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Anyone else end up as an angry banshee after living with “Mr. Nice” = passive & irresponsible?

(198 Posts)
Somethingtodo Wed 07-Jan-15 00:41:20

Anyone else been through this? I have just realised that this is the dynamic in my relationship – I have taken all the blame for our dysfunctional relationship because I got angry and angrier. I now don’t get angry but need to get divorced. However my 4 children (3 teens) can only see that I am the nasty one leaving their lovely kind Dad. How do I explain it to them – or do I not explain anything?
“One of the hardest patterns of behavior for all of us to deal with is passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behavior happens when the person avoids responsibility and attempts to control others to keep them away through his passivity and withdrawal. It is a dynamic born of fear of being controlled, fear of confrontation, hidden anger and an inability to deal straight with people.
Passive aggressive behavior is complex and takes many forms. We all have passive behavior that comes up when we don't want to deal with conflict directly or do a task. We all hedge, fudge and remain noncommittal on issues some of the time. That's normal. It's only when repeated passivity creates severe issues for others setting up continual tension and anger in the household that it becomes a serious problem that should be addressed. Common examples of this habitual, passive retreat style of dealing with confrontation and stress include:
•The person who says one thing but means the opposite.
•The man who acts passive but aggressively gets his own way by not doing what is wanted.
•The person who fears self assertion and confrontation, but says no by sidestepping responsibility.
•Anyone in the family who creatively gets out of doing his or her part of the chores.
•The Mr. Nice Guy who puts on the sweet face to agree, then does what he darn well pleases.
•The parent who refuses to discipline the children and insists on the spouse being the ‘heavy.'
•The person who refuses to hear criticism, discuss his problems or read books about the issue.
•The not ready to be committed man wanting someone there for him but feels entitled to his freedom.
•Any individual who spends his effort into under achieving in school, in relationships and in life!
What all of these people have in common is that the significant people in their life become very, very angry at their resistant behavior. The negative energy in the relationship boomerangs from one partner to the other resulting in an unhappy relationship.
While women can have passive aggressive behavior, this condition is more typically found in men, therefore this article will focus on the typical male version of this dynamic. The typical passive aggressive man has not worked through his anger and power issues with his parents so he replays them in current relationships. His anger comes out in passive way of avoidance.

Placeinthesun Wed 07-Jan-15 13:08:00

... The one I married is now my stbxh. I felt so lonely, I couldn't carry on doing it all. I was doing all the chores last week and thought 'doing it all on my own AGAIN' then had a lovely moment realising that was my choice, I no longer have to waste energy resenting his lack of contribution. But I have felt wiped out with guilt for calling time on the marriage and deciding I couldn't go on in a, relationship that was wholly unfulfilled for me especially when he would have kept the unhappy status quo indefinitely. I read a couple of useful books on the subject of Pa marriages just for the sake of my sanity and self validation. My dc's are younger (all primary age) and have just been told we didn't love each other enough to carry on being married as we made each other unhappy. Even though they are little they were well aware of stbxh's lack of contribution to family life and things like his poor time keeping anyway .

GoatsDoRoam Wed 07-Jan-15 13:23:12

You don't need to get your DC's approval and understanding. However, you can state your own case simply and without blame, eg. "I can no longer cope with being the only person in my marraige to your father who takes responsibility for x, y, and z."

FWIW, I had a passive father and an angry mother (still do). Growing up, I viewed him as useless. Children are smart.

chancer2014 Wed 07-Jan-15 13:49:08

Yes. I have one of those. What sort of father leaves all the present buying/ research/wrapping to his wife, not even asking what they've got because it might open up, yet again, a row about his lack of contribution to this parental task? On Xmas morning he was as much in the dark of what the kids' presents were as they were.

