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adding title to message posted before - PA Man? - some insight please(22 Posts)
Hello - I've not posted before (hence forgetting to write title earlier) but need to get some stuff of my chest cos feel like I'm going mad at the moment. I have recently realised that I'm in a relationship with what seems to be a passive aggressive man. It was a "penny-dropped" moment when I read the traits and I could see a pattern to the last 8 years of my life. Recently things have gone from bad to worse. I think I've started to stand-up for myself a lot more and this has meant more arguments, more accusations of me being selfish, controlling etc. We finally got to counselling last week - I'd been to one session on my own which he'd said he'd come to but his reason for not coming was because we'd argued in the week before (?!). Since the session he was hostile and withdrawn for about 4 days, I tried to ask him how he felt, offered up how I felt and got a lot of pedantic nonsense in reply basically - "why are you asking me that?"- "you know what the answer is to that" - "Do you really think this is the right time to talk about it?" - "Why don't you ask me properly?" etc. When he eventually talked about it he told me I'd made him look weak and insecure and that I was so wrong and that I had to turn everything into being about me and the past and he was tired of it. I let it ride. This morning he came and gave me a hug and I could tell the anger had subsided in him. For the sake of family life I kept positive and normal and upbeat but tonight at the kids bedtime they were both overtired and kicking against it - lots of crying and calling for mummy. I was told I had to leave them, he'd deal with it. Lots of swearing - by him - later and my intervening (which caused him to swear!) they were both asleep. He told me he thought they were spoilt - I pointed out that I generally put the kids to bed myself and it would help if he got involved in the routine. He said "we" needed to change to accommodate the kids more. I said don't you mean "you" - more anger and accusations at me of turning it all into being about me again. More has happened since tonight along the same lines plus him trying to get out of the next counselling session by telling me we have no-one to look after the kids. I've told him I know people who will but he's adamant he wants no-one to know about the sessions and doesn't want my friends sitting for us. I said why don't you arrange something then but of course he won't. Is this a PA man or am I really as crazy and mixed up as I sometimes think I am and just trying to label him to make up for my shortcomings? Thanks for listening - I honestly do feel like I don't know which way to turn and would like to know if anyone else has experience of dealing with this type of behaviour.
Sounds very like my XH. Emphasis on the "X". I believe there are books which suggest techniques for dealing with a PA partner, but frankly life is too short. You could, for example, try not to say things like "don't you mean you" when he says "we" have to change, just agree nicely, which would have avoided a row, but would it really have got you anywhere if he was thinking "we" meant you, not him, as is more than likely? You're not perfect, you will sometimes say things slightly wrong, everyone does; a reasonable partner will be understanding, but the PA man goes into a strop and will never forget the thing you didn't really mean to say, whilst totally forgetting (or disbelieving) all the reasonable things you said exactly as you meant to. You end up watching everything you say and in the end even perfectly innocent things will set him off, if he hasn't got any real reason to sulk.
I spent 22 years with one of those and I really wish I hadn't (except that I wouldn't have the DCs). Like you, I had a lightbulb moment when I read a list of symptoms, and realised he had probably been doing a lot of it on purpose. By then I nearly WAS mad.
ps I don't mean to say the only solution is necessarily to leave him. I'm not a psychologist. That he agreed to go to counselling at all is a hopeful sign, I think! But be assured, it's NOT all in your head. He definitely isn't reacting normally.
Hi - thanks so much for the reply, it really helps to hear that other people have experienced this sort of behaviour and understand the feelings of helplessness and frustrations of those who are at the receiving end. I am constantly told that I'm turning things into being all about me, that I nag and blame him for everything, that I start the arguments, that I can't listen, that I interrupt, that I have pent up anger, that I need therapy. He is a master at turning what I say about him back at me and very persuasive at it so I don't know what to believe.
What you say about spending 22 years with a man like this and wishing you hadn't resonates so strongly. When I look back at the past 8 years there have of course been good times and the kids are fantastic - he's a supportive, involved father - but for so much of it I just remember the rows. I really don't want another 8 years of the same! At many key moments in our lives he's let me down - didn't make it to the 12 week scan of dd because I was 'nagging' him to get out of bed; when I was in labour with ds he wouldn't call his brother (who lives an hour away) to come and and look after dd until it had got to the stage that I had to go into hospital on my own in an ambulance; I had an abortion last year and he wouldn't drop me off or pick me up from clinic or take the day off work to stay at home with me - I had a medical abortion where you take a pill and go home and wait to abort. The list goes on and on.
