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Joined: Jan 2000
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Our concelor told us that in most relatioonships that suffer from affiars one of the parties us usually passive agressive.

she contends that the passive spouse is usually the wayward spouse because they have failed to make thier wants and needs known. Eventually they become frustrated and have an affiar.

I was wondering....

How many of our wayward spouses fit this passive agressive mold? Mine certainly does.

Love your feedback.

Acacia


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Wow, this subject is near and dear to my heart. Yes, passive aggressive behavior is a definate problem with the WS. The affair is both passive and aggressive.

You should buy the book "How to live with the Passive Aggressive Man". Very interesting. You can even search for the book by the title and it will give you a long synopsis of what is in the book.

We exacerbate the problem by being the Victim, the Rescuer or the Manager!!!!

Not tons of ideas of what to do....because a lot of work has to be done by the PA person, but it does give some ideas for setting communicaiton boundaries.


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My initial reaction to being passive aggresive as a WS was NOT ME!! I always thought it was the other way around as I am always up to verbalizing my wants and needs!

Yet, as I thought about it, I realized that there were a lot of things I guess I didn't say due to fear...I guess you can add me to the list!


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H certainly a passive agressive personality, I may be that, as well. L

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As a WS, I think you can put me on the passive list. . .but at the time, I really thought I was verbalizing my needs, but maybe my H wasn't taking them seriously. . .I don't know. . .I definitely kept some things to myself. . .

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I can go along with that. On the other hand, there wasn't much point expressing my wants/needs after H told me that wasn't what he got married for and he wasn't going to do it.

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My H was/is totally passive aggressive (and major conflict avoider) although he has improved a lot since this whole mess! When he informed me, basically out of the blue, that he was leaving me (although of course there was no OW lol) I wanted reasons. Naturally he couldn't come up with any really good ones but he said that I always "got my way" in our relationship. How did this manifest itself. Example:
Me: Would you rather see movie A or B?
Him: I'd rather see A but I don't really care
Me: I'd really like to see B, is that ok with you?
Him: Sure
I swear to God this was the kind of stuff he was talking about! And in his mental state at the time of the affair he seemed to feel that I deserved to be punished for always getting my way. I thought he really didn't care. He was also always doing other people's work at his job. He is an exec and if a secretary complained she was "too busy" he would just do everything himself even though it was her job. He would help other people with accounts which he was promised credit for (which involves $$), the other person never gave him the credit and he never said a word. Of course all of this stuff outraged him, but he just bottled it up. He has now learned to be better about making his feelings known, which in turn helps our communication. Of course I realize that he will always have these tendencies and so often if he says "Movie A" and I really don't care (but would slightly prefer movie B) then movie A is fine with me.

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Absolutely. One of our kids said the other day, "I wish Daddy would just say what he really wants."

My H would go along not offering any input on decisions, or if you asked him to do something he didn't want to, he would say he would and then never get around to it, or he would do something and then feel resentful but never mention it...

Now he has just transferred the decision-making role to the OW.

If you let someone else make all the decisions, then nothing is your fault..


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I think my WS is passive too. When we got into looking at the reasons for the A, I was shocked to find I had a W that was afraid to express her feelings. Something I never would want. I guess that makes me agressive.

I don't want it that way at all. I want a marriage of equality...


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OK, donning flame-proof garb here, but my first impression on reading this, is that it seems there is more of a connection between passive-aggressive behavior and betrayal for men than for women. I was initially the betrayer, six+ yrs into my marriage, and I think my H DuncanMac would probably agree that at that time, *he* was passive-aggressive. In his family, men did NOT show strong emotions, plus his father was always totally clueless about expressing or understanding needs anyway.

I think a lot of men are brought up without much of an education in understanding the emotions and needs of both *themselves* and others, or how to express them. A lot seem to "stuff it" and seethe. Now guys, I'm *not* saying all guys are doofuses; just the inheritors of centuries of social conditioning. When DMac & I first went to counseling (at my behest, I was headlong into my affair and miserable), he really had some "lightbulb in the head" moments. He turned out to be very 'educable'!

I certainly had my passive-aggressive periods too, during the "dark years"... there was a lot of anger on both our parts... but overall was better at expressing myself early in the marriage than Dunc was (although not neccessarily expressing myself *skillfully*, w/o LBs!). It does seem that a lot of the women BSs describe their wayward H's as p/a.

