Passive aggression is when your husband blames all financial issues on you because he hasn’t participated in any bill payments, household shopping, or budgeting in the 14 years you’ve been together.
Passive aggression is when you get in an accident with your boyfriend and you husband tells you to do whatever you need to recover and then when you go out that evening with your other boyfriend, he feels disregarded because you didn’t choose him. Even though he didn’t once say that he wanted or needed you home with him.
Passive aggression is him saying he’ll get back to me when I ask about a parenting switch or scheduling detail to do with the children, and he just never responds. When I remind him, if it’s too soon, he says “Sorry, I don’t know the plans yet”, or “Sorry, it’s too late, I have plans now.”
Passive aggression is him complaining in advance that I won’t want to give him “anything from our shared possessions”, and then complaining when I drop them off at his house. To the point where he said that me returning his possessions was harrassment and that he would call the police. Then he told me I was a terrible person.
Passive aggression is using guilt and shame to pressure me for sex. Expecting sexual favours but only reciprocating based on satisfaction. Linking his expression of love to how often he came due to my actions. Then guilting me when I wasn’t attracted to him anymore because our sex life was a very unsexy power struggle that involved manipulation and degradation.
Passive aggression is refusing to direct message the nanny I employ for childcare during my parenting time, despite the fact that she is there for 90% of the transitions.
Passive aggression is never once seeing the work that needs to be done around the house, and then calling me controlling when I ask him to do things like mow the lawn.
Passive aggression is complaining to the kids about the fact that they are with a nanny during my parenting time, not acknowledging that our parenting arrangement is set up the way it is to accommodate his work schedule, so he wasn’t responsible for astronomical childcare costs himself, and that the kids would have much more one-on-one time with me if we had an alternate schedule that accommodated my Monday to Friday job.
Passive aggression is complaining to the kids that they are too much work or he doesn’t get enough down time because he only has them on his days off. Ignoring the fact that everyone else has to parent on their days off too.
Passive aggression is kids being kids and him telling them that they are responsible for him yelling or being angry, “because they shouldn’t be behaving this way when he just got off a night shift/hasn’t had a day to himself/just had a bad day at work/has to deal with so many kids all the time/wants to spend time with other adults.”
Passive aggression is refusing to pay the child support he owes me on the first of the month, despite the fact that he signed a document stating he would do so, simply because I originally provided him a verbal agreement that allowed him to pay on the 15th, even though I provided him written notice of revoking that agreement three months ago.
Passive aggression is him spending our entire relationship criticizing me for having feelings. For attacking me when something upset me. For minimizing my hurt, joy, or otherwise. For making my life changes about him. Like when I went on antidepressants for postpartum depression and the whole three weeks of adjusting were a constant barrage of complaints about how hard it was on him. Or how me taking my dream job made it harder for him because he had to solo parent on his days off. Or how getting the nanny was a bad idea because the benefit was mine. Or how I was a bad mom because I chose my career instead of being a stay at home mom (something that made me miserable).
Passive aggression is never respecting a boundary. Be it me asking for time alone and him breaking down a door to the bathroom to make me listen or turning on the light minutes after I went to sleep to force me to listen to him because he’d “been home with kids all day and I owed it to him to listen to him” and then him being upset when I responded strongly and negatively to those behaviours and making himself out to be the victim; or when he repeatedly and often insulted me, destroyed my things, or tried to destroy me verbally and excused his behaviour because he didn’t feel like he was getting what he needed from our relationship.
Passive aggression is strategically undermining my reputation and instilling hate in the poly population in our community because he can’t have a conversation with me where he admits that both he and his girlfriend are at fault for some things and that their cooperation and compromise are required to move forward. In his mind, it is all my fault.
Passive aggression is abuse.