Somethingtodo Wed 07-Jan-15 14:28:16

Thanks - for your responses as I feel very lonely as no one understands how Mr Nice Guy is so deliberately ineffectual and undermining. Dont care about others but my children only see the lovely Dad who lets them do as they want and gives them anything they want. Any basic parenting boundaries put in place by me (he doesnt have any) are undermined by him. When we split the M-F with me S-S with him will just reinforce this. But this comments have really helped me understand that I just need to rise above it...

FWIW, I had a passive father and an angry mother (still do). Growing up, I viewed him as useless. Children are smart

I dont want to be the angry mother anymore....and although I have stopped the shouting - internally it is still there and worse for me even if better for the DC - but I am sure they can see my bitterness in my body language.

* But I have felt wiped out with guilt for calling time on the marriage and deciding I couldn't go on in a, relationship that was wholly unfulfilled for me especially when he would have kept the unhappy status quo indefinitely.*

This I have to just suck up too - the guilt. We have had separate sleeping arrangements for 5 months. I told him to buy a single bed for the spare bedroom - but he is still sleeping on the sofa. He would live like this forever "separated under the same roof" - but I cant do it - so will just have to deal with the guilt or transfer this emotion into something else.

Somethingtodo Thu 08-Jan-15 00:01:53

We had a big row this evening - usual pattern - critical financial issue I have been asking him to address for last 3 years - not done - v serious consequences for the family...I blow up ranting at I now have to take this on now or risk getting hear us.

I have been repeatedly telling him that it is over, he now needs to move out -- he just refuses to even discuss it....

So at dinner with all children - I decided to tell them that WE had decided to separate.....had not agreed this in advance because he is resistant to everything - so I thought I just have to make this happen. He was quiet but actually supportive of the story "that it was a joint decision". Kids have erupted they all hate me and blame me and want either me to move out or they all go to live where their Dad is going.....but I have to be confident that they will come round. I dont feel I had any other option as my mental and physical health has been eroded so much by the stress of this relationship I am not sure how much longer I would even survive let alone be an effective parent.

This is my story over 2 years (name-changed and revived thread)

bunchoffives Thu 08-Jan-15 01:12:00

I've read all your old thread. I have to say that this time you need to take your courage in both hands, stick with total determination to your plan and go through with it. It is not fair to keep throwing up these massive changes and then not seeing them through.

I'm sure your DC will come round, particularly if you keep stressing that just as a relationship takes two to work, it takes two to fail. And that you both still love your Dc and will both still be their parents.

As for guilt, pah! It's just not relevant. You know that although you have both contributed to the separation, there are things about him that no one could live with. You don't need to justify it to anyone else. If you are asked, I'd say something vague to the DC like we just weren't happy anymore and repeat. Your marriage is not really their business in detail.

I'm sure you've made the right decision at last and will be much much happier in the long term. You have a much brighter future to look forward to OP flowers

UpNorthAgain Thu 08-Jan-15 07:05:52

I had one of these, and he had me convinced that I had anger management / mental health issues because his behaviour made me so bloody furious at times. I stumbled across the term PA after googling 'sulking' - he could have won an Olympic gold medal for sulking. You should read 'Living with the Passive-Aggressive Man', which is a real eye-opener.

Three years on from divorce, I'm happier, more relaxed, and hardly ever lose my temper over anything. People often comment on how much I've changed for the better. I have fewer chores to do (even with a teenage DD) because he isn't around, and I don't have to cope with the fury of asking him to do things and watching them remain undone. Finally, I once commented to my counsellor that 'XH doesn't do emotion'. He immediately picked me up on this and said 'Yes he does, he just does it in a different way. ' That's a useful comment to remember when he is deliberately provoking you in some messed-up PA way.

Somethingtodo Thu 08-Jan-15 09:36:44

Up - that is me - feel like I am mad - but I now know that it is because I have tried too hard for too long.

I have read Living with the PA Man - it changed my life from believing I was a demanding, angry, irrational, loony tunes.

Because I lost my patience I took all the blame for the I know it is a mistakes have been not putting in ultimatums and following them through.