Does this make sense to anyone, or am I way out in left field? (Do I need a fire-extinguisher now? )


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I have heard this term of Passive/aggressive (p/a) on another thgread. honestly, I can somewhat piece it together what it is, but I would like someone out there to give me a definition and the common tendencies associated with p/a behavior.

I have the need to put my H in a catagory. He can't just be an A**hole! He never expressed any needs to me, nor did he ever stand up for himself, and he always gave over to me the things he did not want to deal with(emotionally and stressfully.)

Even now being the WS, he cannot make up his mind to come off that illusive fence!

Maybe he is p/a, or maybe codependent, like me, or just plain obsessive. But he really doesn't show or discuss emotions. When things were going wrong, I tried to get him to talk, and all I got was silence and this far-off look. For years I did that, becoming more and more vicious with the discussions, trying to provoke some affection or anger--nothing. It was like he was running away from me and his family and the stress of being the head of the family.

But HE is the one that dumped his values, and had an A.


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I'd like to hear the exact definition too. I know that my wife says now "I tried, I tried", but during this so called trying phase, she always told me she was happily married, so maybe I'm dense but I took that to mean that those little things (so I thought) that she would sometimes mention in passing, obviously weren't that important. She says now that she was only telling me what I wanted to hear. But I was also a conflict avoider, and would not speak up when I should have. Hence she has OM and I'm trying to save our marriage.

Does that fit into Passive Aggressive? I don't know.


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So you want a definition? Let's start with the history. The term was first coined in WWII by an Army psychiatrist who had been trained to deal with strong negative reactions. Some recruits dealt with rigorous institutionalized structure well, and others perished and protested. Very often it was through resistance, ingoring orders, withdrawing or wanting to flee. This behavior was labeled "passive-aggressive" and was described as an immaturity reaction.

The passive-aggressive person misconstues personal relationships as being struggles for power, and sees himself as powerless.

The key in dealing with PA is to correct this misconception and help him/her feel more empowered.

You are always receiving mixed messages because they want you to guess what they want almost as much as they want to fool you are string you along.

"I can't live without you" they may say as they walk out of the room.

Or when alone "why are you always around" which means "i'm terrified that you will leave me"

Avove all, the PA is riddled with conflict, contradictions and convoluted layers of truthes which guide him and to which he clings. But when you look close you will see an angry person who is afraid of anger and hides behind a screen of congeniality. . Acamouflage of self protection.

Profile: fear of dependency, fear of intimacy,fear of competition, obstructionism, fostering chaos, feeling victimized, making excuses or lying, procrastination, chronic lateness and forgetfullness, ambiguity, sulking!!!!!

What do you think so far?

Those of us involved with a PA person, may actually perpetuate the problem... or even gravitate to this type of person, via the victim role, the manager role or the rescuer role.

This is all from the book "living with the passive aggressive man" by Scott Wetzler, Ph. D. Good book.

I particularly liked the chapter on "who falls for the pa man"

Much of the suggestions are regarding setting your boundaries in communication. Using lots of "feeling statements" (less threatening), and helping the person empower themselves!!!!!

Does this help?


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Thanks for all of the great replies. This is truly insightful for me. I have attached the official deffinition of PA below. In general however, PA people tend not to want to face thier problems and fears directly. They do so instead in an indirect way. They have trouble expressing what they want.

For instance consider this turn of events.
You both decide to go to movie A.
The PA person tells you he wants to go to
movie A even though he does not.
The PA person procastinates so that you
both miss the movie.

This is how PA people address problems and they very often are not even aware that they are doing it. They will not confront issues directly but will find a passive agressive way of dealing with things that allows them to escape direct confrontation with the person of issue that is bothering them.

When enough resentment build up toward thier spouse due to unmet needs and wants, they seek a new relationship rather than directly confronting the issues that need to be discussed with thier spouse.

Here is the book definition.


Ask the Expert - Passive-Aggressive Behavior
Q. What is passive-aggressive behavior and how do you treat it? Is it actually a personality disorder?
A. The term passive-aggressive, when used to describe a defense mechanism, refers to indirect resistance to authority, responsibility and obligations. Associated symptoms include complaining, irritability when faced with demands, and general discontent. Anger is usually expressed indirectly via resistance, delays, losing things, procrastination and sabotaging one's own efforts or those of others. In theory, the individual does not intentionally set out to irritate others or to oppose authority, in the manner, say, of a rebellious teenager. Rather, the P-A individual unconsciously acts out his or her anger in the manner described.

