q-100I love my husband, PA, of 40 yrs, and I believe he loves me.  We have a strong faith.  I have been able to be true to myself and not escalate ever the crazy-making.  I have been concerned that he is so smart, and that his “inner child” is so devious, that he has set himself up to look so angelic-like that no-one would ever believe the scenarios.  I have rarely lost it.  He can twist it so well.  I go to God for my strength, and am aware of normal relationship interactions.  I never feel that I have to forgive him.  I know it is a disorder, and that if he was with someone else, he would do the same thing.  Therefore I have not taken the affronts personally.  It seems that this is also a problem in that he does have the competitive nature and hates that I won’t compete.  He knows that I know who I am in the eyes of My Lord.  I keep thinking that he wants to destroy me and will keep looking for a way to do this.  Have you ever heard of someone in this situation that is in danger?   I pray that his fear of Hell is greater than any destruction of me that he might pursue.  Also, that his fear of getting caught would keep him from doing anything rash.  He can be so thoughtful and loving; and then I find out that he did something PA.  I don’t let it destroy my love for him.  I treat him with the same love and respect that I always have.  He is aware and sometimes tells me that he knows and appreciates it.  He has been close 3 times to working it out.  Somehow the material for healing of the inner child get lost, or misplaced.  The history of his creativity is epic!  He even tried to get the children to not come to me for anything; but they were young and I am the one they always came to, and after asking them why they didn’t ask me for their needs for school, they spilled the beans.  I did loose it then, and I rarely get upset, but he did get a loud earful in front of the children.  I never hid it from them that he was doing PA behavior and that they don’t want to continue the family curse; that is what my husband calls it.  We have been praying for years for healing of the family tree.  Seems it isn’t on my side of the family, and so he married the wrong Lady for the disorder.  I get the shit, that is my only bad word, and now when he denies that it is PA, I just say: “How would I possibly know?”  It is the same as when it is PA.  I know that shit happens, but I have asked him how it is that I never do those kinds of things to him?  The little things don’t bother me anymore, but I won’t let him know that.  I fear that If I do he will become more aggressive.  When the big things come along, it is really obvious.  If I cry, then he has won.  I don’t withhold lovemaking.  I don’t believe in punishment.  There are consequences for actions.  My love did turn to apathy during one of his best scenarios (I could write a book); I went to confession since I had broken my vows to God.  The priest told me I was right.  The opposite of Love is not hate, it is apathy.  The priest prayed over me, and sent me to counseling for myself.  Yes, there are wonderful priests who give their lives and are level headed, solid human beings.  The question was in the middle of this.  I wonder if I am the longest surviving victim of this strange phenomena.  Thank you for any suggestions or insights to keep the marriage as best as can be.  Gracie




a-100Hello, Gracie,

I don’t know about longest surviving marriages with a seemingly passive-aggressive spouse. You have certainly been living with these behaviors long past the time that it would have been healthy to address them and see more emotional intimacy in your marriage.

Spiritual beliefs aside, a man who can see that he is not behaving in a consistently loving way to the woman he says he loves, and does nothing about it, is quite happy with the way things are!  The truth is always what you do, not what you say. That’s true for any of us.

There is a big difference, in my opinion, between loving someone and being an enabler. When you do not have strong boundaries that you express and maintain with him, you are telling him his behavior is all right with you.  That is not loving to him or to you.  I think that it is not loving to allow someone to behave unlovingly towards you. Does that make sense to you?

Using the children to have a greater sense of power is not uncommon with passive-aggressive people. I’m glad to hear that you clarified that situation. Dad is Dad, but Dad’s behavior is punitive, thoughtless and power-seeking. You needed to show your children that a healthy woman asserts herself when there is injustice. And you did it!

You describe a very classic and unfortunate situation. I’m glad that you find strength in your faith.  I’m also glad that you are with a priest who is level-headed and practical about what healthy relationships look like. That’s a blessing.

I wish you well.
Dr. Shaler


Dear Dr. Shaler,
Thank you.

I will continue to stand my ground lovingly; I also will continue to be myself and not escalate the situation.   He has two brothers, divorced, one three times; and another brother who is classic and the wife, worse.  (They moved and we have no more contact with them, but it would have been a great study!)  There was major physical abuse in the divorced couples.
I have read The Dance of Anger; however, this seems to be an issue of Envy.  Another book call The Seven Deadly Sins, a visitors guide, has helped to clarifiy the illness for me.  He has gotten away with a lot because of my forgiveness; and I have let him know that I know this.  I told a friend about it last week.  She is keeping her distance.  This hurts worse now, and I have vowed to keep it secret for the rest of my life and just let our friends think that we are the greatest couple that ever walked the face of the earth.
Thank you again.    Grace

Dear Grace, 

 You are so welcome. I’m glad you found value in my answer.
You hoped that sharing it with a friend would ease the burden. I know how disappointing that is to discover that it is not the case. Others usually do one of two things, 1) feel so uncomfortable being given an inside view of a relationship that they distance themselves, or 2) feel they have to take your side, create an alliance and alienate your partner. Neither of those are good results. That is why I believe that marital issues should be discussed between the partners and with a therapist, ONLY!
One thing that I know will not work is to continually tell your husband that you have forgiven him repeatedly and are on to his behaviors, even labeling them, will work against you.
You don’t have to behave as though you have the best marriage in the world. You don’t. You have to behave in ways that teach your children what you want them to learn. Be careful that you are not teaching them how to be long-suffering in the face of poor treatment. When you are with a P-A man, you HAVE to set boundaries and make them immovable. That is the only way that the message is finally received…if the recipient is capable of receiving it.
I wish you well.
Best regards,
Dr. Shaler

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