Everything has a price

When I met my husband, he was a senior in college and in ROTC.  Other than his uniforms, his clothes were few and almost worn out.  Both his parents were professionals in decent paying jobs, his only sister had already left home and had a good job,  and there was only one brother still living at home in school.  Yet I noticed that my husband was always broke (always hungry), wore only raggy clothes and underwear, all his socks had holes, and I wondered why his parents didn’t at least subsidize him with food packages.  This was just foreign to me.

Being the early me, I didn’t ask right away.  I was sensitive to embarrassing him or bringing up a difficult subject and causing him emotional pain.  Little did I know…

Shortly after the wedding, I broached the subject one day.  By this time, I’d seen his parents house, seen how well they lived and dressed, knew they often ate out, and that they’d taken a trip to Europe just a couple days after we got married.  These were people who could at least have bought their son underwear and socks and food while he was going to school.  I asked him why they never gave him more basic support, and why he’d never asked for it.

The young man who so often responded to questions with a strange confused look as though he hadn’t just heard me, instead looked at me directly and without hesitating replied, “Because it wasn’t worth paying the price.”

Paying the price?  I was confused.  “What do you mean?” I asked.

He said, “With my parents, everything comes with a price.  Everything is conditional.  I’d rather not get anything from them than to deal with that.”

I know I just stared at him in a confused way, and that seemed to irritate him.  “PJ, my parents don’t just ‘give’ me something without expecting something.”

Then he changed the subject, and I let it go, but I didn’t forget because it was bothersome.

After a few decades of being married to him, now I understand.  This is why whenever he’s behaving well, I’m never truly entirely relaxed.  When he’s doing something nice, I don’t think he’s plotting to use it against me.   But something inside of me never relaxes, because I’ve learned that at some future time when he’s upset, I’m going to be reminded of what he did ‘for me’.  It’s not truly just given.  It’s owed.

He might feel guilty about something, at least guilty in the surface way that things seem to bother him.  Guilt often looks like he’s irritable and distant.  He’ll still ‘do’ and when he’s done enough, the guilt turns more easily to self-pity and then resentment.

He might be in a good mood, and doing things that will actually be something I care about.  (This is more rare.)  I’m still aware that he might behave badly or neglect me sometime sooner than later, but this is when I’m most willing to shrug and pay the price later.  At least I’m getting something out of it temporarily.

With a passive aggressive busyaholic man, giving and ‘doing’ is also used to remind themselves, you, and the world what a great guy they are.  It means that they’re too busy to have a relationship.  It means a ready excuse if their misdeeds are noticed or brought up.  It means they’re misunderstood and unappreciated as a way of life.

Passive aggressive men pay a huge price.  The price is the loss of intimacy that would embrace them.  Respect that would benefit them.  Trust, affection, and relationship are lost as part of the price they pay to remain a creature in faux control that doesn’t need anyone.

Oh, and that trip to Europe that his parents took just a couple days after our wedding?  They’d just given us a rehearsal dinner.  They’d generously invited many more people to this than the short list that I’d given them.  Other than that, my husband and I took out a loan to pay entirely for our thrift wedding.  I carried three roses instead of a bouquet, the bridesmaids had their dresses sewn, we had the technical school make the cake and food, and rented space from a private school for the reception instead of a hotel.  I had a fixed budget and calculated every cost.  I thought it was so nice of his parents to pay for that big rehearsal dinner and invite so many of our family and friends.

Except guess what?  They didn’t pay for it.  Even that had a price for us, but I didn’t know it at the time.  Years later, one of my cousins called me and said that she couldn’t stand it anymore and finally needed to speak up about something.  She couldn’t believe I was so ungrateful to her mother (my aunt) and our other aunt for being so generous to me, and I’d never even thanked them.

Thanked my aunts?  For what?

The two aunts had each given $250. and handed the total of $500. (a lot of money back then!) to my future mother-in-law to give us to help defray the costs of our wedding.  We never saw it, and we were never told about it.  I was shocked and so embarrassed.  I called my aunts in turn, hardly knowing how to explain, but telling them the truth, and thanking them over a decade later for their generosity.  I should have raised h-e-double-l with his parents, but I didn’t at the time.  I think I didn’t want it to backlash on my husband and kids.

