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Resentment-Controlling Wife/Passive-Agressive Husband

Question:

How long have you been together? 12 years

What is your age range? 34-40 no children together, husband has 2 previous marriages
 
Please share your story:

After several years of strained relations within my marriage, I think we may have a case of a controlling wife and passive-aggressive husband dynamic.

I am the primary breadwinner and have handle to finances and general running of the household. I know I can be a overbearing person as I like things a certain way and I tend to take charge, but, at the same time, I feel I am reasonable and have compromised a great deal in the course of the relationship.

It seems that my husband has subtle ways to sabotage our relationship and fiances. For instance, we are on a budget. He will take money out of the joint account and act like he thought we had extra money for him to gamble with. Other times he will evoke the silent treatment if I try to have a conversation that he perceives as unpleasant. If I try to talk to him about normal relationship and household matters it is impossible to come to a real solution as he will just agree and do nothing or go silent.

Lately, things have gotten much worse when I have expressed the likelihood that I do not want children. I have some medical issues that came about and brought the issue to the forefront. The medical issue was always something we both postponed for myriad reasons but seemed we would “eventually get to a better position” to do it. Granted, I did not disclose this early on in the relationship but it was because I was not sure about the condition until now.

He is not happy and saying we are not compatible about anything because of this medical issue. He is even now trying to blame me for the strained relationship he has with his adult daughters because “he sold his soul” to be with me. The bottom line is that he has resentment towards me, and, hence, the passive aggressive behavior has escalated. He thinks he wants out of the relationship but he will not make the move. I admit, I am stubborn and will not make the move either. I do not feel I should be made to be uncomfortable (giving up the home) because he is acting out.

He refuses the counseling I have suggested. I have presented books and other tools we could use to improve the relationship and he resists. For my own sake, I am going on my own therapist.

I am not sure of how to get a handle on the situation or if the relationship can be saved? He has moved out of the bedroom and decidedly is giving me the silent treatment, again, for the umpteenth time. I am not sure if its for present or past transgressions on my part as it is hard to keep count.

I haven’t talked to anyone about this as I am embarrassed and no one would believe me anyway because he is the quintessential “mr nice guy.”

Any insight on the situation besides the obvious “divorce solution” will be helpful.

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Answer:

Divorce is never a solution to marital problems but the question must be asked, can this marriage be saved? That is a difficult question to answer because of a problems you have described.

Any successful relationship rests on the foundation of mutual trust. When you and he were first married there was some type of medical problem that you suspected you might have but did not mention to him. On the other hand, he goes into the joint account and withdraws money without telling you. His supposed reason is that he believed there was extra money for him. However, he removed the money covertly and failed to discuss it with you.

As you point out, he passively and aggressively withdraws into silence, not a healthy strategy for any marriage. That means that, if you try to discuss issues with him, he becomes silent and, perhaps, leaves the room. Now, he has moved out of the bedroom but, seemingly, you do not know why.

Apparently, you and your husband have different goals for the marriage. He wants children and either you cannot have them, do not want them or a combination of both. In either case, he blames you for that and for his strained relationships with his daughters. Blaming is not a good strategy for a successful marriage. By the way, in feeling resentment, you seem to express a lot of blame towards him.

Is there anything you can do to salvage this marriage? You have suggested marriage counseling and some reading of books on marriage. Yet, he refuses. It is difficult to negotiate with a man who refuses to discuss things. But, it may not be impossible. If you really want this marriage, you must give up the blaming and reduce the resentment. Each of you have contributed to these problems rather than any one of you. In a way that is free of resentment, it would be good to tell him that you want to save the marriage and will do anything to do so if he will as well. Both of you must take the attitude that you are not arm wrestling with one another. There is nothing to win or lose, except for the marriage.

By engaging in a struggle of wills, which you clearly describe, all that is created is a “stand off” where no one will blink first. Actually, my guess is that neither one of you wants to lose this marriage because you care about each other. I don’t know what your medical problem is but perhaps it can be repaired or you can use his sperm for artificial insemination or you could adopt children. Couples who are motivated find ways to solve their problems and to do it as a couple, working together.

By the way, my hope is that you are talking to your therapist about your marriage.

Best of Luck

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