Narcissism_welcomePlease take the time to listen to our radio show here,


 – Who will they turn to?


We look forward to your comments on this show here.



65 Responses to “Who will they turn to?”

  1. Katie said

    I gained a great deal from listening to this show, thank you.

    My husband, a clergyman, and I have been married for 34 years and we have four sons. Our third son began acting out (he had always been high maintenance, but this was serious) when his older brother became engaged a few years ago, he couldn’t bear that relationship changing. We were told that his symptoms all pointed to NPD — we had never heard of it before. He broke off all contact with our entire family.

    The rest of the us carried on with heavy hearts, especially our youngest son who is autistic. About 14 months ago it became obvious that my husband was going to be forced to retire early. His behavior at home became a nightmare. He flattered himself that no one noticed a change professionally but they did.

    He began to scapegoat me almost constantly, and the fights became progressively worse. He has done this throughout our marriage but I didn’t understand it, he always was so sorry afterwards; he said after he left that all of his apologies were false, that they were calculated — he believes that I am the crazy one, and apologizing was the only way he knew to calm me down! Ultimately he left me nearly a year ago, our autistic son solely in my care.

    At first I couldn’t bear it, panic attacks, etc. Turns out that I was quite codependent, but somehow managed to pull it together for my son. We have attempted marriage counseling 4 times, each time it looks as if he might need to change a thing or two he quits, says he is without blame, it is all my fault. He has been diagnosed with NPD and, not surprisingly, denies it. He refuses to talk to me, even on the phone, insists that we only communicate by email. He has done a few things that the police consider stalking and, at their insistance, I have had the locks changed, etc.

    In the meantime, I have cared for our son and had 11 months of personal therapy, gone to support groups, etc. While I was doing this he was telling horrible lies about me to everyone we know, especially to our other sons.

    My desire is to save the marriage, but have no idea how. This broadcast came close to giving me some direction, but if he won’t communicate I am at a loss. I’ve tried to figure out which books/programs here would be best, but don’t know where to start. Help!

  2. CD, Western Australia said

    Hi Katie,

    It was good for me to read your story – there were many aspects of your history that are similar to mine.

    I too was lost in where to start – and Kim and Steve may well respond to you to guide you. For me I have read and listened to everything I could find that their program has offered so far, sometimes over and over – until I felt conversant enough as to what I was dealing with. This has taken me about 3 months snatching time from my frugal amount of spare time to study it.

    Just yesterday I sat down do the The Love Safety Net Workbook Part 2 exercises – I still haven’t finished assessing them yet but I can already see its tremendous value. Kim and Steve have certainly developed a powerful program which helps sort out the confusion of living with a narcissist/bully/charmer (and dare I say “drama-queen”).

    Each day I am becoming a little clearer in my mind, and now deal with matters in a more emotionally intelligent way all the while becoming more confident that this is not my fault (and not his either), and I have now learned how to respond rather than react to the bullying and the seductive charm. Kim’s repertoire of verbal responses have been extremely valuable to me to build upon to respond to various situations. Her matter of fact responses are non-reactive, non-judgmental & free of ultimatums – this has been a skill I have needed to learn all of my life especially when I was raising my children – is it too late? Maybe not – whenever my husband, or my adult children (or me for that matter) are acting out then they need to be taken to task – but not bullied.

    My husband has quietened down and is now interacting with me in a more mature way – so much so that it is almost eerie , and furthermore that I almost don’t trust it – is it the calm before the storm? But it is also lovely nevertheless so I’ll have to take it for what it is worth and trust that it is a significant change in communication between us which may have truly opened the doors for us to heal ourselves and perhaps our relationship. Maybe he is genuinely ready to get real and get rid of the mask.

    This program coupled with psychotherapy has been a powerful duo in starting the healing process for the both of us, and now also our daughter. Hopefully one day we will be able to pull our son into the arena for much needed healing also – the difficulty being that he lives & works in another state at the moment.

    I have not informed my husband about the program yet, nor the psychotherapist. I am, for the time being, choosing to quietly learn this program and make the changes in myself to gain more and more healthy strength (not bullying) and the reward is more and more respect & self-respect. When I feel I am strong enough, and when I can decide how, I will inform my husband about the program. In the meantime I am confident enough that if he accidentally finds out then I will be able to deal with it.

    The thing I had found most difficult would you believe is greeting him and saying his name warmly each time we meet – Kim asks us to do this – and she says it is a must and not an option! I was so surprised at how difficult this was for me – had I become so bitter about the endless arguments, lies/cheating & scape-goating? ….well… yes! I didn’t consider myself a bitter person but toward him I had become so…and perhaps understandably. But looking beyond the BS it showed how emotionally unhealthy he & I had become. This single act of greeting him warmly and saying his name disarmed him (and me) and opened the doors of communication and everything seems to be moving in a positive direction now. My husband has even commented several times that he never realized that I was as strong as what I was during the last six months of him threatening to divorce me after 33 years of marriage. I am quite prepared to save the marriage as I do still love him and perhaps always will, however I am quite prepared to go our separate ways if that is best for me or the both of us as I now love and respect myself more than I ever did before.

    Just one more thing – after studying the program for some time I came to a place where I could reconcile the betrayal & the hurt of his lies/scape-goating about me to our family, friends and colleagues/confidantes as narcissistic supply to him. I now know that he did this albeit unwittingly/automatically to pump up his ego, and therefore to cover up his inadequacies (but initially at great cost to my confidence and consequent withdrawal).

    Once I realized this, I forgave him and moved on to deal with the real issues of narcissism. This step coupled with shoulders back and a sparkle returning to my eyes was rewarded recently by our friends paying a tribute to me which showed me that they had neither believed nor supported his BS as I once thought they might have. My husband also witnessed this and has perhaps learned a life lesson too – that you can’t harm someone without at first harming yourself.

    This lesson was also reinforced again recently when he was exposed (for pumping his ego for narcissistic supply) this time with his daughter being the scape-goat. He now has the job of trying to convince his daughter that he didn’t mean what he said and is trying to pass it off that he was joking (as he always does) – which of course is not working with our daughter. She says “why did you say it if you didn’t think it?” and that is a tough question he now struggles to answer – his house of cards is falling little by little and I have to be prepared for the “rock bottom” by being as educated and emotionally strong as I can be when that happens. Who knows he may run away when the heat gets too hot – but miracles do happen! In the meantime I will take it one day at a time.

  3. Mellie DeYoung said

    Although the situation and the players are different for me I can most certainly identify with the symptoms. I have watched my NPD make such a fool of him self thinking that others do not notice what a phoney he is. And absolutely he runs or hides at the very suggestion that he might need to change. I have sort of taken a backseat in that regard. I will not criticize him in his efforts professionally but let others turn him down or point out his arrogance. Only when he is arrogant with me will I stand firm and tell him I will not tolerate it.
    Even before I found Kim and Steve’s wonderful book online I realized that for my own mental, physical and emotional health I had to stand up to him to protect my self. This realization came about when I discovered sexually suggestive pictures a “friend” had sent him of herself. I told him what I had found and that now that I understood I would not accept his criticism of me or his erroneous accusations’ any longer. If he left he left but that would be his decisions not mine.
    This is a very difficult step but it is very, very important. In the first place I cannot save someone else unless I am on firm ground myself. In the second place I could not be angry at him for making me feel bad. He is not responsible for my feelings. If I had been in control and not looking to him for approval or love or whatever, he could not have brought me to the very pathetic place I was in.
    Once I started this improvement in my life I went to talk to an old friend to find some answers and much to my surprise I discovered even as Kim did that he had been talking behind my back and was making me out to be the monster. As I was reeling from this news, I went on line to discover what this mental disorder was that I knew he had but he would never talk about.
    My advice to you is to keep following Kim’s advice and above all do whatever you need to do to get yourself on firm healthy ground.

  4. Sue Howard said

    the radio show really hits the spot. It isn’t easy to be the nurturer when someone has hurt you so much, but if that is the glue that holds a better relationship together, then it is worth the effort.

    My husband was raised by a mother who gave him no support, praise or love. He was critisised, made to feel guilty for not being good enough even when he had done well. He was constantly being told that his friends were always better than him and making their mother’s proud.
    He was her source of care and attention from an early age, even to being his younger sister’s carer when the parent opted out. Though no expert myself, I would venture to say his mum has NPD.
    So it is not surprising that his emotional development was damaged and that he is now desperate to be loved and the centre of attention to make up for what his childhood lacked. It is not surprising that some of his coping strategies are flawed because that is what he saw as normal as he grew up.
    It is knowing that I cannot change him but have it within my power to change me that has been liberating. It has made it easier to deal with the blips, I don’t get so angry and easily drawn in. Equally, he knows he cannot pull me in so readily and that I do not hold or use the past events against him as that was a real source of fear to him. Yes, I had a lousy time for quite a few years, but so did he, for different reasons. He does not need to be rescued, he does need empathy, love and compassion. Many thanks, Kim and Steve

  5. Mellie said

    I so admire your strength in the changes you have made. I like how you said it wasn’t your fault and not his either. One of the hardest things I have dealt with has been his fear. I know it is real and so affects him that he sometimes curls up in the fetal position in a corner somewhere. How could I give an ultimatum to a full grown man in this position?
    I have only found Kim and Steve a matter of week ago, but when I read how Steve felt because Kim could not sense his danger I knew I was in the right place. I also love Kims magic scissors but I can’t say I’m very good with them yet.

  6. Katie said

    Dear CD and Mellie,

    Thank you so much for your responses — it feels so good to know that I am not alone, that others have walked this path before me. Incredibly, I still have trouble reconciling my husband with this disorder, my mind would still like to dispute the only answers that finally make sense after all these years. Each day at least one memory of his behavior being “off” from the past 34 years pops into my brain, and the light bulb comes on yet again. It took my therapist 11 months to get me to the point of seeing that I am not the one with the basic problem in our marriage. When one of the jabs comes my way now (via email of course!)I experience a tiny doubt that I am now able to dismiss all by myself.

    No more denial.

    He wrote last night that as of 7/1 his services were no longer required at the two churches he’d been working at; clearly he was feeling lonely, rejected, and scared. As always, his way of dealing with this is to try to start something with me; his weapon of choice was to inform me that he’d decided to cut the money each month that is used to buy food and necessities for my son and me.

    I am so thankful that seeing your responses stopped me from responding to him. Instead, I have bought Kim’s book and will take today to study it before getting back to him.

    Thank you again, so much.

  7. MR said

    Thanks for a really good discussion. Just as everyone above, I too struggle with how to cut off the feeling hurt emotions and be able to just keep going with what needs to be done. Some days I can, some days like today, I can’t. The energy and confidence can still be sapped pretty easily. Every stupid little sarcastic jab or criticism just pushes me too far, It is helpful to hear that others have this same struggle. It is helpful to hear others question again and again if they are the one with the problem. Perhaps it is harder to see when you know your own faults, and your partner is pretty competent in many arenas.

    My spouse is married to work, or as I like to joke, married to his computer. My kids comment about how he (literally) goes no where without Internet access. I know he doesn’t recognize that it is rude that everyone around him has to adjust and coordinate with minimal notice to his schedule. He doesn’t seem to get that expecting 3 small boys to stay out of the house, so he can hold conference calls or webinars (home office) without risk of background noise or disruption, for much of the working day (even if it is not everyday,) is not reasonable. He adores the boys and wouldn’t consciously do something to make it hard on them. I’m not trying to complain, but just to say I know he feels he is doing the right thing by focusing on building his business, … where he does have a skill for seeing future trends and potential pitfalls that is different than myself or many others.

    I agree with Kim’s comments that the N is often trying to cover-up something. My husband, in his more open times, often expresses a fear that things will all fall apart, as he felt it was a facade as he was evolving a business model etc. Now that is appears to be more stable, he doesn’t express the fear, but the anxiety is clearly still there. I am purposely keeping myself away from the business as much as I can, because when I was helping, it triggered my really being the scapegoat.

  8. CD, Western Australia said

    I would like to share some more things that have helped me along the way. Over our 33 years of marriage I have tried many different things to win my husband’s complete love and devotion – from losing weight to being the best “home-maker” I could be, as well as raising my self-esteem & assertiveness with the help of self-growth programs, but only the latter really helped our relationship. When I finally identified the personality traits of my husband as most likely to be narcissistic then, in search for help on the internet, I stumbled across Kim & Steve’s program. I could not get enough of it quickly enough – finally something and some good people to sort out the confusion.

    I became anxious realizing the magnitude of the task in front of me. From past self-growth programs I knew I could not change him – I could only change myself.

    One of the first things I did to stop the bad memories consuming my whole mind all the time was to write them down – say what I knew, thought, suspected and felt – allowing myself to be as angry or as hurt as I wanted to be. I then read it over and over until I could not cry or be angry any more. I had got it out of my system…for now! Then I put it safely away with the resolve that I would work on myself through Kim and Steve’s program for as long as it takes, and then get those memories out to read again one day (but not too soon) to see how much change I had made. There were times when the memories kept coming back, but I challenged myself to put them out of my mind again labelling the thoughts as “stinking thinking”. I knew also that I didn’t have to remember the memories all the time now (so I wouldn’t forget them, or have the narcissist pretend it wasn’t like that, or never happened, etc)….. because the memories were now kept in a safe place! And if more bad memories are created that consume my mind then I will add them to that safe place also! Doing this leaves my mind free to learn new things, to do what I have to do, concentrate, and above all enjoy the other important things in life in the meantime – otherwise the narcissist has too much of my attention again!

    Maybe one day I will burn those memories, or if we part ways I will keep them as a reminder as to why we are apart! I haven’t looked at them again yet, but I do know that I have progressed in standing up for myself in a healthy way. I rarely lose my cool now and quickly get myself back in check if I do. I choose my words carefully so as not to be reactive, critical, judgmental, or delivering ultimatums.

    I have to learn to “respond” instead which is quite different from “reacting”. A little trick I have learned is not to use the word “ if ” in my response – it’s amazing how the language has to change!

    The right “response” is not always on the tip of my tongue – I therefore have to take a slow quiet deep breath and consider my response before delivering it. As Kim says, take the time to self-soothe…. even if it takes a day or two for you to calm down and consider the most appropriate response.

    An example of the effect that this has had on my husband is that when he tried to push my buttons with childish taunts recently….. I just smiled warmly and walked away – he called out after me – “What? You’re not going to bite? – I turned and genuinely smiled at him again and then continued on to do something else like I had forgotten all about it straight away… in effect he had to listen to what I “did” and not what I “said”…. amazingly he smiled back at me but we both knew that he was trying to stir me. I had used my magic scissors (thanks Kim!) and I was reminded again how he was just looking for narcissistic supply.

    An important point that Kim & Steve made in this show is that the heat has to be turned up on the narcissist/bully from somewhere else….that it can’t be from me because it can easily be turned back onto me if the narcissist is that way inclined.. that is he could throw it back in my face…and my husband will resolve to win any argument at all costs by bullying, intimidating and confusing me …
    …and I don’t need more of that!

    CD, Western Australia

  9. Mellie said

    I think you are correct about the mothers influnce on your child/adult. My NPD said to me recently that he had never felt safe even as a child. Another time he told me how his mother would tell him she loved him each time he left the house. He talked about how he tried to slip out with out her noticing so she wouldn’t say it. As a result he hates for me to use that word as well.
    I think of all the guilt, and pain he is carrying around. No wonder he resorts to fantasy, and lies which brings more guilt and more fear. My normal responce is to just throw my arms around people and love them no matter what. I can’t do that with him. It has to be his idea.
    How do I love him with out crossing his boundaries? It is a challenge.

  10. Mellie said

    PS. Sue

    I have to add to the above that because of Kim and Steve I realize now that his boundaries are just a smoke screen to let him do what he wants. If I love him it is like an obligation he has to treat me with respect. If he treated me with respect he wouldn’t badmouth me behind my back, he wouldn’t fantasize about other women and possibly have affairs (I know I’m in denial here). He wouldn’t lie to me about where he goes or what he does (though he sure wants to know what I’m up to)

    Thank you also for you example and for your suggestions.