He of course thinks I am being over sensitive and that he had perfectly good reasons for all these things. I'm left feeling that maybe I do expect too much. But slowly I am starting to see the patterns and recognise the behaviour and to be honest I think I deserve better and I don't like the well of bitterness and anger which has built up inside of me over the years and which saps at my confidence and energy. I work full time, manage much of the running of the house, cook dinners, sort out the childcare and the kids social lives, try and manage the finances which are a complete mess - I think I may snap if we can't move on from this.
quite aside from the passive aggressive angle, which i'm not all that clued up on, it's very clear that he's extremely unsupportive.
i agree with continuing to go to the relate sessions alone. organise for friends to babysit regardless of what he says. this is too important. if he refuses to come with you, go alone.
I think I'd rather go alone as I really need someone to talk to. He will be be pissed off with me whether I go alone or if he comes with me. He's asked if we can talk tonight though I'm dreading it - tried last night and it was a disaster. I'm trying to keep calm - typically I will say something which winds him up - generally asking him to do something or disagreeing with him - he will get annoyed back, I'll defend myself or try and re-explain what I want/meant, he'll start banging on about my interrupting him or that I'm not getting to the point or that I'm getting wound up and that it's impossible to speak to me when I'm like that, cue me really getting wound up and giving him the opportunity to say - see - are you happy now, look at the state of you, etc?. I've been keeping calm and not letting it get to this stage but I can't stand really the thought of trying to discuss things again tonight. I think what Iwanttobreakfree said is right. Maybe I should take some time to just exist - duck out of the conflict for now and tell him I don't want to talk tonight. I have offered him the option of going to the counselling on his own tomorrow. he hasn't given me an answer, if he doesn't I'll go on my own.
I wanttobreakfree - I've read your posts - I'm doing the same as you were, desperately trying to find posts similar to mine to help me find a way of dealing/managing this and help validate what I'm feeling/experiencing. I'm glad counselling is helping and I hope things are getting clearer for you.
The control issue! I've realised the importance of control to my DP and I've also noticed he is far worse when in situations which are beyond his control - times of change or stress or in social occasions with me when my friends are there. I think the reason the last week has been so bad is because going to counsellling has made him realise that I'm serious about moving things on and he, like your DH is lashing out.
He called at lunchtime to say he loves me, that we need to spend time together just the two of us, that we have to talk but need to set boundaries in how we talk to each other. All the right things. I agreed as what he says is right and as you say, a period of calm is probably what I need but also I feel responsible for his feelings and don't want to upset him more. Crazy really after all the hurt he's caused me. he genuinely seems to not understand what all this about, how can that be? When I was a teenager and was deliberately obtuse with my mum and said things just to hurt I knew what I was doing at the time and I remember feeling really guilty afterwards. How can he really, really not see that his behaviour is so destructive? Does that make it worse or better in terms of dealing with it?
I remember a friend was in a destructive relationship which she just couldn't leave. All she did was talk all the time about it - to whoever would listen really - it consumed her. I'm not sure I was terribly supportive at the time, I remember thinking and saying time and again, just go, just leave him - and I'd get sad and embarrassed for her when yet another night out with friends turned into a night focussed on her troubles. I feel like I've turned into her - all I want to do is talk, talk, talk about it, to make sense of what's going on, I can really understand her plight now. Counselling has to be a good thing, I think I'm getting to the bottom of some friends reserves of energy on this!
thanks for helping, I feel for you too and lets hope we really can move onto happier times - I'm tired of being miserable! xx
It does sound like we've found ourselves in a very similar situation - the joy of message boards like these I guess- it's so good to know I'm not alone in this and that I'm not crazy!
My friend's relationship was childless and they didn't even live together so extricating herself was, in a practical sense at least. much easier. However, the mental abuse was powerful and although she knew it was wrong she was terrified of being on her own. She was waiting for a night in shining armour to come and rescue her and that is kind of what happened really. She met someone else who made her feel strong enough to let the bad relationship go. 6 years down the line, she's still with this 'new' man (who was actually an old boyfriend - all very complicated) and is in a happy relationship with someone who nurtures, respects and supports her. I must say though, the thought of another relationship is the very last thing on my mind so I shan't be emulating her escape route. Think my DP has put me off men for a while!
