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(last updated Feb 10th 2021)

Is Your Marriage Worth Saving?Heart in desert land and stethoscope

Often I get asked if I think there is hope for a person in a troubled marriage. This obviously differs from marriage to marriage, and no one can say for sure what the future holds.

If your partner has lost all affection for you and/or is putting you down, I think you need to ask yourself the following questions before making your mind upon how you want to proceed:

1. How much do you have invested in your relationship?

I had three kids with Steve and no money to leave if I wanted to. Dealing with Steve’s narcissism wasn’t something I would go through for just anyone. I left a long term boyfriend who was abusive before I met Steve with no regrets. I actually advise on how best to end your marriage safely, towards the end of  Back From the Looking Glass. The steps we offer in this book are primarily about ending the conflict. Whether you divorce or stay together should depend on several factors which only you can judge. If you have children or fear for your safety, ending the conflict first can be even more important if you do decide on divorce.

More people are injured in domestic violence episodes in the two month period after one partner leaves than at any other time in a marriage. Statistically, children fare much better in family breakups where the conflict is resolved before partners separate.

2. Have you got any idea of what is going on in their world?

  • Is your partner distant because they have another love interest (real or imaginary)?
  • Do they create fights whenever you try and hold them accountable?
  • Are they needy and demanding, blaming everything on you?
  • Or perhaps they are proud and arrogant and always needing someone to put down?

The answers to these questions will make a lot of difference to whether there is hope. For instance, if your partner is in love with someone else, this may look similar to a case of narcissistic false pride, but is in fact very different. If your partner has made a firm decision to leave, there is probably not much you can do to stop them.

3. Are you codependent?

Do you worry your partner is using you, but keep giving because you fear if you don’t, they will leave? If so working through the steps we offer will help you as much as it will help them.

4. Will you (and your kids) be in even more danger if you leave?

When leaving an abusive relationship becomes a trap.

Before you worry about bringing the love back to your marriage, first you need to think about your safety. If you are in a violent or abusive relationship and/or worry about leaving your kids alone with your partner if you end up sharing custody, no matter what the future might bring—you need a plan of action to protect yourself and your children.

5. Are you chasing an unhealthy dream? 

  • Are you hoping for a hero to come and rescue you?
  • Do you want a partner who will love things about you, that, in reality, are antisocial and unattractive?
  • Do you long for your partner to take care of you in ways that an adult shouldn’t expect to be taken care of?

It’s easy to see the problems in others but not always easy to see them in ourselves.

6. What if the Abuse is Passive?

Dealing with the silent treatment and lack of affection in a marriage can be just as heartbreaking and upsetting as insults and abuse (and will probably also make you angry). It would be best if you decided how you are going to deal with this. I wonder what you are doing now? Asking for change will probably not work. Personally, I would find out what the issue is and decide how to confront it best head-on.

One way or another, the advice in our books and members area will help you find a stronger position.

Hang in there!

Kim Cooper

steps-to-a-peaceful-home-intro-imageAre you ready to get started?  Our Introductory Membership subscription gives you access to Back From the Looking Glass & 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence, plus Kim’s series on dealing with verbal abuse. You will also gain access to Kim’s Group where you will have access to private Facebook page forums where you can converse with other members and receive ongoing support and assistance from our group.

Check Out Our Introductory Membership

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 144 Comments

  1. I think I know what’s going on in his world. He says he feels second best, unimportant to me and unwanted. I might add he’s been unemployed for 2 years as he thinks most jobs are below them. Funnily enough my career had recently taken off, and I am mindful of not showing off. I pay all our living costs with little complaint, and give him plenty of support for his fledling business idea. I think his ego can’t handle our circumstances.

    1. Hi Lisa, I would suggest that you check out the Gap finder exercise at the end of The Love Safety Net Workbook. This will be a good start in helping you learn how to challenge him. 🙂

      1. My husband was verbally and at times (tho rarely) physically abused by his over bearing Italian father his entire life, or at least until he left his childhood home.
        The verbal abuse astounded me – I lived with his family overseas for a time and saw it first hand. I grew up in a Brady Bunch sitcom type situation , not perfect but not bad at all…so it was shocking that a parent spoke so horribly to their child as my late father in law did to my husband. It was brutal.
        Now I sit 25 years later with this man and we have been thru hell. He has cheated, lied, begged back, did it again, same thing and I took him back for sake of kids and out of complete fear. I spent years trying to solve the WHY of his behavior, thinking he was bipolar. Only on last three years have I realized he has NPD to the uptenth time. Every book said leave run away…until yours.
        I do have questions tho related to the steps, especially coming from such a damaged place of seriel cheating. But everything in your book and online is like reading my history.

  2. I have a few ideas of what is going on in his world: much confusion, and the main reason why he’s distant now is that I’m like a mirror: I make him see his own confusion. What I call “his f***ing method” creates the confusion and at the same time helps him ignore it. I was the only person who could help him get rid of the f***ing method, but he left me. The method is forgetting, confabulating and lying to himself. With this method he can FEEL safe, even if he IS not (and when this is not enough, he may drink enough to make the lying be enough). He said he’s not sure whether he really loves me or only has a physical, sexual attraction towards me so, he left me in order not to exploit my love anymore. It would be funny if it wasn’t tragic. After one year of courting me, and then, after 9months together without having complete sex because of my HPV (and with him saying sex is not the most important thing in a couple and that, he just wanted to spend his LIFE with me!!), after having overcome HPV and started making complete sex for another 9months… Now, what? Obviously, during our 18months together, he was always saying he really loved me but.. once a month, or once every two months, we had terrible fights, starting from kind-of-nothing or a simple question, and ending with him running away until I went in search of him again. Painful and distressing for both but, at least, in the end I know how and why this happened. He instead has “forgotten” everything and claims he still doesn’t understand. But when I try and explain my idea, he won’t listen… He said his love for me comes and goes, no matter how wrong, this is it. I told him so many times that true love doesn’t work this way, that in the end, he said he doesn’t love me, full stop. I know he has other imaginary love/sex interests at the moment. He also said this is a reason why his love for me can’t be called true. Then he said he needs to try sex with other women in order to understand his real feelings towards me. Weird change, isn’t it? I said this is worst than crazy. Later he said he doesn’t want to do that, because that would be like the last stone thrown against our relationship and MAYBE he’s still interested in our relationship. Great, but I never hear of him if I don’t look for him myself. So, he’s like waiting and doesn’t even know what he’s waiting for. This has been going on for two months now. And when I look for him, he kisses me gently and states he hasn’t tried to have sex with others yet. Then if I try to talk, he’s UNABLE to listen. He has admitted his immaturity and this is important. The thing is, while I don’t need his help to face mine, there are evidences that he needs my help to face his immaturity. He can’t get better by himself, because of the f***ing method. No wonder he feels weak and small, in this situation, at 45. Yet he seems unable to understand that the reason of it all is not ME, it’s his f***ing method, I’m just the mirror… God give me strength

    1. Mortina,
      I can feel your pain. It’s amazing how these people can hurt us. But may I say something with the utmost kindness and respect having spent far too many years focusing on my husbands bad behavior? It’s about you and what you need to see about yourself. Believe me if anything has kept our marriage of 38 years, five kids, and six grandkids alive it has been me trying to figure out me. That continues to be the difference. I have NEVER been able to get my husband to change or look at himself by focusing on his bad behavior. Follow all the steps and learn all the skills Kim has to offer. It will make your life better and more rich. That’s a promise.

      1. Thanks IZHH, Yes you are right and thanks for the vote of confidence in our work 🙂

        In this article I did ask for info about what is going on in your partners world to help guide people to the resources that might help them 🙂 That is not usually the focus but it does help me know how to direct people to the right resources.

      2. Amen
        It’s what I just started and it’s working, and if not for US and our relationship, than its working for ME!

    2. Hi Mortina, While it is important to hold our partner’s accountable it is also important that we get prepared enough to do that in the moment and not try and become their counselor.

      How does this work and what does this look like?

      Say for instance your fight was about money. Say you gave him money to pay a bill and he didn’t pay it and spent the money somewhere else instead. Then when you ask why the bill wasn’t paid there is a fight and he doesn’t want to talk about it, he forgot, makes excuses etc. If you try and remind him and use words to show him what he is doing this makes you very hard to be around. He did the wrong thing yes but who wants their face rubbed in that by the person they live with?

      Instead I suggest you say something like, “Okay so now I see that you cannot be trust with money – from now on you are going to need to give me the money and I will pay the bills. And then you stick to it. The next time he asks for money to pay something you say simply, “Sorry I can’t trust you with that darling – no deal”. In your case the issue may not be money so you need to go back and see what the fights are about and set boundaries. If other women are the issue again you need to say he can’t be trusted and so you cannot leave him alone at home with the computer etc. unless he gets security software on the computer. If he says no you say simply well that is a condition of you living here with me – because I am not having you conducting online affairs (imaginary or otherwise) in my own home. Don’t fight about it and don’t wait until you get mad – just set the boundary.

  3. I’m glad to see your questions, Kim, I think they are right on. I stayed with my narcissistic spouse for nearly fifty years while I tried to work all those things out, and I don’t regret doing the things for my family that I could not have done as a single woman. In the end, though, he remained a cheater and a manipulator and I had to leave to survive. I left him a year ago and it’s going to take years to heal from his emotional abuse.

    1. Hi Mary, I am glad you found the courage to move on, congratulations 🙂 I have something coming out soon that will help you speed up that healing 🙂

  4. Well most of my dating an marriage was dealing with being compared/contrasted with other women. Whether it was physical features, body language, behaviors, or success, he knew how to push my buttons. After I found out he had a girlfriend that my kids knew of, spent time with, and kept that secret from me, I ended up in the hospital because I did not value my life. Eventually, I released all my hope in our marriage. I gave up way too much of myself for 17 years just to feed his needs. I never was enough, for obvious reasons. When he knew i became useless to him, he forced me to leave with threats. I left my three kids there because all I could do was rent a room. He was my only employer at the time and I had no car. He still expected sex after all of this. In the end, he carried out all the threats anyway. He is making a bad paper trail for me by reporting false accusations to police. But, guess who has the bruise?

    1. Hi Angela, You need to play this very smart now.

      You are in a very dangerous game that you must win for your’s and your children’s sake.

      You need to build a safety net in your community and build up your resources and courage.

      I will get Steve to send you a download link to Back From the Looking Glass later today. Not every point in it will apply to you, but some of the points will help.

      You need something over him and you need hard evidence. You also need to defend the false accusations and tell your side of the story to the police.

      You must make sure that you are well groomed, poised and very calm and confident whenever you ask for help. You need to build a safety Net of support around you now and you will only do that by showing people the balanced and mature person that you are. This will show up his lies more than anything.

      If you don’t know how to play chess now is a good time to learn.

      If he demands sex by using threats, report this to the police. You can get glasses with a CCTV camera built etc. to get evidence. This may not stand up in court but it will get the police to believe you.

  5. My husband of 23 years rarely lets me in on what is going on inside him, and I know it is not for lack of things going on! He finds it very difficult to confront his own emotions, much less talk about them. It has left me feeling very lonely and isolated over the years, even though I understand that he does this because he has some very deep issues going on that have nothing to do with me.

    Recently I engaged in an extra-marital affair, my first. It was over as soon as it began, but I realize now that I was looking to fill that hole of emotional intimacy, even though deep in my heart I knew that an affair would not accomplish that. I did confess to my husband immediately, and he says he wants to work through it and save our marriage (so do I), but I am afraid it is damaged beyond repair now.

      1. He has abandonment issues that stem back to his childhood. His mom threatened to leave him and his sister on several occasions. As a result, he pushes people way before they can abandon him. He has self esteem issues and is a chronic people pleaser. He does not do emotional intimacy and rarely lets me in on his inner thoughts and feelings. I feel very lonely and emotionally starved and have throughout our entire marriage.

        1. Hmmm – Threatening to leave doesn’t usually produce that kind of deep abandonment issues.

          Personally I would be on the look out that you husband does not have a double life.

          Don’t obsess just investigate.
          Don’t ask just do research.

          Bank and phone records are a good place to start.

          Most of all be careful and prepared for what you will find. You need to give yourself time to get a clear picture of the situation you are in and not rush into confronting him with evidence if you find something. Get yourself out of the dark and don’t let him know what you know!