I was a victim of passive aggression for the first 40 years of my life. My dad is a perfect model of the passive aggressive manipulator who is always the victim. He’s never taken responsibility for anything in his life. I married a smarter version of my dad, thinking that he wasn’t like him, but later realizing that he was exactly like him, just smarter and more manipulative. I spent years thinking I was a bad person, because I asked my husband to contribute to household responsibilities. Scheduling wasn’t a thing we could do, because it was me “taking away his freedom”. Splitting responsibilities wasn’t something we could do, because I “would hold it over his head if he didn’t get something done”. Trying to schedule a talk to tackle some of the challenges in our relationship wasn’t possible because he felt attacked when I asked him to look at his behaviour. Convincing him to see a marriage counsellor was so hard and he spent weeks complaining and picking fights trying to get out of it, because he felt he would be unfairly portrayed. Just getting him out to social engagements was an exercise in futility, because he often made it so miserable to go out together, just leading up to the engagement, that I felt it wasn’t worth taking him with me.
I’ve spent the last year unpacking these things. Realizing that I am not, in fact, a bad mother because I have a career and have hired a nanny who lovingly takes care of my children when I can’t. Realizing that I am not a bad person or a control freak because I expected my husband to participate in our life and the household we built. Realizing that I was not the root of all financial issues just because I was the only one responsible for organizing child care, shopping for the household, and managing all the children’s activities, education, and needs. Realizing that it’s OK to ask for help and expect it to be given because my partners actually want to support me and that I don’t have to be a solitary island of strength, but someone who can show weaknesses and accept support without being an inconvenience or them making me feel like I’m inconveniencing them. Realizing that sex is not a weapon or an expectation but something that you give freely and readily, and is mind-blowingly amazing to the point that you would rather do nothing else when you have a partner that returns all the communication, advances, love, and touch with enthusiasm and acceptance.
More than that, realizing what I did that was wrong. I enabled his behaviour and rose to the occasion. Every. Single. Time. When it became harder for him to push my boundaries, he pushed harder, and every time I responded. I responded and escalated and when I did, even when justified, he had a reason to play the victim. I reacted inappropriately and in ways I am not proud of. I have very specifically and thoroughly apologized for these things, although an apology doesn’t ever undo an action. I chose to step off the emotional roller coaster that was the breakdown of our marriage about 8 months too late. I should have left when he told me I was less useful that an HIV infected sharps container.
I did, and often still do, communicate like I would with someone who can be direct and honest and work with others, and I find myself surprised, every time, that he is incapable of communicating without trying to control the situation, me, or add conflict that doesn’t need to be there. I’m working on trying to figure out how to communicate minimally and effectively so that I can accomplish what I need to for my children’s happiness and still maintain my own. This goal is very challenging, because every hill is the one to die on in his world and I have to walk a line between being a doormat and demanding my boundaries be respected when they should be.
Right now, my eldest daughter is heartbroken as she tries to navigate dealing with her dad’s less than stellar communication style. She is a child who needs calm time and reflection to come around to a place where she can discuss her behaviour. He is a man who needs to demand and power struggle everyone into submission. They are butting heads, he is blaming her for his reactions, and she just wants to avoid him all together. This isn’t an option. My heart breaks for her. I feel guilty as hell because I was the one who chose him to procreate with. I am free of him, as much as I can be, but she never will be. I am powerless to help her deal with this at present, other than to hold her, tell her it’s not her fault, and remind her that I am proud of her and she is not the person that he makes her feel like she is.
Every time polyamory comes up, communication is at the forefront of the conversation. This is as it should be. Communication is everything in polyamory. I’ve become a much better communicator because of polyamory. I am direct, strong, unapologetic, and very loving and accepting. I have become a complete and total stickler for my boundaries, to the point where some people feel I’m a bitch because I don’t let them push me. I have no regrets for this. No one should ever violate a well-expressed boundary. When they do, there needs to be consequences. Those consequences usually, in my experience, involve a whole lot of self respect, self-reflection, and accountability. It’s not easy to stand up for yourself and demand to be treated appropriately, and, in my experience, you lose friends when you do. It’s worth it. Completely and totally worth it.