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Good Marriage Advice

My advice (in a nutshell) on how to have a happy marriage:

A good marriage is built on helping each other out.”

Now I know this advice may sound a tad twee, but in practice it’s not as easy as it sounds.

There are definitely right and a wrong ways to ‘help out’ and so here is an example of how my recipe for a happy marriage plays out …

When I was a teenager I had a boyfriend with grandparents who had settled in Australia as refugees after the second world war.

His grandparents had been aristocracy in Europe, but lost all of their possessions in the bombing of Dresden at the very end of the war. Luckily they escaped with their lives and a little money, but not much else.

Settling in Australia, my friend’s Grandmother soon learned how to cook, clean and drive, all of which she had never done before.

Meanwhile, her husband continued his studies (mostly following his own whims) believing he still had the right to live like an aristocrat.

Even worse, rather than appreciate his wife’s efforts to maintain his lifestyle, he soon came to see her as a servant, refusing to speak to her as an equal any more.

Soon their money ran out and she went to work to support them both and their small child (who grew up to became nearly as spoilt as her father).

This story is an example of how helping someone out in the wrong way is NOT good marriage advice.

Because the kind of help she gave really didn’t help him at all.  Instead this wife only fed and maintained her husbands false pride.

I often see parents make this mistake with their children:

Parents who slave at jobs they despise (often doing work they feel to be unethical), to send their children to expensive schools where their kids are made monsters by being taught they are superior to other people.

Okay so that is a different subject and one I will write more on soon (the narcissism of our education system), but now let’s get back to my recipe for a happy marriage.

The right kind of help first involves you figuring out what makes your spouse feel helpless or inadequate and helps them get that problem under control.

For instance – instead of my friend’s grandmother taking care of her husband’s every need, she might instead have found the courage to truly help him out.

She might have said tenderly, “Come now and put those books away for good – this is a new life we are beginning now. There’s a man arriving soon who’s going to help you find work to provide for us.”

Or in my own past situation with Steve, I began helping when I said, “Come and let me help you get your tax and financial records sorted out, because I see the stress of that is destroying you.”

This kind of help is NOT about doing things for your partner trying to get them to love you in return. (That kind of “strings attached help” is very transparent and rather than appreciate it, your partner will probably see it for what it is).

The recipe for a happy marriage:

Instead your aim should be to genuinely help with the problems that most damage your partner’s self esteem. This in turn will begin to ease their stress – so hopefully they can become more productive and useful to your family. This kind of unselfish help nurtures friendship and is the recipe for a happy marriage based on self worth and good self esteem.

Finding the right way to help isn’t always easy:

The trick is to look at your partner’s developmental gaps to find what is causing the most stress in their life. For instance, if an adult has trouble reading, good marriage advice may be helping them find the courage to tackle their literacy skills.

Gaps come in all shapes and sizes and so to help you discover the developmental gaps in both your partner and yourself, we developed the gap finder exercises in The Love Safety Net Workbook.

Chock full of exercises and advice on how to have a happy marriage, The Love Safety Net Workbook has helped thousands of couples (many facing complete family breakdown) discover the same great relationship rapport that Steve and I now share.

Deciding to help your partner if they have spent years neglecting or abusing you can be difficult. It is a mindset however that is really worth developing and in my own life that new mindset has become the difference between heaven and hell.

Part 2 – Marriage Help

 

Kim Cooper

Kim is the author of seven books on the topic of relationships and emotional intelligence.

A prolific multi-media content innovator, Kim has created and shared a library of articles and multi-media educational tools including radio shows,
movies and poetry on 'The NC Marriage', and 'The Love Safety Net'.

This Post Has 48 Comments

  1. Kim, I have been married to for almost 40 years to the same husband and thought when he retired from his strssfull job state job in 2007 that his negativity would end. I realized then that he is a workaholic, that his anxiety and stress is a chemical imbalance, but that he can CHOOSE to be positive or negative. He is now working in a pay roll office, of which I am thankful. If he were not working he would be anxious at home, and negative, about something. It isn’t pleasant being around someone who is anxious most of the time, but I have learned that his behavior is not about negative stress at work, but inborn. Ours is not the happiest of marriages, but I have learned to love myself and not worry about including him in everything I do. We have 3 lovely daughters and son-in-laws and 7 grandchildren. My husband is not interested in visiting or interacting with the grandchildren. He never talks about them, and this concerns me. Often, I visit our children while he works at this pay roll office. I have to continue to look positively on our marriage, even though I realize at our age, and we are financial secure, we could be sharing more intimacy than we do. Thank you for your advice on “How to Have a Happy Marriage-Part 1”. I look forward to reading Part 2.
    Sincerely, Miriam