I sent him off with a copy of the book for a weekend away 3 months ago. He read it and recognised - but he has chosen not to deal with it. I wanted us to work thru chapter by chapter (my over responsibility here) and for him to get some therapy. My requests for this, day in day out - he just ignores.

Screwballscrambled Thu 08-Jan-15 14:59:47

The thing is if they move in with him They will see that he is the one who caused all the problems which will in return bring them back to you.

The kids are going to react how they react as is the nature of parents splitting but after some time has passed and they see how much happier things are after the split they will (if they are anything lime we were as kids) settle and forge new relationships with you both separately.

UpNorthAgain Thu 08-Jan-15 16:13:47

The thing is, Somethingtodo, that you can give all the ultimatums you like; nothing will change unless he buys into them and wants to change to save your relationship. Believe me, I tried the rotas / lists approach, and he went on his own merry way. Many years ago, when DD was a baby, we went to Relate but he showed his most charming and agreeable side to the counsellor. She fell for it, and had me down as an unstable, demanding and generally unreasonable woman. I've seen other counsellors individually since then who were far more skilled, so if you do get your H to agree to counselling I would urge you to look somewhere other than Relate, as I don't think they have enough training. His PA behaviour was deeply ingrained as he learnt it from his mother.

I work in a fairly demanding field and have no problem being assertive at work, but XH had me well subjugated at home. It wasn't worth disagreeing with him about anything, or complaining about undone chores, as his sulking and stonewalling made life intolerable. Looking back, his favourite tactic was to make me angry before a family outing, so that he could then say,'Why would I want to go out with such an unpleasant, angry woman as you? I'm staying here.' Then I'd have to take DD alone, and he could watch crap/sport on the TV. I had a horse riding accident shortly before the last Christmas Day we ever spent together, and was so badly bruised that I couldn't even put my socks on. I asked him to light the (coal) fire when it started to get chilly, and he replied, 'I'm not cold.' I said, 'I didn't ask if you were cold, I asked if you'd light the fire', whereupon he went upstairs and started to pack his bag. He'd already pretty much moved out by that point, clearly didn't want to be with me and DD, so used my 'rudeness' as an excuse to leave. The fact that I was badly injured and on prescription painkillers, and needed to keep warm was irrelevant to him because he didn't give a toss about my needs.

He's living with another woman now, and miraculously finds himself able to do all the things the was previously inacapable of - organising holidays, socialising, doing things with her and her son. He earns a bloody fortune too, and is PA about child maintenance. But you know what? I'm glad he's gone. I've got a lovely bloke now that I see from time to time (long distance), and who brings me cups of tea in bed, holds my hand in public, and who tidies up the kitchen and stacks the dishwasher without being asked.

Look after yourself, Something, and try to reach a decision about whether your H is willing to change or not. If he isn't, save yourself a lot of trouble and leave him.

Twinklestein Thu 08-Jan-15 16:39:57

I used wonder, when I was a teenager, why my angry mother micro-managed my father, and I thought she would do far better to let him get on with tasks his own time etc. Then I had to work with him and I learnt immediately why she did it: because if she didn't do it it wouldn't get done, and it was too much hassle to leave him to muck it up at length. You end up doing it all yourself because it's easier.

It's very clear that you need to split and that no amount of books or therapy is going to change the core problem.

I would let the children live with their father for a while, they'll wise up very fast.

Somethingtodo Wed 21-Jan-15 18:49:40

Thanks all - we are on day 10 of separation. I feel relieved not to have this constant agitation - of course I can manage 4 kids alone - I have been doing it all along - in fact it has proved to be EASIER now that he has gone as I dont have to get angry that he has resisted what has been asked of him, or literally undone my work, or undermined a parenting / discipline decision that I have taken or undone a boundary.

