I only wanted love

When I was young and my dreams were strong, I had the hope that there would be love in my marriage.  I didn’t have ambitions for wealth, new cars, a big house, expensive clothes, or even care much for those things.  My idea of a beautiful home included lots of books, music, art, and an interested and interesting mind to discuss them with.  I dreamed of a busy kitchen with crayon drawings and extra mugs of tea for friends dropping by, kids bringing home their friends, a dog at my feet and a cat purring in my lap.  I pictured growing flowers and tomatoes and an apple tree.  In this dream, I’d gone to college and finished a few degrees, and we carefully used any extra money for music instruments and lessons, and saved to take the kids on trips to see the amazing things to be seen when you journey away from your own front door.  Most of all, I dreamed of and wanted love in my home.

I wanted someone to smile when I came into the room.  Eyes that saw my flaws through a gentle filter, and loved me passionately.  I didn’t know how that would look, but I believed that I knew how it would feel.

It’s the one thing that you can’t easily find with a passive aggressive man.  Windows of love seem to be fleeting, even threatening somehow, and something about sharing loving interactions and space seem to send him in retreat, to an endless myriad of reasons to resent you, feel sorry for himself, and in that resentment and self-pity, to withdraw into what must feel like nurturing control.  When you’re with a passive aggressive man, part of his feeling in control seems to come from holding the power to punish you.   In his own mind, the punishment is justified.

He sees that you’re disappointed.  He sees that you’re lonely.  He sees that you’re tired, anxious, angry, hungry, cold, or exasperated.  He sees all of it, but he rarely, oh so rarely, moves to address your hurt, pain, fear, frustration, or loneliness.  Because in his mind, somehow it’s your fault. He’s misunderstood.  He’s unappreciated.  He’s resentful.

Last night as we were getting in bed, my husband asked me if I wanted to join him in a movie night tonight.  I hesitated to commit to it.  (Years and years of wanting such a thing taught so many lessons, and taught me to be wary.)  I decided to wait and see how the day went.  He started off this morning by communicating with a degree of false anxiety about work.  I use the word false, because there were no deadlines pressing, nothing negative to be anxious about.  Sometimes it seems that when it’s a time to be peaceful and thankful, he finds reasons to stir up what I called false anxiety.

He popped the announcement that he needed to go to a job site (not one word about this in prior meetings or discussions), and became resentful and anxious when I asked him about the meeting, and particularly about the timing of it.

It’s the kind of thing that shouldn’t be a big deal, but as I’ve tried to explain before, you have to pay attention to the little stuff with a passive aggressive man.  PA’s will use selective information, withhold information, and manipulate information with unnecessary drama at times.

He seemed to come around, to pull back from what seemed to be passive aggressive escalating dynamics, and for some hours, all seemed well.  I told him I was looking forward to spending time with him and watching a movie together.

Tonight when it was time to start watching, I didn’t come quickly enough to the couch after he sat down.  I went to the bathroom, then  noticed our sixteen year old wasn’t here.  I called her brother to make sure she was with him (which was fine), and she was.  While I was on the phone listening to her brother explain why they drove to town (also fine), I had facebook up on my screen.  I wasn’t interacting with anyone, or messaging, or typing anything.  I ended the call, and started to shut down facebook.

He asked in the most petulant, whining tone if I was going to finally come and sit down and watch the movie.  I stiffened, tried to joke a little, and asked him if he could try that again in a more appealing way.  He slightly reworded, but didn’t change the tone.  I suggested he try telling me he was happy to be with me, tell me that he missed me next to him etc.

Then his resentment became unmasked.  It’s ugly in his eyes when that happens.  I sat up and on the edge of the couch and said, “This is why I hesitated about saying yes to your movie invitation.  This resentment is unpleasant and uncalled for.”

He started right in on how long he had to wait, how he was tired, how I’d been on facebook, and that he no longer wanted to watch a movie with me either.

I told him, “I only wanted love.”

I logged in here feeling so sad and tired, and saw this comment left on this thread for me:  “Just because you don’t receive love doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it. You do deserve love. You are deeply and profoundly loved by your creator.

JoAnne, thank you.