  2. hey Thanks Kim – I appreciate your thoughts about genuine help – this is truly something that is helping me everyday – but sometimes I need to remember – so this article was a great reminder 🙂

  3. Thank you!
    That was the best advice ever. What you said totally filled my gap in my relationship skills. I always realized I didn’t help or give enough to my partner and tried to fix this by pleasing them. Now I realize that pleasing isn’t same as helping ang gets the relationship nowhere and it doesn’t solve anything. If the partner happens to have narcissistic traits the pleasing and NOT helping is a total disaster! What a great realization I’ve just had! Thank you a million times!
    Bless everyone!

  4. I used to be married to a man who refused to grow-up and be responsible. He ultimately left for good stating that he “was unhappy, deserved to be happy, should be doing the things his teenage son & young adult daughter were doing, and that he was too young to be married to a 50 year-old”. This was an extremely difficult time, but now I am remarried to a man who is healthy, loving, and involved. I never imagined that my 1st husband walking out on our marriage could have been the best thing to happen to me & my adult children, who now only have a superficial relationship with their father. A tragic story, but a happy ending.

  5. My husband, a cluster b narcissist, is getting out of prison in four months. Up until his imprisonment he was “a taker” and I unhappily supported him while he was destroying his life and taking me down with him. Thank God, for this time of peace and reflection. He has made positive changes, he has work, school, is now clean and grooming and has lost 45lbs, strangely he is teaching a gospel doctrine from our faith, prior to being imprisoned he avoided church. I’ve got to now mentally prepare for his return. I am scared to death in returning to our old life and I am hopeful that his remorse is sincere. He says his mentor will give him a job when he is released. I just want to make sure I am helping him when he gets out, but not by going back to putting him on “the dole” as I have mistakenly done in the past.

  6. Another great article, Kim! I truly enjoy reading about others who share my dilemma and have a positive spin on surviving a marriage with a narcissist! Keep up the great work you do!

  7. Thanks Kim 🙂

    One of my biggest challenges has been recognizing myself “doing things for my partner so he’d love an appreciate me”. It was so easy to hide this from myself and then end up feeling victimized!

    Your writings have helped me to see this more clearly. I’m now feeling enabled to recognize my own self-worth and ability to be content and (appropriately) powerful on my own two feet.

    My partner left 5 or 6 months ago, but my world has not crumbled. I’m amazingly ok, (of course I grieved, but found so much strength and love within me!). I wanted to say thank you for the piece your work has played in this process <3

  8. Hi Kim, yes filling in the ‘gaps’ is not easy and takes practice. Your blog reminds me to keep practicing. Sometimes I wish I had book handy with all your advice in it to keep going back to.

    This difference in the way we ‘help’, I often think, can be seen in the strong women I meet in this life who I look at and wish I had what they have. But there’s the thing I know now I CAN be like that with the knowledge that my ‘light within’ and the love I give myself is where it all begins. I was brought up to believe that it is selfish, unladylike and vain to love youself, speak out and be strong so unlearning this is quite a challenge as well as trying to stay true to the real me. I CAN be caring, gentle and
    fun at the same time.
    Thanks Kim

  9. Hi Kim
    Thank you for your words of wisdom.I always seem to find new hope after reading your articles .. they have been encouraging to me, I look forward to part 2.
    Thanks Kim

  10. Thanks everyone for your encouraging and positive comments!

    Caring, gentle and fun at the same time – I like that Claire and yes indeed you certainly can choose that for yourself!

    Susan – please make sure you are on a first name basis with your husbands parole officer (or similar) when he is released. It sounds like your husband has filled a lot of gaps in jail – but he still has the challenge of learning to be the new him with his family. I think it would be great if you really let him know that there is no pressure on him and that instead you would prefer if he could be quiet around you (and your kids?) for awhile and learn what it is like when he isn’t around. That way he will have a better chance of fitting in smoothly and building good rapport with you – rather than him feeling he needs to prove himself or preach to you.