3 of the 4 kids have finally come round -- all flipped out that it was all my fault as I decided to "break up the family" and I was mean and Dad was lovely ... of course he is he has never disciplined, put in boundaries etc with them at any point. But all is calm in the house - as I am calm. Kids kicked off initially but we have had nice times since....oldest is still being difficult - but that is his standard stroppy behaviour all of the time. I think he is quite sensitive and has absorbed my anger at his Dad over the years - tho there is no evidence that he thinks his Dad is a hero either - he is not choosing to spend time with his Dad - I doubt he even respects him. I have to be confident that he will come round eventually and not use this as an excuse to go off the rails,

strawberrysalsa Wed 21-Jan-15 19:40:02

Sounds a lot like my OH, only I have coped by emotionally divorcing and just dealing with stuff that impacts me or the DCs and leaving him to do his stuff as and when he chooses...he mostly does stuff once he realises that being pathetic and waiting for me to sort his life just won't happen.

Weirdly the book that helped sort my head was a novel by Anne Fine 'Raking the Ashes'. The book resonated so much with what I felt.

Impressed you managed to get rid, your kids are not stupid will come round. They respond to boundaries and consistency. My, now adult, DCs have said that they always respected me as a parent because I did what I said. I was the one who set boundaries and handed out consequences but they actually felt that was good. I am sure your kids will feel the same.

Somethingtodo Wed 21-Jan-15 21:17:13

Thanks strawberry - I will read that novel....I am sure that I am doing the right thing for my children. It has been impossible to put in boundaries when OH deliberately dismantles them - this will be easier. My oldest is a problem though - he has smashed up my house in anger and is screaming obscenities at me and the other your children. I reported him to the police last year when he assaulted me and he was given a caution for common assault. I will approach his school tomorrow as he is on self destruct.

kittybiscuits Sun 01-Feb-15 20:34:00

I can relate to everything on this thread - especially the counsellor - in this case a very experienced non-Relate couple counsellor - who fell for him hook, line and sinker. When I asked why she wasn't challenging that ex had never participated in any homework she had set if it involved talking to me, she said she didn't know what I was talking about.

I kicked him out four months ago. My children feel sorry for him and see him about once a month. Life is so much happier and I don't care at all what anyone thinks about how I could leave such a kind and lovely man. He continues to be PA - missing emails and not providing information to sort out child maintenance. It's going straight to CMS. These people really know how to challenge your sanity. It gets easier from the day you get them out and life regains some kind of normality. It's a very special kind of headfuck they practise. Children are smart and they know.

kittybiscuits Sun 01-Feb-15 20:54:07

You're doing everything right something - just KOKO and yes to being firm with your son!

Somethingtodo Sun 01-Feb-15 21:32:11

kittybiscuits - good for you - cant wait until I am am 4 months down the line - only starting week 4....but already things are better than expected - home is calm and in control.

Rocky start with oldest is now resolved.

I have arranged a v generous set up to soften it for the kids - he comes to see kids 7-8.30pm M-Th and then is here all day Sunday....but will have to cut this back as he is still managing to meddle and antagonise me during those times which I need and dont want the children to see -as this just puts us back to where we were when he was here.

I feel relieved. We separated for a month at the end of 2013 and he told me that we could not separate as:

1) I would not be able to cope with 4 kids alone.
2) We could not afford to divorce
3) Our oldest DS would leave me to go to live with him.

None of this has happened.

What does KOKO mean?

kittybiscuits Sun 01-Feb-15 22:08:29

Keep on keeping on. Glad things are better with your eldest - that was quick work smile . You will probably try really hard to be fair and reasonable and he will make it impossible - but at least you know you gave it a go. Don't indulge him too long though if he just uses it as an opportunity to mess with your head. You're well on your way - it rings out in what you've said. Threats - standard fodder for the PA. I was scared for years. But it was all bollocks. As you know yourself. It's wonderful to be free of it. But obviously they don't give up easily. So pleased for you x

sixandtwothrees Sun 01-Feb-15 22:15:42


It was shit

We aren't together anymore either.

