Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, December 25, 2017
A Passive Aggressive Husband Shields Himself From Intimacy
Living with a passive aggressive husband is a very disconcerting experience. You are fighting against shadows, and it is possible that it takes you a long time to realize the real nature of the relationship. By "fighting against shadows," we want to convey the meaning that you never have a concrete, real, and constant obstacle.
As it is based in an emotional resistance to intimacy, then you get all the gamut of denial, evasion, silence, and all the ways of "not really being here with you" he can muster. This style of communication is usually perceived by the victim as in this case: "My husband never says my name; he fails to acknowledge my presence, does not give me any compliments ever or volunteer help or information. He rarely asks me a question of any kind, or God forbid, inquire about my wants, needs, feelings, etc."
The wife's experience is one of emotional abandonment, including rejection of any intimacy. His safest moves are usually connected with the basics of shared life: food, household items, the weather, car issues.
What is missing here? the very heart of marriage, which is a level of openness and intimacy: the ability to connect with intangibles such as feelings and perceptions and dreams. "He has cut almost all connections between us and fails to participate in our marriage relationship. He never drinks, smokes, yells or hits me, but I'd prefer that he do, so I can know what is inside him...."
WHAT IS PASSIVE AGGRESSION?
Passive aggression is caused by a person's learned and deep fear of expressing his/her anger directly to whoever (in this case his spouse) is aggravating them, having to resort to covert abuse to express their frustration and anger. The passive aggressive person is a master at covert abuse. Covert abuse is subtle, and veiled or disguised by actions that appear to be accidental.
A passive aggressive personality involves a set of "resistance" behaviors-from innocuously dropping things or seeming to forget tasks, to open task procrastination. It can escalate to all-out sabotage-in which case we recognize that there is a passive aggressor's intention to get back at his partner without that person being able to recognize his underlying anger, or doing something to resolve it.
Passive aggressive people have an ax to grind concerning past situations where their right to anger was not allowed to surface. Probably in their family of origin there were threats of abandonment or any other punishment preventing them from being honest with their feelings, and thus they never learned how to be able to express them in the most appropriate way. Now, as adults, their aim is to resist work, couple and other social demands, because they identify them as coming from the hated enemy of their past: such as parents and authority figures.
This unsolved anger business, a leftover from their past, is being re-enacted now on a daily basis against unsuspecting partners: bosses, spouses, parents, teachers, or anyone who has power or authority.
PA husbands take genuine pleasure here and now in frustrating their spouse, seen as "stand in" or replacement for the authority figures of their past. Any spouse can stand in the role of the absent parent, master or teacher, unknowingly "invited" to participate in this game while thinking that they are instead in a cooperative partnership among equals. A passive aggressive husband can drive his wife into a crazy and confused state, but he seems sincerely dismayed when confronted with his behavior.
Due to their own lack of insight into their feelings the passive aggressive person often feels that other people misunderstands them or are holding them to unreasonable standards when confronting him about his behavior.
You will need to accept the loneliness of the single parent having to raise a family with scant support and no companionship and hope for the best. This acceptance has to be temporary or you run a very real risk: being in a long time marriage sustained by an unconscious deal: she fears loneliness, so she stays, and he can be who he is for ever, denying the time passage and the fact that people (eventually) mature with age.
The PA husband is battling the wrong war: he is defending himself here and now against the perceived intrusion of his father/mother in his inner selfhood and does not see you, his partner, as a different person in a different, cooperative relationship;
He cannot distinguish between different kinds of humans and different kinds of relationships, so his reaction is always as if he was back in the past, having to protect himself from that person who oppressed him. The tragedy is that now that person is the person he says he loves...
Nora Femenia is a well known coach, conflict solver and trainer, and CEO of Creative Conflict Resolutions, Inc.