    Sharon and Angela – it is great that you have both overcome and survived. Them deciding to leave can indeed be a blessing and especially as you have both come to understand that your happiness does not come from your marriage – but from inside you (-:

  11. Kim, this is such an important point, helping your N partner to really manage difficulties instead of just pleasing him and giving way to avoidance. And it’s also quite a step to be so positive and supporting, when there is still anger in you…

    I read ypur books but still find it sometimes difficult to turn tables in terms of how to express myself. I just left hospital after a to weeks illness from which I recovered well. And on the phone he says: fine you are well, but guess for how long. Supporting, isn’t it? I managed not to start a fight and ended in a normal tone. But I feel I shouldn’t just let it happen. But I have actually no idea what to say to him, what would not be threatening or full of anger and defence and disappointment…
    This costs so much energy!
    Thanks Kim

  12. Well said that one’s happiness comes from within. Happiness does not originate with another person.
    I’ve found that most men are miserable skanks looking to take advantage of women and when they come into my scope, they know I can suss them so easily that they daren’t even try to chat me up, much less anything else.
    I’ve been widowed for over 7 years now and it’s really amazing that guys my age who’ve never been married try to treat me like I’m some kind of ditzy girl who has no clue about their motives, their lifetime of misogyny, and their basic inability to really connect with a lifetime partner–all a giveaway upon discovering they’ve essentially been loser-narcissist-sociopath-player skank their entire lives.
    These idiot men–which seem more prevalent because the good guys are all seen to–seem clueless as dolts right before I give them what for and slam their faces into the sidewalk as I run roughshod over them, giving them a taste of their own abuse.
    It’s so great being on my own without any negative input from some game playing doofus. The few men that recognize my value are married and since I respect their marriage and wives, I basically tell them to toss off as well.
    Men do not deserve to have any power whatsoever in this world. They abuse their power and abuse women and children and in so doing, they break hearts and destroy lives. They cost the community in huge calculable deficits of great loss in money, time, productivity and every possible resource imaginable, all due to their weak, insecure, overinflated, unnecessary ego games.
    Men have a lot to answer for but sadly, they never will because the few guys that really understand this whole mess are far outnumbered and can’t compete with the noise coming from the great numbers of idiot men who can’t think very well and have no comprehension of just how stupid they really are.
    Experts have indicated that it’s due to the overwhelming idiocy and noise of these dysfunctional prats which inhibit the advancement of humanity and civilization itself.
    This is not a insignificant issue. This is not an isolated problem that has minimal effect on society. These kook men in the majority, who hurt people in their competitive stupid game playing, are the single greatest problem facing humanity and our very existence in this world.
    I certainly don’t need a man around to make me feel happy. But you can almost bank on the fact that the majority of single men who might think they have a chance with me would most assuredly be a direct cause of my unhappiness.
    Men are not the ticket to joy. Men are the ticket to a life of diminished senses of self. I would be very, very unlikely to share my beautiful life with any man who seems like he likes me. It’s just not worth it. Men are, honestly, a pain in the arse.

  13. Hi Hazel and welcome 🙂

    Yes that is a cruel comment – but I wonder what is beneath it? It would help if I know what steps you have taken and if you are working on the exercises in the workbook. Is your husband feeling resentful about your illness because he has been looking after things without you for a long while? One way or another it would be good to find out why he feels so resentful about you being sick? Not to open up an excuse for him to abuse or argue with you – but perhaps some well thought out and direct questions that try and show interest and concern for his point of view. If this starts escalating however I would be ready to end the conversation and get back to taking care of yourself.

  14. Hi Mary and welcome 🙂

    While I understand your sentiments we do try and avoid name calling here as it really doesn’t tend to help anyone’s cause.

    Narcissism and codependence are a system dysfunction and only so prevalent because of the way these behavior patterns self perpetuate. Demonizing narcissistic behavior only addresses one side of the pattern. A codependent partner has much more power available to them than simply writing all narcissistic people off. This disorder is sometimes called the hall of mirrors disorder and so to so (write all narcissists off) will only place ourselves more firmly in the dark as to our own role in the system dysfunction.

    If you are interested you might like to look at the article on this blog here: http://narcissismcured.com/blog/how-do-narcissism-and-codependence-begin/

  15. This was quite good! Thank you for your continual helpers. I’ve been at this for nearly a year and while I experience set backs from time to time, our marriage has made steady improvements since I begn to see this all through new eyes. Thank you Kim and Steve for the consistent help you provide so many of us to attain that goal of a good and healthy marriage. God bless you!

