I have never seen myself as a passive person but more of an energetic problem-solver. My counsellor was surprised when I gave myself that label recently too. If anything, I’m noisy and opinionated and would veer more towards the aggressive end of the spectrum. But all of the discussions, explanations and ‘new starts’ and policies in my marriage had no effect whatsoever, I was stuck exactly where I was, year after year. All of my energy, the rows and effort did nothing. Just nothing- if anything the situation just got worse. I couldn’t understand it, as I was trying so hard. I just couldn’t seem to find the key to happiness, and it was just so important to me that we had a happy family.
1) It takes two people to make a relationship and a marriage. However hard I tried, cried, argued, complied or pacified, it was NEVER going to succeed. The other guy had a different agenda.
2) I saw my behaviour as ‘feisty’. Last year I had to write an essay for my degree about mental illness, and (long story short) researched into Passive Behaviour. Horrifying ‘lightbulb’ moment when I discovered something about myself that I really did not anticipate or accept easily- I was behaving passively in dealing with my husband. Really? me? never! (Schiff and Schiff 1971) -One of the definitions of passive behaviour is ‘repeatedly doing something that doesn’t work’. This might be aligned to one definition of madness, which is to keep doing the same things and expecting different outcomes!
So in a nutshell, when dealing with PA behaviour, once I had explained once or twice or ten times (a hundred times), expressed my feelings a million times, screamed, ignored, avoided, responded……I could go on but you get the gist. It should have been obvious, but I just wasn’t doing anything that made the slightest bit of difference to HIS behaviour. Yet I was sooo active and busy and trying so hard.
I got angry at the couple’s counsellor who asked me why I put up with his behaviour if it was so bad? I responded by saying ‘I don’t! I argue etc etc (you’ve got it by now)’ but he gently pointed out that I wasn’t doing anything constructive. (He didn’t say that but I’m paraphrasing). Seriously? What else should I do?
Ahh. Set boundaries and follow through with them. Hahahahahaha! Consequences for his actions.
Have you experienced PA behaviour? If you have, on every conscious or unconscious level you know that setting any sort of boundary or attempting to hold him responsible puts you in the firing line for an escalation of nasty behaviour. Very, very scary stuff. An exacerbation of the very behaviour that I was trying to ‘solve’. Where’s the logic in that?
So, maybe if I just explain to him once more instead, or maybe this time his apology is sincere, or he really will do what he said he’d do, perhaps as he says, I am being horrible for not believing him this time…….feisty or passive?
Took me a very long, painful time to realise that however noisy I was, I was still being passive. Yuk.