

I think that's a copout, however. Over the past two years, since I became aware of my own passive aggression, I've taken active steps to try and deal with it. I've looked at the traits of passive aggression, recognised where I'm doing them, and consciously tried to do exactly the opposite.

I think 'cures' for what we have can simply be the result of making a decision.

What helped me was the realisation that my passive aggression was only hurting ME, and preventing ME from realising my true potential or finding my true happiness. I realised that it's not up to someone else to help me cure it, or to understand and accept me for who I am.

It was up to me to refuse to accept my own intolerable behaviour. I was responsible for what I was doing, no one else. Sure, I could blame my parents all I wanted... But they're not in control of my life any more. I am. It was up to me to take control and stop blaming others for my behaviour.

Instead of being defensive, I've tried to listen to what people are saying. Instead of believing they have it wrong, I've tried to accept that they might just have it right.

The people around us are reflecting back to us the things we need to know. If we're being intolerable due to behavioural issues like passive aggression, then those around us will do the same thing back to us that we're doing to them. They won't realise this, but they're reacting to what we're provoking.

If we truly care about those we love, we will listen to them. We will stop engaging in behaviour that is sabotaging our relationships and our careers. We will look to forgive those we are angry with.

By forgiving someone else, we are also forgiving ourselves for being affected by them.

We will also be honest with our feelings, and our wants and needs. Instead of just agreeing with others in order to avoid conflict, we'll do only what we want to do. We'll look at how we feel about something, and take action to change things if we can, or move on from the things we can't.

I left my fiance a few months ago. We'd been together for just over 3 years. She helped me grow, and she helped me understand a whole lot more about who I am. I love her dearly, and always will. But she has her own issues which were holding me back. For the first time in my life, I separated from someone not through fear or anger, but because I realised that we just weren't any good together. Instead of growing together, we were growing apart.

I'm still extremely sad by how it's all turned out, but instead of being with her and being resentful, angry, passive aggressive, etc, I decided to take charge.

It was at a very bad time for me. My father had just died (February this year), and I was unable to find a new contract and had almost exhausted my savings. I was extremely stressed by everything, and then my fiance was adding on to the stress by being stressed about me not working. When she demanded that I stop grieving and get a job so she can feel better about our situation, I realised I was with the wrong person. I didn't have her support when I needed it the most.

So I made the decision to leave her, and we discussed it, and she agreed that it was for the best. We weren't fulfilling each other, and the entire three years had been a constant struggle.

A week after we split up, I got a new contract...

Her and I make better friends than partners, and we're still sharing a house and still very much in love with each other (not intimately any more). We just know that we aren't suitable for each other as life partners.

I know that if I was continuing to be passive aggressive, I would have stayed in this relationship - as I have done with most other relationships - until she got sick and tired of my bullsh*t and left me. Passive aggressives don't like to take charge, because then they become responsible for their actions, and they can't blame anyone else but themselves.... That's a no-no. They need to blame others.

So I took responsibility for my own happiness, and my own life. I discovered I needed to be single again in order to grow from this point and move forward. I don't know how long I'll be single for, but I know I'm not looking and won't be looking for some time.

A friend of mine is married, and has been for 4 years now. Both him and his wife are passive aggressives, and he can't remember the last time he was happy.... It's very sad. But he doesn't want to leave her, because he doesn't want to be alone. They argue all the time. She spends the money he tries to save, and then when he works longer hours to make up for the financial drain, she accuses him of not caring about her or his family (they have two small kids, one with downs syndrome). He has a car he loves and works on only every Friday night. She's told him to sell it to prove he loves her, and that if he doesn't sell it, then he obviously doesn't love her. So he's selling the car.

I spat the dummy at him! He's only allowing the continuation of her behaviour by agreeing to everything she demands. And she's making the demands of him because his own behaviour makes her feel that he doesn't love her. Neither of them are willing to change, however, and so they continue a life of unhappiness and misery, staying together 'for the kids'.

Sometimes, when you love someone you still need to leave them because it's the right thing to do for yourself, and for your own happiness and growth.

Deciding if that's what you need to do, or if you're lashing out with passive aggression can often be very challenging.

But anyway....

Sorry for such a long email, but I hope some of what I've said has been helpful. Basically, us passive aggressives have to stop accepting our own excuses and make some serious changes to get ourselves out of this stupid rut we're in. Take charge of our lives and actually do something proactive. We are responsible for everything we do and feel, and even the reactions people have to our behaviour. BE responsible, and make some changes. :)

All the best!