  16. hello, this is my first time writing on here. I dont follow your blogs religiously Kim, only when time permits and a subject heading catches my attention. I left my N husband 3 years ago. We were together for 17 years and it was hell. I tried everything I could think of to make it work, but in the end was so close to suicide I felt leaving was my only other option.
    We are not friends, but my fear of him is starting to fade, slowly.
    In regards to Mary Macs comments, I couldn’t help but chuckle because inherently I agree with a lot of what she said, however, on the flip side I see your point too.
    Yes we live in a world full of men who were raised to believe in themselves and women who were raised to be lady like and self sacrificing, and this (I believe) has had a major impact on our society as a whole.
    I am still learning, still adjusting, and still on the path of self discovery so your blogs are very helpful when I feel myself falter, but the one thing I have learnt (but not yet mastered) is the importance of self love and self respect.
    I’m generalising, but I feel men want a woman who is soft and feminine but self sufficient, not dependant. I mean that in the emotional sense, and in some ways physically too. She must have her own interests, she must follow paths that appeal to her and bring her happiness and fulfilment because when she is bored, or lonely, or needy he sees that as a failure on his part; and this causes resentment. It is more than likely NOT the message the woman is trying to send out, but its what men hear.
    The one I struggle with most is the balance between asking for physical assistance…(I stopped asking for help with the ex years ago because that would cause a fight)…and waiting for it to be done. My new partner is kind, caring, and often sweet, but he is also unemployed, dabbles in illegal substances and drinks more than I am comfortable with. It does not make him abusive, but I still dont like it.
    I have tried to ask for help and then tried sitting back patiently allowing him to do it at his own pace so as not to insinuate he is useless…but its doing my head in when I need things done today, not in a week or months time.
    I would buy things for his son, and him, when I could see they were lacking essentials, but realised I was doing this when he had spent his ‘dole’ money on parts for his car or drugs. So my response now, whenever he gives me that hang-dog face because he has no money, is ‘get a job and you will be able to afford that.’ It has become my mantra to a degree. He needs a job to support himself and his child, but he also needs a job so he can feel adequate and useful again; so he can feel like a man!
    I need him to have a job because I cant afford to support him, and my own ego is taking a bashing because I feel myself constantly defending him against family and friends who see the obvious..he is using me!
    We have all the regular dramas of his child, and himself, fitting in with my kids and my family. But to top it all off we have me with my hang ups and reactive behaviour if he does or says anything that remotely triggers a behavioural trait of my ex. I either shut down or fire up defensively (more often than not this is not done consciously) and he is often offended or confused because he doesnt know what he has said or done to set me off.
    I am seeing a psychologist once a month (its all I can afford) to help me process this and its helping but to make a long story (my apologies for babbling) short, I am learning that it is not my job, my role or even my place to dictate to him how to make our lives happy. I have to accept and love him for who he is and do my best to accept and love myself for who I am, and hope that that is enough to forge a future together that is mutually fulfilling and comfortable…and happy. I have stopped ‘doing things for him’ and am stepping back allowing him the space to make choices of his own. I express my likes and dislikes, hopefully in a non offensive way, and have to accept that when he says it is what he wants too, he is speaking the truth.