    1. I am a psychologist and have been in practice more
      Than 20 years. My husband and I have struggled a lot in our marriage. I have used many resources including beyond the looking glass. Our marriage has improved dramatically in the past three years! Today my husband and I lead a weekly group on marriage based on the work Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggrich. I also incorporate some of Kim’s teachings and have recommended her e-book many times. Some women need to focus on safety, and Kim has great advice for this. Some women need to focus on boundaries and creating safety for their husbands. Again, Kim has great protocols to follow. If you really want to save your relationship The principals in love and respect must also be employed. They explain the God given differences in men and women. He helps us understand why we feel suffocated unloved. And he calls us to meet the others deepest need: It calls for women to respect men even when they don’t deserve it and men to love us even when we don’t deserve it. It’s a good compliment to Kim’s work.

      1. My husband has, essentially, abandoned me emotionally.
        We courted for 9 years and have been married for 23.
        He was always the ‘stronger’ personality, but he was thoughtful, kind, loving and listened. I felt welcome in our relationship. Yes, he might be quick to anger, but he had mercy and forgiveness and it was genuine. And we had mutual respect.

        Now, he is verbally abusive, emotionally distant, unhappy, feels inadequate, trusts no one, lives in self-protection mode at all times. He’s always right, blames me for everything, doesn’t respect boundaries, and justifies what he does and expects me to justify my actions or answers.
        He has forbidden the words mercy, forgiveness and grace from our relationship, because then ‘I have to do something else!’

        As I look back over our life together, there’s a point 10-12 years ago where he failed keeping his family together. It’s then, I think, something broke inside him.
        His father died when he was 2. The youngest of 8. He was raised, practically, by his Aunt. There came a time when there was a big blow-up disagreement between his Aunt & his mother. The family called on him to fix it. He could not.
        A few years later, his mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. He got the Aunt agreed to mom (her sister) being buried in the family plot at her diagnoses. But, six weeks later, when she died, his Aunt reneged on that at the time of his mother’s death.

        Some bitter root took up his heart and grew like crazy. I think the seed of it was always there, but those two things happening gave that root exactly what it needed to take off. And I live with the fruit of it.

        He does not have a double life and his morals will not allow for an affair. I do believe he had some ‘grandiose’ ideas about his perceived abilities vs reality of execution that he struggles with and that there is lying that stems from that.

        Meanwhile, I have worked hard on me….I know who I am. I know my worth. I know ‘what’ to do to create my own emotional safety, I struggle with ‘how’ to do it. I am encouraged that my learning to take care of myself emotionally, becoming self sufficient, becoming more a leader than follower can lead to emotional safety for me, first, then, possibly changes in him.

  6. I am currently separated from an angry husband who disappeared for 2 months and is now giving me the silent treatment. I have been trying to maintain contact and hear nothing back.

    We separated because he was being violent, and at first he seemed like he was making progress in realizing his errors. However now it seems like the shame of what happened and addressing it is too traumatic for him that he just wants positivity in his life. It’s as if I was causing the negativity and drama.

    He now seems confused about whether to stay married or single. He has not maintained contact with friends either and has very little contact with his family too.

    The time apart has definitely de stressed me and I’m looking a lot more healthier, but I’m still holding out hope that maybe things will work out.

    1. Is there anyway you can find out where he is and what he is up to? Don’t obsess just find out as this is going to help you decide if you want to pursue this relationship any further or if you should be happy that he did the leaving.

      Knowing where he is will also mean you are safer if you decide to move on and start a new relationship in the future.

      1. We met on Friday, for dinner. Towards the end of the evening, He suggested living together after I return from the summer break. Just like that.

        I’ve suggested to meet again this Friday, to have a deeper conversation about our relationship.

        1. Hi Yasmeen, You know how he is with promises. I would suggest that you say to him that you do not want to bring up the past but you do need to see that he is prepared to spend time with you on a regular basis for at least 3 months before you can consider letting him move back in. After that it needs to be a trial period where he shows you that he recognises your right to be respected and loved in your home.

          In your meetings you need to be ready to disconnect and go home if he is rude or disrespectful to you. The sooner you do this and the more calm and control you can be the better. Remember the step in Back From the Looking Glass about promises not counting? You needing to see that he is going to do the right thing now — not later — and be prepared to walk away at the first sign of him being rude or callous. You don’t have to reject him completely – you should just say something like, “I don’t see this going anywhere positive at the moment I will call you tomorrow.”

          This may help him in the end and it may not – but either way you will be in the drivers seat and not him this time.

  7. How is it that our “love” so compels us to invest so much of our focus and energy on someone else, or a situation, that gives us such continual negative feedback and destructive demeaning messages?

    I’ve been there, and can only conclude that I was unsuspectingly duped by buying into the severe case of “masculine pride” that made such a show of being “admirable” and “great” and all that, which I believed in and trusted (now I can only wonder why??). It took a long time to see/understand that what was actually “real” was the cruelty that was intent on destroying me. I believe that I wanted an “easy way out” of getting through life, that meant I could rely on someone else, rather than look for and develop those talents and strengths within myself.

    The untenable situation forced me to do something to protect myself, eventually honor myself, and develop the gifts that are mine to contribute to life.

    If the love you invest only comes back to bite you, I would question it early on. I think a love that has some truth and mutuality in it, though not perfect, will be able to show encouraging signs along the way that will “feel right”, grounded in appreciation and encouragement. Yes, we’re all pretty unrealistic to begin with, and there is a deeper personal reality inside most of us that we will inevitably discover. One of the hardest things to realize is that not everyone these days is all that nice inside, deep down, and many are consumed in selfishness. It is worth looking closely before you leap, (“buyer beware” young ones!), and if trouble develops, study carefully the things Kim and Steve are saying.

  8. I’ve been part of this group for a number of years, and these comments are (mostly) strikingly negative. I feel grateful not to have gone through the challenges which have been posted, and feel deeply for those who have lived this dance for decades of marriage. I’ve struggled through some very rough times, and had many moments of questioning myself if I should “give up,” separate, etc.
    I’m not finished this process, but even with the recurrent rough stretches, I see things are clearly getting better. I find myself recognizing and implementing more easily what steps are going to get me to a calmer place, recognizing my role in the dynamic (the easier part) and changing my own response patterns (so much harder.)
    Asking for change doesn’t work. Guilting into change, even indirectly or unintentionally, doesn’t work. Figuring out what you need to change in yourself and how to maintain that change – even during that difficult days … it sounds trite, but that seems to be the challenge.

    1. Yes, I agree. It’s about learning to manage together and adapting to each other. And accept that it may take a lot of time and patience to build the mutual love and respect.

      One of the worst things to do is to see it as a disease and think that the person should solely get therapy to better themself. If someone really wants the relationship to survive, I think it’s better to view it as a ‘we’ problem, and what you can do, so that you maintain the trust in the relationship, and to not push him/her away.

    2. Hi MFRS, Great to hear from you and that things are getting better. You hit the nail on the head about the process. It is not what they do but what we will accept and what we will not and realising that the source of love that nurtures us is not in them but within ourselves anyway 🙂

      1. I totally agree 100%. We mostly all know our partners better than anyone else and know whether they are struggling with their own inner demons and insecurities or if they are simply unworthy lousy human beings. That knowledge Of who we are truly with is the most important in deciding whether it’s worth working on it Together (if not a physically abusive situation) or getting out bc we do deserve better.

        In my situation, I understand my husband isn’t perfect, has inner struggles he deals with, but I also know he does truly love me. That’s why I call him my Anakin Skywalker. (For Star Wars fans – “I know there is good in him!”) I beleive it and have seen it. He just doesn’t know how to control his reactions to those close to him and doesn’t see that he should learn how to react bc he feels safe with his close relationships with family. That we aren’t going anywhere and he can be who he is an act how he acts and reacts.
        I am uncertain WHERE his insecurities come from or what his inner demons stem from, but I know he struggles. Easiest way to cope…displace blame. I’m not perfect either, but Im not the devil wife he claims me to be. Unsupportive of his career choice, won’t leave mommy and daddy, selfish etc.
        My problem is handling my own reactions when he rudely charges me with these things. He won’t listen if i explain calmly or kick and scream the truth to his face. He will say what he wants to say and see what he wants to see at that moment. Tell people what he wants to gain their sympathies, but he does deep down know the truth of who I really am and that his charges are false. Not always but mostly.
        I feel he attacks my character so I attack back in defense. But why? That’s why I wanted to start to take control of myself again. The last couple of days since reading these blogs I have learned not to take his bate and react. It has worked.
        The reactions is all he was looking for.
        Now I need to learn how to set boundaries so the constant disparagement stops. The rude comment bc I forgot the steak sauce and we are having steak for dinner. Those types of things.

        1. Hi Amanda – think of all the things he says and the situations he says them in. Then work on comeback lines in those situations that will make him look stupid for having said it.

          There is a short movie on this at the top of the page here:

          A good comeback should shut the person down and not leave rom for any argument to follow so this is for handling put downs not arguments. If you have trouble ask a friend with a good sense of humour what they might say.

          If your husband is trying to start and argument the comeback you need is simply, “I am not talking about this any longer as I don’t see this going anywhere productive, I need to get some sleep/ironing done etc.”

          You will never think of the right thing to say in the moment but still you have the advantage. You know the things he says and you probably even know when he is likely to say them. Think back and remember every time he flagged your anger and start working on better comebacks for next time. Also in the future make a note of what happened every time he triggers your anger. Don’t write pages just a few sentences like, When he said, “blah blah blah” it made me very angry. Then a few days later when you have calmed down go back and look at what you wrote and come up with a plan for how you will deal with that better next time.

  9. I went to my pastor to ask for prayer because I needed to be lifted up because of being so distraught over my marriage and feeling overwhelmed in not knowing what to do about my husband screaming and getting in my face, calling me names, etc, I’ve been on and off this site for months and thought by implementing reaching out to others just for some support might help but feel it back fired on me by making him so mad he’s threatening to leave me

    1. It is normal that setting boundaries will make him angry at first – it is vital that you stand your ground and don’t let his threats unbalance you. You need to work through the steps in Back From the Looking Glass very carefully. Things usually get worse before they get better.

  10. My husband goes abroad for work every couple of months, I always had a gut feeling something was not right as he will not always answer his phone or the way he talks to me or can never spend time talking in the evening. Now I found various texts messages, photos and evedince of him bringing girls in to live in our home abroad whilst he is away for’ work’, its not just the one main affair its like he strives to try with as many as possible. He accused me of cheating after taking my mobile, that’s what made me realise he wants to blame me for his actions. Do I confront him and show him my evidence? Last night I heard a woman’s voice whilst I was talking to him on the phone. He first said its the TV. Then he said it was his males friends voice. I know what I heard ! What should I do?

    1. Hi MT, I really feel for the situation you are in and there are no easy answers.

      Most important now is that you take time to decide what you want and make sure that your interests and assets are protected. This will take time that you need to give yourself. It is important that you do not rush in and confront him about this before you are ready for what will result. You need solid evidence so there is no argument and you need to be very clear about what you want from here. We do not have resources specifically designed for surviving an affair but we do plan on developing a program before the end of the year. If you contact Steve in the office on he can discuss mentoring with you if you want personal support and guidance from me.

      All of the emotions you will be feeling right now are natural and normal but you can’t let them guide your actions. They are flags that need your attention but after heeding what they are signalling you need to disconnect from the anger and hurt long enough to find your own inner source of balance and joy right now. Have a place to go in real life or in your mind where what he is doing cannot hurt you. Use magic scissors to cut ties to the obsessive thoughts that are probably plaguing you. What he is doing does not affect your worth.

      Set clear goals for yourself right now that do not rely on him and keep these close and alive in yourself. You have a battle ahead and you need to make sure you are ready and have your own inner resources at hand. Expecting that you can make him feel guilty and get him to feel for you is a mistake. He is lost in the woods and cannot be your guide now. You must be the strong one and you must be the guide and you must get very clear on what is yours and what you want for yourself (and your kids if you have them) in the near future.

      1. Hi kim,
        Months have past, and with your step , books and the fb page, i thought things were getting better. Ive found all the proof i need, i did e mail steve, and told him . I still would like to ask you if you could consider the private mentoring

        1. Sure I have space at the moment for a few more mentoring clients now that we have finally got unpacked! Just talk to Steve about it and he will send you the link.