i feel for you. my dh and i are currently living with my uncle, who is only a few years older than us, and he is passive aggressive. obviously not the same situation but i can relate to the behavior and it is difficult and frustrating. i would say that it is very important for you to stay in counseling if its working for you. don't push him into it. let him come around. the arguments sound like a lot of pull pull on both sides. when he starts, try and step back and keep relaxed. you can guarantee that the children know about the tension in your relationship so it is important to keep calm as much as possible. good luck dippyrascal
thanks chefswife - and you're right about the pull pull bit - last week at Relate I described our relationship as a tug of war. I need to keep calmer but I hate the way he speaks to me, how he blows the tiniest thing out of proportion and how he won't take any responsibility for himself and I end up telling him so! It's a rod for my own back though. I do worry about the kids and sometimes there's so much tension around that although we're both loving and attentive to them and try not to argue in front of them I'm sure my dd who is 5 is picking up on it.
I went to relate on my own last night - in fact I was really pleased to be going on my own as I desperately needed to talk freely and I knew him being there would curb me. I had asked him if he'd like to go on his own but he said he had nothing to talk about! Amazing isn't it?
What came up in the session was the level of abuse which has been occuring in the relationship - she said it amounted to domestic violence. I wasn't comfortable with the word violence as he has not been physically violent towards me and she said well would the word 'cruelty' suit better? And it does. I've realised that his behaviour is cruel and that where as before I was taking some responsibility for it, making excuses for his insecurities, minimising it and its effects on me the simple facts are that here is a grown man who is treating me cruelly. When I strip it away like that and get it down to bare bones it makes it easier for me to look at it. As you know, it all gets so, so complicated that just making sense of it can feel impossible and defeating in itself.
She also said that she wasn't surprised as she'd picked up on a lot of it from the meeting we both went to last week - even though I'd said very little. What is has also done for me is given me a bit of self-respect back - I'm not just a moaning minnie - and its made me feel I don't have to fix it. It is up to him now to accept his responsibility. If he doesn't there is absolutely no hope for the relationship. Even if he does I'm not sure I can remain with him. But as you say, I feel like I don't have to make all the decisions right now, I can just be for a while and do what I need to do to look after myself and be healthy and strong for my children whatever comes.
He is being very loving and caring at the moment though and to all intents and purposes he is being the perfect DP. When I was making excuses for him and saying that I didn't think he knew what he was doing or that his behaviour had such an effect on me the counsellor said the fact that he can be loving, caring, attentive and understanding at times shows he does actually know the effect of his behaviour and that he does know what he's doing. Again I hadn't though of it like that. How do you react when your DH turns like this? Its such relief isn't it to no longer have the conflict that its so easy to slip back into thinking, this is fine, we can be happy and just ignore and minimise all the crap. And then when you feel the tension rise again and something kicks off your world falls apart again.
Thanks again, I now know what you are saying is right and I will ring women's aid, maybe we'll be able to help each other come out the other side? I haven't the first idea how to leave him but I'm sure when it comes to it we'l be able to - we've got this far and are learning new ways of coping every day aren't we? I live in Manchester, where are you.
after reading your last post dippyrascal i agree that he is being verbally abusive and controlling. its always lovely to have someone being lovely to you but when it the relationship oscillates from good to bad as dramatically as yours, its simply not a healthy environment. don't wait too long to take control and force the issue that something needs to be done about the relationship if it is to continue whether through therapy or separation.
Thank you chefswife. I have strengthened my resolve, the counselling really is a powerful tool and has given me back my self-respect really. I'm through with taking responsibility for him and minimising his behaviour, its not helping anyone. Things are calm at home at the moment, it is DD's birthday tomorrow so I'm not rocking the boat. I'm going to see if he's willing to come to the counselling next week, if not then I've given him enough chances now and I will take the kids and stay with my parents for a few days whilst I sort out the practical side of separation. If he does come to counselling I think it will still mean separation unless he is able to take responsibility, accept that a lot of damage has been done and show that he is going to take a good hard long look at himself. The counsellor said she won't work with him unless he faces up to the fact that his behaviour is abusive - if she won't work with him I certainly don't think I can live with him! I feel my head is in a better place than it has been in ages - its the practical side of stuff which seems unsurmountable though. I need to approach it with babysteps steps I think.
good luck. it sounds like you have a great head on your shoulders and family is a great place to ask for assistance.
I hope you don't mind me butting in but I share your pain and frustrations! I found this book extremely helpful in understanding and coping with my PA, it helped me a great deal.
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