  17. Aloha mai from Hawaii, Kim!
    Three days ago in bitter desperation I found your site. I have been in a rollercoaster relationship for seven years with a man who I realized fairly early on was narcissistic and codependent. He is 60, and I am 47. I had all these grand illusions that if I just loved him enough, he would change. Wrong! I ended up compromising my boundaries and being a miserable doormat.
    We have been broken up since October. In the past, whenever I thought we were totally good he would find something wrong with the relationship and blame it on me and and either threaten to leave (using relationship as a weapon)or withdraw and become so nasty that I couldn’t bear it. He insists on hanging out and being on the phone very frequently with his ex-wife. They both see and call each other all the time. I have told him how much this bothers me and it has to stop. He tells me that I have a problem because I will not accept his relationship with her. He spends an inordinate amount of time with her and confides things to her first before telling me about them. I don’t want to sound shallow and possessive, but it really is at the level of full on emotional infidelity. He has refused to break contact with her for the whole seven years. Because of this, I have left him twice. We reside in the Hawaiian Islands, and when we last broke up, I finally moved to the Big Island to have a healing distance while he stayed on Maui, 20 minutes from where his ex-wife lives.
    In the past month he has been calling and emailing telling me how much he loves and misses me and wants to get back together. He totally drew me back in emotionally and gave me hope. All the while, he was sleeping with an ex-girlfriend. I found out just five days ago and blew a gasket. I verbally disemboweled him, accusing him of toying with my emotions. Heck, he was, big time!
    He admitted he was wrong, but got angry with me for my reaction and totally closed down from me. Say what?!
    That was when I started seeking help and came across your website. I really do love him, as he has so many positive qualities and we compliment each other so well in so many ways. But he had a horribly violent and dysfunctional childhood, and I didn’t exactly have a model childhood myself. I realized in reading through your material that I myself have both narcissistic and co-dependent tendencies, and my partner even more so. I thought, “OMG, 2 nar/co-deps together?! How can this work?”
    Your and Steve’s success is so inspiring, and thanks to your advice I am working on changing my reaction to my wonderful/ maddening nar/ co-dep, setting my own firm boundaries (which I didn’t have before), and approaching him with empathy rather than from a hostile victim stance. I could only afford one book, so I got “Through the Looking Glass.” It hasn’t arrived yet, however I used some of the techniques that you folks list on your site in assessing myself, and really honestly, empathetically, and compassionately opened to my partner while establishing firm boundaries of what I am willing to do and what I will not allow in my life. I couldn’t believe the response! He went from cold and totally shut down to open and communicative, and is even considering breaking off contact with his exes! All that in just one night! For me so far, this has been a two-day crash course in learning about what the effects of respecting myself have on my partner.
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not sitting here doing the pathetic and untenable “Pick me! Pick me!” thing. I gave him 24 hours to decide what he is going to do, otherwise I move on. But I posed it in a compassionate way (thanks to the advice on your site and reflecting on my own shortcomings and my willingness to re-pattern my responses)and he may possibly be flying over tomorrow to try to work things out.
    I am really looking forward to receiving your book, and I thank you so much for your selfless compassion.
    Mahalo nui loa,
    Josey

    1. Hi Josey and welcome! I am glad you found us. The two books you really need right now are 10 steps to Overcome Codependence and The Love Safety net Workbook. If you subscribe on the page here http://www.narcissismcured.com and follow through reading the private pages of our site you will be able to purchase them at a discount. Download versions are faster and cheaper too. Back From the Looking Glass will be important if things get bad again between you – but right now you need to work through the exercises on building the four pillars of a solid relationship.

      It is great that you can see the narcissism and codependence in you both as I think this will help you.

  18. Hello again from the Great Pacafic NW.. I will try your suggestion..It IS hard because I am havin a hard time giving ANYTHING because I KNOW I will not get it back in return..My “insecurities” are MY problem. not his..And he HAS NO PROBLEMS !! R u kidding me ??Life is perfect and he is a great guy..Just ask everybody he works with, talks to, does things for… The phonyness is killing me..I just say..”Oh you do not LIVE with him”…He again chose drinking (only one or two, of course..) again over coming home after we had already been out eating and drinking…. So he tells me he loves me, but continually chooses the rest of his life over our time and intimacy( “I’ll just have a Blow Job”) – working very hard to satisfy others/himself first.. I figure I am about 5th on the list right now..First comes his business,( I do understand this, but he will manipulate the time to do what he wants regardless if it is work related), then the Fraternal Order of Eagles,(volunteers all his time but gets good drink prices and CONTROL/SUPPLY from the enviroment), then his motorcycle club, then his new found love of “investments” and all the NEW (supply) people involved in those transactions, then our marriage(maybe)… He supports us more than half..(I just drive a school bus..) so he believes that he who make the most $$ calls the shots… SOOOO my biggest dilemma is that I live in a “Catch 22” sort of life… Because he feels there are NO problems, he is just a posterchild husband, I can’t win for trying…. I AM THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEMS !! I AM going to a counselor, and a lawyer, and Al-Anon, and I also can “get the “FU – – K out” if I don’t like how he does things… And I should HELP HIM ???But “My God , Cathy, you just can’t figure out how much I love you”!! and I quote..I can’t figure it out how much he loves me, and he is planning hard for our future???? !! I tell him there is gonna BE no future – that NOW is not working for me, and he doesn’t care, and his “script” just keeps on coming !! My pit just gets bigger.. I am truly going crazy !! CM

    1. Hi Cathy – I wonder why he is so insecure that he has lost touch with his authentic self? If you know who you are and he doesn’t you really do have more than he does. Enjoy who you are and let the anger go – and start simply saying “No”, and that you have something else to do if he wants things on the run with no time for you. And if you want your relationship to improve think about what help he really needs? I wonder if he works doing something that really makes a difference and gives his life meaning? I doubt it. A little time doing volunteer work might bring him back to what is important in life – but there is a lot of steps before he will be ready for that kind of challenge.

