The sighing trigger

Small vent.  I hate it when he sighs. 

He sighs a lot. Especially if I ask him to do something.  Everything is about reading the subtleties with a passive aggressive, and that gets exhausting.

When I hear it, I know that ‘something’ is wrong, something is upsetting him, something potentially I’ll be ‘punished’ for in a covert abuse way.  If I were to immediately ask him if something was wrong, he’ll usually respond with a mild complaint, although it’s not what’s really eating at him.  He’ll respond that his back hurts, or he didn’t sleep well, or he’s just not feeling quite right (the same stuff he usually says in sighs to avoid intimacy).   He’s complained about that stuff since the beginning.  The real resentment is saved up to be stacked into a barrage to launch.  The launching waits until he can provoke me into reactive anger towards him.

Hearing him sigh is not as much of an anxiety trigger as it used to be.  I know something is bothering him, but I don’t bother to ask about it.  It’s about disconnecting from negativity, and his perpetual resentments and ensuing self-pity.

 

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16 Responses to The sighing trigger

  1. PA man as victim: A few weeks ago, my older daughter was home for a short visit. My husband and I live apart most of the time, and he never initiates communication with me when he’s away, but when he’s home, I attempt to keep the communication positive and away from problems, especially when our daughters are around. So, near the end of the two days of my husband’s stay at home while my daughter was visiting, I made arrangements with available family members in the area for us all to go out to supper. My family has been very nice and welcoming to my husband during all the years of our marriage; my father-in-law, in contrast, has been mean and rude to me on several occasions. When I told my husband we were going out, near the end of these two days in which I was relentlessly positive and upbeat, he said, in a poor-me voice, “I didn’t know I was invited.” I said, “You are!” A little bit later, when we could speak privately, I said to him that he is the one with the family that doesn’t communicate with me and doesn’t like me, in contrast to my family’s treatment of him.
    Cut to 10 minutes later, as I’m driving us to the restaurant, daughter in the front seat next to me, husband in back. We’re chatting. There’s a lull in the conversation. Then, my husband pipes up, “R [our daughter], you can be mad at me if you want.” My immediate, silent reaction was “WTF!!!” But I decided not to respond. My daughter, to her credit, didn’t say “WTF,” but she did say, “No, I’m not mad at you; why, are you going to tell me something I don’t want to hear?” My husband then said, “Well, everybody else is mad at me, so you can be mad at me, too.” Yep, so there we go, my public-humiliation punishment for having the temerity to say something to my husband in private.

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  2. I applaud your strength to not participate in his abuse. Have a great weekend.

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  3. Zombiewife says:

    Good for you, PJs, for not responding to his attempts to bait you. Sighing for normal people is a sign of frustration, but our PA husbands sigh repeatedly to manipulate us into asking them what’s wrong. No act of passive aggression is complete until we participate in it.

    I broke my PA husband of the habit of sighing by telling him that I knew he was trying to get me to ask him what was wrong, but that it wasn’t my job to monitor his feelings. I told him I’d be happy to listen if he wanted to share what was on his mind, but I wasn’t going to participate in any mind games or psychodramas. His response? “Oh. Okay.”

    Same technique works on whiny two year olds, BTW. Tell them that Momma can’t hear whiny voices and can only hear nice voices, so they need to use the nice voice to ask for what they want.

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    • WritesinPJ's says:

      I’m not sure you can break a passive aggressive of anything. It seems to tend to run underground until it finds a new way to seep out covertly. I’ve observed a small degree of behavior modification, but when someone is driven, it will always find an ‘out’.

      It can and does still catch me off guard at times.

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      • I completely agree, PJs. Without a “road to Damascus” type of conversion that completely changes their mentality and then some, it’s all just behavior modification to achieve a desired result.

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        • Exodus says:

          Seeing, I consulted with a behavioral psychologist years ago about working with him as a couple and he would agree with your comment. He told me that behavior modification doesn’t work in most PA patients because typically, they have some other underlying personality disorder that prevents them from being able to comprehend that they are doing anything wrong. He told me that any changes in behavior would only be temporary at best. ( Obviously I didn’t heed the Dr.s warnings..duh) It’s impossible to reason with someone that is pathologically unreasonable.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Well that would explain a lot – why therapy hasn’t worked in our case and why after all this time, he still finds way to be pa and hurt the ones he loves…. I’m gonna put that in my list of pa behaviors so I remind myself that it’s not ME. 😀 you ladies rock!!

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      • Exodus says:

        PJ’s I agree. In my situation with Norman, there is absolutely nothing I can do that will stop him from punishing me. Norman knows perfectly well what that he’s doing something wrong or bad- that’s why he does it! I made the mistake of trying to manage his behavior for years by asking him kindly to do something or not to do something and he responds with the, ‘ Oh, yeah, ok I’ll get better’ bit. However, even politely confronting him is demeaning enough that he will retaliate. If I ignore him or pretend that something doesn’t bother me- which is exactly what I’ve attempted to do more and more in the last two or three years- he physically chases me through the house, baiting me, accusing me of ignoring him, walking way, screaming ‘ why are you like this, what is wrong, what have I done?” That is why I had to call the police to have him removed on 2 occasions. Norman isn’t going to stop his behavior- ever.
        When he trashed the bathroom a few weeks ago, I didn’t say a word and I didn’t clean anything. I literally put plastic trash bags over the mess just so I could take a shower ( removed the bags when I was finished) and never responded at all. The next morning, Norman cleaned some of the mess- only what he could in the time he had before work. Not a word was spoken. However, what I had to tolerate ( feces all over the rug and wall and shower curtain, the toothpaste spit all over everything) until he cleaned it up was absolutely not something anyone should tolerate for a minute ( if even for health reasons). I got punished for forcing him to clean up his own mess- he accidentally dumped the recycle bin on the floor of the laundry room and left it for me to clean up that morning. I didn’t ask him to come back and clean that up because I knew he would just say that he didn’t have time to clean it since had to clean OUR filthy bathroom that I never clean. The abuse is never ending and there’s never any resolve. As long as I’m in Norman’s life, I will get abused.

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  4. lonelywife07 says:

    PA Man sighs, looks at the ceiling, and then sighs again…I HATE it! If I’m talking to him and he does that, I stop the conversation and walk away…I don’t even respond anymore!
    They’re so immature….like little kids! Ugh!!

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    • lonelywife, the immaturity is so maddening! The worst part of it to me is dealing with a little kid who wants and expects all the rights, privileges, respect and authority of an adult. They act like children in so many ways, but they wanted to be treated like an adult when it suits their desires. Ugh!

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    • GainingStrength says:

      Lonely, mine would roll his eyes and shake his head. Of course, he didn’t realize he was doing it…..yeah right!

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  5. lonelywife07 says:

    I asked for a separation tonight….he said he’d go to counseling. I told him it’s a waste of money, that this is who he is and he won’t ever change. I’m almost to the point of hating him…how sad is that?

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    • WritesinPJ's says:

      It’s all very sad. I wish for your sake that he would have a repentant heart with godly sorrow.

      Thinking of you, and hoping you find all the courage, clarity, hope, and peace in the days to come.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I hate the sighing too, and the worst part is I used to fall for it every damn time. Not anymore though, he sighs and sighs until he’s blue in the face but I don’t bite 🙂 I’m learning…

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