It can be formidably difficult to find the truth when you’re in the foggy murk of passive aggressive dynamics. Every now and then, the truth will just belligerently blurt out.
One of my favorite bloggers wrote about her passive aggressive husband inviting her to do something while she was trying to study for an important exam. It’s typical of a passive aggressive to choose a bad time for something, because then it’s all about their good intentions, and how you turned them down. In the ensuing conversation, when she expressed not feeling cared about, he was ready to blame.
I’ve experienced such similar past conversations. Now I just stick to the original issues like a skipped record. It makes him angry, but I repeat questions like these:
“I’ve told you that X,Y,Z was hurtful to me. Why do you keep doing it?”
“When we’ve been together for this long, why wouldn’t you know me well enough to know what things you could do to make me feel cared about?”
“What part of your relationship as a father do you feel you’re responsible for?”
“You could see that I was hurting/upset/sad. Why didn’t you make any attempt to communicate in any way that you cared about that?”
Sometimes he answers in ways that are abruptly illuminating. Disturbing, but truthful.
I use a tea kettle to heat water every morning. First I take some to drink heated water, then one of my sons and I both make pressed coffee with the rest. On different occasions when my husband decided to make oatmeal, he would use the already heated water from the tea kettle to pour into the pot to speed up the time needed to bring that water to a boil before adding the oatmeal. I’d walk back into the kitchen to make coffee, and realize there wasn’t enough water left, and have to fill it and heat it again. Not a big deal, but an irritant.
The first time we had a conversation about it, and I asked him to please not use the water I’d heated in the tea kettle as a quick start for cooking the oatmeal. Of course, this happened again and again and I’d just be quiet when he did it. It wasn’t really a battle I chose to really do ‘battle’ over. Partly because sometimes he’d offer to make extra for whichever kids might want some too. It seemed kind of petty to not just start his own water in the pot, but on the flip side, it seemed petty for me to make an issue of it.
Yesterday, my son was making the coffee. He picked up the tea kettle, looked around, and asked who used the water. For some reason, that was the tipping point for me, and I walked over and asked my husband, “Why… why after I’ve repeatedly asked you not to do that, did you do it?”
He replied, “Why should I stand here an extra two minutes or minute if I can use that instead?”
Ah. Shortly after he said it, he realized the supreme ass-ery of it. Apparently it is okay for anyone else to use their time to wait for water to boil, but not Himself. This time he apologized for it, and said he would “never again use the water from the tea kettle for his oatmeal,” but gave a confused glaring look when I asked him if he could tell me what the underlying issue was for it happening in the first place. I told him that when he makes promises about specific things, it won’t address the real issue, but is just part of the whack-a-mole game that pretends to be change to a passive aggressive.
I’ve been too tired to post everything recently, but I have been having conversations with him that discuss my doubts about continuing to try to make our marriage work. He knows that something different is in the wind.
He came back with part two of the apology and said that the underlying issue was entitlement and narcissistic thinking. He said (again) that he wants to change, and doesn’t want to be that man.
I’m at the point where it almost doesn’t matter to me anymore if he does or doesn’t change. You can get that tired.