  11. Thank you for this opportunity Kim. I’ve been in relationship 7 years. Its now long distance as my money has run out & he has potential good job with a contractor. It started out well but his boss has not shown up last 10 days for a job they need to complete. He was supposed to help me here with work I can’t do or pay someone to (chainsawing, ceiling repair). But he is being dedicated to his boss & job, understandably. He’s doing well at calling me every night as I’ve told him it’s all we have now & I feel better when we can share our lives. I still sometimes think he’s just using me as his way to get out of his bad living situation. Wants to move out west. I’m using this time to try to strengthen myself, put together my broken life ( got that way by my obsession with trying to work out relationship with him). I walk on egg shells not to say the wrong thing & suffer silent treatment (they have gotten shorter but still frustrate me into despair). We can’t talk about our problems as that “brings him down”. He suffers from trauma of abandonment and being looked down on as a child, has msturity issues, and has had quick temper to snap, since brain injury in a wreck 11 years ago. He doesn’t seem to take our relationship seriously. I have no reason to suspect he is currently seeing other women but he may be looking. I just really want to figure out whether to stay invested in this relationship or move on. If I know he sees someone else I will easily move on from him. I don’t think he thinks I can or will. My happiest times were when he was here & the fun we had. He seemed to at the time but now says it was prison as he self imposed restrictions on where he went to avoid problems with us due to “ghosts from his past” (running into ex’s). He thought of himself as a player, “bad boy” but doesn’t seem to act that way much anymore. Has strong friendships with his married male friends. He seems to remember our time up here more negatively but it was mostly happy & good & we felt so close. I did. Wonder how much that was him mirroring. We still laugh n have good connection on phone. But I get hurt he doesn’t seem to miss me or the good times. I’m not mentioning it as I want him to feel it & bring it up. I am trying to use this time to work on myself – get a good job, improve self esteem & confidence. I have an opportunity to visit soon but sometimes those take me backwards in my healing & self improvement process realizing its all on his terms. I really need to figure out what to do. I miss the fun we have together but am I settling for crumbs? Does he care for me and to have relationship beyond how it serves his needs and possibility for future escape from his poor living circumstances? If I could figure this out I could heal. I’ve been through much hell the last 7 years and feel like it could happen again any minute. We can’t talk about the relationship without him getting annoyed and defensive. He hates feeling like he’s being questioned. When I try to bring up what I want, need from him he feels like I am putting him down and telling him he doesn’t do anything right & that I can’t be happy with him. He really thrives on his ability to make people laugh, takes pride in his ability to do so (especially female cashiers). If that’s all it is, fine. He flirts a bit much for my liking, not when I’m around. He feels like he has to walk on eggshells around women when I’m around but I can tell from their reaction to him being stoic he is usually more playful with them. He used to go on sex dating sites, never went far and he doesn’t have the ability now but I wonder if he would. I told him if that’s what he wants to do, its his life & he is free to do so, just to be honest so I can make my decision about whether I want to stay in relationship (I already know the answer is I don’t, that any dating/sex/pursuing other women and I will leave the relationship. No fight, just done & gone. I just need to know what’s real. We seem to be doing well in this limited scenario. I think if he doesn’t show some initiative to see me I will move away in terns of our relationship. I care for him a great deal and the good times with him are my most enjoyable times & I treasure them and our relationship.

    1. Hi Mirol 🙂 You have not mentioned much of the bad times, except that he gets angry and snaps. I wonder how far that anger goes? Is it over in a few moments or does he rage for hours? The later needs some serious boundary setting which you can learn about in Back From the Looking Glass and The Love Safety Net Workbook. The silent treatment is not fun. My series on handling verbal abuse is a good place to start work on that and you can become a member to access that series here;

      The truth is that talking about relationships isn’t much fun, especially if you partner isn’t happy with you. Instead you need to practice new scripts and responses so you are ready to deal with problems you have had in the past when they come up next time – instead of analysing and talking about the problems later.

      10 Steps to Overcome Codependence might help you in this ‘time out’ you are having right now. This is your best path to create the attraction you feel lacking.

  12. Having argued with my barrister husband for ten years, and become immensely upset by his wall of silence and emotional cruelty. I have had psychotherapy to try to understand what was wrong with me, then CBT to learn assertiveness techniques and improve my self esteem. I am now practising Mindfulness and generally trying to establish and maintain healthy boundaries between us. He refuses to discuss anything of significance, in particular a large debt he has amassed and blames me for yet refuses to manage realistically. I owned our home before we met. We have a ten year old daughter whose emotional health is of paramount importance to me. He seems to want our life to return to when I became distraught, smoked, joined him in overeating and drinking. I have recently been made redundant from my part time job but intend to establish myself as self employed shortly. I am presently financing our home, utilities food because I want him to take the oppurtunity to finance his debt. I’m not sure he is. He’s furious with me but denies his anger. He seems to want to bring me down with him. And I am concerned that he has no intention of reducing his debt. I cannot afford to divorce my husband. We have a daughter who loves us both. His personality with me swings between that of a self pitiful sulking child who wants unconditional love to a cruel, spiteful silent, angry, deeply unhappy and dismissive man. He is congenial in company.

    1. Hi Sarah and welcome 🙂 Things get worse before they get better and it sounds like you are on the right track.

      Rather than taking the lions share of your household expenses based on trust which is clearly lacking, perhaps you would do better to see your bank manager and also get some legal advice about protecting your daughter and yourself from his debt.

      You should make it 100% clear to all parties that these meetings are straight business and that you are concerned for your husband as much as yourself and your daughter.

      You can even be the one suggesting he make payments by instalments to protect his lifestyle (You don’t need to mention that this will also protect your lifestyle). He might hate you for a little while but he will respect you for it in the end. Tell him about the arrangements you have made with the bank over something nice to eat and drink and he may lose fear that you are going to starve him 🙂

      1. Thank you. I have found your websites immensely helpful and will eventually get around to spending some money on your products! Although I feel mental health labels are too rigid your articles and work rings quite true for us. This advice you have given is what I have been struggling to work out myself. Thank you. Sarah

  13. After almost 48 years and 6 children later I realized after reading some of you articles, that I have lived with a narcissis for all these years. Up until a few years ago I thought I was not capable of being loved or even liked. He does not support me in any life decisions or mourning of anything that I face. He refuses to deal with it. We are at a crucial point in our life where we need to make life changing plans and he refuses to deal with it. If I try to talk to him about it he says for me not to worry about it. I can’t make him understand that this is my life too. The decisions he makes will affect me too and I am not willing to stand by and let him make such a life changing decision on his own, especially for me! We have got to make a change in our lives in 3 months or we will be out in the street. His answer is he is not going anywhere. I am physically sick worrying about this and he will not even talk about it. I know if I leave he will never give me a penny and I am ready to retire in 2 months in order to make the move. If not with him by myself. Any advice would be helpful.

    1. Hi Sharen Rose and welcome 🙂 If you can give a few more details of your situation I will be happy to offer what wisdom I can. You are right to be concerned but you need to lead now and not wait for his guidance.

  14. I thought about the answers to your questions Kim and with my husband the answers are YES to all three questions. He had for sure other love interests/affairs. I have been trying to hold him accountable for years now. He has a terrible case of self-pride. He is anal and a perfectionist when someone else is doing something but not so much when he is tasked with doing a chore or cleaning up after himself. I am such a horrible co-dependent. I want to change so badly but fall back into the same stupid ways time and time again. His biggest issue I believe is control. He has to be in control of everyone and everything except when he don’t want to be then he washes his hands of it all. He is also so worried about what others do, act, and have. He is constantly comparing others and their lives to ours not realizing we could have that if we had a normal relationship. I can’t count on him to be responsible for paying bills and he won’t give me money when I need it sometimes to get them paid. He puts me down constantly and calls me names and is just downright disrespectful of me to the core. I am so angry and so frustrated. My family and friends want me so badly to leave him but deep down I do love him and don’t want to throw away my 25 year marriage. Even though sometimes I can’t see it at all, he is a valuable person, not the evil monster that shows up. All of the fighting and chaos is affecting my son and I horribly but I know I can’t make him change but what would your suggestions be for me alone to improve this seemingly impossible situation?

    1. Hi LMA and welcome 🙂 I cannot do better in answering you than my book Back From the Looking Glass. It is now in it’s 11th edition! I have people who say they have worn out two copies because they go back to it’s advice so often.

      I cannot say whether or not there is hope for your relationship but I will put all my faith and courage into the fact that there is hope for you!!! Take the steps and start working on your responses and one way or another things will change for the better.

      Better yet visit the page here and subscribe at the end and you will be led through a series of pages that will not only educate you but also offer you a discount on our books at the end. Special Offer One is the one you are after!!!

  15. There is one thing going on in my partner´s world that is a major problem for him and the one thing I struggle with more than anything in our relationship. His ex. We have been together for 11 years, seven of which have been extremely turbulent due to his narcissism and my co-dependency. I stumbled across your website a couple of years ago. What a revelation! I have made significant changes to myself. I now take responsibility for my own happiness, well-being, actions, behavior and emotions. I am much better at not being provoked into pointless arguments and keeping focused on my own life and goals. Nowadays, there is a usually a sense of calm in our home and my partner and I get on well……..much of the time. He still has some occasional major outbursts (nearly always around the ex) and I have had to call in the police twice in the last 2 years. I feel MUCH stronger in myself and am confident that I can continue to behave as the responsible adult no matter what he throws at me. However, the issue with his ex is definitely holding us both back and preventing us having the relationship we both want.
    The issue is that he is still married (albeit legally separated from) his wife who is also the mother of his 3 children and seems to be very afraid of getting divorced. I know he also carries a lot of guilt about not seeing his children more. Over the years, I have tried very hard to be understanding and supportive and to encourage him to actually see and communicate with his children as much as possible (he loves and misses them enormously but hardly ever calls them, which plays right into the hands of his manipulative ex who tells the children that their father clearly doesn’t love them or care about them “otherwise he would be here with us and not with her” The divorce process has been started, postponed, cancelled and restarted numerous times over the past 8 or so years and I have been lied to repeatedly about what is going on. He has also lied repeatedly about the fact that he stays is his ex´s house when he visits his children and even goes on holidays with her and the kids (he and I live in another country from his children who live with their mother). This is a boundary I have said I would not tolerate having crossed but he still does it and I am at a loss to know how to defend it. I have never said that I will leave him if he doesn´t stop doing this because I love him very much and do not intend to leave.
    More recently, and now that things have been better and more peaceful between us has made some good progress with the divorce proceeding and has been transparent about his dealings with the various authorities and his ex. He has even shown me the relevant communications. All very encouraging! Unfortunately this has also resulted in his ex. pulling out all the stops and pressing all his buttons to try and prevent the divorce going through. She threatens him with not being allowed to see his children, involves them and gets them to send him extremely hurtful mails or messages or claims that she is critically ill (she falsely claimed to have had cancer but is now apparently cured and is being treated for depression) and therefore cannot look after the children. With my support he has managed to stay on track with the proceedings, until he saw her in person 3 weeks ago. He went to visit his children (whom he is only “allowed” to see on his ex´s terms and with her) and just prior to the visit virtually stopped communicating with me and became very secretive about the arrangements. I heard nothing from him for a while and didn’t see him for a month as the visit was followed by a business trip abroad. I got on with my own life and slowly he started to communicate again and came home recently. A few days ago I asked (very calmly) what the status was regarding the divorce proceedings (a deadline for the next step had just passed the previous day). His response was a huge angry outburst and the predictable accusations, blaming, deflection, put downs etc. followed by sulking and more rages. All of this I managed to handle pretty well, but I am still struggling with the impact of his ex on him and our lives, the divorce, or rather lack of, and all the lies, deceit and bad behavior surrounding it. I am struggling to have any trust in him and to get myself in the right frame of mind to rebuild the attachment, even though I know when he is feeling attached to me he trusts in me more and is more likely to sort out the divorce. I also feel that whilst I have the power to modify my own behavior and be a good support and positive role model to my partner, I am powerless to do anything that will change his ex´s extremely manipulative and unfortunately very effective behavior. As much as I am determined to be a good role model to my partner and help him to grow, she is determined to knock him down and keep him exactly where he is. Sometimes, I feel like I am fighting a war on 2 fronts and on one side the enemy has an arsenal of weapons that have not even been invented in my part of the world.

    1. Hi Kess and Welcome 🙂

      There is no easy answers to this. Your story is exactly why I didn’t divorce Steve.