  11. Linda said

    I recently found Kim and Steve’s program after I had a major meltdown and was searching for answers. It has been almost a month since I have spoken with my N husband. I am currently living with an adult son — doctors orders — until I develop better coping skills. I am practicing responses, because I must admitt that I did all the wrong things feeding into his feelings of inadequacy as I reacted and hit below the belt with my comments. I am just not sure once I get my support group in place when I return home how I bring up the subject to him. I have started the exercises in the Love Safety Net Workbook. We both have so much gap work, especially in the area of emotions. Perhaps seeing a change in me and how I respond to him will be enough for me to share how I made changes. He is not physically abusive, but has rage issues. Any thoughts on this?

  12. CD, Western Australia said

    Hi Linda,

    I first subscribed to Kim & Steve’s program late February 2009, and soon after subscribing Kim sent me a website with a link (I hope it is still available) which took me through to a page with 12 very good pieces of advice on “Resolving a Fight in Progress”. Because our relationship had become so strained and fragile I followed those 12 points like they were my “12 commandments”. Little by little the situation improved, and now we are making much faster progress. Trust and attachment is definitely building between us.
    My husband has not seen these 12 points yet, but he has responded well to my changes in attitude. This last week he sincerely told both his adult son and daughter that he loved them for the first time – which shocked all of us – this was a huge step for him – he has always loved them but never told them! 3 months ago he was raging out of control, now he has calmed right down and is opening up his heart. Miracles do happen! Keep following Kim and Steve’s program – it’s worth all the courage and effort.

    CD, Western Australia

  13. Steve Cooper said

    HI CD, Hi Linda,

    The above post makes all our work worthwhile.

    The resolving a fight in progress webpage is here,

    Thanks for the mention CD.


  14. Molly said

    Everything that I receive from you is so helpful. I believe it is the absolute focus on keeping the “boat pointed in the right direction” that I try to remember.
    I have come a long way and so has our household, and my spouse as an individual. Because this gripping disorder affects each of us in unique ways, our children are struggling with their own level of difficulty in facing life’s choices. I plan to reread my booklets, but I would appreciate some further guidance in how to help my N hubby steer away from inappropriate behaviors. It seems that one begins to diminish as another appears. Examples: Mooing like a cow if my daughter eats some sort of a treat. Then we notice that he is provocatively kissing his napkin at our dinner table, and even when we are in the public. At first it seemed that he was doing it for attention and then he didn’t even seem to notice that he had just engaged such a strange action. After months of calmly explaining that provocative behavior is not acceptable and that it makes me and the kids uncomfortable, the behavior seems to be diminishing.
    This man is at that low point with his ego. The real person has been revealed and he is not happy with his history. I have no intention of adding further pain to his load, but I am not sure of how to deal with such behavior issues. “Parenting” an intelligent and sensitive adult is complex. I don’t want to lead in the wrong direction. I don’t want to stand by and watch as he simply replaces one negative with another and I feel that I need to be proactive for all involved. I have no desire to be a controlling person and would be thrilled if my husband were able to filter through this stuff on his own. It saddens me to see him struggle with these things. ? What can I do to help?

  15. redfield said

    Thanks for this opportunity to publish some thoughts on your transcript. I do agree that confrontation does lead to quite negative consequences with (N’s). Like you, my thoughts are only from personal experiences and are not meant to form any sort of advice for others, everyone has differences in their own experiences with this disorder!

    For me the last four years of my marriage came to the realisation that to survive this was to think more strategically for myself and my four children. I had a three day rule that, if I was confronted with her nasty behavior I would not react for three days. It gave me an important buffer between the onslaught and how I was internalising it. In a sense it empowered me to think a little more clearly by distancing myself from trying to rationalise what could never be rationalised!!

    My N was always fearful of her behavior from this point on, in the sense that I would not question her as to the how why or when, she sensed that I had taken back “my” ground from her. This is not to say that things improved with her, in one sense her behavior became more extreme.

    I began now to protect and distance myself from her. Something that helped me through all this was keeping a voice diary during those years. I recorded incidents and importantly my feelings about what was happening to me and my family at the time. When one tape was complete I would post it off to a trusted friend.

    After she left I picked the tapes up and although I never want to listen to them again, I will dispose of them when I feel the time is right to do so.
    My divorce came thru last week, I have four children that see me as their rock …. if it is your path to free yourself from your N, you will survive and eventually prosper….

  16. Mellie said


    No one has a right to tell me how I feel! I guess I knew that all along but I finally internalized it. When you asked for questions I wanted to know why I cross his boundaries. Now I know. I cross his boundaries because his boundary– not telling him I love him crosses my boundary. I do love him and therefore even if I don’t say it I am still going to love him.
    By making this boundary he hopes to prove to the female he’s trying to impress that I am the monster he makes me out to be.
    So we are not in the same house anymore and he’s sleeping with her. I still love him and he has no right to tell me I don’t.
    I don’t think I have a right to force myself on him or to be dramatic and emotional about it but I do have a right to my own feelings.

    I cannot force him to “love” or respect me but I have a right to love who I will as does he. I have a right to love, respect and accept me and who I am. Leave him alone. Yeah, I will because I love him and because I love me.
    Gosh that feels so good to know that–to really know that. I’m going to live with it for a while before I tell him and maybe I won’t need to tell him at all.

  17. MR said

    I am following up with another posting because I’d like some feedback from others about my situation and strategies to move forward, as well as hearing others experiences with keeping positive, believing things will improve, and figuring out how to respond to negative behavior especially when directed at our children. There have been some really good suggestions posted by community members recently, and this seemed to be the best location.

    I’m struggling with feeling exhausted – 3 young boys, working almost full time, and mostly from dealing with my husband. Sometimes his frequent critical, sarcastic put downs of me finally wear me down and I either push back or end up really upset and crying. I know his remarks get worse when he is feeling stressed, and although I am not exactly sure why he is feeling it so much now – although it is obvious he is. I made the mistake this morning of commenting that he was making too many negative remarks about our middle son (just 4), and that that is not an effective way of teaching/changing behaviors. He got upset with me first that I was yelling at him (my voice was tense and frustrated, but it was not raised,) commenting that what do I know about anything, I’m just an idiot (and various other put downs etc – the reality check is that I am a physician specializing in child psychiatry and development) and correcting me for the message I was sending the kids by correcting him in front of them (a valid point.) It then proceeded to finding various other completely trivial mistakes I have made in the recent days (leaving cell phone home yesterday, Nutella almost empty without another one available) and generalizing these to be characterologic failures.

    After a few remarks, I just walked upstairs and got ready for work leaving him to take care of getting the boys breakfast etc. (I also got tearful, and went through my own cycle of I can’t put up with this anymore, I need to leave, I don’t want to do that to the boys etc etc.) I struggle with trying not to respond to every little dig, but they really get at me. I struggle with not jumping to the defense when he says something to the boys, but I know that I am hypersensitive to those remarks. If I do engage in the defensive arguement, I lose (he is an attorney, and I end up flustered, confused and often crying). I end up questioning if I am the one with the problem (he is great at using all the correct words to explain how I am.) He was clearly oblivious to my being angry/hurt because a little while later he told me he was on conference calls all day, and needed the house to be quite (making sure I had relayed this to the sitter who would have our boys until I got back from work this afternoon.)

    In terms of gap work – I see his 2 biggest weaknesses are stress management/ relaxation, and learning to not dominate, but to get others to work with you, and really listen to them. I have some ideas about providing him resources for the first, but and still working on how to make it accessible without it feeling like I (the psychiatrist) am suggesting this. The second he has bypassed professionally by basically putting together conferences/courses where the invited speakers are getting something, and he is the one in charge because he is the organizer. The level of these conferences is very high (international embassies, corporations, universities, major government organizations.) He does this well, and he has a real skill for seeing where things are going far in advance. He has built this network up all himself.

    One area where I have been helpful is providing the financial backbone and consistency throughout our marriage, especially when he first left his prior employeer and went through various iterations to develop his current business. The dynamic of this has been shifting in the past few years, and this has allowed his attitude and entitlement to really flurish against me. As I have mentioned before, a brief period of my not working, but helping him was a disaster. Even now he still worries that his things will “fall apart,” and sporaticaly pushes at me about our expenses and how much I can cover. (A lot would have to go wrong for this to be a real worry in our lives.)

    The primary place where he wants to improve is this “public appearances” arena, where anything that he feels reflects negatively bothers him. For example, keeping the car clean, keeping the house neat, well organized and efficient, keeping the boys clean and well groomed/well behaved (usually not to unreasonable standards.) He can’t stand what seems inefficient (particularly repeated mistakes, particularly in others.) I am trying to help with this, but I can tell that I fuss and even actively resist sometimes when it seems like he is over reacting (while it is a good goal to teach a just 4 and just 6 yo to comb their hair before going to school, I don’t agree that if their hair is messy or uncombed that others will look at it and think negatively about it. I can’t get all worked up about boys putting their hands or play things in their mouths even if I know it is “dirty,” because I feel it is an anxiety symptom, and that pointing it out to them will just make them more anxious.) I wish I could have just gone along with some of these things earlier and not felt such resistance. I see that I pushed back over small issues early in our, and he felt hurt because of that pushing back. I’m trying to do these things now, and feel I have made progress, but am still judged at my earlier levels. It is still hard for me to not want to explain when I disagree, even if the issue is small.

    Because my husband seems to respect very few people, I have struggled with finding outside people to “raise the heat on him.” Everyone is stupid and silly, even the professional “authorities” (scientific, financial, business etc.) do not really know because they are just viewing things through their own educational bias.) Sometimes my 6 yo will comment about his behavior and I see that does register for him (terribly wrong for the child to be in this role, but …) There has only been one incident which became physical, and I could have brought in the authorities, and I have said I will if it arises again. There have been a handful of times in the past where he was throwing items, but that has not happened recently. It is primarily verbal, emotional garbage. His parents and sister know, but because he has little respect for them, if they push back at him too much it will be counterproductive. He has very few friends and none whom he respects. I do not really know his business colleagues, but would look rediculous if I addressed any of our personal issues with them. A few of my friends (parents of other kids, all high functioning professionals) know some of the situation, and have been helpful supporting me about what is reasonable and what is not my fault. They can’t help push back unless he really did something that crossed the line.

    Someone commented earlier in this blog about how hard it is to make eye contact and to say your partners name warmly and with a smile. I really understood that. I see now how I was not really taught to build that kind of attachment with a spouse, and I see how some of the things my husband was trying to do very earlier on in our relationship were attachment related, but I did not really understand their value at the time. There are moments when we can share a smile or a laugh about the kids, but it is hard with much else. We do a lot of things as a family, often my just going along. Sometimes I’m not sure it matters to him if I am there, or if a nanny is there to help (sometimes I know it does, but sometimes I’m not sure.) I am very angry and hurt, especially the days that are a constant barrage of remarks that feel insulting to me, it is hard not to project that back to him. It is a cycle, and I know for whatever reason the stress is up and I am being attacked right now. Doesn’t really make it any easier. How do others not only keep going, but also be bright, cheerful etc? I understand that it is human nature to prefer to be around someone who is easier to be around, but how do you keep that up when feeling attacked.

  18. CD, Western Australia said

    Hi MR,

    I would like to share with you some of my experiences – my children have now grown and flown. Unfortunately I did not have access to all the help that is readily available now for families and committed couples today. All I know is that when I reflect on how everything was when my children were small, and even when they were tall – I wish I had realised then that my husband did and said everything in order to be the centre of attention at all times to inflate his false ego, and many times to diminish my confidence, such as:

    • “blowing his trumpet” at how good he was at everything – just to impress his audience and to seek adoration;
    • telling embellished & sensationalised “true” stories that really had evolved into “fiction” – but his audience would always be suitably impressed;
    • telling lies to our friends, family, business associates, clients, confidantes etc about me and my “misdeeds” to gain sympathy (or attention) from his listeners while all the time I did not know what he was doing until we had been married nearly 33 years – this betrayal nearly destroyed me;
    • believing that his status in the community was so respected that he was above answering to any authority other than himself – perhaps also working on me to believe that there was no point going to the authorities (about his behaviour) because he was above all that & they wouldn’t believe me anyway.
    • He had an extraordinary talent for finding my “buttons” and pushed them at will, unkindly, relentlessly and mercilessly – whenever it suited his purpose or entertainment and I – like a puppet on a string – reacted to all of his taunting (As Sarah Chambers said in one of her audios – people don’t push our buttons – we push them from the inside!). He would do this mostly in private (and in front of the children), but sometimes in subtle ways in public where I knew he meant more than he said because the private taunts were so embedded in my being.
    • Pestering me (others) to give him my (their) immediate undivided attention and/or to fulfil his sometimes multiple demands without delay.
    • Demanding that the house be quiet while he watched endless sport programmes on TV, but not returning that courtesy when others wanted to watch something of their own interest;
    • Interrupting my telephone conversations to answer his mostly trivial questions – just to become the centre my attention again.
    • Making a grand entrance by walking into a room talking loudly without care that he might interrupt others already having a conversation;
    • Picking a fight with me or others just to create a drama, and then claiming that he won the argument and shut his opponents) up “like a book”;
    • Creating any sort of drama to get my attention back onto him instead of giving my attention to working in our business, looking after the kids, running the home, or looking after myself, etc.
    • Flirting with other women, and then denying it – but he definitely getting my attention.
    • Taking over my conversations because I wasn’t telling it right, and because he wasn’t comfortable with me being the current centre of attention.
    • He was always very happy in other people’s company, but not in mine and always was, although somewhat pretentiously, the life of the party.
    • He frequently threatened to leave me or sulked incessantly in front of me and/or the kids, just to get attention – to get us to do whatever we could to make him happy again (while secretly afraid that I/we might leave him) .
    • Although we were both working in our business and were financially sound, he expressed disapproval whenever I needed money.

    All of the above eroded my self-worth and confidence, sapping the life out of me, while constantly exhausted from working full time and looking after a young family and home. I found an excellent self-growth programme many years ago which helped me grow a long way. My husband did not like the attention (focus) being taken off him at first, and the road got bumpier for a while until he felt “safe” with the changes in me. At one stage, because I was “getting happy”, he thought I had another bloke – hilarious really since I had so much trouble with one, why would I want two?!!!

    Our relationship did improve for many years, but then for about the last two years we were in a fast downward spiral again. I then by accident saw a documentary on TV about Narcissism and became alerted to the true nature of what I was dealing with, and then in search for more information on the internet I stumbled across Kim & Steve’s programme on the internet. I resolved to read and listen, over and over, to everything that Kim & Steve (and Sarah & Paul Chambers) have put out for us until I became conversant with their programme. If you have bought Kim & Steve’s Back From The Looking Glass, Workbook & Sarah Chambers “Understanding Love” you may have also received a link to free audio programmes of Kim & Steve’s to download and listen to on your computer, I-pod, or burn them to a CD (I play mine in my car every opportunity I get, effective use of travelling time and their shows are so enlightening and really helpful).

    I was a long time oppressed – not just by my husband – but by my own internal dialogue – he was just reinforcing what I already (irrationally) believed about myself. The more my confidence and self-worth dropped, the more he bullied and disrespected me, lowering my self-worth more and more which insidiously invited more & more abuse.

    The first step of recovery for me (and forever continuing step) was to focus my attention on finding and learning to love myself again – including all my strengths and weaknesses – it is truly an amazing voyage of self-discovery. Part of that step was to not allow him & others to be the judge of me – no-one can know me as completely as I can know myself – and that requires unfathomable insight! The other part of that step was to stop trying to change him or make him happy – only he can do that for himself – perhaps sometimes inspired by responding to me changing my attitudes toward the situation.

    I love Kim’s matter of fact response to a put-down “You’re not better than me” said in a low voice – “Snip” with the magic scissors! At last, a response for all put-downs! A one-liner that fits all! No need to defend or be hurt by put-downs anymore! The stress load is reducing more and more each day!

    Narcissists respect strength in others – and I had strength there all the time although it wasn’t put to positive use. I was using my strength to endure my narcissists bad behaviour, being held in there by his seductive charm.

    Now I am turning my strength toward positive growth again with or without him in my life. I am choosing not to acknowledge or absorb his criticisms of me by really believing that he “is not better than me” and vice versa, whilst remembering and understanding that he has a distorted perspective of me and his world around him. In other words he is mentally and emotionally immature regardless of how accomplished and driven he is in his working career and financial success.

    It is not easy to ignore the put-downs, but I wish I had Kim’s response when my kids were little – it would have taught them a valuable lesson – that I was not going to be bullied or put-down by someone who was supposed to love me…. and also his family. Maybe my daughter would have been able to stand up for herself when she was bullied in the school yard and later in life if she had learned that lesson. Now in a man’s world, maybe my son would be more confident too, he is forever searching for a father figure.