In past manuals of psychiatric disorders, such as DSM-III, passive-aggressive personality disorder was an official diagnosis. In DSM-IV, it was downgraded to a condition requiring further study, probably because the P-A patterns of behavior can be seen in so many other disorders, such as borderline and dependent personality disorders. The treatment of any of the personality disorders is quite difficult, since there is usually little motivation on the patient's part. For details, I would refer you to Treating Personality Disorders, edited by David Adler, New Directions for Mental Health, 1990.

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H the WS is definitely passive aggressive. I don't know. A could be his way of lashing out.

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Fairydust- We must be married to the same man. We had the very same movie discussion. It seems so simple to me to just say no lets see something else. But for my H, this is a big issue. I will look for the book you noted. It can't hurt.

Suse - I think you have a point about men not being socialized in the same way as woman. It is actually something I have often pondered.

Too Trusting - Thanks for the history and the great description you posted

Burned and Ricky 3 - Looks like you have a few definitions of PA here! It is a difficut concept - at least for me since I generally say what I mean.

Star, Lad, Nellie SKM, smidgen, Dynamo - It seems there is something to my councelors theory since we all share this issue.

I would like to encourage others to post too if they feel this fits them as well.

Acacai


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Yes, my H, the WS, definately has PA traits as well. We have had the same discussion about where to go to dinner! He is a conflict avoider, too. My counselor basically said that he was not getting his needs met, but was not telling me what they were, and this OW started meeting his needs and therefore the A started. Pretty cookie cutter PA, huh!

Does he want me to guess what he wants---all the time and it makes me nearly crazy! Just tell me what you want, and I'll do it, but please don't make me try to figure it out. Kind of like the flowers I got this week with the following message (posted about it in another thread)

"A successful marraige requires falling in love many times. Always with the same person." Does this mean that he IS falling in love with me again, WANTS to fall in love with me again, or just KNOWS that is what has to happen in order for our marriage to work? I don't know.... However, I'm taking it as a very good step in the right direction and not trying to interpret it!

Best of luck to all that have this type of S, it's not easy to deal with!


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I often wonder if my two-timing wife is passive aggressive or is it just that she is soooooo in love with this guy that she's trashing 12 years of marriage and ruining our 4 y.o. daughter's life for HIM!

She insists that it is not HIM and that this has been coming on for years (her changed feelings for me). She never gave me a hint, in fact anything but. She expressed just the opposite with things like "you're stuck with me baby," "I'd be lost without you," "Our hero."

By the way, she's 42 and has reunited with a man she had the hots for (and he for her) back in HIGH SCHOOL for God's sake!!!

What do you think? Passive agressive or deep denial?


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CAT-
MLC or recapturing youth? Maybe she just feels like she missed out on something.

BTW:
Does anyone know of any strategies for relating to the passive agressive male? I read parts of the book of the same title. I understand the concept--it is complicated, though--but I cannot think of ways to stop being the rescuer, manager, or victim.

Tootrusting--
Your explanation was wonderful and quite helpful. Especially the part about seeing the relationship as a struggle for power and feeling powerless. That is EXACTLY what my husband sees our relationship as: a struggle for power where he feels like the underdog who has not had his needs met. He changes his mind, doesn't follow through, sabotages projects, says things and then takes them back, makes decisions that I believe are mutually beneficial and then find out that he doesn't want it and only "did it for me." He harbors anger and resentment toward me for expecting him to follow through on things he says. He is yo-yoing me back and forth since he left He left me because: 1) he felt like I made him feel like less than a man 2) he feels like we want different things (don't even know what they are--he can't be clear about it 3) he doesn't like our chemistry. I was unhappy because I want an equal relationship--like Dynamo wants. Open, honest, with solid boundaries and easy communication. He is an artist and says that working through his issues would be detrimental to his creativity. I feel like my patience is running out. I also feel that I have some PA tendencies. I am a pleaser--as is he--and often out of fear of angering him do not express my wishes very well. I sometimes sulk. . . .I want to sulk now.


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I guess I understand what and why the councelor I went to gave me this label. My W , the one with the A even while denying it, also agrees that she did not communicate well. (She expressed this to a third party.)
Her brothers and mother all have said that there was not alot of expressing needs or emotions in their family as they grew up. Also, their father died when my W was just about to graduate from highschool.)
My youngest BIL mentioned months ago that he realized that he was not expressing his love to his wife and THAT needed to change since she was about to have their first child. He changed because he knew he would have to be able to say "I love you" to his child and thus began showing more toward his wife.
Sorry to ramble...talked to W earlier, I'm trying to be invited for a visit.

rrunrr


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