      My father left his first wife who he had 4 children with. He divorced and married my mother and had my sister and I. His first wife drank herself to death living with her kids (my half brothers and sisters) after Dad left.

      I was just a kid and had no idea about the mess I was born into. Even as an adult I still don’t really know how to talk to my half brothers and sisters. The older I get the worse it gets as now I understand what the situation was. Imagine what they must have felt about me when I was a child, living with their dad and them alone with their mum killing herself from grief.

      My mother ended up taking us to Australia and Dad’s other kids stayed behind. Eventually dad and mum divorced (it was ugly) and Dad went back to his adult kids in the US. I don’t think he could deal with the guilt anymore. I didn’t feel abandoned. I left home young.

      In my Dad’s story the divorce was a clean break, but still it was messy right up to the end. And a generation on I still carry guilt from a situation I had no control of.

      For a long time I felt guilty for even existing.

      This is probably a big reason I have devoted so much of my life to helping families stay together.

      Considering all of this you probably won’t like my advice, but here it is . . .

      Tell him you don’t want to get in the way of any chance of him and his family reconciling, at the same time as giving him a package of all of our books for him and his ex and wish them well. Tell him not to coming knocking on your door again unless he is divorced.

      If he goes without arguing don’t fight it.

      Maybe he will come back and maybe he won’t but either way your conscience will be clear and you will not be embroiled in it.

      You are stronger now and wiser and there is a better story than this one waiting for you. His kids need him more than you do. Be the bigger person and give him the chance to help them. You can tell him his ex is codependent and give him 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence to give her. You can say he should read it too so he knows what he is dealing with and show him the pages on codependence on our site. This might open his eyes but it is all you can do. Don’t keep him from his kids and ex or you will end up the bad guy. Don’t let that be your future and instead let him go.

  16. My problem is I have been married to a verbally abusive narcissist for almost 40 years and I don’t fell I love him anymore and have 0 patience but I am almost 60 and financially cant live by myself and no one to really count on to live with. I am not handling this very well.

    1. Hi Joyce and Welcome 🙂 – I am sorry to hear your situation. Please start giving yourself some love and care and start making connections in your community. Churches usually open their doors to new comers. Visit a few and see where you feel comfortable. Community action groups are also a good way to meet other people in your area. Money and resources only come to through our connection with others. Get out and find excuses to start meeting some people in your area.

  17. I’m not really sure what is going on in my ex’s world but I suspect it’s similar to Steve’s story and he gave up on really caring about anyone a long time ago. I’m long out of the relationship but I do care about him as I know how he behaves is a result of a very dysfunctional childhood. I have changed a lot in myself and how I interact with him which isn’t frequent but It is impossible to discuss anything with him unless it’s on his terms….if ever I get close to anything he doesn’t want to discuss, he closes down and doesn’t respond if I contact him….his ‘wall’ as he calls it….unless he wants something. I have my boundaries around that but I’m not one to walk on by. I do wonder if I should just cut all ties now. Well done to you and Steve for sorting your relationship out by the way! S

    1. Hi Squibbs and Welcome 🙂

      Do you have children together? Does he show any signs of wanting to get back together? Have you moved on with other love interests? Maybe you need to give yourself permission to move on and start forming some new friendships.

      1. Thanks Kim,

        No, no kids with him and no ties any longer which took a long while to sort out…

        As abandonment is his ‘issue’, I think that’s what stops me from cutting ties completely so I would like to be friends of some sort but he continues to want to outsmart me and let me down whenever he gets the opportunity.

        While I care for him, I have no desire to get back with him. I suppose the hope I’m looking for is if he will ever change his behaviour towards me and I don’t think he even recognises he needs to, let alone wants to – I think It suits him to be as he is….and therein lies my answer, I think.

        I’m open to dating but it did take a while for me to recover from the whole experience and get to that point and by that time there were not many men of my age that I found attractive….so something to be conscious of for others.

        I’m quite content on my own but I keep an eye out, just in case.

        I think I just need to accept the way he is and maintain my boundaries or give myself permission, as you say, to cut the few ties that remain. I hate that it just fulfils his beliefs about people – that they leave you so best to abandon them first and have no desire to hurt him (not that I know that it would!)

        Thanks for letting me unload….it has brought more clarity…

  18. How generous of you to donate your time to give your advice to personal situations!
    I think things are getting better between my husband and I since I have been using your ideas from Back from the Looking Glass which I started reading about a year ago. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we are actually making our relationship any stronger. Currently, he has been ignoring me. I honestly think he does not like me or my personality but he is physically attracted to me and knows in his heart that I am a good person. But my relaxed nature tends to drive him crazy. He is very orderly and controlling. I stopped following all of his orders and letting him control me back in September. I was able to do this by stopping my addictions (smoking marijuana and drinking coffee) and letting my true self voice what I thought is right. It was really hard because he became more insulting with his words but less aggressive. He does not like me when I am sober because he does not want my thoughts or opinions.
    I think that what is going on in his world is that a) he grew up with a controlling father and an emotional mother (who are currently pretty much his only friends now and help financially support us because he hasn’t worked for a few years) and b) he has nutritional deficiencies. He has always had issues with eating because most food causes his stomach to hurt or causes him to wet his bed but his eating just keeps getting worse and worse. He refuses to get help from a doctor or a naturopath claiming he already knows what they are going to say because he has tried everything already. But, when he did see a few doctors several ago he wouldn’t even let them touch him or take blood. I have done extensive research on his symptoms and think I know what is wrong but he does not want to listen to me one bit. I truly believe if he had more nutrition in him he would be able to handle stress and also think rationally. We both have great reverence for the Holy Bible as the truth. We know that God is full of forgiveness and would forgive us if we divorced. I don’t know why he doesn’t leave me and instead wants to treat me like I am worthless and make himself miserable. I don’t leave because I have a hard time giving up on situations because I believe God puts us in certain situations for us to learn from them which I have learned so much and grown so much! I can tolerate being ignored but it is still lonely and I wish I had married someone who was my friend. I am not sure if things have a chance of getting better or if this is what our life is destined to be like. Any thoughts? Thanks a lot for your book and help to learn about myself and grow!

    1. Hi Jessica, Well done for overcoming your addictions! What does he eat and how much time do you spend together if he doesn’t work? I also wonder if you work and how you spend your time?

      1. Hi Kim! He eats a plant-based protein drink for breakfast, a rice cake and peanut butter with potato chips for lunch, and tempeh or lentils with potato chips for dinner. This has been consistent for a few years now but has never been much different than this for the 7 years I have known him. I used to try to eat the same as him but I ended up getting really sick and now eat a regular vegetarian diet. We eat seperately, in fact I have to cook my food outside because anything that smells bothers him. We don’t do much together. We have seperate bedrooms. We see each other for a few hours in the evening as I am gone for work from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday. When we spend time together it’s usually just sitting around and talking for hours. Occasionally we’ll watch a movie at home. He’s often angry with me about little things that bother him and will ignore me for a few days to a few weeks when he is angry. I don’t mind being alone because I find enjoyment in garden and yard work, walking the dog, cleaning projects, bike riding, Bible reading or knitting. My job is a pretty social job being a kindergarten and after-school enrichment teacher at a small school with a very home/family-like environment. I just didn’t expect that I would be so alone in a marriage and wish I had a marriage where we loved each other unconditionally. He actually tells me he hates me. I have learned though to disregard it and try to discreetly get out of his presence when he says those things so that I don’t react to his negative feelings and also so he can calm down. I have learned a lot about how to not be a codependent but still find it hard. When he tells me my clothes are too tight and I can’t wear certain clothes do I need to listen to him when I know he is wrong? I am currently talking to my mom via email who I haven’t talkedto for 2 years and he found out and doesn’t want me to talk to her do I need to listen to him? He just doesn’t want me to be hurt by her but I am ready to try again with my mom. I appreciate you reading my ‘story’ and am grateful for any advice.

        1. Hi Jessica,
          I wonder why he cares about your clothes being too tight or your mother hurting you if he hates you!!! I would just just say something simple (but matter of fact) such as “Thankyou for your concern but I’m a big girl and I’ll be okay.”

          I can’t help but wonder what he does in the day while you are at work? And also where he got the idea that potato chips are good for you? Of all the foods to choose as a staple I would say that would have to be one of the worst!!!

          I would also not let him get away with making you cook outside. It is your home too and if the smell bothers him he should go see a doctor about why he is so sensitive or go for a walk.

          Letting him push you around like that might buy some temporary peace but for how long? In the end it will also mean that he doesn’t respect you and that means there is really no peace in your home at all.

          If he gets mad about you cooking in the house who is going to side with him on that? You are not the family dog you are his wife!!!

  19. Really appreciate reading about everyone’s experiences and God Bless you Kim for sharing your experiences to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know whether my husband is a narcissist if he just has the traits but I feel so drained and emotionally starved from 4 years of marriage to someone who thinks my emotions are the problem and there’s nothing wrong with him. He is emotionally cold, has no compassion or empathy, is uncaring , controlling and tries to connects with other women initially innocently and then gets unhealthily attached for a married man , he had the false pride and obsession with himself and outbursts which have stopped through counselling. We live in a cycle of me trying to deal with the pain of often feeling whether there is any love there for me and if it’s possible for him to love anyone and it’s left me feeling so starved of being loved. Even my family have questioned whether there is any love there. I’m not co-dependent and understand that he needs help and your books have helped. He had a traumatic childhood experience that I think has triggered a lot of the traits so I understand the background but it doesn’t make the pain any easier. I have read through the looking glass, the love safety workbook and am on the Collecting chapter in Hold on to your Kids. I’m trying to stay strong to put this all to work but now he has a new female friend. In the past I have stopped it when he had become attached to a woman but with this one while its innocent at the moment I know that the way he is, it’s only a matter of time before he gets too connected and I can’t or won’t go through that again. Am I wasting my time working on collecting him. Kim, how did you stay strong through it all and collect Steve when faced with so much pain and rejection.?

  20. Hi Sandra, It was a long process that I describe in my books. My kids needing me was a HUGE part of it. I also knew that deep down Steve did love me and didn’t want our children growing up with steps parents etc. like we both had. If you doubt that he has any love for you at all and you do not see any connection with your husband maybe you need to decide if there is anything to work on?

    What did he love about you when you met? Can you remember?

    I also wonder why you say that you are not codependent. The emotional emptiness you describe sounds to me like you may be. 90% of my success with Steve was working on my codependence and dealing with my emotional neediness better.

    1. I’ve read through the list of co-dependence traits and I didn’t identify with many of them but maybe I need to take another look at them. Whereas you had your kids needing you there aren’t any kids involved so I guess it does mean that emotional connection with my husband takes priority and I probably do need to work on the emotional neediness. I was really geared up for working on the advice in your books and Hold on to Your kids until he found this new female connection. In the beginning he was so free with his love and his heart and he loved the fact that I was the same with him and think he loved / loves / needs that security, some of which has possibly gone after I walked out when his violent outbursts started. There have been times when he is still free but he is always pulling back, it’s like he’s afraid to give his heart but it’s those times when he’s free that have kept me going in the hope that he will heal and stay there but this emotional roller coaster of him connecting elsewhere and creating problems to prevent us connecting is hard. Like you said, I need to work on myself and decide if there is anything to work on while monitoring this new friendship which may end up being the deciding factor. Thank you so much for your book Through the Looking Glass and the Love Safety book, they have been a real saviour.

  21. I had written such a long post on here but it was turning into a book so I decided to start again with the basics. Hi, I’m Tanya and I am new here. I have purchased everything on this site and some things, because the on-line shop thing was a bit confusing, I ended up buying some things twice! LOL.

    Just over two years ago I was a happy, content, vibrant, single mum of two. I had been single for 7 years, am part of an amazing church (“the happy clappy kind”). I’d been part of a woman’s bible study for 6 years and had amazing friends, family and life was great.

    Then I met this man. It was on a Christian dating site that my bible study ladies thought was they way people met these days (I was 49 at the time – they were 60 & 70+ years!!!). Anyway, I met him. At first I thought, this will be a quick cup of coffee but 4 hours later we were still at the coffee shop. I was mesmerised by his stories, his life, his faith in God – that matched my own. He was just wonderful. He is a talented musician with the Melbourne Philharmonic and is one of the best Sound Engineers in Australia. VERY talented man of whom I am very proud of that regard.

    By week 5 he asked me to marry him on the Swanston street bridge after a day at the Botanical gardens a surprise attendance of the live show of war horse and a lovely dinner! I cried I was so happy and could not believe that God had given me this amazing man that was so completely and utterly wonderful.