    Kim & Steve’s advice is excellent – protect and look after yourself and your kids. Unfortunately I was so afraid and I did not know back then what to do when my husband was being abusive and intimidating toward me and/or the kids, all I know now is that zero tolerance for abuse and intimidation is the only acceptable level – no second chances before seeking support – this is a valuable lesson for our kids also.

    I wish I had taken more time to listen to and have fun with my kids – to get down and get dirty, build sand castles, dig holes, splash each other, play beach cricket, anything that would have made us laugh & play until all our tensions were eased or gone.

    This would have been the best thing to do for the kids and me, instead of trying to make my needy husband happy which I now realise was impossible to do because each one of us is responsible for our own happiness – and we are not responsible for another person’s happiness or unhappiness.

    I still take one day at a time, or if necessary one minute at a time, for all life’s challenges. The more I grow the more my “paper tiger” turns into a pussycat!

    I have yet to uncover all the things he has been hiding – inadequacies? vices? criminal activity? etc? I believe he has inadequacies, and one of them may be difficulty in reading and writing due perhaps to Dyslexia/Dysgraphia – I am hoping he will seek assessment & help on this disability – which may promote his independence of me within that area and therefore achieve healthy self-confidence.

    In the meantime however I never would have thought the balance of power in our marriage could change this much – it has taken time, but it is worth it.
    Just working on the developmental gaps in each of us has somewhat cleared the smokescreen that is concealing our inadequacies. This all takes time and patience, but it begins with greeting your loved ones with a smile and saying their name, disarming them and you – tearing down the walls of defence – and building trust and attachment.

    Other valuable websites I have found are (Powerful Parenting by Davina & Lawrence Sharry)

    Good Luck MR and stay in touch.

    CD, Western Australia.

  19. MR said


    Thank you very much for you thoughts and advice. It was much appreciated after rather draining few days. Many of your itemized behaviors seemed very true for our life, including a handful I had not recognized until reading your list (which left me chuckling at my own “blind spots.”) I will keep re-reading your response and your other links as I am able.


  20. CD, Western Australia said

    Hi again MR,

    Just read yours and my postings again, a couple of my other experiences that I hadn’t listed above were that:

    • He constantly sought to being in a position of power over everyone in his life, by going out of his way to buy or do extraordinarily special things for people, most times to make them feel ingratiated (and he would then sometimes even say they owe him), or he would be aggressive, rude, condescending or insulting toward them. Both these were very powerful tools he used to gain control over people in his life – to get them to do what he eventually wanted them to, to serve him and his goals in life for his ultimate glory, false ego and attention.

    • He knew that the most reliable buttons to push in me was to be awful to our kids (although I now also believe he was inadequate in his parenting skills). He might have had a legitimate lesson to teach our kids at times, but his parenting methods endorsed the belief passed on to him from his father – that all kids know is “pain and fear” – he frequently used to say this in a boasting way. It didn’t matter how much I tried to change this belief he had – he obviously grew up by those rules, and I didn’t know that this was the case when I started to have a family with him. He hadn’t shown his true colours with other people’s children before we had ours. My parenting skills were not always positive either… I had trouble being the disciplinarian, then after the discipline was enforced not being able to relax and have fun with my kids – therefore my parenting skills were inadequate also. I was also confused on the position I should take since my husband was so harsh – and I frequently protested against him, or compensated for his parenting methods via my parenting methods, which obviously then upset him and consequently the whole family. All I know now is that each of our parents were our teachers of discipline and there were some vast differences in that area. We had needed to get on to the same page, find a good parenting program and therefore some common ground, unfortunately we did not have those resources readily available to us 30 odd years ago with our children, and parenting methods & laws have changed dramatically since we were children some 55 years ago which is what we drew our experience from.

    I hope sharing my thoughts and experiences help you in some way. I found the task in front of me daunting and exhausting at times, but as I have gained knowledge and insight I have found it easier to find answers to challenges (and that is all our difficulties really are – challenges). My biggest challenge is remembering that all my challenges cannot be resolved in a moment – and as I overcome each challenge there will be new ones – but that is OK, because that is how I grow.

    Good luck MR, and hope to hear about your successes soon – especially the little ones!

    CD, Western Australia.

  21. Mellie said

    Hello, MR,
    Hello MR,
    My first marriage was to a good man who also had many rules and many unnecessary worries. What I came to realize was that he couldn’t help it. That’s just who he was, but I didn’t have to buy into his fears. I would not set myself up for disappointment by trying to live up to his unrealistic expectations. One example of this is that he’d send me to the store for a tool or computer paper or whatever. I knew before I left that no matter what I did I wouldn’t do it right. The paper would be the wrong weight or off white instead of bright white. So I simply refused to run that errand and I told him why. Not in anger but in a matter of fact way. I still greeted him warmly, kissed him when he came in the room etc. as usual, but I was not going to set myself up for failure.
    Speaking of kissing, that was something I read in a self help book back in those days. When you kiss upon greeting each other keep contact for nine seconds at least. You need the release of endorphins and so does he.
    So far as keeping the house neat and clean and etc, set realistic goals and that’s all you promise to do. You don’t have to feel guilty or defend yourself. My husband use to tell me that when he went to school his hair was neatly combed and when he came home not a hair was out of place. My reaction to that was, how horrible. I certainly do not expect a boy of mine to have neat hair all day or to stay clean. When my children got in a mess, I’d say, did you have fun? If the answer was no I’d say you should have. If the answer was yes, I’d say, good. Now let’s clean up this mess.
    He’d fuss at me because I wouldn’t wear shoes in the house. He’d say, I put my shoes on in the morning and don’t take them off until I’m ready for bed at night. That’s you problem, I’d answer and I’d probably kiss him at that point. The important thing is to be yourself, be respectful, be loving, be kind, but be true to who you are. Keep a good sense of humor and learn to laugh at yourself. Admit your shortcomings but don’t dwell on them. Learn to love you and then you can love him. It’s easy to tell now but it wasn’t always easy to live at the time. Bottom line is that you cannot change him. You can only change yourself and how you think about yourself. He will change in response to that.

  22. Mellie said

    PS. MR,
    I am just a touchy feely person but I don’t think you should kiss him if you don’t feel like it. Maybe you should I don’t know. Maybe if you did you’d want to.

  23. Katie said

    Hello everyone,

    I just wanted to post an update — since using Kim and Steve’s program a lot has happened here. I began emailing my husband with love and respect and affection, with very firm, but matter of fact, boundaries. Two weeks of that and he wanted to come home. I responded that this could only happen if we went back to therapy together, and that my continuing my codependency support group was an absolute priority. This, combined with private study of Kim and Steve’s materials as well as Sarah Chambers, enables me to keep our ship headed in the right direction.

    He has wholeheartedly joined in the care of our autistic son who was delighted at first when his Dad came home; he was soon acting out his anger that he was gone for so long. My husband has been very patient with him and is working hard at establishing trust with me, and I with him.

    I come here and read these postings often. I can’t begin to thank you enough, Kim and Steve.

  24. CD, Western Australia said

    Hi Katie,

    How wonderful to hear your news! I hope you keep in touch about your progress and that you both continue to heal and grow in trust and attachment. It would be great for us to able to follow your story, I believe we learn so much from each other regarding our challenges and successes.

    Good luck, Katie!

    CD, Western Australia

  25. Katie said


    You are so kind. Things are going well here — we are blessed to have a therapist (the same one I’ve gone to for 11 months, she also has gained much from Kim and Steve)who totally understands all that is going on from both sides.

    My husband has latched on to my codependence (“Aha! I KNEW you had a problem!”) and she is gently letting him provide himself with teachable moments during therapy. He still claims to have no memory of being out of his mind angry for months which tells me we’re all a bit vulnerable, but I trust our therapist totally.

    I also let him know that I made friends with some police detectives while he was gone and, at their insistance, I put them on speed dial on my cell. Most important, I trust myself to take care of myself and I can tell that he senses the difference.

    I will definitely stay in touch CJ, I want to know what’s happening with you too — I’ve already learned so much and drawn so much strength from you —


  26. MR said

    Hi all,

    Still struggling here. It is hard to get past feeling angry and hurt, which in turn makes it difficult to respond warmly and build attachment. Certainly things are better than a year ago, but so often it seems 80% of what is said to me is subtly sarcastic, cutting or critical. It is hard to just let it go, but I have learned that responding to most of it is just counterproductive. I am enforcing limits when necessary.

    Last year when my supports were telling me I needed to leave, I was frightened and really didn’t want to accept what felt like failure. Now there are parts of me do because I am just so tired of trying and mostly getting negativity in return. I question what did I do wrong not to have a spouse that appreciates what I am doing/giving/contributing etc.

    Day in and day out, my life is pretty good – no real concerns or worries outside of our relationship. Rationally I understand why my husband’s stress is high, but I don’t have much left in the way of sympathy when a major outlet of that becomes pointing out where I have not done something (often looking for a standard that seems unnecessarily high.) Looking back, the specifics are comic, but going through them they are draining. That fatigue often leaves me not being as good or as strong as I would like to be.

    Sigh …

  27. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    The best way I learned to overcome my husband’s sarcasm and belittling, however subtle, or not so subtle, was to not let his remarks define who I am in my own mind (many times his remarks were not his true opinion of me anyway.. but manipulation instead). If his remarks hurt me then that told me I doubted myself and I needed to rise above that, and to leave his junk where it belonged – with him.
    I could only do that by finding out who I was, my strengths and weaknesses, and then to love and accept myself for exactly who I was knowing that I could continue to learn and grow as I have done. That meant taking the focus off him and focusing on myself.
    My husband did not like that at first and used his usual tools of sarcasm and belittling etc, constantly raising the bar of his expectations of me, to try and keep me focused on him. By emotionally harming someone (me and the kids) to protect his own false ego and to conceal his own shortcomings was not emotionally healthy behaviour.
    It was when I objectively, rather than subjectively, assessed what was happening, that I then realised he was an emotionally sick person – a child in a man’s body, throwing tantrums, insults and verbal abuse – in other words someone who has developmental gaps and who needed re-parenting.
    I just purchased and read twice over Kim’s new e-book ‘Emotional Stupidity’. This book is for all to read, as we all can probably relate to the points she raises about our self-defeating ways, and in recognising them work toward healthy thinking and attitudes.
    I have decided that I will give this book to my husband to read – it does not mention the word narcissism, but it is everything to do about narcissism and the behaviour of those affected by it.

    Good luck and hope to hear from you soon,

    CD, Australia

  28. MR said


    Perhaps that is why things are escalating again, because I am pushing back and setting some limits. Better than before, I am not getting so emotional and upset, and he seems to be spiraling out of control more and more. More is being said and done in front of the boys which bothers me, (and I know he is ashamed about it after the fact.)

    On the good side, I have learned more about things that have hurt him from his childhood from a recent blow-up directed at his parents because they were defending me (they are visiting for a brief period.)

    Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I appreciate it. Let me know how it goes with your husband reading the new book.

  29. MR said

    Just rambling here … the past days have been difficult and I trust this is a safe space to just get out my thoughts. I’ve lost way too much time with this, but I can’t seem to get much else done.

    Follow-up. I’m afraid he really has just given up on me and is leaving. He wants to take the kids this weekend (meaning the older 2, not the toddler) He says we need to figure out a schedule for taking them going forward. He has been saying he has been emotionally gone, which I don’t think was 100%, but has been declining. He keeps saying he is too old to keep waiting for things to get better. Is leaving really better?

    I don’t want this. I have been struggling and struggling against this, and while I know I have not been able to say the right things to make him feel supported, and sometimes I argue back defensively when I am feeling hurt. I do not think that I have been a bad mother or wife. I wish I could be more solicitous when I make a mistake, or when I know that is what he needs to hear from me. Sometimes I just don’t see it, sometimes I just can’t get myself to say something like that for the overall good, when I partly disagree. I do some things that frustrate him and I make the same mistakes again and again, but at least to me they all seem rather small in comparison to breaking up our family. I quibble about smaller details and do more damage than if I just started off with endorsing agreements. He believes I am the narcissist – I am the problem … and he can use the correct language and descriptions of specific instances in my behavior, as to make me question this again and again.

    Sometimes he has said he wants to leave or needs to leave, and then he doesn’t; but each time it seems like our relationship is more and more damaged. He is much stronger than he was earlier in our relationship, and has put together a work schedule and routine that I fear he doesn’t need me.

    Ok, at some level it doesn’t matter. I can’t make him feel differently, I can’t mak him change his mind … gosh I wish I had some magic way to do so. Pushing back is a disaster. I need to say he is misbehaving and acting out and just disengage, but … I fear he has given up and is no longer trying. Deep down, I guess I fear I am really so flawed that I can not make this relationship work.

    I see now how there are things I did wrong earlier in our relationship. I see now how I still struggle with some different manifestations of those issues. I see how both of us have struggled with trusting at different levels.

    When I say to him I can not understand why he wants to do something that will hurt all the people around him, which dissolving the family will do. I say to him, I know you do not want to do this, I know it is not your intention to hurt, but if you see that it is hurting others, why is that a better solution than tolerating my flaws. He replies that doesn’t that reinforce that there must be something so messed up in me that he can’t stand to be around me. That he is happier when I am not there, etc, etc.

    It is hard in the moment to hold hope, especially when my buttons are being pushed again and again.
    I feel like I am flawed that there are things I am having a hard time fixing (and often an equally hard time acknowledging something is my fault immediately, although I see the flaw later.) I feel like I am trying to keep reaching out and being positive and somewhat cheerful, but with all the strain it is almost impossible.

    I know I can’t make him happy, but I see that he is not and this makes me sad. It makes me want to try and do something to fix it. I put forth all sots of effort, but is it all inefficient effort coming too late?