  19. Hi Kim,
    I would like to get the Love Safety Net book as you recommended, however I am back in school at a late age and am barely making ends meet right now. As you know, the word “starving” usually precedes the word “student!”
    If I subscribe to your site, is there advice there that would be helpful until I can afford to get more books?
    BTW, my ex has flown over to the island I’m on and he is confused whether or not he wants to be with me or his ex-girlfriend. He had lied when he told me he had only slept with her once. He went into a full-blown relationship with her, even telling her that he loves her, and it has been going on for a while. I told he that maybe he should leave if he feels like that (that was this morning), but he says he wants to stay here for a few days. He also says he isn’t making any decisions while he is here. I really feel like I’m being toyed with, but I also know he is confused. He’s very shut down to me emotionally. I just don’t know what to do with this.
    Oh yeah, he also has a B.A. in psychology, so he thinks he knows everything and I’m the only one with a problem.
    Thanks,
    Josey

  20. Hi Josey – I don’t know that there are any quick fixes for your current situation. 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence by download is not much more than a membership and probably a better place to start. One thing is certain that I would not under any circumstances be sleeping with him while he is there. You being firm on this while also being polite and also getting on with your own studies and life is the only way you will ever earn his respect.

  21. HI Kim and Steve
    One big problem me and my partner have stumbled upon, SEX! Historically there has never been a problem there. I realised a few weeks ago that I got a massive kick out of his ‘admiration’ for me, (Narcisstic supply), and I’ve removed his sources of NS, so now we feel like companions. Just found an article online about the ‘Sex Starved Wife’. Seems to me that my partner now knows his false self isn’t real, and isn’t getting a kick out of his ‘City stockmarket job’ (he’s left London to be with us), now things are very real for the first time ever no drive. Any help for us? WE have bought your ebooks btw and are doing loads of positive stuff.

    1. Hi Stefanie and good work! If you go to the page here http://www.thelovesafetynet.com/blog/?page_id=120 you will find a membership site you can join that will give you access to a 14 page PDF of mine called “Sexual Longevity — how to conduct a meaningful sexual relationship
      that gets better over time.” The rest of the content in that site is about to be overhauled and turned into an audio library that you can download and listen to in your car etc. so now is a great time to sign up!

  22. Hi Kim
    Yes i have the PDF, and I am a member. I have hinted about reading your sexual longevity PDF but he won’t at the moment. I think we need to feel better about ourselves, I noticed the last couple of days making more of an effort to look nice. He noticed and said ‘you look lovely but I just dont feel sexy’ I said ‘thats ok’ and after a day or so some of those feelings were coming back. There is a lot of trial and error in working this through. Thanks for your support

  23. Hi Kim,

    I need your advice with one of the exercises in the Love Safety Net workbook.

    You say to compile a list of the problems with my husband and then put the name of someone in his circle to call for support. The thing is, there is only one major problem: his addiction to exes and his infidelity with them. Everything else is workable. One thing you may need to know to help out with this is that we were married in Nepal last summer. The marriage is not recognized in the US, so he believes he is still a free agent of sorts.

    There are only two people I can call who care about both of us and are primarily in his circle. One is his friend Jay. He dated my husband’s ex-girlfriend and knows she’s completely psychotic. This is the ex-girlfriend my husband slept with while telling me how much he loves me and sending me long, romantic love letters and songs. The other person is his boss, who is also a church marriage counselor. Neither one of them knows what has been going on, and my husband tells them everything is fine between us when it’s definitely not.

    As I mentioned before, he is living on Maui and I am completing school on the Big Island. He was here at my house on Big Island for a week and left on Monday. He had come over to see if we could make things work, but would not stay longer than a week. I told him if he wanted to make things work, he would have to promise me he would never have communication with his ex-girlfriend again. He said he wouldn’t but I find it hard to believe. I also said he will have to break communication with his ex-wife, who he has seen at least once a week and has talked to on the phone almost every day for the seven years we’ve been together – that one has been an ongoing and destructive point of contention. He wouldn’t commit to that. When he was here, he was completely emotionally detached. He said he needed time for himself to sort things out. He’s had time alone without me since last August! He’s come to visit only twice for a short time since I started school over her. He’s stopped responding to my emails (which I don’t send many of) and if I call he acts like we never knew each other. By the way, I never once raised my voice to him while he was here or treated him with disrespect.

