Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “being passive aggressive

Passive Aggressive Mis-Communication

OFF-2016-blur

“Stop trying to change me.”

In my two marriages there were plenty of power struggles. Just like any relationship, people begin to wield influence. And asking for a change is acceptable. Manipulating the other person, through anger or rewards, in order to get them to do something you want but would rather not ask them to do, well, that’s called passive aggression.

As adults in relationships we need to be aware of asking for something and asking around something.

We often want different behaviors from those around us. I’d like the person in front of me to drive more quickly. I’d like my kids to pick up the towels from their bathrooms rather than throwing them for me to pick up. My role is to ask them to pick up their towels. And on about the tenth request, since we’ve moved into the new house, they are beginning to get it. They are teenagers, they could be not doing it to piss me off, or get some autonomy.

As adults in relationships we need to be aware of asking for something and asking around something. Let me give you an example from a few nights ago.

My fiance likes to drink. Not a problem. I am rather “meh” about alcohol, but I could always say yes to an ice cream. So when we are approaching a bar and she asks, “Would you like a drink?” I hear that she is asking if I am thirsty.

The other night she asked me and I said no. As we got closer, she asked, “Are you sure?” “Yep,” I said. And she asked a third time, “What about a water?” “Nope,” I said with some frustration beginning to show in my tone, “Nothing, thank you.” I probably said something like, “Quit asking.” But I don’t recall. I do know she reacted with a pout, letting me know I my frustration had registered.

Later the next morning as we were sorting through our plans and replays I made a discovery that excited me a bit.

“When we were heading towards the bar last night you asked me if I wanted a drink.”

“Yes, and then you got all pissy.”

“Wait. I just understood what was frustrating for me.” She looked at me with suspended disbelief. “When you asked me if I wanted a drink, I wasn’t sure if you were asking me if I was thirsty, or if you were making a request for me to join you for a drink.”

“Okay.”

“To me they are completely different.”

“I was asking if you were thirsty.”

“Yes, but you don’t have to ask me three times to see if I am thirsty. It’s very possible what you were asking initially, was ‘Will you have a drink with me?’ But that’s not what I heard.”

In our relationships with others we need to strive to ask for what we want. To complain when we don’t get the results we wanted. And to make our own desires as clear as possible.

“And if I knew you were asking me to join you for a drink, as in a request for us to share a drink together, then I can still say no, but I understand more clearly what you are asking. It seems like last night, the reason you asked three times, was because you might have been asking me to join you for a drink.”

“Maybe.”

“What do you think?”

“I think I was asking if you were thirsty?”

“Three times?”

“I agree, that’s a bit much.”

“So you understand how I got frustrated?”

“No, I just thought you were being an ass.”

“But I’m never an ass on purpose. I’m an ass to register frustration, or if I’m clear, to ask you for a behavior modification.”

So the passive aggressive way to ask me to join her for a drink, would’ve been to ask if I wanted a drink. But typically I say no to that question, because a “drink” is rarely what I’m thinking of. If she EVER asks me if I wanted an ice cream, I’m guessing I’d be 100% compliant. But with alcohol, I’m more like 10%. Just not my thing.

“Do you want a drink?” is very different from “I’d like you to have a drink with me.”

In our relationships with others we need to strive to ask for what we want. To complain when we don’t get the results we wanted. And to make our own desires as clear as possible. Anything unspoken, or actions used to manipulate the person into doing what we want, well, that’s out-of-bounds.

Speak what you want. Complain when you don’t get it. And ask for a modification if it becomes a habit, or pattern of disconnection.

“Do you want a drink?” is very different from “I’d like you to have a drink with me.”

The first is about me. The second is about you. If you want me to have a drink with you, say it. It shouldn’t matter if I have bubbly water or bubbly, unless that is also what you are asking.

The clearer we become in our communications the clearer we can be with our intentions and disappointments. Only through this type of honest communication do we get tuned-in to one another.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: hello sunshine, creative commons usage


You Know They’re Watching You, Right?