  30. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    Narcissists, at probably an unconscious more than a conscious level, are attracted to people, including their life partners, by what those people can do for them to make them successful or happy. Co-dependents will do everything they can to make their Narcissist happy. Narcissists are very accomplished at blaming others, especially those closest to them, for all their difficulties, unacceptable behavior and unhappiness.
    Narcissists do not accept any responsibility for their difficulties, “I am a successful, fun guy – it’s not me – look at what I have to live with” is what mine told himself and others behind my back. I was really hurt, devastated and angry – I didn’t understand, I did everything to make him happy at the expense of my own well-being – how co-dependent had I become again? After behaving and talking like he was a single guy for a long time he told me he wanted a divorce. I became so angry and bitter that I had sacrificed so much of myself and my life only to be tossed aside so ruthlessly.
    He repeatedly told me that he did not hate me – although his words did not match his facial and verbal expression which showed so much hate for me. He said we argued all the time and had grown apart – I was extremely confused – I had tried so hard to be a good wife and business partner. What more could I have done? But he was talking in a language or way I had never heard him talk before. Suspiciously, I asked him several times was there someone else, did he have a confidante, and he said no, there is no-one, and that this is just between him and me.
    Then one day I accidentally discovered that there was someone in the background, a female mutual friend (now not a mutual friend? his confidante? his mistress?) which explained the language he was using. When you have been with someone for 34 years you know when the words he is using are not his own. Her marriage was in crisis too (I was to later find out) – a very vulnerable situation for them both to be in. Without revealing to him what I had discovered I asked some subtle questions over a period of time only to see him straight-faced lie to me again and again, so convincingly and so willfully concealing his liaison with her.
    I was devastated again – this man I trusted with my heart – was now revealed to be a liar and a cheat to me. I knew he could be a convincing liar to others, but never thought he would do that to me! How naïve was I?
    The tide turned when I revealed what I knew to him – he was then very defensive and alarmed (and seemingly relieved) that his dark side was now uncovered. He insisted they were “just friends” and that he could talk to her where he couldn’t talk to me and that I was now over-reacting (this comment added to my pain).
    The problem I had with this liaison was that he was talking to her about some intimate details regarding me and our marriage, and that he had kept his liaison with her secret from me, and then later lied to me when subtly asked about her. Sharing those intimate details was being intimate with her, and together with the lies and deception amounted to at least an “emotional affair” with her, it was beyond the boundaries of a “friendship” and she was supposed to be a mutual friend – but never bothered to ask me my side of the story!
    We had spoken several times about getting marriage guidance counseling, and he was previously not all that willing. He did not believe in MGC’s because they always had broken marriages themselves! But now he was anxious and giving me his full attention. The balance of power had shifted because I did not want to continue the marriage after discovering the extent of his betrayal of me.
    I told him that if he wanted marriage guidance counseling that he had to arrange it – to prove to me that he really wanted it and that he was truly prepared for the work it might take. He immediately asked for the phone number of the recommended counselor/clinical psychologist we had been given a couple of months before and he rang and made an appointment within a couple of hours.
    My heart goes out to you MR, I do not believe you are a narcissist from what you have written. I believe you are a caring person who wants what is best for her husband and family as a priority over your own well-being…….just like I did.
    Read Kim & Steve’s “Resolving a Fight in Progress” and step aside from confrontation for the time being. You have already written down what is troubling you today in your post, make a journal to yourself if there is anything more to add. Do whatever you need to do to self-soothe, take time out with your kids to have fun, they really need to be and feel safe at this time.
    Regardless of whether you stay or leave the marriage, you will always have a relationship with your husband being the father of your children. If your husband is a Narcissist now he will continue to be one regardless of whether he is married to you or not (unless some life-changing revelation befalls him that compels him to look at his true self and to do the work that needs to be done).
    The good thing about Kim & Steve’s program is that we don’t have to do the actual re-parenting of our emotionally immature loved one ourselves (pushing back?).
    It is important that we co-ordinate the re-parenting to come from another quarter, especially if our Narcissist is capable of being abusive or skilled at turning blame back onto us at every confrontation. We need to be able to recognize unacceptable behavior and seek the appropriate support from our network of (understanding and unemotionally involved) supportive people or authority figures.
    We of course need to establish our Personal Bill of Rights and the support network of people that we can readily call on if our partner breaches our Personal Bill of Rights, and then to seek that support when we need it.
    We need to use our magic scissors when they try to pull us back in, like we are puppets on a string, using tantrums, sulking, sarcasm, insults, belittling, etc – in other words by pushing our buttons.
    We need to find immediate and appropriate responses to thwart negative behavior or talk – Kim and Steve’s free audios to subscribers are excellent for this. Sometimes it may take a day or two of self-soothing to find the most appropriate response to unacceptable behavior and the most suitable support person to call upon.
    Kim says where there is intimidation or physical abuse to seek the support of your local police BEFORE any more intimidation or physical violence happens again, and for other unacceptable behaviour, a person in authority or a person who is significantly older than your husband whom he respects and would least like knowing about his inappropriate or unacceptable behaviour.
    Are you able to talk to your parents-in-law in confidence and express to them calmly that you love your husband very much and are very concerned about his behaviour toward you and your children, without excusing his behavior, and that you are now seeking help without going into any detail? Are you able to say to them that you just need them to know and understand the situation, and that you are not asking them to take sides or to step in because you need the support of people who are not emotionally involved?
    I am grateful that my husband and I now are getting help from a firm but compassionate male marriage guidance counselor/clinical psychologist who is respectfully succeeding to reach my husband little by little. He is able to deal with my husband when he becomes angry, aggressive, arrogant, sulking, evasive, etc. (He is also able to deal with my self-defeating ways too – I am not perfect either! but then who is?). I believe having a male marriage guidance counselor was most appropriate because my husband had disrespect for women in general, and works in a male dominated environment where they constantly seek sympathy from one another as victims of their relationship troubles. He cannot however “put one over” our male MGC where he might have successfully bullied a female one.
    My husband always said he could not get close to anyone (which used to hurt me) hence the walls of aggression and defence – but now I see those walls, I don’t necessarily understand them or know why they are there, and it is mostly a futile waste of time trying to find out.
    It is more important that I break down those walls starting by greeting him with a warm smile, saying his name and being genuinely pleased to see him and to build trust and attachment every time I see him – even before I deal with any issues that I might have. The quickest way to success is to behave your way toward success. Right now you might find that very difficult, but give yourself some time and space – you deserve it – you have worked very hard to turn things around. Make use of this time by attending to your basic needs and to look after yourself first as you are THE most important person in your life – for your sake and for your children’s sake.
    Just for now if he wants to have time out, smile and say as warmly and as cheerfully as you can “OK – I’ll see you later then, (his name)” as he goes out the door, signifying that wish him well and that you respect that you both need time out right now.
    Good luck MR, it is not easy, and be sure to be good to yourself first!

    CD, Australia

  31. MR said


    Your insight and perspective are always appreciated, especially when in the intensity of the moment I loose both ration and hope. I keep re-reading the workbook and all. Some things have new perspective each time. I know I need to work on attachment which had always been difficult for me for some reason. I know I need to stop being so afraid of his leaving … it is not what I want, but I can not control that. His family is relatively supportive and are seeing more of the irrationality. Obviously their first loyalty is to him, and he is strongly reminding them of that. They are somewhat intimidated by him.

    There are a few friends who know what is happening and they encourage me to go seek legal council just to know where I stand. I know they are trying to protect me, and I probably should gather information, but the suggestion still induces a reaction in me I can’t quite name. Partly anger at why can’t I just have a normal relationship.

    I’ve still got to work on not reacting at all, not worrying about what is going on in his mind etc. … sometimes I can and sometimes I still go through the whole cycle.

    Thanks for the encouragement

  32. MR said

    Somehow strangely out of all of this his behavior is changing (although not towards me) He (and his parents) packed for them to go to the beach. They came home last night, and he is taking the boys out to the van to unpack. When I tried to help, he said I don’t need to do that.

    In the beginning of our relationship I tried to argue that it was not fair to have me do all of this. Once the boys came along (and were too small to help) I just packed everything for everyone. Lately it has been literally that I had everything done but loading it into the van.

    On the one hand, I could take this a rejecting of me and as if I am not needed anymore (and I do a little) – but the irony that this is more appropriate, and some of the shared efforts that I wanted earlier is not lost on me.

    This is but one example of this type of shift. I don’t know where it leads, but perhaps someone else can also get some reassurance from this as well.

  33. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    I hope sharing my experiences helps you through this uncertain time, it is not easy. My husband and I still have times of conflict – I now know when to engage and when not to engage, and how to respond calmly and assertively (keeping my well-being as my priority) and not to react when he is behaving negatively toward me or others (leaving his junk with him).
    When my husband behaves badly toward me and I respond rather than react to his bullying, his character flaws are then revealed to me and to other observers. Although how others see him is not necessarily how he perceives himself – in other words he believes he has a right to bully and that he is respected when he is bullying others – this serious misperception is being worked on by our MGC.
    My trying to stop (or cover up for) his unacceptable attitudes or behaviour was not allowing him to suffer the consequences of his attitudes or behaviour. I realised this is what I needed to do many years ago through a self-growth program that I still value very highly, but participants were left to their own devices to look for solutions to their problems (both of which could sometimes be very obscure).
    Kim and Steve’s program is definitive and is exactly what I needed to sort out the confusion. Their program has clear instruction on what to do under given circumstances, exercises to find out where our underlying gaps are, direction on how to get support and help, along with very important guidance on how to get in touch with myself again, set healthy boundaries based on my Personal Bill of Rights and assertively (not passively or aggressively) maintain those boundaries. Sarah Chamber’s audios are also extremely valuable for insight, self-growth, and relaxation from the stress and anxiety of living with emotionally immature behaviour.
    My husband has calmed down in response to me calming down – a vicious cycle was broken – and it all had to begin with me – not as the better person, but the person who searched for answers, and was first prepared to hang-in there and do an enormous amount of work on myself and the relationship.
    I had to turn my reactive behaviour around to respond positively. Of course, by my calming down first initially reinforced his belief – that I was THE problem, which was also (temporarily) convenient for him because that meant he did not have to do any of the work! He was not entirely wrong though because there is narcissism in all of us until we emotionally mature.
    He soon learned that BOTH of us were the problem, and both of us needed to do work. At first he tried to get me back into the old vicious cycle again by trying to push my buttons – probably because he had grown up in a dysfunctional family he had become addicted to anger as a survival skill and therefore he was only comfortable with drama – peace and contentment were not to be trusted. I tried to save him from that when I met him (co-dependence), but although my intentions were originally well-meant I ended up living in the same sort of drama he was used to, drama that was non-existent in my family.
    As I became more conversant with Kim and Steve’s program, audios and literature, and started living the program, my husband’s face and attitude softened, and he started making eye contact with me again, and he became curious about the changes in me – and a new level of understanding developed between us (along with the assistance of a MGC/ clinical psychologist).
    I had stopped trying to make things right for him to make him happy (not angry) – I had completely set him free to enjoy or suffer the consequences of his own choices and actions. I had set myself free – to be myself, to get things into perspective, and not to carry the burden of blame if things went wrong for him.
    Now when faced with conflict I sum the situation up by asking myself “How Important Is It?”. For example, in one of your postings, did your family starve because there wasn’t any Nutella until the next day? Of course not. Is it appropriate or acceptable behaviour (perhaps in front of the children as well) that you should be berated for not having another jar of Nutella immediately behind the one that is about to run out?….Of course not. Is it worth defending yourself, or reacting to or being hurt by his (antagonistic) criticisms or comments – which is probably a smoke-screen for his own shortcomings anyway. Of course not! Juggling a home, career and a young family (and narcissistic tantrums) is by no means an easy task. One of my Magic Scissors: “I am a human-being and I am entitled not to be perfect” – warmly and calmly said with a smile when my husband implies that I have failed to meet his expectations in some way.
    I love a post under Kim’s blog on “Narcissism” by Cara on June 09, 2009 – it is worth reading only in my situation I wouldn’t make reference to my husband’s family as being the cause of some of his current issues, although I believe that to be partly so. Cara’s rehearsed speech to her husband was loving, firm, clear and respectful. She was resolute and she believed in herself.
    Further down the “Narcissism” blog page is a post by Kim Cooper on 5 July 2009 at 10.05am where she gives a link to her article “On Ego” which shows how there is a narcissist in all of us until we become emotionally mature.
    Our LoveSafetyNet subscriber link can give us access to many of Kim and Steve’s free archived audio shows – “My Personal Bill of Rights” is an important one to listen to. Listening to their audios is great because I don’t then always have to commit time to sit and read their extensive range of articles, instead I learn heaps by listening to their free audios in my car – making effective use of travelling time.
    I was really interested to read you post today as well – I suffer the same doubts as you whenever my husband “excludes” me from helping or participating in something that he is doing and I often wonder if it is mind games or rejection. I think that I have become hypersensitive to looking for even the smallest “signs” of attachment or rejection by my husband toward me, especially after him having what I consider an “emotional affair”. I try to stop myself thinking like this because he could be “excluding” me for any number of reasons such as:
    • That he just wants to do something for himself or to help me on this occasion;
    • He needs to prove to himself or me or others that he is capable and can be independent of me;
    • There is enough help, so he doesn’t need my help too;
    • Rapport between us may have been such that he doesn’t want my help;
    • I might have been tired and grumpy in past times from lack of help, and this time he is helping;
    • Displaying when there is an audience that he is a helpful & capable husband;
    • Playing games with my mind;
    • All or none of the above reasons, or perhaps some other obscure reason, or no reason at all;

    The important thing for me to remember is that I may never know the answer, that there may
    not be an answer, and how important is it really? My insecurity will pass – if I let it go, and then if he is playing mind games or rejecting me by exclusion (which are forms of bullying) then he hasn’t succeeded by me not letting his negativity take hold of me. It is important to live and let live, and to just happily move on to do other things thereby diffusing any potential game playing or negativity. I will then have created a “sign” to my husband that I am not reacting if he is game playing or being negative, or that I am not going to become irrationally insecure when he is perhaps just doing something good for himself or his family.
    I guess I identify with your situation because my husband is highly intelligent and capable of being very formidable too (he calls it street-wise). My husband is also fearful of rejection and abandonment, although he has bluffed me in the past by using mind games, rejection and aggression to conceal this fear. To his credit he has been controlling his anger recently and is learning new ways to communicate with me and others, either by his own determination or by help from our counsellor.
    I don’t think anyone really wants their marriage or family to fall apart, but we become blinded by confusion, guilt, blame, fear, lack of forgiveness, or by trying to keep up a gruelling pace and neglecting even our most basic physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and by losing our sense of fun and humour that we so desperately need in the face of adversity.
    The good news is we can change many aspects of our life & ourselves without trying to change someone else (which we cannot do), and in doing so they may want “some of what we are having” – in other words we become attractive again.

    Good luck, and stay in touch!

    CD Australia

  34. Allison said

    Wow, what a great bunch of posts MR and CD you have going back and forth. I have just gotten a moment to read through a few. I stumbled upon “NPD” at the beginning of this year and just over the past couple months have been trying to work Kim and Steve’s program. Of course it’s summer, the kids (4 & 7)are home from school and I have almost NO time to myself so this is a huge challenge just finding time to myself.

    My husband of 8 years refuses to address the N tendencies, although it was with him that we discovered the term NPD…( in a book he actually bought for us to read during an admission that he was emotionally abusing myself and our children). It’s funny, because that was back in January and he hasn’t picked up the book again since admitting that he “probably suffers from NPD” during reading all about it. I thought that was such a HUGE step -but now it’s like it never even happened…

    I have been having an AMAZINGLY difficult time building attachment. Markell relies on “personal touch” as a source of love and I am finding it torturous to give it after the boundaries have been crossed. It takes days for me to be able to smile at him, let alone touch him. I find myself repulsed by the thought of giving him a hug after he has crossed bourdaries and (of course) not acknowledged that fact. And in turn tries to get me to say I made a mistake, I made a bigger deal out of it, I made the problem and I am overreacting… still I walk away and stand firm – it is not acceptable, and it won’t be tolerated. But so what, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t stop!!!!!!!!

    I have been getting better at the “magic scissors” and find it very rewarding to be able to let go, break the ties, and redirect my energy. It leaves me feeling powerful and strong, and proud of myself (which I have lacked for years!!!) I love that I can focus on what’s important to me, like my children and our self-esteem… But then, it’s the getting back to him, getting back to our marriage, our relationship, our love that I am having a terrible time with.

    I was doing very well in the beginning, but I’m getting more annoyed with this childish behavior and inconsiderate disrespect. IT HURTS!!! Lately I’ve been sad a lot. I want more progress than I am seeing. He is testing me ALL THE TIME! I feel like he’s harder to manage than my 4 and 7 year old girls. And because he’s an adult it’s much harder for me to go back to him and forgive these “little” indiscretions. I’m also having a hard time holding him accountable beacause most of the time when I attempt to discuss someting important he provokes me or tries to start a fight. I feel like I’m spending most of my time these days walking away from fights – and nothing is getting solved.

    HOW CAN I PUT MY ARMS AROUND SOMEONE WITH A FORCEFIELD of disrespect and hurt? I’m so hurt, how do I give love to him?

    It’s hard to work the program and remember the 4 legged stool when it feels impossible for me to get near him. Even as I type this I feel the disgusted look on my face, I feel the physical chages in my body just thinking about it.

    I was so hopeful a few months ago, I feel tired – no, exhausted now. I listened to a bunch of the archived shows last night on global talk radio, love safely net. It gave me some energy back, but I’m so drained.

    If I can’t build attachment because of the constant testing, how can I stop the constant testing to build attachment? HELP!!!


  35. Allison said

    Does anyone else experience their narcissist only displaying abuse to you? My husband is slowly convincing me all over again that it’s me…

    There is no one other person in his world that thinks of him any less than amazing. It does seem to be me with all the problems with his behavior. He doesn’t have problems with people at work, he is successful and extremely passionate at his business ventures, all his friends and my family think he’s some superman…

    He has no other current relationship where someone thinks he’s flawed. What do I need to explore? IS IT ME????? He’s totally used to getting his way at everything in life so when I speak up for my rights he can’t handle me as an equal…. but he doesn’t treat anyone else this way.

    Are there instances where the narcissist is only knwn to ONE person? OR DO I HAVE IT ALL WRONG?