It drives you insane. I just really really sympathise.

My youngest dd said to me the other day, having been brainwashed into thinking I was the really shit option parent (or so I thought) for many years, that if there was a problem I would know what to do. and that when she was in my tummy she wished for a mummy like me who was loving and caring, a good teacher about life, and set good examples. They do know.

The single best thing about being out of it is that you can parent your way without being undermined. You literally watch it working before your eyes, instead of watching it all go to shit when they waft in and give in or make you look unreasonable somehow.

Keep going.

kittybiscuits Sun 01-Feb-15 22:18:30

I don't know how to link but if you google 'about relationships divorcing a passive aggressive spouse' then the first hit was word for word what I have experienced. I screenshotted it and I read it every time he's a knob - so quite often.

Meerka Sun 01-Feb-15 22:19:54

Very glad to hear your oldest is settling, something

Ambivalence Mon 02-Feb-15 00:05:47

Thanks something to do for posting the link to the angriesout website - that link about "the boomerang relationship" has helped me so much. When I feel loneliness, or regret that it didn't work out because I didn't try hard enough - I read it and it helps reassure me that no matter how hard I tried with my ex, I could never make our relationship work, and my decision to walk away was the right one.

His being nice did in fact turn me into the angry banshee, because he always had excuses and had no intention of ever doing ANYTHING - some "friends" cannot understand how I could end a relationship with my husband who was so "nice" - they didn't have to live with the passivity though.

It is 3 weeks today since he moved out, it has gotten easier in that time.

I am so glad to be out - this board over a number of years - has educated me so much!

TrousersRoastingOnAnOpenFire Mon 02-Feb-15 00:16:09

In 2010 I started a thread called something like "does anyone else reluctantly wear the trousers in their relationship?"

We finally separated last autumn. Everything's okay. You can do this.

Somethingtodo Mon 02-Feb-15 08:42:04

Glad to hear that the common theme here is that all is OK when they leave.....

But I suppose it is obvious really -- they were doing nothing before - except making more work for us by undermining, being obstructive and being resistance to every, single, little, thing.

Normal day to day living is exasperating end of tether stuff with these impossible people .... like pushing water up hill, two steps forward on step back - so exhausting, frustrating and time consuming. Now we can just get on with it - having off loaded a heavy passenger - what a relief.

And now he has gone I never feel lonely as the whole aim of the PA man is putting in distance to avoid emotional intimacy - so in-fact there was no real substantive emotional relationship in place to fall apart. I had already been lonely for ever.

In my case my only reflections are why did I not do it sooner & why did I not see what was happening. We had been going to Relate on and off for over 12 years - they never picked up or categorised his behaviour or the dysfunctional relationship dynamic - it was all about Something being v depressed and unhappy - he was always Mr Charming and delighted with his marriage in these sessions - and "just wants to make S happy...."..aaahhh sweet.

For 30 years I flogged a dead horse trying to make the most of Mr Charming, trying to shine this rough diamond etc - I am the classic target partner of the PA man - this helped me understand that...

"It takes a special kind of woman to choose and marry a passive aggressive man. The woman who marries the passive aggressive man was taught in her family of origin to accept a high level of frustration for a minimal level of love and caring. When a woman marries the passive aggressive man she gets little return for all her effort. What happens when someone you love dismisses your efforts and withdraws? You become angry and frustrated. Your attempts to communicate calmly turns into deeper resentment and anger"

I took sole responsibility for our dysfunctional relationship as I was the one that nagged, shouted, screamed and flipped out -- I also got v depressed v frequently - this was on reflection probably sheer exhaustion.

But my decision was not about me - it was about my children. They did not have a basic parenting structure in place as he undermined my efforts - they had a mother who was always and increasingly angry, bitter, resentful (not with them - but how are they to know) and one who probably would not be alive much longer.

PA is not pyscho-babble - it is a medically recognised personality disorder:

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