The stuff I wished I’d known and understood before I ever married.  Everything has a price with him and his family.

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7 Responses to Everything has a price

  1. Newshoes says:

    I’m glad you have been able to explain better than I ever could. I tried to explain this to my ex pah and he never got it. That loving someone unconditionally meant just that and without any expectations in return, without having to pay for it, without hurt or reprimand or unjust pain. Explaining it to someone who has never lived this kind of abuse is like speaking a foreign language, they look at you confused and tell you it’s not abuse unless there is physical violence or yelling. Thank you for putting this on paper so eloquently.

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  2. Bronze says:

    Everything comes with a price. So true. I stopped wanting mine to do anything for me because it meant I was never allowed to be hurt because ‘remember when he(insert run of the mill thing other wives get automatically but coming from a PA man, is seen as over the top generosity and must be accompanied by over the top praise – that apparently is never supposed to end and negates any and all neglect and abuse before and after it). Yep, don’t miss that. So tiring and hurtful.

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    • newshoes123 says:

      I’ve said this before on this blog, that the nice things they do over the top or not is not money in the bank for when they behave like horses rear ends. However, they seem to feel entitled since they are “normally” nice guys – pffffff. NOT!

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      • Bronze says:

        I used to call them ”chips” against abuse. He would bank chips to use everytime he was thoughtless, mean, disrespectful etc.. The chip bank never went down however I was never allowed to mention his cruel or thoughtless acts once a chip had been presented because that was me being abusive and ”making him feel bad”. I once said that many men don’t need to use their nice to offset their nasty, they just refrain from the nasty. I told him you can’t use them as chips against abuse. I got no answer to that. Also, I was only ever to focus on the chip bank no matter how meagre it became and not ”fixate” on his nastiness, no matter how frequent it became.

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  3. Expat says:

    This is very familiar to me. When I met my now husband he was wearing rags and had 1 pair of pants, underware that literally the elastic was falling off of them and socks with holes in them. Three shirts he wore. His dad has well off and I often wondered why he would never help his son with basics – like a winter coat, a pair of pants etc. My husband took care of his disabled mom for 8 years with no pay or financial help for over 14 hours a day so his dad didn’t have to care for her. The dad was capable, it just got in the way of his golf schedule and all the other important social events.

    My husband at the time wasn’t aware of PA or Narc people or aware that he had been abused psychologically (possibly physically, not sure, he doesn’t remember some of his childhood) emotionally and financially by the dad for years. Dad kept a tight reign on him. So at the time he really didn’t know that it would have come with a price if he ever asked, but everything came with a price we found out later on. Just interesting about the raggy clothing similarities.

    Also, we had a budget wedding as well. Middle of the day, cheapest slot at the registry office. We could only invite 4 people. No reception. We were asked if we were going to have a reception by the dad, we said no as we could not afford it. (We were undergoing an expensive visa process) He said fine, that he would go golfing on our wedding if there was no reception to go to. (Which he did…and we had to watch mom on our wedding day right after) Fast forward months down the road, the mom tells my husband that the dad was upset that we wouldn’t accept his help on the reception. WHAT?! Yep, dad told the mom that he offered to help us with money but we refused. And after we got married, the rest of my husband’s family stopped talking to both of us. They were downright rude anytime they came by the house (The dad’s house) and we were never invited to any holiday function/family get together again. No cards or gifts sent for our wedding except a lady who had alzheimers. (His gran.)

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  4. Jane Thorne says:

    Oh gosh this is so familiar. The drama around our wedding, on the day and the different things that unfolded should have alerted me to what was to come. I walked away in the end PJ, but not until sixteen years had passed. He gifted me a beautiful daughter and I now have my balance and peace of mind. ❤ xXx hugs and much love flowing to you. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. newshoes123 says:

    My future mother in law told me that I was a hypocrite for wearing white on my wedding so guess what, to please my future inlaws, I didn’t…. thinking back, I got robbed of my right to wear a beautiful white wedding dress. At the time I thought it was fine, but I’ve thought about that dress for a long long time afterwards. Not that I ever want to get married again but if I do, I don’t care what anyone says, I would wear white.

    Liked by 1 person

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