  36. CD, Australia said

    Hi Allison,

    One of the most difficult things I have had to “get” or understand is that I can’t lean on my husband for emotional support because he is in many ways emotionally immature – that I would be leaning on “the child” in him. I especially cannot lean on him when we are having difficulties between ourselves – it would always become a battle of who is to blame – the answer is and always was – neither of us are to blame – each of us are behaving according to our emotional maturity or development. It is our emotional immaturity and unhealthy ego that is the narcissist in all of us.
    When we blamed each other, neither of us was accepting responsibility for our own behaviour, or sometimes one of us would willingly or unwillingly end up taking all the blame just to make “peace” and out of martyrdom. This was not a good example to have set for our children.
    My daughter is married with three beautiful children and has a husband who loves her dearly, but they both can be hurtful and disrespectful toward each other. Now I see her (with a low self-esteem and self-worth) battling to deal with hurt and disrespect in the same ways I did when she was growing up – when I did not know any better. My son is afraid to commit to a long term relationship probably based on what he witnessed as he was growing up also.
    Of course blame and negative attitudes took us nowhere and nothing improved until one of us made healthy changes – and that began with me. My husband was seemingly held in high regard also by others for his talents, successes and his “star-like” quality too. He was the one who always received all the accolades for his business success, but never really shared claim to that success as one part of an entire team of good and talented people to make it successful. He basked in the limelight and took all the glory.
    He is now severely depressed but can’t put his finger on why he is so unhappy. He had angrily pointed his finger squarely at me and the marriage before last Xmas and I believe he had just cause. But now he has been exposed for his lies, cheating, scape-goating and how he has hurt me and our family. He is now apologising to me, our family and to many other people for having been so blinded by his own ego.
    My husband and I (even though he says he doesn’t understand “all that psychology stuff”) are seeing a marriage guidance counsellor and clinical psychotherapist. At the first and various other sessions, I told the MGC about our marriage history as objectively as I could and without holding back – telling him that I believe WE have done serious harm to our now adult children and that they would each be needing some serious counselling to heal them. Our daughter and her husband are now in counselling with our MGC, but our son is currently living and working about 3,000kms away in another state of Australia and as yet he is unaware that I consider it necessary (and would like) for him to receive counselling too.
    How fortunate you are to have discovered so soon in your marriage and parenting years that you are probably dealing with NPD in your husband, and you have an advantage that he has also recognised himself as being Narcissistic – unfortunately he just wants to stay in his comfort zone for the moment and let you do all the work! I know how difficult that is with my husband and I, and I have become exhausted many times by the enormous amount of work I have done on myself and the relationship.
    However there has been some progress and I would like faster progress but I have to calm my impatience over that because I figure that we are both in our 50’s now and have been behaving badly for a long time – and it will take a long time turn it around – a bit like being very overweight.
    It took a long time to gain the weight and it will take a long time to safely lose the excess weight….with commitment, education, realistic goals, careful planning, a sensible healthy diet, low or no alcohol, vitamin supplements, a lot of exercise, fun and laughter, adequate rest and relaxation, healthy boundaries and attitudes, assertiveness, patience, love-of-self and self-respect….all the while realising that it might be painful at times and necessary to forgive oneself when or if side-tracked …. and then to continue one’s journey to success by not giving up too easy.
    How much is safely losing weight like what we are faced with now? Nobody else can lose the weight for us, and there is so much work to do on ourselves before we can live the lifestyle we want.
    We know so much about Narcissism now, with always plenty more to learn. We know what we have to do but we have to change so much about ourselves first, and changing our attitudes and behaviour is the real key to success for changing attitudes and behaviour in another.
    Whenever I am focused on myself first, I am not focused on my Narcissist – and that soon gets his attention. Like a “terrible two year old” he will use all his old tried and tested methods of provoking me to get my attention – from tantrums to being a drama queen.
    Now I recognise the unacceptable or childish behaviour as it is happening ….I can go “snip” with my magic scissors… and I then have not given away my power by showing that I am hurt, or getting caught up in pointless arguments and blame games….and by always believing “that he is not better than me”.

    I wrote a letter to my husband a few days ago and part of it read as follows:

    “From now on I must emotionally “grow-up” and lean on myself instead of others when faced with challenges that are not what I wanted, expected or hoped for.

    I will be OK now, because I have been on an empowering journey of learning how to build a loving, healthy relationship with you, and therefore discovering and learning to understand my innermost thoughts and feelings along the way.

    From this journey I am now able to find solutions to my own emotional difficulties and challenges. You do not need to worry about or assume responsibility for me anymore, but thank you so much for caring more than should. Not needing you does not mean that I don’t love you anymore, the truth is I love you more than ever now by standing on my own two feet.”

    Each day now I will live my commitment above and when my husband begins to trust this new way of my relating to him – then I will move on to confronting the more serious traits of Narcissism in him via my support network.
    Unfortunately I did not know anything about Narcissism when my children were in their developing years, and we did not have the resources there are these days in our small country community- and there was no such thing as the internet (I really am from the dinosaur age now!).
    Your daughters are young and you have a chance to turn things around as they are growing up The best example you can set for your daughters is for them to see you responding to your Narcissist’s unacceptable behaviour in a calm but firm way, saying how you feel as a result of his unacceptable behaviour, without arguing or lecturing him or showing him that you are hurt or angry in any way, taking time out to self-soothe and to seek assistance from your support network if required. Keeping a cool head will be the most likely way to achieve a positive result and your husband will realise you mean business when your actions speak louder than your words. Pace yourself – tackle the smaller issues first – gathering strength, experience & wisdom in readiness to tackle the bigger issues.

    “We do the impossible every day, miracles take a little longer.”

    How wonderful is it that Steve and Kim are prepared to share their experience, wisdom, strength and hope so tirelessly to others? Have you listened to all their free archived audio shows, not the Globaltalkradio shows which are excellent too, but the ones available via your subscriber link to TheLoveSafetyNet website?
    It is worth reading Kim’s article again “On Ego” via the link given in my previous post to MR – part of it says:-
    “The partner of a narcissist needs to see the unhealthy ego in themselves as well as their partner. If it wasn’t there they wouldn’t have fallen so hard for them in the first place or held on so tight after discovering their other side.
    I will give myself as an example … I was attracted to Steve who was charming, the captain of the football team and had a rich dad who was also a narcissist. I wanted to believe the lies he was telling me, even when my instincts could clearly see his lack of compassion for me and other warning signs! I wanted to hold onto the dream even after we were married and had kids and he was regularly rude and abusive towards us. I didn’t want to let go of my dream of us being the perfect couple and of us being better than other people! Can you see where I was a narcissist too? By proxy perhaps, but unhealthy ego was certainly involved.”

    I did exactly what Kim did! I ignored the warning signs and my instincts. I fell in love with the good, talented and charming man….and ignored the bad. But I also wanted to “save” my husband from his abusive father, by making him happy. How naive and emotionally stupid was I? Nevertheless we have had many good and bad times, and neither of us have ever really wanted to leave the marriage every time it came to the crunch, because there is real love and a bond there between us that we and the MGC can see – but we have a lot of work to develop trust and attachment again by breaking down the walls of unhealthy ego and emotional immaturity in the both of us.

    Good luck, and stay in touch

    CD, Australia.

  37. Allison said

    Thanks so much for your response CD. I enjoyed reading it. It’s pretty much day by day here. I appreciate the feedback which reminds that I’m lucky to have stumbled upon this so early in the game. Especially for the kids sake.

    The hardest part is finding the time to spend alone with myself to read, listen to the shows, do my journaling…. I noticed that a few weeks ago when I had more time to do these things I was feeling a lot more confident and a whole lot more successful with the magic scissors. Lately there’s no time to myself because my N is almost completely unavailable to me and refuses to help or spend time with the kids (because I’m not feeding his supply). It’s like a punishment, but I’m not putting added pressure on him, just doing the work. I guess I’m realizing that I’m getting more resentful and more angry with him because I can’t do what I need to do to help myself get centered, because he is making it a point to make sure I have no time to do it. And it’s super frustrating because it’s to help this family function in a healthy way. ARGH!!!!!

    But, I get it. I need to take it day by day and be more patient with the process. If he never comes around at least I’ll be healthy and quite able to take care of my children in a positive way. Two months ago I thought I would die if I had to leave him. Now I realize how much I’ve grown in such a short amount of time and how much happier I am, just to take responsibility for myself!

    It gets so aggrivating to go through the bullshit though. And without time to self sooth and reach out to the support network it has been getting all too overwhelming.

    Again, thank you so so much for the support. I am so thankful for a place to help me get back on track!!!

    Allison 🙂

  38. MR said

    Allison, CD (and anyone else who is benefiting from this,)

    I completely understand and relate to the feeling that my husband is _far_ more work than the boys. Their “tantrums” are nothing, and I was less tired from the nights of nursing a newborn last year, than after the nights of going round and round with my husband over something (I’d usually get so lost in the conversation that by the end I didn’t really understand what I had done wrong, and I would just be crying and begging him to stop arguing/criticizing) The exhaustion can be overwhelming.

    I’m a lot stronger than that now and wiser in how to handle things. He too is in a different place, and at the moment, I am not quite sure where that is. For example, after an escalating period of his acting out more in front of others (including his family) and my doing a better job of not reacting, he announced that “we” were over, it was too late, we needed to face the inevitable and I need to come up with a schedule to “split the boys.” Several repeated cycles of this during which I kept saying I did not wish to discuss that (usually late at night), I did not agree with that, and I would discuss it at a better time, but I was not going to be able to solve that problem for him. He said early one morning that he was going to start looking for a place to move, but I doubt (and hope) this was anything but an idol threat. So far he does not seem to be doing anything, but just trying to function almost as if I do not exist. The one or two times I have tried to engage him in any conversation in the past week or so, I just get told again “it is too late.”

    His stressors (am I again making excuses?) – every year this time of year is very difficult, and I have know for a time this year would be very bad. (I joked I was going out of town for a month or two.) He will be turning 50 in early November, our 10th anniversary is late November, and his big yearly conference is the first week of December (previously it was mid Oct.) I used to not be sure I could make it through, now I’m pretty sure I can, but I do worry that he will really decide to leave after the conference (right now he is probably too busy to put any effort into that.)

    I too worry about my children because I do see them being affected. The eldest (6) is starting to argue back at daddy – telling him to stop yelling at mommy or saying mommy is stupid, repeating back to him things he has said or done at other points which counter his current position. He adores them, but I see his very high standards being placed on them, and I worry my eldest is being groomed to be his confidante. He misses that they are still very young and need consistent routines and “down time” – sometimes he gets into a cycle of doing all sorts of fun activities with them (looking like the perfect parent – perhaps reacting to his perception of what his own dad did not do.) On the surface it is great, but he misses what they need – vs- what he wants. Sometimes the guilt comments are put out to them – like “don’t you ever want to do things with your dad anymore,” or “remember, I’m the one you need to drive you to the (fill in fun activity)” if they say they want to stay home, or don’t want to do something he wants to do. I have to hold my tongue in the moment and go back and address it with them later.

    I do see my own blind spots, both in terms of wanting someone to make me feel better when I was down, upset, or struggling with issues with my own parents (the latter I now know he resented, but in the beginning of our relationship I did not understand why it was such an issue.) I knew the warning signs for narcissism, for abusive relationships etc. I knew the criterion for the label, considered it and believed he had only some traits and features which were worse when he as stressed/vulnerable. NO ONE should feel foolish for being unwilling/unable to see the reality of their partner, if I as a physician, adult and child psychiatrist was unwilling/unable to walk away early on. I saw some of the characteristics in he and his father, but I believed in the part of him that could talk about those behaviors and seemed to recognize that they were wrong. I had this discussion with myself on several occasions, and yes I guess I believed I could make it better. I see now that I made excuses for the lapses and failings, and believed his explanations for events in his past history. Unconsciously I probably believed I could help, or could fix it … probably just as I still do believe I can struggle through with him, despite so many people around me telling me to get out. (Now with children, I am even more conflicted with this, because I really don’t believe divorce is a better solution for the boys, and many of the difficulties we have are likely to just continue regardless.) I know I had a “gut” sense that I was too idolized in the beginning, and would just disappoint him later on, but I dismissed it. I too bought in to to fantasy of us building a “perfect world,” of being able to help him get to where he wanted to be (some social status that I now see is a moving target.) I said to him early in our relationship when he was correcting/critcising me for something, that I was afraid that while I could change the specific thing, that there would always be something else. How true that has become.

    Gosh I wish I could see the future and know that it will have us still together and have out relationship in a much better place 🙂

    Allison – I have gone through multiple cycles of re-questioning if it is me who is causing the problems. When I am feeling insecure it is worse, because I start to believe what my husband says about me. If there are kernels of truth to what he says, that also makes it much harder not to beat up on myself. I do know that being defensive when feeling like I am being accused of something is just a bad trigger to being accused more, to feeling more defensive and to looking more weak. I also think that this ties into the difficulty with building attachment. I can reach out and touch, but my husband is currently rejecting most or all of that because he knows it is my attempt at reaching out. I find it harder to make eye contact
    or to smile warmly because I am still holding on to some hurt and anger. I still need to work on putting aside my hurt and anger, because I see it has really gotten in the way over the years (as has my defensiveness.) I’m trying to use CD’s strategy of writing down all of the issues and re-reading until I am no longer angry/hurt … I’m certainly better about not feeling as upset/devastated about new comments/remarks. Honestly, as I have been able to react less to each individual provocation, I am not then feeling guilty about over reacting or reacting inappropriately, and at least some of the times, I can then sit back and see how his reactions are spinning a bit out of control independent of my doing anything. These times have done wonders for reassuring myself that I am not fully responsible, and that I am doing the right steps to change things.

    About if others feel like the N’s behaviors are only directed at you. I have a few people with whom I have shared some or most of what goes on inside our house. They know my husband, and while they acknowledge that he appears very easy-going and relaxed on the surface, they do see some specifics occasionally. They do see he works hard to keep up appearances. More often they can at least reality check for me to counter some specific criticism my husband is making. People that know me professionally can reassure me that I am capable/competent and I can make a small disclosure or a light remark to peers if I need to elicit that. I suspect if you check in with people you trust, who have had extended contact with your husband that they will have seen at least some parts of what you experience. In general I would avoid talking with his business contacts, but you may be able to observe second hand some of the same patterns in a milder form if you look carefully. Kim discusses a “House of Cards” metaphor in one of the old audio recordings (Bill of Rights if I remember) – it is useful because your husband probably shows only parts of the “true person,” you know in other settings.

    I haven’t found an complete answer to getting past wanting a “nice, normal” relationship with someone who is at least not hurting, let alone warm and supportive. The best suggestions I can give are 1) There is some part of us that brings out this type of relationship, and until we figure that out and improve that, we are likely to fall into the same pattern even with someone else.

    2) Take a look at a book called “Loving What Is,” by Byron Katie. I have not finished it, but the basic concept is that it is our thoughts/concepts/judgements about a specific incident or circumstance that are causing our distress, and not the reality of the circumstance. You don’t even need to “change,” your thinking, but just bring it to your awareness and consideration. This fits with the reality that parts of our left brain fill in a verbal story to fit with a deeper brain “sense of self,” that is not necessarily accurate with reality. This is similar to how our memories can be shaped interpreted and re-interpreted by our expectations and perceptions of what “should be,” and not just “what is.”

    3) Family systems theory supports the notion that if you change on piece (person) in a system it automatically necessitates that the other pieces (persons) adjust. The only one you can change is yourself. So while you are not the only one with things to address, you are the one currently willing to look at what can be changed, and your doing so will induce other shifts (in your husband, but probably also in your girls.)

    That may not be totally clear, but it is getting really late here, and I’ll clarify tomorrow if needed.