Dear Ex-Wife,

more attention to her phone then our kids

Our kids keep telling me things that concern me. The top of the list is “she never picks up” referring to your newly distant approach to receiving phone calls from your kids. Not my calls, I could care less about me, ignore me all you want. But the kids SEE YOU GLUED TO YOUR PHONE. They see you texting and talking with everyone, they see you interrupt conversations to check your phone. So when you “don’t pick up” they get the message. Something is more important than them. Wait? What?

Is something more important than a phone call from your kids?

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A friend, the other day on Facebook, took some time to give me a moment of insight into what she thought was going on with the ex-y and her angry behavior. The concepts she shared have stuck with me.

  • She did not understand your language. She did not get you.
  • She knows what she has done and she is ashamed of her behavior. Anger is a way for her to cover that up for herself.
  • Your kids will eventually get the truth about what happened. And they will see how you fought repeatedly for your marriage. She knows this will come back around.

So is this blog like a loaded weapon pointed at my ex-y’s dignity? Even with the anonymity, is she threatened by my blogging? I can see how this material, mostly The Hard Stuff, is impossible for her to imagine. I’m also assuming she doesn’t read me, though she does know about this blog.

So to her, The Off Parent is like a loose tooth and a time bomb all at the same time. I don’t have any plans to unleash this material on her or the kids. But… and I guess this is a big one, I imagine at some point in the distant future, my kids will read the book, or the poetry, or whatever this material turns into. But didn’t Bob Dylan’s kids know he wrote Idiot Wind about their mother?

As adults we explore our past and our parents in new ways. I am not writing this to my ex-wife or my kids. This is a testament of my own journey, my own reconciliation with myself. And while the content has shifted away from divorce and onto “what’s next” I am always jarred back to reality when some of the crazy divorce stuff happens.

Already I know this is petty, but…

daughter is sick

Sure, she might have been in the shower. But this woman is glued to her phone. And all I was looking for was an update on our daughter, who had an injury last night. This passive aggressive shit has got to go. 37 minutes for a check-in? Am I being petty? Oh well. Frustrating.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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How To Jack Your Ex-Partner’s Day

Rejecting a call from your exWas it passive aggressive? I don’t know. But the kids have been expressing their concerns this way, “She never picks up.” They are talking about their mom and her telephone manners. Today, it was a simple request for information. And unless there was some emergency, there’s no reason an answer could not have been generated within an hour or so, even giving the benefit of the doubt for sleeping late. It is a work day, however so that’s wouldn’t seem to apply.

Let the record show, that around 8:00 in the morning I wrote an email to my ex-y asking about the possible splitting of son and daughter duties after school. Both kids had after school activities, and my son was pretty sure his mom was coming to his cross-country meet. By 10:38 I was ready to either make other plans for the transportation of my son, but I still hadn’t heard from my ex.

Um, okay, I escalated to a text.

No Response from Your Ex

 

Her response came at 1:30. “Yes I’m going to the meet.”

That’s it. No acknowledgement that I’d been waiting for an answer for over five hours. And it’s not like she doesn’t check her phone. I’ve been around her enough to know she’s ALWAYS checking her phone and texting back.

So, in the end, we worked out a cooperative arrangement. And of course I didn’t blast her, because I still needed her help. It would be better for my son if he could catch a ride home with her, rather than waiting with the entire team for the bus back to the school.

What do you think? Was she jacking with me? Was I being unreasonable or pushy from my side?

My ex does not want to talk to me any more. While we were negotiating for our marriage, she also put in a request for me to quit emailing her my thoughts. She was done. In this case, I think she’s just ignoring me. She might even be ignoring the kids, which I see as more of a problem.

Sure, I like the power of silencing a call I don’t want to take, and often, if SHE’S calling there must be a problem. But a call from my kids, I have bypassed them once or twice, but called them back as soon as I was off the other line. (see: she is silenced in my back pocket – poem)

But when your ex begins taking over five hours to respond to a question about the kids…

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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