    We were married on 18th May 5 months later. The BEST day of my life! Even better than giving birth. I was the happiest woman in the world. I had never felt such joy and had never been so in love. Little was I to know that 3 small weeks later, this would all change.

    It started with him simply not speaking to me for a few days. I had bee curious as to why but one day when he walked in the door, I went up to him and I was mucking around with him and said “you know you want to kiss me don’t you? You want me, I know you do”. I started to sing a little song saying “I know you want me, you want to kiss meeee” whilst I laughed and planted little kisses on his face. Nothing …. He just ignored me and walked away.

    I was shocked and had no idea what had just happened? I let that go and wrote it off as some anomaly thing because it would take a lot more than that to dampen the spirits of this girl and I was so in love that my feet still had not touched the ground.

    I was in love with him, hot for him – totally crazy about him and of course I wanted sex all the time – I was soooooooo happy.

    But, the silent treatment prevailed and I never did understand that. I would get my kids to bed at 8pm and then like to snuggle on the couch and watch TV with my love. I noticed that I could not watch the things that I liked and missed my favourite shows terribly but I just made myself like his shows like, Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie, poiroit etc. Eventually I settled for these shows and was still happy as long as I was with him. Eventually his behaviours would change in that he would take things I had put away and put them somewhere else. Eventually my shelves that were in my garage, were affixed under the house and all his things went on my dexion shelves whilst all my precious things remained in cardboard boxes at a remote part of under the house that was difficult to get to. He would stand next to me in church and never sing. Never praised God, never moved – anything. He has 2 boys, one was already off the rails and almost 18 and the other was 15 when I moved in and was very unhappy bout the marriage. He was difficult and really tested my patience. Eventually however, after much effort and extra love on my part, he warmed to me and we became great friends. He was going through some teenage angst and was expressing suicidal thoughts. I encouraged him, uplifted him, prayed for him and reminded him of what an amazing person he was and how very loved he was. He and I always got on well after that and he was so good with my younger children.

    My husband knew all of this but never acknowledged it or thanked me. His behaviour was getting worse when there were times I struggled, the move, the marriage, the death of my father (all within 6 weeks), instead of comforting me and encouraging me, he didn’t speak to me again for another few days!! Things got worse and his behaviour towards me deteriorated. I was still carrying much debt of the wedding (only $4,000), but a lot for me as a single mum on a part time wage. I thought my husband would take care of all these expenses after we married but a year into the marriage I was getting letters and texts from the bank about my way overdue credit card. I had NEVER allowed a debt prior to marriage and taught other single mums how to budget – so I was always good with money. I had asked a number of times but my husband just ignored me. Eventually I said to my husband, “I really need for us to work out our finances so I can get this card paid off. I borrowed money from my children’s accounts which I told G*** (the husband), that had to be paid back. Instead all he did was yell at me and call me a “LIAR, A CHEAT and A THIEF!” My children heard everything from the next room as his rant went on. I was never made privvy to his salary or my own once it was put into his account (there was no joint accounts). I watched every penny whilst he spent money like there was no tomorrow. All on his toys.

    His behaviour just got worse. He blamed me for not being a good wife. He said I did not look after him in they ways that were meaningful to him but he would never tell me what those ways were instead accusing me of not listening to him even if he did tell me (He never tried!).

    I started to suffer depression and was put on tablets. My ability to parent my children was now inhibited as depression took it toll on me. My beautiful love. My amazing husband had turned into a monster. I became afraid of him, intimidated and my bubbly, bright, happy personality had slowly but surely died.

    My 10yo daughter also began to suffer from depression as she had heard a lot of our arguments – always about what a bad wife I was and how I had let him down – yet whenever I asked him “how did I let you down, what did I do, tell me so I can learn how to do love you better”. But he would never give me those answers.

    Now not only was he constantly bagging his ex wife (something my brain hooked on love heroine didn’t compute at the time), but now I was also the object of his abuse. His ex wife, I thought must have been a dreadful woman. According to him she was malicious, manipulative and stole from him and hurt him. Little did I know that all these facts were distortions of the truth and contained many omissions and even out right lies! But now I was also this dreadful wife who was disrespectful, dishonest, couldn’t be trusted and on and on and on and on he went. I had no specific thing to work on as he would not tell me what I had done to cause him to feel this way about me.

    The Christmas that just passed was pretty much the holiday to end all holidays. We met up with his family in Canberra (silence in the car all the way there and all the way back – Oh god I thought I would die or boredom!). The when we got to his family (who are the most beautiful people), he would again stop speaking ot me and distance himself. He never made any effort to spend any time with me and instead just left me alone. We all went to Mallacoota for 3 days. I was quite clear before I left Melbourne that I wanted to stay in the tent with my children but G*** had told me that it was arranged that my kids would stay in his tent (about 500m away) – ALONE!!! At least they were until he finally went to bed after midnight. My kids were boy 9 and girl 10. I was panicked but never said a word. I was too scared by this stage to say anything to him.

    2 days of no speaking whilst we all swam in the beach and played family games he had nothing to do with me. His sister-in-law said on the 2nd night “are you two talking yet?” to which I replied, “I am not aware that we are NOT talking, we have not had a fight and G**** just does this and I never know why”. So the next morning I asked G*** if he would come for a walk with me and indulge in some assertive listening (something taught to us by our marriage counsellor – that somehow never seemed to make any difference and counselling sessions were NEVER discussed further one back at home). He agreed and we went for this walk. I tried to explain to him how I felt when he ignored me and how it made me feel embarrassed around his family. Not only did he not even bother with the assertive listening, he started to point his finger and yell at me “HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME …. blah blah…” I was sobbing so much and kept saying “I am so sorry G****, please teach me how to discuss this with you in a way that will please you, that will make you understand and feel safe”. I WAS A TOTALLY BAWLING SNOTTY MESS! It was then that he said “I CAN’T BE THERE FOR YOU 24/7 TO MAKE UP FOR YOUR INADEQUACIES!!”. So now I was also inadequate. That was my first moment that I thought about suicide on a serious level. I wanted to find a rope and throw it up on a tree somewhere in the lovely bushland of Mallacoota. instead I grabbed a camping chair, went far into the bushland and screamed and screamed and screamed until I was exhausted.

    On March 23rd of this year I finally called my sister and she helped me pack and I left the house with what we could fit into the two cars. We are now staying at an old friends house (he’s 69 years) and has been a friend of mine for years.

    Since this time, G*** has not once spoken to me. He ignores me at church, at social church functions and is still going to the home group meetings that I introduced him to (I had been in this homegroup for 5 years). I asked him if he would go to another HG but he told me and even our Pastor who also asked him “no”. He is refusing to support me financially or in any other way. He has been given a number of directives from our church Pastors and he has not done any of those thing. I feel he would be happy if he never saw me again. I don’t believe he likes me let alone loves me. I think he tells the church what he knows will make him look good and what they want to hear. Little does he know that my church are all awake to him and he will be finding that out soon enough.

    Ok – that was still long. It has now been 2 months and still nothing from him. I have no idea what is going to happen to me and my kids since they were taken out of the state school system and put into a Christian school after we got married. I cannot afford to rent so much as a dog box. My life and my kids lives are on hold. I am exhausted beyond comprehension and my kids are acting out of their own lack of security and trauma. I am trying to trust in God but some days I just can’t cut it.


    1. Hi Tanya, I am sorry to hear your story. How long ago did you buy our books and what steps have you taken so far?

      You need to find a legal aid lawyer immediately and find out about your financial rights as his estranged wife. The debt you accrued for the wedding, the kids schooling etc. is something you need talk to them about. You also need to go and see Centerlink today and apply for the single mothers pension. They will provide you with rent assistance so you can find somewhere to live. You then need to go and see your kids school and explain the situation and if the kids cannot get some kind of scholarship you need to organize them to go to a state school.

      You were a happy independent woman when he met you and you will be that again. I don’t know if there is any hope for your marriage but the best thing you can do to earn his respect is to hold him accountable for his legal obligations and debts you incurred together and for you to get back on your feet as fast as you can.

      Sending attorneys after him for money is going to be hard for you but will be a necessary lesson for him.

      If he does not follow their instruction I would say to him that you hope it is not necessary for you to tell your story to the press for him to remember his responsibilities to his family and to abide by the law.

      If he is angry you need to follow the advice in Back From The Looking Glass and also the Limiting abuse chapter in The Love Safety Net Work Book.

      If he is angry about you doing the right thing, you need to find the strength to not buy into letting his anger control you. Learning to stay on your feet and stay focused on your own life and goals even when our family members might be upset with us is the most important step in overcoming our codependence.

      You have a lot to do now and you need to stop waiting for him and put your life back together yourself. You still have your beautiful kids and church community and your own good relationship with yourself and with God.

      I would also be concerned about his children. Do you still have contact with them? If you have concerns for their well being in his care I think it is important that perhaps you talk to their mother and also call DOCS (the department of community services) in your area.

      You can do this. Choose not to be a victim and instead to be victorious. You fell in love with a fairytale illusion, but you have seen the reality and wishing for the illusion to come back will not help you now. Whatever G—-‘s problem is you will not help him from trying to please him. Trying to please someone who is in blame and acting out of selfishness and pride is you serving the worst in them. Make a decision to stop that right away. We need strength and courage to stand up to the worst in our family and you need to find that in yourself now.

      You should also please write to our help desk and they will refund you for the books you have purchased twice 🙂

  22. My husband and I have been married, going on 30 years, this year. My husband became a different person about 8 – 10 years ago. He was going everything other week to get a full body massage. He went to her for 7 – 10 years in the privacy of her home. I begged him not to go to her, he told me he could not live without her. I noticed the difference in him the last two years he saw her. She was involved in spiritually dark things. My husband became involved and bought crystals from her that he worshiped. Telling me the love of God came from the crystal and one was for our marriage. I had a spiritual awakening one day after my husband had went to a natural healer, to him make me, his wife trust him more. Since, I feel he was either hypnotized, brain washed or sold his soul, he no longer has a conscience. Lives solely for himself. He has always been demanding of me which I could tolerate until he became involved with the spiritually dark things. He’s usually mostly passive but can also be abusive. I began to set up boundaries about six months ago. He totally denies any past actions of anything unrighteous and justifies himself in his mind. The cops have been out on several occasions, and he tells them what they want to hear. He is very calculating, and I feel he has a “ultimate plan”. And I ask is there any hope this man can take his eyes off himself and give his life to Christ?

    1. Hi Paula, As I write about in The Love Safety Net Workbook, you need to start ‘sorting this from that’.

      What I mean is that while I understand your concerns, I also know that in the end a persons religious or spiritual beliefs are up to their own conscience and you accusing him of being involved in spiritually ‘dark’ things will always be very subjective and likely to just become a point of argument and backfire on you.

      Easier to validate is the fact that a married man should not be engaging in this kind of compromising moral behaviour.

      Even if he argues that the massages are not sexual – if his relationship with her has changed his behaviour towards you I would say the onus is on him to prove this.

      Hiring a private investigator to take photographs of him visiting her house may provide you some legal leverage and would probably be grounds for a divorce or for you to have her practice shut down.

      I am not saying that you want a divorce but there are laws which would condemn his current behavior and he may need to be reminded of this.

      A PI may also be able to determine if their relationship is sexual or not and if I was you I would want to know this.

      So again I would say to stop treating this as a spiritual matter and instead as a kind of affair. Please look above at my advice to MT regarding this.

      Trying to convince him that what he is doing is spiritually wrong will also leave him cause to make you out as controlling while branding it as morally wrong (as far as the law is concerned) is another matter entirely.

      These practitoners in your area will not want to be known publicaly as home breakers and so I would consider warning them that you will expose them as such if they do not discontinue their association with your husband.

      I am sure your local authorities would also be interested in full body massages being offered for sale in a private residence if the person involved does not have a permit to run a brothel.

      At the same time as persuing these options you need to start trying to build a bridge again in connecting with your husband.

      This is why it is probably best if you get the authorities onto the practitioners instead of you complaining to him about them.

      In this way you can let the authorities be the bad guys, while also showing your husband that you are not going to put up with this kind of nonsense, but also start trying to ‘collect’ and reconnect with him rather than making demands on him that he stop seeing her.

      Don’t leave it to him, you need to put a stop to it pronto!!!