    Hope some of this helps … hugs too if that does as well


  39. CD, Australia said

    Hi Allison,

    Wow! I am so pleased you have taken the time to reflect (self-soothe) on what has been getting out of whack. In doing that you found perspective and have become centred again ready to continue on with a calmer and clearer mind.
    I know when I was a young mum I had to be like Wonder Woman just to meet the daily needs of running a home, raising kids and working. This was more exhausting during school holidays – where I thought I would have extra time, I found I had to adjust to a different daily routine, and often with extra kids in the house, etc, etc. Perhaps I should have reduced my workload by doing only what was absolutely necessary during school holidays and made more time to have fun with my kids.
    The more I had to do, the more tired I became and therefore the more grumpy and emotional I got. Naturally my husband then wanted to spend less & less time at home – because I was not good company. I chose to blame, lecture & scold him for not helping – but why would he want help or be close to someone who was so prickly? The more I tried to “straighten him out” the more he distanced himself – and why wouldn’t he?.
    The critical issue was that I reacted badly to these situations by CHOICE. When we start this program we set out to “fix the Narcissist”, but we soon find that we have a lot of work to do on ourselves first.
    I CHOSE all of my reactions and behavior. Although it didn’t seem like I CHOSE to react angrily because I used to excuse & justify myself in ways such as: “if my husband had not been such a selfish, inconsiderate, arrogant, neglectful B______ I would not have got so angry or hurt.” Ridiculous isn’t it? That I BLAMED HIM for MY own bad reactive behaviour! Two wrongs don’t make a right! And what about being forgiving?
    Many of us have probably been in our current relationship a number of years, and with countless episodes of transgressions and angry confrontations, both partners become mostly AUTOMATIC in their CHOICE of behaviour or reaction.
    We are now told to greet our partner (who is perhaps continuing to behave badly) with a smile saying their name and like we are genuinely pleased to see them, and to build trust and attachment. (Whoa! How difficult is that? But if we truly love them why wouldn’t we? And what if it leads to the healthy loving relationship we want? Why would we hesitate? It has turned my relationship around!)
    When faced with challenges in our relationship we are also asked to control our reactive behaviour with our magic scissors, and then to self-soothe while contemplating why we are feeling angry or hurt, etc. We are then to find and deliver the most positive response to protect our boundaries and ourselves.
    It all sounds (and is) good but we don’t always get the result we want immediately which can be very frustrating. Our Narcissist is not going to cooperate every time – especially if the new expectation is foreign to them, or they don’t trust us or they feel inadequate in some way.
    It is very hard work to change ingrained behaviour in ourselves – but achievable if we give ourselves as much time as we need to make this new tried and tested way of relating AUTOMATIC. Only then are we empowered and emotionally stable enough to be ready for the day that our Narcissist hits rock bottom. If and when that day comes our partner will need us to be physically, mentally and emotionally as healthy and strong as we can be to move forward. That is why it is so necessary to get past guilt, blame, anger and hurt – replacing them with the heart virtues:


    Angry confrontations are the quickest way to destroy a relationship – it shuts the doors to good communication or the outcome we would like to have. At the top of my list on My Personal Bill of Rights is “I have a right to be spoken to and treated with courtesy, dignity and respect” – my husband is a human being TOO and HE HAS THAT SAME RIGHT.
    I must practice what I preach by treating and speaking to him with courtesy, dignity and respect no matter what expectation of mine he has not met – to treat him the same way I expect to be treated. This rule is as old as the Holy Bible – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – how tried and tested is that?
    Anger only ever gave me temporary relief by VENTING, and it cost more energy & time by me continuing to be hurt and angry after the event adding to my exhaustion and at the expense of my relationships with my husband and my children.
    Sometimes putting all the info’ about narcissism aside for a few days gives me a chance to contemplate and absorb what I have already studied before continuing to learn about this disorder.
    Your relationship with your girls is extremely important right now – consciously listen and be there for them and you will maintain a safe place for them to grow up – especially through this time of change.
    I wish I had guarded against complaining about my husband to my kids – he was and still is their father that they love. I regret having leaned on them at times when I was so emotionally frustrated with my husband – it was immature of me. I told them in their teenage and adult years, that I was immature and wrong to do that and that it wasn’t fair on them, and I am truly sorry.
    Sadly my husband had done the same thing to our kids, although he disbelieves that it did our kids any harm and didn’t see why we needed to apologise. But I am accepting that he is entitled to his opinion and I am entitled to mine – however, through counseling, he is slowly recognising and accepting how we both did harm.

    “Faced with their true selves most men would run screaming!”

    Good luck, and stay in touch

    CD, Australia.

  40. Allison said

    Thank you so much for the support CD & MR. What a difference A few days make, seriously! Time just goes by so fast. It’s so easy to get off track though. I have decided to accept that god has put me here to learn patience. It’s a good thing I have so much more life to live and get there 😉 lol

  41. Jan said

    Hello all, it has been so enlightening to read about everyone’s experiences with their spouse. I too have endured much from a seemingly narcissistic husband. The first real problem was 13 years ago when it seemed he was going thru a mid-life crises. He moved in and out a couple times and filed for divorce but then finally came back and we managed to patch things up….until last year when he started taking spinning (cycling) classes at our local YMCA. He was very good at it and encouraged to get certified to teach the class. Of course he gained so much attention from everyone…especially women and became emotionally involved with one of the spin instructors who also was married. Her husband found out and they are supposed to be in contact for business only but he still attends her spin classes and gets upset if I say anything. He claims it’s all in my head that they’d still be doing anything. Uh yeah, right. He’s been applying for jobs in other states and plans to move and start his new life without me. This is so much the same as in 1996 except he was having an emotional relationship with a different married woman–his best (and only) friend’s wife. I’ve been getting Kim and Steve’s information, but quite frankly as I read through your comments, I have to wonder if it’s a lifetime job I want to try to make him happy. I can relate to many things you all have said. He also tells me he doesn’t hate me but his looks could kill sometimes. He has so many regrets for things he didn’t do during his life and for staying in his current job that he hates for 20 years. He blames me for his not being able to move sooner and get a good job. I’ve never done anything but encourage him to seek work elsewhere. There was one time he got a job offer in an area that didn’t seem any better than where we’re at and I was basically told I’d have a seriously hard time getting a job myself. Since I’m the major bread winner, that really worried me. So he turned down the job and has thrown it up in my face ever since, even though 2 years later he was offered a job at the same company and turned it down….against my pleas to take it. He initially kept saying we needed a separation but made no move to get out nor does he have the money to do so. Now he’s pushing for me to file for divorce and some days I seriously consider it, thinking I may be much happier on my own. But then I think if he really has this problem, he may need my help. I’ve been going to a marriage counselor and he went himself once. We were to go together tomorrow, but he backed out, said he’s just ready to move on with his life. For years when our son was young, I felt he was in competition for my attention. Never could understand that till I heard about narcissism, then it all made sense. But our son is now 31 so he can take care of himself. Well, I just wanted to thank all of you so much for all your input. It has helped immensely knowing I’m not alone in this emotional turmoil.

  42. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    Just read your post, and what fantastic courage & strength you are showing by not reacting and rising above the hurt (detaching) all while your situation has been so strained and tenuous. You are now seeing that your husband is behaving unacceptably and out of control without provocation. In detaching you (and others) are also seeing that his unprovoked unacceptable behaviour is exactly that – and is nothing to do with you, your boys, or anyone else for that matter (your husband may not perceive or portray it that way though because he perhaps has unrealistic expectations of everyone including himself).
    It is possible too that he is out of his depth in another area of his life, and is taking it out on you (and maybe others too) by creating smokescreens of blame, criticism, accusations, tantrums and angry confrontations all to conceal his own inadequacies or fears.
    We teach our children acceptable behaviour by setting boundaries and disciplining them in healthy ways. Tantrums & mind games in the adult world are much harder to deal with adult to adult. Speaking from experience, it is hurtful, intimidating & exhausting, especially when he leads or badgers me into mental confusion by distraction & incomprehensible mind games, all the while with “puffed up” body language and physical superiority.
    When we step aside, we are not playing “the game” anymore. Our perception of reality increases, our clarity of mind and sense of what is right and wrong returns, which in turn points us in the right or moral direction. We then begin to regain our confidence, self-worth, self-esteem and self-respect in an ever steepening upward curve of healthy mental and emotional growth.
    Hold onto your courage and hope, no matter whether you stay together or part ways. It sounds like you have good support in friends and/or family, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt for you to be prepared as they (and Kim) suggest by getting legal advice (perhaps from a lawyer that is senior to your husband and whom he respects and admires, but is not affiliated with) and by setting some money aside for yourself, etc. Maybe things will settle down after a time, but in reality being prepared is just good housekeeping.
    It might be coincidental and may not have any relevance in your case, but my husband turned “extra narcissistic” when he realised he was heading for his 50th birthday, perhaps he was afraid of losing his grip on life and his youthful good looks and charm (important assets to a narcissist). He became even more physically and mentally hyperactive – like he had to prove himself again and again to the world – and his “factual” storytelling and claim to fame became even more fictitious. He had stayed like that until I got a hold of this program and I have been working it since February this year. He is now 53, so about 4 years of “way out there nonsense”!
    I wish my Fairy Godmother had bestowed Kim & Steve’s program on me at least 3 years ago! Better late than never though, and we are always given exactly what we need at exactly the right time – when we are truly ready for it!
    Sadly, during my husband’s perhaps “narcissistic mid-life crisis”, his sweet mother died more than 2 years ago now after 6 months of bravely but horribly wasting away from illness. We both loved her very much. My husband is now having difficulty working through this grief and unresolved grief he still has from tragically losing his 4 year old nephew and favourite sister in a car/train crash in 1977.
    He holds onto his grief tightly, for whatever reason that is perhaps obscure to him, and he avoids addressing it with me or our MGC, although, out of the blue, he had an angry outburst about it at our last session and he stormed out of the room. Our MGC said it was good he was finally talking about it, even as an outburst and in anger, confirming to the MGC as to why he gets angry at everyone and everything in his life.
    Grief is a very personal journey and I would never have expected him to have fully worked through the loss of his mother by now because he was so close to her. However because he has hung onto his other grief for more than 32 years now he obviously needs help, but avoids it. I believe it is something that cannot be forcefully resolved and will be addressed in the natural course of events with the MGC/Clinical Psychotherapist who is aware of the unresolved grief.
    Understanding that these factors that may be contributing to my husband’s state of mind and stress level is not making excuses for his behaviour, only understanding what he is emotionally immature at handling.
    Likewise I see you as only assessing how your husband’s stress level explains (but does not excuse) his level of unacceptable behaviour. If you find his unacceptable behaviour inexcusable then you are not excusing him, because you know that with emotional maturity he would respond to his stress level in an emotionally healthy way (rather than unhealthily reacting to it by taking it out on especially those closest to him). With emotional maturity and a healthy ego there is no reason to shift responsibility for one’s stress level or unacceptable behaviour onto someone else no matter what the circumstances, and unacceptable behaviour only adds to one’s stress level anyway.
    I have just been contemplating Kim’s “House of Cards” metaphor and in looking back over the history of our marriage, my husband and I have been living in OUR “House of Cards” that we both built together right from the start. It didn’t matter where we lived – we always lived in our “House of Cards”.
    Although we have been very successful in our careers and business life, and built a real home of bricks and mortar, our relationship was built within our “House of Cards” – we became stuck in a time warp of emotional immaturity and unhealthy ego.
    Both of us narcissistically did our best to hold up our “House of Cards” together, and we did an amazing job of it! Then one enlightened day I realised that our “House of Cards” was built from fantasy and was unbelievable, unsustainable, exhausting, and nothing short of ridiculous and I was an accomplice to it!
    To my husband’s dismay and amazement, and after decades of loyally and naively helping him, I let go and stepped out of OUR “House of Cards” and left him to hold it all up by himself!
    It was now just HIS “House of Cards” and it immediately started to fall down around his ears and he frantically tried to put it together again. Desperately he pushed all my old buttons to try and get me back in there to help rebuild HIS “House of Cards” – by charming or seducing me, or trying to make me feel guilty for abandoning him (“if I loved him, I would rescue him – the victim”), or he played on my insecurities, or abused me, or threatened to abandon me (while secretly being afraid of losing me).
    When his old tricks didn’t work, he tried turning up the heat on me by pushing harder and longer on my old, but now disconnected, buttons. His button pushing was now revealed to me as nothing more than childish adult tricks and tantrums. This reinforced my decision not to go back in there and as each day passes I am getting stronger, wiser and more resolute – I am choosing not to be a victim anymore – he is now worried because he knows I am not going to protect him from himself any longer.
    I have now found a new,realistic and healthy way to live – according to the Life Virtues – Understanding, Compassion, Forgiveness, Appreciation, Humility, Patience, Gratitude, Honesty, Trust, Reliability, Sincerity, Humour, Kindness, Generosity, Valour and more. My new life will lead me to NORMALITY & FUNCTIONALITY with honesty, trust, attachment, respect, love-of-self and self-respect.
    Maybe he will get the courage one day to step out too if he trusts and believes my way is a safer and better way, and to let his “House of Cards” completely fall into a heap – never to be rebuilt. Maybe he will decide to find someone else to hold up his “House of Cards” instead – and I wish him well if he does – but I am not going back in there because it is not what I want or what is best for me.
    In the meantime, and to his further distress, I am turning his heat back onto him and his “House of Cards” by exposing his lies and false-self to those whom he would least like to know, by me not being a victim seeking a hero, but as a concerned loved-one seeking solid support to deal with the BS.
    Maybe I was naïve all those years ago, but I have forgiven myself for thinking with my heart instead of my head, as we can do when we are “in-love”. Now I am eternally grateful for my life choices because they have led me to a deep understanding of what real love is. I am now seeking emotional maturity and a healthy ego for myself, after what seemed like an endless dark period of my life. Fortunately it was leading me toward enlightenment all the time. Forever the optimist, I have redirected my inner strength toward the life I want for myself, free of fantasy and fear. Whether together or apart from my husband, I believe everything will be OK for me now because of my awakening to reality and a better way, the right & morally acceptable way.

    Good luck and stay in touch,
    CD, Australia.

  43. Coralie said

    I hope that I am safe here. I don’t feel ready to tell my whole story.

    I have been reading this blog for the last couple of days and am finding it all interesting. I am still having difficulty with the label, but do understand that it is always a two way street.
    My husband changed personality completely coming up to his fiftieth.
    There are many twists and turns to our story, which I would probably say that there are with anyone’s story. My question I would like to ask, is has anyone encountered passive aggression for years? We are now, at last dealing with each other on a more honest footing, however painful it is.The passive has gone and we are now really fighting. Unfortunately, as I do not want to fight, but have already started to understand about boundaries and where I had gone terribly wrong.

    Another question I have is about touch. My husband is not at all into touch and I show a lot of love through touch. The more I see his pain and feel empathy for him, the more I want to touch him, squeeze him and caress him, but the more he resists. This used to feel like his controlling mechanism. He can be very controlled. How do I attract someone who plays that card?

    There is one more question, I would like to throw out there; Has anyone had a husband who doesn’t really like children? Mine hasn’t shown any real interest for almost all their lives, but in his crisis has just realised that they are here and his. Up until now, they have been my problem. They are great children and in their teens. Our daughter has issues with him and he has become aware of them, but he just doesn’t know how to deal with her. He is flirting with her and saying some slightly off things to her in front of me. I feel hurt when he asks her whether she wants to go out for a meal or the cinema and to get all dressed up… I have been asking for this for years.

    Life has gone topsy turvy very suddenly.

    At the moment, my husband is not living at home. He has moved back with his parents… I am finding this very hard,as he has formed an emotional attachment with a (passed now) friend. She moved back over seas, which inspired this whole situation….He doesn’t know what he wants, but he is looking at separation, getting back together !!!!!

    I do find it hard to stay focused etc.

    I hope that I have made some sense.

    Thank you for listening.

  44. MR said


    I can comment with regards to the touching … I understand wanting to reach out and touch. I too feel hurt and rejected when that is rebuffed, and it has been one solace for me that over the past few years, except for during times of intense conflict, I can usually at least put a hand on my husband at night. It often feels like the only warmth I am getting from him, which is absurd, but it has been something for me. I think because he knows that the personal physical connection is something important to me, it does become a controlling thing at times. Likewise earlier if he were angry at me, and I tried to force a kiss or a hug in am attempt to make things better he would reject me … it did seem like he was reacting to his feeling like I was trying to control him.

    On a related topic from this weeks radio show (8/31), (I’ll expand more on a second posting) One of the “hidden secrets” I know was with my husband, and I can only suspect continues is some interest in pornography. I know several years ago I was finding web sites on his computer, and he gets spam e-mail from them. I remember on one of our anniversaries addressing this with him, not with much of a resolution because he did not see it as a problem, but rather as something I would need to learn to accept (having then 2 and now 3 boys) However I did notice that he then put in different software which clears viewing history on all of our computers. The physical connection in our lives has really dropped off and I still am struggling with how to resolve that.

    Hope this provides some solace if not any good answers.


  45. MR said

    Part 2 (relating to this weeks radio show)

    For few weeks, I have been considering what is the “house of cards” in our life, and what if any secrets does my husband keep that I have not been able to see. As mentioned above, there was and probably is some porn interest. I have sensed some mild pretend fantasy worlds – similar to what Kim described with nannies – engaging them into doing things, when I am at work, that I should be doing (all platonic.)