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Ellen Riech

Aug 6, 2008, 8:22:41 AM8/6/08
Thank you! I am still struggling. My passive-aggressive husband is
now out of work. My daughter will be leaving for college soon.

Carla McDonough

Aug 6, 2008, 11:18:40 AM8/6/08
Dear Mr. Nadmonk, Wow.....You are on the brink of the greatest battle for living a full life and that is Fear and Insecurity.....The worst and best fighters against freedom around.....I appreciate your honesty and forthright integrity in identifying your role in the ememies camp. I have been married to a PA for 25 years but left him over a year ago and he is just now learning his personal patterns and issues that are counterproductive to living in a healthy relationship with anyone. We have 4 sons, ages 23, 18, 17 & 15, Which I trained to take personal responsibility for their decisions by conscience and care for self and others....Not easy...all the while communicating one way on boundries and influence by repeated choices to change my husband.....I sent him your email yesterday (thanking you) so he will be able to break apart for himself...
     I am angry and hurt for all those years invested toward growth seem to have been taken for granted, fallen on a deaf ear and all things that are good were taken advantage of and for years I allowed myself to be devalued...I believe there is hope for this disability in character..although, The effort and courage to fight for truth, light and life must be in the hands and responsiblity of the one who will take personal ownership..CJ

--- On Tue, 8/5/08, nadmonk <> wrote:


Sep 8, 2008, 4:30:34 PM9/8/08
to Passive Aggression
It's good to read what other people have to say about this. It also
makes me sad that not everyone is able to recognize this behavior in
themselves no matter how hard those around them try. If you're in a
relationship with a PA, please remember that you aren't at fault.
It's easy to get caught in a cycle with them. And when one person it
behaving that way it is very easy to start to be that way in return.
When a person has behaved that way their whole life, they have a
denial system so strong, it is very difficult to break through.

Just to give a little update for everyone.

Things are going better than they were. I still do find myself
slipping into old patterns, but I think I'm starting to be able to
recognize them when I do them or before they happen.

I think the biggest key so far for me, is acknowledging what I'm
feeling, whether good or bad. That awareness really helps put the
experience into context and let's you take a step back. Sometimes I
find myself realizing, "wow, that is not a normal way to react to that
situation." Those are the times when I take a deep breath and accept
that something is frustrating me and work on how I can correct it.

That's not to say that happens all of the time, sometimes my wife
points out my behavior. So there is definitely still work to be done.

Throwing into all of that, I've just started a new job with a lot more
responsibility and with a managerial component, budget decisions,
policy decisions, dealing with our contractors, etc. So a lot of
situations where conflict of some form or another will naturally be a
part of it.

Basically PA treatment boot camp. I definitely don't want to be
caught in the trap of trying to make everything seem ok just to avoid

I haven't been able to get into counciling yet. My health insurance
won't be active for a little bit. And while it doesn't exactly make
it free, it helps.

I have been reading Overcoming Passive Aggression:How to Stop Hidden
Anger from Spoiling Your Relationships, Career, and Happiness by Tim
Murphy and Loriann Oberlin.. It seems to be a an excellent book, as
it is for both those who are PA and those affected by it. And it
talks about how to work on it, rather than just dealing with those who
are PA.

It's so easy to fall back into old patterns...
I know it won't be easy, and I know it may not always be good, but I
never want it to be as bad as it was.
I also know I need to be working on this a lot more than I am. It's
easy to "let" your schedule to precedence over this, but I think even
just thinking about it introspectively for a little bit each day is a

Open communication is the key. With the final major melt downs the
thing at the root of it all for my wife, even more than how I can act
like a jerk (although it is still a big part of it), is how I don't
let her into my life. By not telling her what I'm thinking or what
I'm feeling, or if I don't like something, or that I want to do

For so long, I though it was good that I would say I didn't care if we
did something or not. Sometimes I really don't care, but so often she
just wanted me to take charge of a situation and be in control. I see
not that what I was really doing was not just going with the flow, but
placing all of the responsibility into her hands.

And I did that for everything from choosing where to eat dinner, to
what to see at the movies, to buying a house that I probably knew we
couldn't afford but went along with it because I didn't want to upset
my wife. She wanted a house so badly that I didn't want to disappoint

The important thing I think to remember is that these are really
lies. Lies of omission. And the fall out can be far worse than any
disagreement that might come over having to say that this might not
work now.
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