      He might be angry about that but this is where you just get on with your life and don’t get sucked into the argument.

      At present he is showing very little respect for you and so perhaps you need to demand that respect by having the courage to put and end to this whether he likes it or not!

      Working through your emotions will be the next challenge, but necessary if you want to save your marriage.

      The steps and exercises in Back From the Looking Glass, The Love Safety Net Workbook and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence will help you but also our tour of the emotions in The Love Safety Net Love Boat Cruise Here.

  23. Dear Kim,
    Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I have been following you for about 3 years now ,the last time that I discovered my husband had been viewing pornography. Our relationship has become much better after a lot of hard work, but one thing has not changed—I am feel that he is still viewing this. Initially, I confronted him when I found hard evidence on his computer. I also found that he was looking at escort sites of women for hire. He claimed that he was “just curious” the same excuse that he would give over the years about viewing images and making phone calls to recorded messages.
    I followed all of your suggestions and made a statement that I did not want pornography in our home and in our marriage. He agreed. At first I thought that he had actually stopped as he no longer used a lap top that he had in the garage. But over the past three years he has grown more and more unaffectionate and does not touch me at all except for kissing me hello and goodbye. Every other aspect of our relationship has gotten so much better except for this. Many of his behaviors have completely turned around and I do feel that the changes are genuine., I truly feel that he has a laptop that he may keep at work and is accessing these sites during the day. I have tried to surprise him at work, but I cannot get into his building without having him meet me outside because of security. He also has a company phone that I do not have access to phone records. I fear that he may have several email accounts that I am not aware of and there is no way to tell how far he has taken his behavior. The only hard evidence that I found was a post that he made on a website where he was trying to locate a woman that I do not know. I sent for information by Dr. Gunzburg that you recommended. I am going to confront my husband with the small amount of evidence that I do have and I am not expecting that he will be truthful. What I am concerned about is that he will just more careful about being secretive.
    I am ready to move on and begin the really hard work. How do you think that I should handle my conversation with him. I know that I will not talk to him until I have the courage to be ready to hear anything that he may tell me. What advise would you give? I feel that there is last chance to get this right. I have been here before many times over the 30 years of our marriage and I don’t want to be in this situation again.

    1. Hi CG, I would not confront him because then you are dependent on judging whether or not he is telling the truth. Instead I would pay a PI to follow him and get evidence. This will help when you confront him and will also help you in court if you do decide to move on. This kind of intel will save you so much trouble in the long run.

      I wonder what his companies policy is for accessing porn sites at work? You might casually ask him this question one day soon and if he asks why you want to know, don’t answer but just let him wonder (and worry if he is guilty).

      I also wonder if you have showed him the movies on the page here . . .

  24. Hi Kim–Thanks so much for all of your advice and previous responses to my comments on other pages. I am pretty close to giving up hope, but it is only the family life that we have built (with his teenage daughters who I am very close to) that keeps me hanging on. My husband’s issues stem from narcissistic parents and ex and loads of insecurities, and whether he is a true narcissist or has learned these behaviours, I don’t know, but it hurts just the same. I truly believe that your techniques are sound and will work–what I am struggling with is the balance of attachment and setting boundaries, especially in the area of sex. I know he has had dealings with prostitutes (which affected MY health!) and he says he has stopped, and I was just about ready to believe him and try really hard to implement your techniques, when I found text messages that he had spent time with a woman and lied to me about where he had been–I have no proof that it was anything other than dinner, but the fact that he lied and refused to give me any evidence to the contrary (in fact deleted all emails during that period) is enough. So I set the boundary that if he can’t provide proof that he is being faithful, we will sleep separately and minimise intimate contact (i.e. kissing, etc.). For my sanity, that is the only way I feel I can cope, though I still try to be kind and interact with him as normally as possible. That has resulted in him being aloof, cold, distant. So there goes the attachment and any hope of him responding to the techniques. How do I deal with this?

    1. Hi HJ,

      Attachment is not only about sex. In fact none of the attachment rituals we teach mention sex.

      As for this situation you mention, this sounds like a serious breach of his marriage vows. I wonder if there is anyone else you can call in to ‘police’ him on this? Is there anyone he would be ashamed to have know what he is up to?

      As I have mentioned in my previous response to CG above, hiring a PI and getting hard evidence will help you know where you stand and when you confront him.

      I think it is perfectly normal and acceptable that you do not share his bed until this situation is cleared up out in the open between you.

      Somehow or other he needs to learn that he cannot treat you with this kind of disrespect.

      I wonder if his daughters would side with you on this?

  25. Hi Kim. I’ve emailed you some of my story before. I’m with a much younger male from the U.S. and this is the second time I have brought him to Australia. This time on a working visa. He has been here for two months now and still no job. He is only concerned with going out clubbing and has become friends with people that are a bad influence but that he now sees as good friends.
    On his last time here he was extremely unfaithful which has apparently ceased, but he still loves the attention from females. He doesn’t respect me, my work, family, friends most of the time. He does as he pleases while I support him.
    He does have a good heart and wants to stay with me but maintain his separate life and become secure on his own. I tend to mother him as I don’t know what else to do at times. He is abusive and then in turn I become angry and abusive which only stresses me out. Im constantly disappointed and upset with him, putting much pressure on the both of us. He is extremely unfair and controlling also. I’m not coping.
    I have your ebooks but find it difficult to put it altogether. I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore? Is it the age difference? We seem to have different interests now as I have to be the responsible one and am no fun. I feel like I’m a convenience and we have major trust issues on both sides although his are unwarranted. I’m just hanging in there.

    1. Hi Julia, What is the age difference and why should he expect you to support him if he is out partying and not looking for work?

      I would say simply that if he doesn’t find a job by the end of the week he is going to need to start supporting himself.

      You can say, “I will help you look for work but I am not paying for you to party while you do not have a job”.

      If that makes you no fun well so be it. That is life and I would rather be no fun than exploited and treated with disrespect!

      Him taking you for a ride is not fun anyway. He needs a wake up call and he needs to grow up.

      1. Hi Kim, I’m sorry i didn’t see this earlier. Hope you receive this. Things have gotten much worse. He has been taking money and belongings without consent and I have wanted to go to the police, but he is not a citizen and I don’t want to make his visa situation worse than it already is (he has to go to court for charges – unrelated to me). The age difference is quite big – 17 years…I know am I delusional?
        He hasn’t gotten a job and goes between leaving me for hanging with people that I believe are feeding his ego, engaging in stealing etc, partying, girls. He has left at the moment, taken his things, it’s nearly been a week. This was directly after he told me again, that he can’t lose me, loves me, will do everything to get my trust, finances and our lives on track.
        However, now he just wants to be young and free – “do him”, which involves all he is doing. And that he simply “isn’t ready”. Which I cannot understand as I spent a long time ensuring he was ready this time around (him coming to Australia). I am unsure if there is anything I can do, how much more I can forgive, how long I can wait until he fools around etc…
        I know I just need to make changes for myself – but not sure if I should completely move on from this. I do love him, but the damage he has caused to me emotionally, financially and sometimes physically – makes me wonder…. Any ideas?

        1. Hi Julia, Trying to protect him from the consequences of his own actions is a mistake. He is taking you for a ride and you need to report him. Let him know that it is not in anger but because the “him he is doing” needs to learn respect for other people. Keep calm and genteel and respect yourself through this – I am sure there is a man out there for you who will respect your warm and kind heart.

  26. I believe it may be possible to end abuse and work through codependency. I’m wondering how you handle trauma and resentment though? I know the books touch on anxiety and calming techniques, but I’m not sure how to handle trauma related thoughts.

  27. Hi Kim:
    I have been in a relationship for 1 1/2 years.I have gone dark, not NC for about 2 1/2 months now. I felt so much fear that I needed to step back and deal with my own stuff. I have not been unfaithful. I have always shown him in most all areas that I have a strong sense of self esteem but because of my own abuse, all through child hood and even as an adult, I could not maintain a boundary in the area of sex. He has a very strong porn addiction, online sex, and accounts. He cycles which I liken to the Madonna/Whore complex. I actually was able to depersonalize it and what he was doing to me and what I was doing to myself. This caused me to go past my own personal boundaries. I realize why now, and have worked on myself in this area. He has emailed me twice, which were both sexual but the second one, was total black and white thinking. He said that either I was doing something sexual or that perhaps I have turned over a new leaf and was sitting home alone? Of which I was doing neither. I don’t know how to respond. I do love him. What would be the best way to respond to this? I know he is probably mad that I have not responded but I did not know about this site and I moved away in an attempt to take care of myself and what I needed for me which was to deal with my own unhealed issues. I have heard so many negative things about baiting and hoovering and Narcissistic Abuse. I am not afraid to be by myself. I have had to ask myself if I am doing it out of fear of being alone which I don’t think so. I have always enjoyed time by myself and I am very self sufficient. He was never trying to take that away from me as far as I could see.

    1. Hi Kay,

      I think that you need to let him know the changes you are making in your life (and why) and send him this link to look at the movies at the bottom of the page here . . .

      You can tell him that you love him and want to work through this together if he is willing – and you believe there is a better man in him than the life he is leading now. But once you throw down that challenge you need to walk away from it and leave it to him to see if he takes the challenge.

      That is going to be tough but as you have realized – right now you need to take care of yourself and setting firm boundaries on what you will and will not engage in is a big part of that.

  28. My husband seems to want to have a second child.
    I don’t necessarily want to have one child family it is not my idea at all but I cannot count on him to help me.
    My life seems to be very difficult for a young mother who was on double duty with 3 jobs and a husband who got sick too and acting
    like a child himself at times.

    He only has had a reliable decent job for month and before that most of the house bills, groceries and some of his bills were paid by
    me and I had hard time making ends meet –
    How am I to get pregnant with a second child in a situation like that – we would need to move
    to a different neighborhood to make sure we can make ends meet, or pay off more debt and save some money if hard times follow.
    At one time I told him that I would probably be ready to start trying for another child in 2-3 years – and he is telling me he will be too old by then…

    If he was more mature and I could count on him I would like to have a second child even right now but as things are in reality
    I see that would be a complete disaster to be honest since he has a hard time watching after our toddler sometimes and if
    the new baby happens to be high need baby I think I would go crazy since our toddler has been a high need child since birth with some health issues. What would I do then ? I don’t trust my husband would be able to help and he might become an additional problem then…

    I am afraid as the situation is right now this would be way too much stress for me and even for him to have another child.

    I would like to have a child born out of loving relationship – we hardly have a relationship like a man and woman does anymore.
    When I wanted to get closer to him emotionally and physically he run away and is cold towards me like we are not in relationship anymore at all.

    Sometimes I think this baby making idea would be an excuse for us to start having sex again – so he could relax and have a “goal” for an
    activity and excuse instead of showing any kind of feelings to me – he could play the card that we are “doing it” for procreation and he
    doesn’t really care for me otherwise I think that would help him to relax, anything else is to vulnerable at this point.

    How am I too decide to have another child with the man I question my relationship with on regular basis – it feels like we are on the brink
    of separation quite a lot – I am not sure I want to be a single mother to one child let alone 2 children.

    Often I am not even sure I want to hang around a man like he can be at times who can be cruel to his family like that.
    There is an internal conflict in me as I can really see how much hurt he is causing me sometimes and I just wonder is it worth it and how healthy this is – when my child starts to realizing what is happening what kind of role models we are as a “couple”. He often softens and I think the benefits outweigh the negatives right now thankfully to all the growth I gained through advice from your website and other self improvement effortsbut I am afraid it may not always be like that especially when our son grows and he is not what my husband shaped up in his head “his” son to be I am afraid he will start hurting him and then I would need to leave. I could already see the beginnings of it on the weekend when he said something nasty to my son, his happy face suddenly got sad and you could see his body posture changed.

    I understand thar my husband was an only child and he wants our son to have a sibling and I agree with benefits of that but first I want to see:

    – gaining more parenting skills and understanding of child development and realistic expectations he can have of the child and a mother –

    – Stopping drinking around the family or limiting it to a minimum
    – Our relationship improving to the point that there is no more put downs and verbally aggressive outbursts, there is compassion for me ( since
    I offer compassion for him), there is positive loving feelings between us ( I am willing he is not interested) – where he shows interest in what I have to say, in my thoughts and feelings
    instead of being inattentive or saying he doesn’t care or getting uncomfortable. I learned a lot of relationship skills but he is lagging far behind and he
    proudly says he has no interest in learning anything because he does not want to have relationship at all.