    I am concerned that if I call Jay or his boss, it will get back to him and that will be the final nail in the coffin. They both like me well and they would be floored to know of my husband’s behavior. I’m sure they would be very supportive of me, but I don’t want them turning on my husband. I don’t want him to lose his job (he’s an engineer), as I know his boss will strongly disapprove of his actions. If I call Jay and he talks to my husband – Jay will tell him he must be nuts to have anything to do with the whack job ex-girlfriend – then my husband will feel I betrayed our privacy and become extremely angry. Again, that will be the end of things for good.

    I don’t know what to do with this. Can you help me with this exercise?

    Thanks for listening.

    1. Hi Josey – You will see that the exercise says one warning and then action. So he has the chance to know what is coming and decide what he wants to do. If he really loves you and wants to get back together there needs to be positive steps he needs to take (and not just things you don’t want him to do). The gap finder exercise at the end of the workbook will help with this. I would do that first even if you have to do the exercise for him and set him a few challenges before you warn him about talking to his boss.

  24. Hi Kim,
    Isn’t that warning an ultimatum and a threat? He perceives almost any request from a woman as manipulation.
    He was horribly abused as a child and had a controlling mother that subjected him to what the experts call “psychic sexual abuse.” I’m so hesitant to even show him the book, since he thinks there is nothing wrong with him.

  25. Not if he is crossing a boundary. The wording is also important and you will read that in the exercise. You are not being manipulative or threatening to warn him what the consequences of his own actions will be. The fact is that you do not know how to deal with what he is doing and so if things don’t change you will not have much choice but to try and find someone who can help you. If he wants a divorce that is one thing – but what he is doing is another. But as I mentioned I think in your situation you should start with the gap finder first.

  26. Thank you Kim. I have really been working on myself using your material and techniques, and at the very least I feel much more empowered.
    I also got Christian Carter’s e-book. It really has helped open my eyes to the way guys think! So different! The part about “Convincing” really hit home. I am SO guilty of that.
    I’ll do exactly what you have advised. My husband is coming back over next Friday for a couple of weeks, and I’ll try to formulate in my head how to approach him. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll be wanting to change!
    I’ll keep you posted, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. You and Steve seem to be the only ones who really understand what is going on, and I think it is so beautiful how you are helping people like me when everyone else – even my therapist – has told me to give up on my husband. Thank you!

  27. Hi Kim,
    Just one more quick question: In the Gap work, “Can be trusted and counted on to tell the truth” is one of the points. Does this include lies by omission? My husband does this all the time, and when I find out something later that he’s hidden because he knew it would upset me, I feel really deceived and trust him even less.
    Thanks!

  28. Hi Kim, Thank you again for all you do. I have a direct question for you hoping that you might be able to give me an idea of what the right help might look like. My partner has two major things in his life that cause him and our life togheter a lot of problems. I have noticed that he is so afraid of making any decisions in his life because of the fear that if he chooses and his choice fails he will have to live with the consequences and said to me when I asked him in the past to make a choice in a given situation that he didnt want to because he didnt want me to blame him later. How can I help him with that the right way? The second one is his two children from his previous marriage. He is choosing not to be in contact with them even though I know it hurts him so much not to be part of their lives. I am assuming for a reason similar than above. Any suggestions would be sooooo appreciated.

  29. Hi Stefanie – As tempting as it may be I think it is best if you avoid playing psychologist with your husband with either of these issues. The best thing you can do for him is be solid yourself in choosing and working towards your goals. The exception is gap work (in The Love Safety Net Workbook) where you set your partner challenges. But in that case you lay the challenge down and they either accept it or not – you do not get involved in helping them with their issues.

    In conversation you might want to mention to him that not making a decision is a decision in itself that still may end up him making the wrong choice, and then just leave it at that.