    His business has always had an element of deception. He functions as if it is where he envisions it to be several years later. Earlier it was more a dream, but he has been able to get it progressing where he wants it to be. The facade still exists in that he works from our house, yet is very controlling of the environment trying to make sure there is no noise to “give it away,” when he is on a call. With 3 young boys at home this means often we have been sent out of the house for long, inconsistent periods – something that has felt very unfair to me.

    I do not know if there is more. I have looked, but perhaps not seen. He has been raised in a culture of keeping private and protecting what is inside the family. I am the one who is more open and more disclosing. I think I do it with the intentions of trying to solicit help and support.

    I hope I am not deceiving myself, both about what is happening, but also about my faith that things can come to a better place in our relationship. It is hard holding on when being blamed and criticized so much.

  46. CD, Australia said

    Hi Coralie,

    Just would like to comment on your question about your husband not liking his children up until recently, but now in their teens he is behaving inappropriately towards your daughter.
    I think it is extremely important that you rise above any potential jealousy and hurt you might be feeling with respect to his “off comments” and flirting toward your daughter, and him asking her to get all dressed up and go out to dinner and the movies with him. It is probably meant to be harmless, but it is harmful if it is meant to be an ego boost to him, and/or to stir you, at the expense or exploitation of your daughter. You will need to carefully think about what is happening in reality.
    If you believe the situation is not acceptable you will need to find a way to address any inappropriate behaviour of your husband towards your daughter.
    I believe that it is extremely important that your daughter is protected from inappropriate talk or behavior from anyone and that she be taught how to handle it. Perhaps you could ask Kim and Steve to guide you directly through this forum.
    In your post you said your daughter has issues with your husband, does she find his talk/behaviour offensive? Does she feel uncomfortable, repulsed, angry, hurt etc?
    If you find it unacceptable & “off” and your daughter feels that way too, your concerns are then doubly validated.
    Even if she says it doesn’t bother her, then perhaps she should?? She needs to be reassured that it is OK for her to trust her instincts and to feel “off” about any inappropriate talk/behavior toward her by anyone including her father, that it is not acceptable, and that she has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and that she is not being disloyal to her father by not indulging him or by rejecting him when he behaves in a way that is not acceptable, regardless of whether he is serious or “just joking”. She needs to know her welfare and well-being are very important to you and that you can be depended upon when she needs support.
    Teenage girls are usually very sensitive to attention and don’t always know how to handle unacceptable behaviour toward them by adults, especially when it is coming from a parent. Her father should be protecting her from inappropriate attention & behaviour from others – but unfortunately it is her father’s inappropriate talk and behaviour she may need protection from at the moment, which leaves you as the remaining parent who has to responsibly step up to the plate, by assessing the situation honestly and, if warranted, by seeking support from the most appropriate person in your support network to deal with this important matter.
    I would not think it a matter that you could address personally with your husband because he may disempower you by not giving you any credibility, or he may smoke-screen the issue by turning it back on you (such as portraying you as the jealous irrational wife instead of a concerned, loving & responsible parent).
    Nevertheless your husband needs to know via your support network that he is loved and respected by you and his children, but this particular behaviour is inappropriate and unacceptable.

    Good luck, and stay in touch,
    CD, Australia.

  47. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    I so admire your growth and strength through a very difficult time. I can relate to the anxiety of not knowing what or how much you are dealing with. Perhaps it is appropriate for you to have some covert private investigation about your husband’s activities since he actively conceals them from you?

    Good luck, and stay in touch.
    CD Australia.

  48. Coralie said


    Thank you for your insite. I don’t know whether to be glad that I am not alone, or more worried. I see similarities in our stories, which frighten me.

    I have great trouble with people telling me that I should be glad that the other woman lives so far away. No, because I am dealing with an Ideal of a Woman/Wife. She won’t be able to fall off her perch. I, however, struggle to get onto a platform.

    I came across his love letters to me before we were married. They contradict what he was obviously saying to the other woman, but I cannot talk to him about them.

    He is staying with his parents at the moment. He says that he hasn’t made up his mind whether he is coming back or not. I am working on my workbook and trying very hard to keep a positive outlook on everything. I had thought that my mother-in-law was fighting for us and was going to help us get back together, but everytime I ask about him she becomes more evasive and if a problem comes up, she says that she thinks that we just are not able to live together anymore. It feels like we are being controlled again… this time by his mother.

    She has said to me, in front of my son, who I have brought up to always think of others and put himself in their shoes, that all men are selfish and you just have to let them get on with their own things…

    Sorry, I am not sure why I am feeling so annoyed. I just find it hard with me looking at the positives and my mother-in-law, daughter and husband looking at the negatives. My father-in-law says nothing and stays out of the way. I really have no idea what his thoughts are. My son is very supportive. I do not want to have to rely on him or my daughter… she is being supportive, as long as I am not thinking about my husband….

    Still stuck with anxiety.


    PS I know that there is a porn problem too. Same as you… websites etc Again, blindspot has been for me and family. I didn’t realise before how much I am offended by it.

  49. Coralie said


    I didn’t realise that my comment on giving my daughter attention would evoke images of abuse. No, I don’t think that there is or was anything like that going on… more that my husband doesn’t really have the skills to know when something is hurtful… or he does it to wind me up. I am not really too sure on that score. The issues, as far as I am aware my daughter has is more to do with his promising things and not following through and outright lies. As, I said, he has really ignored them and me for many years and now that he has decided that he wants his own space, he thinks that they are going to be falling all over him. It’s weird.

    I am working more on myself. Trying not to worry what he is doing. I get the impression he would really rather that I crack and tell him that I want him to go through with the separation etc. We, the three of us are getting stronger. My daughter has decided that she wants to talk to him. She thought that be keeping quiet she was going to be able to get him to see how she and we had been hurt.

    I have been to get some herbal remedies to help me sleep, so that I am more brain active when I do see him. He is a very intelligent man and can easily win arguments should he want to…. I am working on my ebook and other material I have and am determined to show him that I really do believe that the best thing for all concerned… him included, is for us to stay together and that in the future we will have a much better marriage and a great deal of fun.

    Thank you for your support and comments,
    I do find them useful.
    Even negative stuff that pulls me up and makes me really look at myself helps.


  50. CD, Australia said

    Hi Coralie,

    Perhaps I could have commented more at a personal experience level – which I will do now.
    My husband was behaving inappropriately in many ways coming up to his 50th Birthday and beyond that until more recently. One area of inappropriate behaviour was towards my daughter, my niece, a mutual married female friend, barmaids and a couple of female work colleagues.
    What he was doing was flirting at them or making “off” comments in an ego boosting way as narcissistic supply, but because this behaviour or flirting was more pronounced than it had been over the earlier years of our marriage, I believe he was either consciously or subconsciously testing to see if he was still attractive to the opposite sex as part of his narcissism and now his mid-life crisis.
    It hurt me at first and made me feel quite insecure that I was losing him, but I dug a little deeper as to what was really happening after I assessed that he mainly was flirting at what I would call “unavailable women” – that they were either related to him or they were happily married – and for that reason he could “safely” flirt at them. I then realised that I need not feel hurt or insecure on such occasions, because he was just doing what he had been doing forever – seeking boosts to his ego or narcissistic supply – only now he had reached a greater and most times “sleazy” level of flirting.
    I could also see that he was flirting “at” them and they were not flirting “with” him – in fact I witnessed responses from some of these innocent women that they were not appreciative of, or comfortable with, his flirting or “fakeness” which caused me to feel embarrassed about the discomfort he was causing and concerned that he was making a fool of himself. I was also concerned that he was “using” or exploiting these women to boost his ego or to get narcissistic supply even though these women were not wanting nor offering themselves to be exploited.
    Then one night we went out for dinner, and he unashamedly flirted in front of me at the young barmaid serving us. I saw a fleeting look of repulsion on her face which she had to quickly hide by ignoring him (her reaction reminded me of the days when I was about 19-20 years old and worked in a bar part-time to earn extra income to save for my dream holiday. I felt repulsed and somewhat powerless every time a “sleazy” middle aged guy would flirt or make suggestive remarks towards me – I believed I was a nice respectable young girl and I did not understand what I did to attract that sort of unwanted attention). That evening after seeing the look on the barmaid’s face I decided enough was enough, but while staying cheerful and calm I resolved that I needed to deal with this problem. A few days later, and after a great deal of contemplation, and when I felt I could handle the issue calmly and rationally, I raised the problem that I had with my husband regarding his flirting and “off” behaviour.
    I was honestly able to tell him that I was not jealous or feeling insecure, but I was concerned that his flirting and inappropriate behaviour was beyond a level that was acceptable to me and to the women involved. Of course he denied ever having flirted with anyone at anytime. Setting aside his indignant denials, I related three of the then recent events by mirroring back to him the words he had used on each occasion to each woman or girl.
    He had a look of horror on his face as he recalled saying the things he did – and he was quite embarrassed about what he had done, and he was also embarrassed in front of me for not having realised that his “fake” behaviour was totally self-serving at the expense of myself and the women involved.
    I was respectful toward him throughout our conversation, never displaying anger or tears, but talking in a matter of fact way saying how I feel when he as my husband behaves in this way, and that it is inappropriate, disrespectful and unacceptable to me, and to the women he flirts at or behaves inappropriately towards. He has not behaved in that way towards other women in my company ever since, and I hope and trust that he does the same when I am not in his company, not as much for my sake but for his own sake, and for the dignity and the respect of the women he encounters.
    I agree with you Coralie, that men who behave in such a manner don’t know how to relate to women including their wives and daughters.
    I also believe that they trip over themselves in their awkwardness or inadequacy by being “fake” in front of women in a manner which they probably mean to be harmless. It can be potentially harmful however if it is exploiting the female involved and if it is an ego boosting trip for the narcissist. For that reason I assured my husband that he does not need to be “fake” in front of women or people in general, that we all like/love and respect him just for who he really is.

    Good luck and stay in touch,
    CD, Australia.

  51. Coralie said

    Hi, CD

    I have just had a good day with my husband…. well, I wasn’t going to let his sour face affect me.

    He still is playing the card of sitting on the fence. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own actions, or at least admit them to me. As far as he is concerned, so he says, being trustworthy is the least of his problems. I am giving him every opportunity to be completely open and honest with me and telling him that people have recovered from much worse situations than we are facing, but he just doesn’t want to believe me. He says that he is happier now that we are not together at the moment, and yet he is more miserable whenever I see him…. I said that happiness is not turned on here and there… We ended up with me giving him a much needed massage… no strings attached.

    I am continually sending out positive vibes… long may they fall on fertile ground. I do believe that we will all benefit from being together….together…

    As far as the clumsy flirting is concerned, I can see it for what it is… We had a neighbour behind us, who did the same thing to me when he was turning 50. I think it is more the fact that he has ignored my daughter and me for so long, that it hurt me…

    I am going to continue smiling and showing him what he has here. The children are going to help too….

    I hope to have more positive things to say soon.
    At least when he is back here, I can talk and show him easier. It is hard to relate to him when I don’t see or hear from him.

    The hardest thing is giving him space and showing that he can have my respect… without losing my own self-respect. This is where I am working… I am doing a lot of emotional and intellectual growing..

    The hard work has really and truly begun.

    I need to find a way to show him how many people have succeeded. We all need that news.

    Take care,

  52. Mellie said

    Oh that is such good news Coralie. I think the positive is a much easier way to build new roads. I like what you said about him looking so miserable. I remember the last time I talked with my N, He said look at you and I didn’t say it but thought, well, look at you. Your eyes are bloodshot and swollen, you need a shave and a bath.
    He did clean up later in the day but the eyes were still sad and swollen. I do so want him happy but I would not give in just to see his smile. I stood my ground firmly but politely.

    I think we have to remember that N’s are so insecure and most of their verabage is just a smokescreen.

  53. Coralie said

    Thank you Mellie,

    It is hard looking at yourself and not really liking the view. Our partners are our mirror too.

    I will let you know how I get on in the next few months. I intend to get my head down and really work on myself.

    Take care,

  54. MR said

    Hi all,

    Just wanted to report some progress to help others feel hopeful as well. Life continues to be up and down, but I am enjoying sometimes seeing the humor in my husband’s antics. Some days I can predict when he is going to fuss at something (because I know of another issue which is making him feel inadequate, because I said something that in retrospect was too close to being critical, or because he expressed some warmth and vulnerability to me.) Some days I can watch him get upset at me and more quickly see it as an overblown tantrum (although it may still gets me upset/hurt in the moment.) It is empowering to predict these reactions and it is empowering to more quickly get myself to the reflective stage when I have walked away and can look back with a chuckle. Thinking of these episodes as a temper tantrum is really helpful (my youngest is 19 months, so tantrums abound 🙂

    Still hard to know when to respond vs when to just ignore completely. Still leaves me sometimes wishing for emotional support and reduced criticisms, but it is better – immensely better than a year ago.


  55. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    It is good to hear from you about your progress. It is easy to see how much wisdom and strength you have gained in such a relatively short length of time – although it probably feels like an eternity to you! It is truly a miracle when each one of us to makes positive changes in ourselves – all while our Narcissist may not be actively working on themselves toward emotional maturity.

    The more emotionally independent from my husband I become, the more attracted he is to me. I made a promise to myself about a month ago, not to emotionally “lean” on my husband especially when we are having difficulties between ourselves. This has been a positive decision for me, because I know that I cannot (and never have been able to) get emotional support from my husband – the reason being that he is emotionally immature, as evidenced by uncontrolled anger, tantrums, lies, scape-goating, abuse, insults, criticism, etc.

    I now see it as paradoxical that I was trying to get emotional support from the same person who was emotionally abusing me. By emotionally leaning on myself now I have to make a conscious decision in all circumstances of our relationship about what is best for me and my emotional security, instead of sacrificing myself to appease someone with emotional immaturity.

    How many of us have said that we have got two kids but feel like we have got “three” kids? I have developed a zero tolerance now for his adult tantrums, anger, lies, scape-goating, abuse, insults, criticism, etc. – because I believe they are all ways of avoiding behaving (or not knowing how to behave) in an emotionally mature adult way.

    From that changed attitude I can now automatically respond to negative behaviour, by using an appropriate ”magic scissor comment”, and if necessary, taking time out to self-soothe, then address the issue after calming down and contemplating the real underlying issue in the most appropriate way. I am finally learning how to be assertive, instead of being defensive, intimidated, hurt or numb.

    My narcissist has zero tolerance of me if I behave immaturely, but he believes he is entitled to behave badly whenever and however he wants to, without being answerable to anyone. Is this the spoiled child in him throwing tantrums (bullying) that was never taken to task to learn acceptable and appropriate behaviour when he was growing up? I believe so – and he has continued to use this intimidating and controlling behaviour over me, his children and countless others to the point that he believed he was invincible, and because it nearly always got him what he wanted when he wanted it. He had even admitted one time that he consciously used this behaviour when it served his purpose.

    Fortunately his world came crashing down some months ago when his lies and scape-goating were uncovered by me. This was the day I stepped out of our “House of Cards”. He has tried to rebuild his House of Cards – but that is impossible now without a “keystone”.

    I was the keystone that protected him from himself – I am now not pretending that everything is OK to others if it is not. He knows I will not accept unacceptable behaviour now, and I will tell others if he treats me badly behind closed doors (thereby revealing his real “not-so-good-guy” image). He respects me now for taking that stance. I too am showing respect toward him, and I believe we are at last building real trust and attachment. Sometimes I feel frustrated that I should have to do so much work seemingly alone, and I crave a life without all this uncertainty, but one thing I am certain of – is that I needed to do the work! I am pretty certain also that my husband is now faithfully following my footsteps toward a better life together. I believe he now senses the “safeness” of “getting real” – even if it is not what he expected or hoped for. Also I believe he is learning that it is OK not to be “in control” of everything – because after all that is not possible.

    Good luck and stay in touch,
    CD, Australia.

  56. MR said

    I always have tried to solicit the help of others to deal with my husband (and people before him) and I am having to constantly reflect and re-evaluate what part is looking for advice and what part is looking for help in self soothing and sympathy. My husband tells me I am the narcissist, because I am the one who “talks” to others (who supposedly puts my own needs ahead of others, who has no empathy, who can not change, who does mental gymnastics to maintain my own delusional reality etc.). Again, rationally I know this is not the case. I’ve checked this out with a number of people, but the doubt comes in when he does point out my errors, and especially when he starts asserting I have not done enough for the boys. (or have hurt them in some unintentional way.)