    He usually says as a mention that we could use another child and then later on that day or the next day he comes out with bad behavior towards me.
    This is when my mind gets boggled because why would you want to bring another child to this kind of environment .

    I guess he should know about all of this which some of it I tried to communicate before and he seemed to understand but quickly forgotten
    about it.

    1. Hi Mary,

      I think your husband might have a different idea of what being a father looks like than you do. Steve and I fought about having a second child and he won. I understand in the end that he did not want to be the farther of a modern family, he wanted a family like he remembered with all his cousins close in age.

      I remember your story and right now I think you need to go back to the steps in Back From the Looking Glass.

      When you get the chance I also think that you need to ask him what kind of dad he wants to be. Look at pictures together if you can and try and get a vision together about what your family is going to look like in 5 years. I think you both have different ideas and he isn’t seeing how he fits in with your picture of being a one child family.

      I understand he needs to be more mature for that to happen – but without you both coming up with a vision you both like, I think it is going to be hard for you both to hang in there.

      Looking after a toddler is tough.

      I doubt that drinking beer on the weekends will fit with his image of being a dad and so this could be a gentle way to steer him someplace better without it only being based on your plans and wishes.

      Without some vision of the future that he is invested in, these conditions you have (which are responsible and understandable) are not going to mean much to him.

      He needs to see pictures of different kinds of families so he can get an idea of where he is heading. He also may need to see where some of the single mothers in your area are living and decide if that is what he really wants for his family.

      I think that without a clear picture in his head of what kind of dad he is going to be he will remain lost and only see people who are doing much better than him. Then he feels helpless and pushes you away.

      My bet is that he has an image in his mind right now of what your family should look like that is not much like what it is. I think that image is probably unrealistic. The problem is that until you get enough trust built for him to articulate that image and share it, I think it will be hard for that image to change.

      Once he talks about it and you can somehow both just look at different families, perhaps maybe in magazines at the Library? Then you can start to see what ideas you can come up with together.

      At one stage Steve and I lived in the country with three young kids and no money. It was super tough and we never had our own house or anything. We got cheap rent care-taking a place that was beautiful but a ton of work. There was very little paid work in the area and we worked hard selling fruit and vegetables, sometimes on the side of the road.

      Despite our circumstances we decided we wanted to live in town in an apartment and have lots of computers and do internet work. That vision seemed nearly impossible and couldn’t happen in any kind of obvious steps, but still we got there. It was tough but since we had decided on that vision together it gave me a road map to stick to when times were tough and Steve forgot where we were going, gave up hope and fought my progress.

      I bought my first second hand computer for $200 which I had to borrow. Then I taught myself graphic design on it and later learned to build websites. It took a lot of cunning for me to get him to learn a book keeping and accounting program. That way he could do the invoices and I was able to start my own business. Back then he was hopeless but I told him that he was going to be the best accounts manager in the country because that was the only chance we had to get out of the hole we were in. I never nagged him about that even though back then I was a nag! I knew it was too important a thing to nag about so I got other people to tell him. One friend of mine James S. was awesome. I met him at a business network meeting and asked if he would talk to my husband and try and get him interested in book keeping. James said sure and at our first meeting was great. He said, “Kim has more to learn than you do – she has to unlearn everything she still thinks is truth from the 80s. She is never going to have secretary again and no one is going to type her letters. You on the other hand (talking to Steve) have it much easier. All you need to do is learn MYOB and with Kim’s creative skills you two will be in business. James never charged me for his consultancy and I am still in debt to him for his help.

      After than I called Steve’s mother (who knew MYOB inside out) and said, “I don’t want to hassle Steve but he knows he really needs to learn MYOB and maybe you can offer to help him?” She lived on the other side of the country but still over the phone got him going.

      It took YEARS and a lot of carrots, like grants we could go for etc. that I needed his help with and finally he got really good at it. The grants were important too because this gave him a vision to aspire to. If he handled the paper work and financial records that got us the grant money it was his work which had achieved this and then he was not just accounting for the jobs I was doing.

      Only when you get rapport and he is invested somewhat in a shared vision should you let him know your conditions for second child.

      There is a picture in his mind of what another child will do to change what your family life looks like and you need to see what that is if you are going to plan any kind of future together.

  29. Hi Kim… this is,my second time around unfortunately in dealing with a narcissist, except this one I actually married. The only saving grace with my current husband is that he does recognize his narcissistic traits and doesn’t want to be this way the rest of his life. I read back from the looking glass in 2007.. I do need to repurchase. My question to you is..he is unwilling to put a chaperone on his phone and computer. He claims that this will just make him worse and more resentful. It’s also my belief that he’d just find another alternative to have his “fantasy” outlets such as using the work computers, coming up with another email address etc. He has porn addiction as well as had outside relationships in the marriage. Now what?

  30. I’ve read your writing and its helped so much. I’m away from my BPD ex and I’m very happy with my life. I think I have good self esteem and I’m well educated and I also think very self aware BUT!!! I know what I need to do to look after myself physically, like eat properly, exercise, get regular sleep etc but I don’t do it. Sometimes it feels as if I cant swallow food. Anyone know what I’m doing? Only asking cause it isn’t anything obvious- I’m quite sure of that…

  31. My husband and I had a very short courting period (2months) before I got pregnant with our son, we have broken up and reconciled 3 times in 3 years. The last time we reconciled, we got married 4 months into it. Right before we were to get married he ended up in the hospital with anxiety. I then found out that he was using steroids as well as abusing his prescription meds for bipolar disorder in addition to self medicating with alcohol. I confided in his parents and we held an intervention with his psychiatrist. This was the his last straw with me. He felt “betrayed.” We were seeing a couples couselor and he blames me for all of our problems as well as his. A month after the intervention he beat me while we were on a trip. He then made me believe that too was my fault, then later told me that he was so mad that I didn’t die that night. When we got home, the silent treatment began, he spent nights in my son’s room, he only spoke to me in our counseling sessions. After a month of the silent treatment, I couldn’t take it any longer, I threw a shoe at him and then he attacked me again, in front of our children this time. I left the house that instant and haven’t been back. However now we share custody of our two year old son and he has visitation with my 4 year old son. My husband admitted he is not capable of living alone, he has a “roommate” who is also is the man that provides him with his steroids. He also has resumed his relationship with his exgirlfriend, the same woman that he was cheating on me with the last time we broke up. Neither one of us has filed for divorce, we are prohibited from communicating with each other pursuant to his conditions of release pending criminal proceedings for the abuse that occurred.
    I still love him; what’s more, I have to be able to co-parent with him. I have contued my individual therapy and we both participate in Child-Parent Psychotherapy with our children to address the trauma caused by witessing the abuse. But none of this has helped. He’s still victimizes himself. He’s portrayed me as the antagonist through all of this. He tells the therapist and our children horrible things about me and puts anyone who supports his delusions on a pettalstool. At this point I’m in the grieving process for our “relationship.” But I want to have hope for our children’s sake. Is there any?

    1. As you share parenting you two are going to need to do something to end the conflict long term. You say that your couple’s counselor blames you for his problems? How does that work? I also wonder if there is a way you can very simply prove to the therapist that what he is saying about you are lies? If his flatmate is his drug dealer I would be letting the court know this immediately and that visitation rights need to be revoked until he faces his drug habit. I would also be letting the therapist know that because of his drug habit you feel that your children are at risk. The therapist is obliged by law to pass on those type of concerns to child protection. That does not need to be done in spite – just as the responsible thing a parent should do. You need to keep your own house in order and your reputation squeeky clean however or you could face having your children taken away.

      Also if you live in the US and you do not report his drug habit the courts can put you in jail for not protecting them from him so watch out!

  32. I have been in a relatIonship with a narcissist for about 5 years.
    At first it was a dream, but when we moved in together, I started noticing odd behavior… He was like a different person. It’s baffling at times as I do not know what is causing the sudden changes. He can be fine for weeks and then all of a sudden becomes critical , short and condescending … He is rude out of nowhere..and if he doesn’t like what I do, I get the silent treatment. Wheni ask what is wrong, I get attacked and it’s always my fault because ” I’m not listening”… Rarely am I able to get him tO open up to anything .. The only emotion he shows is anger..
    His porn addiction concerns me. He said if it bothers me , he would stop but soon started right back saying everyone does it.
    He makes comments about women …. Thrives on attention from not only women but all people.. It’s like his drug.
    I find it so disturbing that he even tries to compete with me … To be better than everyone is sad enough
    , but I am his gf.
    I have tried loving and reaching out more.. It doesn’t seem to do any good. He wants constant attention and if I am involved in some thing else like reading Etc, he resents it.He will only open so far and then the wall goes up. I never know how he will act. I am definitely a giver and realize that he is a taker indeed. I now realize that I am tHere only to take care of him like a maid / call girl with no pay.
    There is always a lots of things that he wants/ needs to do..without any regard to me. I am given a time limit if I need to pick up something or pay a bill.
    When I started working, things got worse… I asked him to help me as I was sick and he would not. He was mad I was late getting home.
    When he doesn’t get his way, he gets quiet and gives the silent treatment.. At first it really bothered me and I didn’t get it.. Recently , I got so tired that i left him alone and he grew more angry..
    Several times it got got the point of blow ups out of nowhere and telling me to leave.i have often tried to get him to share what is bothering him. He claims if one is angry , it’s best to get your mind off it and it will go away.. I have tried to explain something will trigger it back it has been obvious to me..
    Recently, again it happened.. And I just left. I knew trying to talk wouldn’t help. I have wanted to talk but am being told by my counselor to leave him alone.
    To my surprise ( he never contacts me after a breakup), he did contact me this time but I didn’t respond.
    I want so much to reach him,as I believe he has so much potential ..
    And I feel I love him.
    I have failed to share that I believe there have been others as he has received miss u texts from women even in the middle of the night. I have also caught him on dating sites .. Any time I have confronted him, he responds in extreme anger and just verbally attacks me trying to turn the conversation to somehow be my fault.
    I have talked to his wife, X, who shared similar stories and situations with me… I am feeling that somehow helped both of us.
    My struggle is I want to help break through that wall.. I’m told thought that contact would be the worst thing to do..

  33. Hi Kim, I have been reading your site for a while and am at a place where I am ready to stop looking at my husband and do my emotional work. Though I’ve been in counseling for years and thought I’d overcome codependancy, I see I have not. The answer to #2- my husbands porn addiction which he’s been in “recovery” for for 4 years, he says I am manipulative and do not listen to him. He withdraws emotionally and shows no love and affection on his own. I find myself telling Him what he’s doing wrong and confronting him with his lack of love. And….it doesn’t get any better. He has agreed to internet filter and is doing well in recovery, yet his detachment from me leaves me not knowing what to do. Do you have any suggestions or where to start? Thanks Kim

    1. Hi Clulu, Good work 🙂 Seeing what is not working is where positive change can begin. I would suggest that you download 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence and start working through the steps. These changes will feel unnatural at first but only because you will be doing something different and changing old habits. This change may even upset people around you for awhile but you need to hold on until a new and healthier dynamic can take shape.

  34. Kim,

    Thank you for the recent videos and articles. I am slowly processing and absorbing the information; and, I am slowly seeing some positive changes at home. I am working/reading through the workbook and am nurturing attachment + taking notes. One of the suggestions you have is to disengage when the loved one is grumpy/aggressive.

    I have a situation which repeats regularly; it could, probably, be called an established pattern of interaction at this point, for which I need advice. In the mornings, I wake early to take care of the pets, make the school lunch for our daughter, and make breakfast. My daughter and I have coeliac disease so cutting corners on meal prep is simply not in the books. I wake my daughter with adequate time to arise in a relaxed timeframe, dress, and arrive at the table in time for breakfast.

    Currently, my husband is sleeping in his office; but, he has started a new diet and asked that I cook eggs for him in the morning. I am already prepping in the kitchen so I agreed in an effort to be supportive. Additionally, he has indicated that he wishes to be awakened by me in the same manner with which I awaken our daughter: soft voice, kind words. I think this is childish (he should set an alarm and wake himself as most adults do, in my opinion) but recognize that his mother never did this for him. So, in an effort to nurture attachment, I also wake him.