  30. hi kim.having lived with my Nars co dependent husband for 16 years..I thought initially Id met the love of my life..but as time went on strange stone walling behaviours emerged..and out bursts of rage..I a peaceful type never over reacted..but it got more controlling and dangerous..I had no idea why he was like this. When asked I never got a comment other than dont wind me up. I decided to remai calm in his presence and toward the end I emotionally cut my self off as he wouldnt speak to me or even eat with me ..he hen got testicular cancer and the fear of it knocked him back into being a reasonable prson. But after the op and chemo it wore off and he became remote again and angry ..he eventuallt didnt come home one night..i said where were you ..he siad what do you want to know for ..I said shouldnt I know..he then said he was leaving and the next day was gone..I later found hed moved in with a much younger woman from his work. So I got on with it.he made no contact..sudeenly after the marriage settlement he apperaed to pick up the remaining stuff he owned. he arrived said he was sorry for what had happened..hugged with him..emeotional for us both..tears..then said Im going to get councilling.He had refused to do this when i asked for it 2 years back. Anyway..while sorting his gear out in the garage he seemed to be on his phone alot..I overheard him say..hed been in a restaurant with his girlfriend arguing and she up and left. I later found out hed moved abd was staying at a friends place..and was looking for his own digs ..wanted to be on his own and go and come as he pleased..
    so..Ihad accepted the relationship as over. Now all the emotions are flooding back into me..before Iwas relieved hed gone..now I feel upset about him being single and sorry for himas he looks so upset and black.He cant look me inthe eye..he said he was in a adark place but was determined to get through it and hoped to become a better person for it.

    he said he still loved me as I told him he was the love of my life..and I cant find i can feel for anoher man even tho Ive had alot of dates.
    My spirit says BEWARE..He is a dangerous person to be with..I feel his pain it seems..
    so theres no mention of being together again..but Im wary

    your thoughts
    Vicki

    1. Hey Vicki – Yes you certainly need to trust your instincts with this! If he says he wants to come back and that he has changed – give him 4 months before you let him move back in to prove it. Let him know actions speak louder than words and you need to see him working through and making progress on the gap work in The Love Safety Net Workbook.

  31. I grew up in a Narcissistic household never knew what it was just always knew I didn’t fit in or felt like I was loved. I guess I was the scapegoat the one my mother was jealous of…the one that got away from the crazy. I haven’t spoken to my parents in 13 years. There is a tremendous amount of hurt that happened throughout my childhood. Unfortunately the people I turned to at 17 were my best friends that now 38 years later I have very painfully learned that she had only been usin me this whole time as when I needed her at a special stressful time in my life she turned her back on helping me it always me doing for her. Now she has just thrown me away like trash…extremely hurtful but I now know why. How do I help them as a couple get better? Would love to help save the children before they are really screwed up.

  32. Kim, I wrote a few months back re the sex and you suggested reading the sexual longevity pDF..we read it together, it made my partner angry, said its written very one sided (for a woman). I stayed calm, but this is so frustrating. Our old Sex life was amazing, but full of ego so now we feel we have nothing to fall back on. I’d love the try using our senses as you suggest, he says ‘hes not ready for that’ so I say ‘well maybe we’re not ready’ blah blah and so it goes on. I have read so much and learned so much about narcissim/co dependency but can’t see any advice with relates to us. My partner is aware he is a narcissist which sometimes makes it worse.

  33. Thanks a lot, good partners: Kim and Steve, for all your efforts in building better lives. I am thanks God for having this type of men in our earth.

  34. Kim,

    Thanks so much for your valuable insight. I believe my husband is a Nar and am discovering my codependant behaviors as I interact with him. Is it a trait of a narcassist to turn the tables on you and try to make you guilty for asking them to take any responsibility? I keep waiting for him to grow up and want to be the man of the familty. I keep being told that I don’t ask him to help in the corect manner and i am too demanding.

    My question is how to keep hold of yourself when you are keeping everything together and watching them do what they want and have no responsibility?

    I’d be grateful for any guidance or recommended readings on this.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi CC and welcome 🙂 – This transition will take a lot of work – but the growth you will go through will be worth it whether your husband changes or not! You will need our ebooks and I recommend you start with Back From the Looking Glass and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence and then move into the exercises in The Love Safety net Workbook.

  35. Kim
    I thought i paid a while back for the $90 private consulting but never heard anything back–maybe i did something wrong…Anyway–
    how can i get direct emailing advice from you is my first question?
    And secondly my daughter (who has NPD) is always badgering her husband for money and argues and belittles him in front of their little daughter (which kills me) and we are at a loss on how to handle her. We both bought the Safety net workbooks and did them. Just need some direct answers on this if possible.
    Many thanks
    Nancy

    1. Hi Nancy,

      I recently took some time off work as my mother passed away after a prolonged terminal illness. Steve was keeping an eye on the mentoring clients but must have missed your email. Sorry for the delay, I will search through my mail today and get back to you personally.

    2. Hi Nancy, I have been going back over the comments and only noticed this now sorry. My mother died around the time you posted this and I was offline for quite awhile. I will get in touch with you in the morning.

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