    Sometimes it seems as if the pace of change is increasing, and I appreciate your confirming that some changes are visible from the outside. My husband is noticing some of the change as well. He asked this morning what is going on with me. In his expressed view, I am changing more in the wrong direction. I wonder if there is going to be some House of Cards crisis for my husband because he is jumping from one issue to another with me. (Historically he has worried excessively each year that his conference is not going to go well (“to fall apart,”)) I have not heard any of that this year. However, he has always put together a strong well run, program despite his high anxiety. His business has always gotten his primary focus.

    However this morning, in the midst of trying to (partly sucessfully) engage me into rehashing a chronic argument, he did say that he was not able to do everything he needs to do (meaning for his business) because he is going to have to take care of monitoring the boys schoolwork etc. just as he feels he has had to do with our nanny/cleaning help (who as a result is feeling the same strain I do.) Again, I am being told I haven’t done well enough, or I am incapable. Your comment about learning to be assertive and not defensive, intimidated, hurt or numb is perfect.
    I need to stop pointing out where he is in error, especially in response to his idenitfying an error in my behaviors. It is so futile, pointless, and escalating. How many times do I need to keep doing that mistake before I manage to break that defensive habit?

  57. CD, Australia said

    Hi MR,

    It took me a long time to break the defensive habit – and sometimes I still get caught up in it. The way I see it is that if we are defending ourselves, then we are being accused or blamed for something by our loved one. Blame featured strongly in our relationship, both of us were accusing or blaming the other for our difficulties, or to counteract negativity, instead of each of us taking our own inventory and working on our own shortcomings.

    A very wise lady, who was in a self-growth programme I was in years ago, taught me a little trick – that when my husband (or anyone else for that matter) points a critical or blaming finger at me, then I need to remember that there are three fingers pointing back. She held up her hand as she was telling me this, pointed her index finger, and of course the other three fingers on her hand were resting on her palm – pointing back towards her!

    One day after I built up some courage and when my husband was being very critical & blaming of me, I did not bite and had the presence of mind to say in a calm and respectful way to him that:

    “A wise lady once taught me this – when you criticise someone you are really pointing a finger of criticism at that person, and that there are three fingers on your hand pointing back at you.” (I held up my hand and pointed the finger of blame or criticism – I then showed him the three fingers pointing back).

    “In other words, you will find that your criticisms of me are shortcomings you will also find threefold in yourself that you may wish to work on.”

    There are few occasions when I believe I have dumb-founded my husband after enduring a tirade of verbal abuse and criticism from him – and this was one of those occasions – Checkmate! He was speechless at first. But then he smiled, and I knew then that he had been insidiously and deliberately trying to beat me down, but I could also see he had learned that he needed to look at his own behaviour & shortcomings instead of just looking at mine. This did not stop all future blame and criticism, but the “three fingers pointing back” saying has been used by me on many other occasions to quell his negativity, at least I don’t have to directly defend each criticism, or search for criticisms back to counteract his – I never win anyway because he can be so formidable.

    The other side of this lesson I learned from that wise lady was that when I criticise or blame someone else for something then there are three fingers pointing back at me. The valuable part of not instigating or engaging in a ping-pong match of critcism or blame games with our loved one is that we reduce our chances of being hurt, which in turn can lower our self-esteem and emotional or mental strength – which then can result in a loss of focus on developing a healthy relationship.

    No-one likes being blamed or criticised by anyone let alone by a loved-one – and I cannot remember “who blamed who” first in our relationship – but does it really matter? And wouldn’t that be seeking blame again anyway? The really important thing is that I have to make a conscious decision and effort not to engage by defending myself, and instead to find ways to be assertive. Kim’s magic scissors, self-soothing and support network to make him accountable for unacceptable behaviour is being assertive. I got so caught up in the fight or flight type reactive behaviour by automatically defending myself against his criticisms or his blaming of me in countless ways, that I had forgotten what the wise lady told me years ago. I found myself back in that “no winner” situation that took the both of us nowhere – and that was not a good place to be.

    The walls of defence are “the walls” we put up between each other. I let mine fall first – my husband is now slowly becoming brave enough (or feeling safe enough) to allow his to fall too – just a tiny bit at a time.

    It takes a lot of courage to become vulnerable by dropping the walls of defence at first, but at the same time we don’t have to accept unacceptable behaviour either. We can’t change the narcissist in our loved-one – only they can do that for themselves. We must take our own inventory and work on our own shortcomings, that is something we can do – very difficult sometimes, but achievable if we really want to.

    As I have grown and changed, my husband noticed it and did not feel comfortable with it for a while. He sought to push my (now disconnected) buttons more than ever because he has all his life been so used to living with drama or reactive behaviour.

    Now after a while of my husband realising that I am not going anywhere, and I am getting happy with or without him getting happy, with or without him leaving, he is starting to take his own inventory because he is being exposed for behaving irrationally or unacceptably without provocation or cause. He is now trying to work on his own shortcomings – his “image” is, and always has been, very important to him.

    I believe that the more I detach from the criticism and blame, the more I open the doors of trust and attachment. My husband grew up in a dysfunctional family where criticism and blame featured strongly in some family members – it is no wonder he had to develop the survival skills he has. Building trust and attachment will take a long time, and it will require consistency, especially in the area of honesty, emotional stability, warmth and good humour.

    Keep up the good work, I really can see you are making amazing progress and a conscious effort in breaking the defensive habit.

    Good luck and stay in touch,

    CD, Australia

  58. MR said

    Some days I see the progress and have hope, some days are just a relentless stream of spars, put-downs, insults and provocation to which I eventually react. I wish I didn’t, but I can see that my fear of being hurt and abandoned comes in and I react. He tells me I am the narcissist (sometimes using other words) and I get close to accepting it. I am doing and saying many things to try and not get blamed. I just wish we could stop the round and round arguing and putting me down, but when I try and say that (or try and show him where his behavior is escalating the cycle) it just backfires on me.

    The days that go better seem to be the days when I let him go on about how it is my background and my history that is most of the problem. He goes on about how he is trying to “get things to a better place,” and he is better at problem solving etc. (he is only minimally talking about the relationship problems, but mostly other problems.) His distrust of others and his views about wanting to be “above” others are why I’m pretty sure I am accurate on our relative roles in this paradigm. He goes on about how messed up I am and how I can’t achieve anything, bringing up and sometimes distorting every failing I’ve had, or my parents had in their life/relationship. Maybe it is me? I see both of us as having flaws, and want to sometimes set a limit about what are the things I find unacceptable (his rage including yelling/cursing at me, insulting me or putting me down in front of the boys, undermining me with them.)

    One of his biggest drivers right now is to make sure that his boys are given better life principles than we have. Certainly a good idea, but the manner for doing this and the specifics have becomes very distorted. Also a recurrent theme is telling them how stupid and messed up I am and not to listen to me. I’m frightened by his spending hours conditioning very young boys. I want to make this work, but I often feel so worn down and worn out. Sometimes I really just want to take them and leave – I don’t want to hurt them, but I’m not sure this is any better. It is a bit of running away, but sometimes I feel like I have no hope. Today was such a constant barrage of criticism, culminating with his trying to say I had hurt he boys, when I was quite angry with how he was handling an issue with them. I said I was taking them and started to take them out (I’ve got at least some things ready if we need to.) It would be hard, but I could make it, and this is destroying me. He thinks he has made me stronger – in a few ways he has, but it has been at a big price.

    I don’t want to give up on our marriage, but I need someone working with me. I need a break because I see that I am not taking care of the things I want to do because I get derailed with this (a pattern that has been there for years.) I don’t know if going to my parents for a while would be better or if it would just totally push everything to fall apart.

  59. Allison said

    Hi MR,
    It sounds like you’re having a really tough time right now. I can certainly relate. When we go into this program it’s really with total intensity. And I think that’s why it’s so hard to deal with the “process.” If you’re like me, you’re thinking, why hasn’t this happened already??? And I do have a life other than just managing my marriage and family life which takes all the energy and time you have on certain days.

    It’s so hard to keep pulling yourself back up and going at it again and again. I It’s the process that gets us crazy! Especially after some real progress…that’s when I expect things to get better and better. So I’m really caught off guard when some ridiculous outburst or tantrum occurs. I make myself vulnerable to him when things get comfortable. And then sure enough BAM!!! It’s like clockwork. Right there in my face is his stupidity and immaturity. And I forget my magic scissors or my self soothing strategies because I was offguard.

    It has gotten easier, than really hard, than tolerable, then unimaginable – and back! And it can really take you over if you don’t find a way to work the 4 legged stool, and work YOUR own program.

    I think I recommended a book to you before called, “Disarming the Narcissist (Surviving & thriving with the self absorbed)” by Wendy T. Behary. I actually just picked up the book again (after reading it in the summer) to re read my comments and my exercises because it’s hard to stay focused! But please try that book if you can. It was a huge help to me in gaining my OWN strength and courage to attack ONLY the things that I had control over.

    Now it’s not going to change over night, but as I am sitting here reminding myself as we speak – it’s a process. This book taught me how to address my personal issues and even though my husband hasn’t stopped his foolish tantrums and hasn’t stopped misbehaving, he sure has begun to see me in a different light. And I feel power over my own life. I am accutely aware of so much more than I knew was going on.

    No one can tell you if your situation will improve enough to be livable or tolerable, healthy even for you and your kids. But at the very least you can gain your self esteem back. If you have to leave you can do so knowing you did all you could to make this work and you feel confident that living without him is better for you & the kids than living with the narcissism. There are no guarantees. I’m taking it day by day. If my husband and I can make this change, super! But if we can’t I know I will be better off for getting my life back, and setting the example for my girls that I am a strong and successful woman that can build my own life’s purpose.

    Good luck! Hang in there!!!!


  60. MR said


    Some days we all feel so defeated, and in the moment it is tough to remember it will pass, and get the focus back onto what needs to be done. The “why hasn’t it happened already,” is so true. That goes back to needing some sort of confirmation that things are improving – which is just another side of the emotional co-dependency. It keeps catching me.

    I just recognized that it is the variable reward cycle (the inconsistency of the “good days”) that is so reinforcing in this dynamic. It is the best way to behaviorally train an animal, a child, or even an adult 🙂

    Thanks for the book suggestion, and hope to be able to help keep you on track as well.


  61. Cheryl said

    Hi to all of you courageous people – I hope you will one day appreciate just how amazing you are by trying so hard to do such a difficult thing without the emotional support from your partner that you crave.

    I would like to share my favourite quotation/prayer, which sums up what is at the basis of coping with pretty much everything, particularly dysfunctional relationships:
    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
    the courage to change the things I can;
    and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    I don’t interpret “accept” to mean that a partner’s bad behaviour is “acceptable” but rather that it is not something I personally can control so I can stop wasting energy on the impossible! This has made a huge difference in my stress level, similar to the magic scissors really. I ask myself if the current situation/confrontation/problem is something I have the power to change and if the answer is “no” I try to let it go and concentrate on what I CAN do instead.

    I chose to leave my former partner when I finally accepted that he was not going to change – I either had to stay knowing that his treatment of me and attitude to others would be my future, or leave and change my future to something that was healthy for me. However, if there had been children involved I believe I would have tried to find a way through in the hopes of keeping my family together.

    Since then I have watched two very dear friends try to work through even more dysfunctional relationships for the sake of their children, and as a supporter and observer I just need to say that it is so very important that you do your best to take care of yourself, as all of the exercises and advice and feedback keep emphasising.

    As some of you have observed, the children of dysfunctional relationships often suffer problems themselves, and the role modelling of strong ethical behaviour by the “adult” in the narcissistic relationship is their best hope of coming through well adjusted, or at least having the tools to cope when things go wrong. It is not your “fault” if your partner behaves badly as that is their choice – it is to your credit if you behave well because that is what YOU choose.

    Please take courage from the knowledge that you are not alone – people truly understand exactly what you are going through and know how hard it is on a day by day basis to keep up the effort and self belief necessary to get through to whatever turns out to be the best solution for you.

    Sharing your story is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself – so much insight comes from the need to examine what is happening so you can write it out and share it in this safe place, and so much insight comes from reading other peoples stories and discovering things we didn’t see before in our own situation. Thanks to Kim & Steve for providing this place where we are all safe and among friends.

  62. Jan said

    Hi Cheryl, I wanted to thank you for your post. I’ve come back often and read it, especially your quotation/ prayer. It’s so true and gives me comfort when I read it. I too am in the process of divorcing my husband as I don’t believe he will change his attitude toward me and I can’t bear to live the rest of my life on eggshells. Thanks so much for your wisdom and experience.

  63. Lisa said

    I will try and make a long story short, we have been in a relationship on and off for 10 years, it never works out because there are always OTHER women, there is actually one woman in particular that is always around. We have been engaged and living together for the past year and just had a baby 5 months ago, during my pregnancy and since our daughter has been born he has been cheating the whole time!! He doesnt even come home at night on the weekends, during the week he comes home late after I am sleep and is still sleeping when I get up. He is never around. The same woman that he has been involved with since I have known him is the one he always goes back to. It has been like a sick love triangle. I thought it was going to be different this time but unfortunatly it is not. He used to date her before me, he has never left her alone and I really dont think he will but its like he wants to keep me to. She is well aware of me and our new baby but this still has not prevented her from being with him. This time around, I thought it was going to be different especially because of the baby but sadly its not. I found out the first week of September, I looked in his phone and saw text messages, pictures, and phone calls that confirmed their relationship. In the phone I also discovered other “sexual” relationships with random woman including our neighbor right down the street. This hurt the most because I actually liked the lady, invited her in my home, and she offered to help with the baby.

    When I first discovered all of this, I went crazy on him I was an emotional wreck. For the first few days he acted like he cared, and made attempts to talk to me and be around me. I rejected him because I was so angry and hurt. Since then, he has been EVIL! He acts like he has done nothing wrong, he acts as if I do not know what I am talking about, and that what I saw and heard is inaccurate. He has gotten worse, he will leave on Friday and come home Sunday, and I know he is with the other woman, it has been confirmed. It almost like I have pushed him away, but he is the one who did this to me. He even said “All of this could have been avaoided had you not looked in my phone.” When he is at home, there is so much tension.

    I really think that he is a serial cheater, I do not think he will ever change. I do not know what to do.

    Any suggestions?

  64. Pat said

    I find this blog (and website) to be helpful, and appreciate the alternative approach to dealing with Narcissism and Co-dependency within a relationship.
    I have had 2 failed marriages, and a recent break-up with a N and am trying to rebuild my career and personal life-yet again. I am the oldest of 2 female children born to 2 Narcissistic parents. My parents are still living, and still emotionally abusive at 80 and 82. They capitalize on my relationship “failures” and “feed” off of them.

    I am interested in a reply from the Psycho-Therapist
    in dealing with elderly parents whose health is now compromised, but who still continue to operate in the same narcissistic manner. I made the choice long ago not to abandon my parents, but to be available as needed in their aging process. We have little in the way of a true emotional connection. Also, my sister is enmeshed with both parents, and narcissistic as well. Although I have no fantasy of repairing the canvas of this dysfunctional family, I do have a desire-at age 54-
    to keep my distance from the constant drama. It is a difficult process to endure in a lifetime as it requires constant diligence and work.

    Thank you.

  65. Coz said

    It has been 5 years with several ‘break ups’. He has 3 children who I adore and vice versa. We do not currently live together, which he takes as ‘I don’t really love him’. We cannot discuss any issues of importance without arguing. We are meant to be lloking for a new church together. He wont come back to our old one even though I work there and this change of church will eventually mean I need to look for another job. And yet he still wants to continue going to a support group at his old church. To which I beleive is unhealthy for him. They see him as a ‘great guy’ and continue to encourage him to go back saying things like ‘its not the same without you’, ‘we love you, we are your family’ and many other things that feed his ego. I do not want him to go back there as he then seems to think he is ok, therefore it MUST be me that is the problem. He has just now gone away for work for a week, which is a ‘one-off’ thing, he says he doesn’t know the name of where they are staying, and it was only mjeant to be him and another man but apparently 4 rooms are booked and he says he doesn’t know who else is going. he started an argument before leaving and is still angry and not talking to me now that he is away. This usually happens before any ‘work event’ comes up as well. Then when he drinks it is my fault because we were arguing….. I am really struggling….I have just started The Love Safety Net but I don’t know how much more I can take…..

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