This entry was posted in abusive husband, abusive marriage, Christian marriage, covert abuse, emotional abuse, passive aggressive abuse. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I only wanted love

  1. lonelywife07 says:

    that’s a beautiful quote…thanks for sharing it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MJ says:

    Passive-aggression is a symptom of a larger pathology. I have a friend who lives with a man that matches your husband’s description. He is a narcissist. Not a narcissist in terms of popular culture labeling. A narcissist in terms of the pathology described in the DSM. To me, semantics are everything because words are what we use to communicate. Words speak the truth. Abuse is easier to tolerate if we can simply categorize it as “passive-aggressive”. I live in one of the most PA states in the nation. You can’t go to the grocery store without someone being PA towards you. It’s a trait that is noted by new residents. It’s distasteful and unpleasant. It’s become a local joke. “Oh, I have a PA husband…” That doesn’t sound so bad. I have a narcissistic husband? Well, that’s different. Narcissists do not change. They do not. A person engaging in PA behavior can. PA can be learned from family of origin modeling. Grow up in Minnesota and you’ll be PA. It’s cultural. That can be unlearned. It’s a communication style rooted in suppressed anger. Anger is not permitted in stoic cultures, and Minnesota was settled by Scandinavians. What you describe is not just PA communication and behavior. You describe a personality with a host of other issues who uses PA behavior and communication to oppress and manipulate in order to get needs met. There is pathology there.

    I’m in a similar situation except that your husband is more relational than mine. He shows interest in you by asking you to join him for movies. He then sets you up for failure by judging your actions and applying meaning to them in terms of himself: “She doesn’t want to be with me because she’s on Facebook.” That isn’t PA behavior. That is different. This is narcissism as in every action that he judges in you he then applies to himself. You are either cutting off his narcissistic supply or inflicting a narcissistic injury to him. Questioning his choices? Narcissistic injury. Not sitting with him when he demanded it and choosing Facebook over him (in his perception)? Cutting off his narcissistic supply.

    I live with a fragile narcissist. I am very familiar with these patterns except, as I said, he shows virtually no interest in me so his narcissism is peculiar. This is not a lecture in any way. I am sharing with you from my own experience how important it is to really know the truth so that you can make good choices. I used to think that he was anxious. So, instead of describing him as PA, I would say, “Well, he’s just anxious. Anxious people do odd things and make poor choices sometimes.” Anxiety disorders are real, and they do wreak havoc on lives and relationships. They are, however, not the same thing as an Axis II disorder. So, I’m going to make a suggestion that comes directly from the spot I’m in now:

    1. Stop looking to your husband to meet any of your needs. Even love. He won’t and he can’t. Start meeting your needs yourself. Build your own life. This is the primary thing to do. I started making this shift last summer, and I have achieved a momentum in my life that I haven’t had in a long time.

    2. Go to therapy. See a psychiatrist if you need to as well. Above all, make your self-care prime. Get a haircut. Revitalize your self-image. Begin building your self-esteem. Exercise. If you need to grieve the loss of the dream of the marriage that you will never have, then let yourself do it. Go there. Really do it. I took two years to do it, and I was heartbroken. Begin individuating and differentiating from your husband. This is necessary and important. This is not anti-Christian. It’s fully growing up. See David Schnarch’s Passionate Marriage for differentiation in marriage. It is key.

    3. When a spouse abuses, they forsake their wedding vows. It’s abandonment. That is why the definition in the NT is so wide open. Abandonment of a spouse includes emotional abandonment. When a spouse abuses particularly long-term, that’s abandonment. You are not obligated religiously to be there. You are, however, obligated to find and maintain all of your self-respect. That is a biblical mandate. I have seen you speak of Christian marriage. This is why I say this.

    I am here, too. It is going to take a tremendous amount of effort for me to make my way out, but I am doing it. The first step I took was changing my focus. I had to start focusing on myself. He isn’t going to change. So, I had to. You are worth the effort. His inability to validate your needs has no bearing on their legitimacy. It just means that he lacks the capacity. So, why continue to wait for him to be different? Why not come up with a better plan?


    • WritesinPJ's says:

      MJ, thank you for taking the time for this response. I didn’t perceive it as a lecture in any way at all, but full of your personal insight, and much information for me to mull over. I appreciate it.

      I was already in the process of trying to find an abuse savvy therapist in my area, so it’s also timely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MJ says:

        Best of luck to you in your search. It’s worth it. If it helps, look for a therapist who specializes in EMDR and/or DBT. That will lead you down the right path. It means they know trauma.

        Liked by 1 person

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