    Everyone arrives at the table for breakfast without much issue. I do have to redirect our daughter; but she is only six years old and this is to be expected on occasion. There is usually time for a relaxed meal and conversation. This has become pleasant for us (positive change). However, there are times when we are delayed/late. At these times, I set parameters for our daughter to encourage attention to the time and not wasting it. For example, I might say she has only 5 more minutes to eat before it is time to brush her teeth and put on shoes. She responds well to these parameters and encouragement when my husband is not around. If he is there, he will begin to sigh loudly, look disagreeable, or change the topic and engage her in a way that causes delay. She struggles to disengage from him in order to accomplish her tasks of getting ready to leave for school. It also means that I am more vocal about it… having to redirect her (away from him) in order to be ready to leave. He will become antagonistic to me on occasion, saying promptness or timeliness is not important, or put me down in some other subtle way.

    I try to disengage myself and ignore his bad behavior. If I ask him to leave the room, he refuses. So, I have quit asking and just try to ignore it. It is difficult. I don’t have any other ideas for how to make this go more smoothly. I can’t really leave myself because I am the one taking our daughter to school, etc. What it really boils down to is his desire to be the center of attention and belittling our efforts to be timely about departing.

    Do you have any advice that might help here? Or any articles that might give me some insight?

    Sometimes I really doubt myself and wonder about my own blind spots, as you mentioned above. I do know my codependency gets in the way, too. I feel as though I am working on several aspecta of this at once.

    Thank you for offering advice and support.

  35. My husband of 10 years, is having an affair. He says he has left our relationship and even though I’ve told I’m here for him and divorce is not an option, he says he doesn’t feel the love and connection I feel (he has said all this before and I did tell him I have heard all this before). This was his pattern with his ex wife who he went back and forth with 3 or 4 times. I really don’t think he is in love with this new person (it’s only been 6 weeks). Initially he felt guilty and said he has anxiety when he’s around me (this happens especially because I’m pleasant to him). Now he is angry with me because I spoke to several people including his psychiatrist regarding my concerns for him. He is prone to break downs and his behaviors are all prerequisite symptoms. He won’t talk to me at this moment? Should I keep sending him daily messages to let him know I am thinking about him and am in this for the long haul or should I give him his space? I am conflicted because another marriage fitness plan I participated in suggests that we spend as much time together as possible and always maintain contact, but then again that was for people who don’t have a narcissistic partner. I am hurt, very confused, and scared. I’m confident he will be back but of course I have a natural fear of what if he doesn’t come home.

    1. Hi Ann-Marie, What a terrible time you must be going through. The funny thing is that most narcissistic men run some kind of double life but often don’t actually go through with cheating because in reality they are very dependent. Your husband must have some very redeeming qualities for you and his ex wife to have put up with this for so long. I wonder what negative consequences he has had to face from his infidelities? Do you know the women he is having an affair with and how have these situations panned out in the past? This sounds like a situation where I would need a lot more background information. If you are interested in private mentoring please email me at with mentoring request in the subject line and someone should get back to you within a day or so.

  36. I’m having a difficult time knowing how I should deal with the lack of interest and attention my husband has for me. He is constantly telling me he wants to spend time with me and be with me but it’s only in his time frame and it’s usually not for very long and it almost always involves watching tv. He doesn’t seem to enjoy doing much else with me than that. I should note that I believe he’s addicted to playing video games and that he revolves his life around playing them.

  37. Hi Kim,

    I have been reading your book steps to a peaceful home. I’m starting to implement what I have read, but always feel like I am catching up. I believe I was a co dependant spouse and slowly came to the conclusion about a year and a half ago to fulfill myself, stop expecting my husband to meet those needs and I truly accepted my husband and relationship for what it was. There was no discussion, I just adjusted my perspective and made some changes with myself (positive without expectations – became emotionally independant, lost weight, pursued a hobby, got busy with our kids). I became a happy person on my own. Also, because I accpeted him for who he was, his moods did not affect mine any longer and I could still be happy. This turned against me in the worst possible way. Instead of total indifference it started horrible verbal abuse about my lack of trying and effort in our relationship and some physical abuse when alcohol was involved. I stay and want this to work for our family. But, he is now trying to “win”over our kids. I’ve seen him do this professionally and he is now bringing it into our house. This scares me more than anything. How do I proceed?

    1. Hi Charlotte, Have you followed the steps about limiting abuse? It is great that you have become more emotionally independent, but he may also see this as a threat. You need to reassure him that you do not plan on leaving him, but also warn him that you will be implementing a 100% no tolerance policy against his abusive behaviour. Your children will side with whoever they see as stronger. You need to be strong for them now. Build your safety net in the community and also work through the exercises on Limiting abuse in The Love Safety Net Workbook. Unfortunately sometimes things get worse before they get better and so you need to be very careful and get your plan straight so you know that you and your children are safe. Also if he wants to see you putting effort into your marriage maybe you could ask him to listen to Reconnect with you? It is designed to help promote positive discussion that may help you start working together as more of a team.

  38. For #2, I think my partner’s problem is being raised by an extremely narcissistic father. When he said to me that his parents didn’t love him, he is completely correct. However, he says that has no bearing on him now, yet his is fairly similar to his dad. He won’t go to individual counseling, because “he doesn’t need it”. We tried marital counseling. The counseling who called him out, he didn’t want to go back to. The ones who didn’t he was happy to lie to. And they didn’t see the facade while he grew more abusive so I stopped going.

  39. I have been trying to figure out what is going on in my husbands life and why he is completely shutting me out and being angry with me. I think that he has been under a huge amount of stress. We just did a full remodel on our house and it was brutal. It seems that instead of leaning on me, he has chosen to turn inward. He looks at me as an adversary when I try to ask him why he is distant. I tried to just please him at all times and that didn’t work either. I truly do not believe that there is someone else and so I can’t figure out why he is turning away from me. It’s like he refuses to accept that I am here for him. If anyone has any advice it would be great. I want to work it out with him but it’s so hard if he cannot admit that he is not the same person that I started dating. Help!

  40. Good questions, and I don’t know all the answers. Mostly I see that when I hold him accountable for his behavior he reacts (in his facial expressions with “harumphs” or “sighs”) with disdain, annoyance or contempt. When he criticizes, ignores me, intentionally changes a subject or walks out of a room if he doesn’t like where the conversation is going -in anyone else these would all be rude, but it is so constant that it feels mean or contemptuous. Then he gives me the silent treatment. He says he is just leaving me alone while I go through my own stuff, but we have had many conversations where I ask for more communication, more words exchanged. And “my stuff” is asking him to listen, or communicate, or I get annoyed when he is rude. He shows no affection at all unless he wants sex. When asked what he is feeling, he doesn’t know. He says his parents largely ignored him growing up, but doesn’t relate this to how he is responding now. He used to be really angry with the kids at the slightest infraction. Nothing physical, but alot of yelling. The kids used to say, “please don’t go out, daddy just get’s mad at us.” But I have worked with my husband on how his behavior could affect our kids long term, and they are pretty well-behaved early teenagers now, so he doesn’t have the same reasons to react as strongly, and my daughter calls him on his irrational reactions now too, which tends to calm the moment. Recently my daughter (15 years) said, “we need to do an anger intervention for dad”. She is shy by has a strong sense of self. My social son (almost 13) gets quiet and shuts down around his dad quite often. I’m worried about that. I have seriously considered a divorce a couple times over the last 2 years, but really hope I can figure something out to increase my own relationship happiness with him (I’m happy outside of my marriage), and support the kids as best possible. I bought and am reading “Back from the Looking Glass” right now.

  41. Husband has a mysterious illness that has not been diagnosed but is the topic of daily conversations which are really monologues. He is consumed with his health so much so that he obsessively checks his epiglottis daily, as well as other body functions. He also practices expressions in the mirror so they show what he is “really feeling.” He is very intelligent and analyzes everything including my performance. He only works a few hours a day and then plays on his computer. He procrastinates regarding any obligation until someone else does it or the mood strikes him to do something. A friend saw what was happening because of his demands on me and urged me to see a counselor. My counselor told me to leave without adieu and take our five children but to be accountable to someone. I have since learned that I have let him run over me for seventeen years until my own health and sanity became of vital concern to me. I am learning about boundaries and have help with my children and dailies while I recover. Is there hope for our relationship? Is there hope for my husband to change? If so, how would one go about helping him?

  42. Hello,

    My story is one that mimics so many of the rest. I have been in a relationship with a man who I love for the past two years. We have known each other for over 15 years though. When we started dating, I noticed that the relationship with him was always up and down. One moment good and the next a disaster as he would always say “I don’t know why I am fooling myself; I know this relationship isn’t going to work.” and by him saying that I would try THAT much harder to make it work. I was pregnant with my 5th child (1st for him as my other children’s father had passed away 3 years prior), so I did Not want to be left pregnant and alone.

    I knew that he was a ladies man (he is a DJ) and he still had contact with many women. We lived together and I worked full time as a teacher and cosmetologist, so sometimes I would be away from home for 12 hours with work, and the kids’ after school activities.

    We stopped having sex when I was about 5-6 months pregnant and it went from daily sex to having sex approximately 10% of the time ( yes, I did the math). He told me I had no time for him, and I put the kids before him. I was flabbergasted I had no idea what else he would want me to do as a “wife” and mother. I worked, paid all the bills without complaint, made sure the kids made good grades, cooked and made sure the house was clean. all while he sat on his throne… playing video games or “working on his craft”(DJ-ing) .

    The turning point in our relationship came when I gained access to his Facebook account. (We were working on a radio show for him and we linked it to Facebook.) He never signed out and that night while he was at work, notifications began to pop up on the computer. I went into his messages and saw that he had been contacting various women, he had had several affairs and was trying to have that many more. I knew that there was a reason we had not been intimate as we both have very high sex drives. I even found that he had been messaging a woman (having a heated argument) while we were at the birth center having his son!

    I presented him with my findings and he admitted it. He said, “I can’t lie, I am caught. All we can do is try to fix it and move on or break up.” So because I had a 1 month old son, of course I wanted to work it out. Things got worse though, I was angry. So anything he said I flew off the handle. I was resentful because I was working to take care of us and he was having affairs while I worked etc.

    And on top of that he began to make unreasonable demands of me like it was all my fault. The kids could never be perfect enough either. He would get upset with them if the weren’t always quiet, or if they asked him for video games. He would respond by saying “that’s the only time you all talk to me is when you WANT something” . I didn’t understand why he was like this. I thought of him as controlling, militant and OCD (he would get angry if there was dust on any of the furniture, etc).

    Then I began to find information about NPD and thought OMG!!! This is him! HE is a textbook case. After researching and reading info that said They Cannot change, cannot love, etc. I packed his belongings and put him out. { Side Note: After putting him out, I found out that he took the woman who he is now seeing on their family reunion cruise in August; we were still living together, he let me help him pack and he took my car. I was hurt and devastated upon finding this out and to top it all off his mother (Who babysits our son AND lets me do her hair, had knowledge of this.) I told her how I felt about her actions as well. I apologized the next day, but I did mean everything I said. I apologized for disrespecting elders and involving her in out mess.} Bu of course he was upset that I “disrespected his mother”.

    I wish I had found your information before I did that; however, I still have hope that he and I will be able to rekindle. I now realize that working on myself is important to being able to make any relationship work. He has noticed the changes in me and has even commented that I am “going to make a good wife for somebody.” So maybe it will be him after all, but if not, I am beginning to be OK with that as well.

    Background info
    I see now why he acts the way he does. His father was murdered when he was 5 (by one of his mistresses boyfriends) His older brother was killed in an automobile accident when he was 12. His mother worked and he and his younger brother had to perform their own acts of daily living. He never had any positive male role models. He has said that all the men he knew cheated and/or physically abused women.) He says he does not remember anything other than these things from his childhood, until the time he began to DJ in 10th grade at the age of 15. He has blocked out all of his trauma. Kim and Steve please help me reach him…

  43. Hi Kim,
    In answer to question #2: My husband of 4 years, doesn’t have a real or imaginary love interest as far as I know but he loves attention from woman and freely flirts with them (married or not) and calls his behaviour socialization. He hate that 1. I’ve been holding him accountable 2. beginning to not react to his threats and 3. no longer a player in his games and standing strong from my own values. He initially responded really well by saying that I’ve become “kinder” to him…when in reality all I was doing was a lot of self-care and just letting him be. But now that I’m holding him accountable, he has withdrawn like he has never before! He is proud and arrogant and his feeling weak and small likely comes from a lot of shame -experienced especially during his adolescence. If you’d direct me to where I can get more help, I’d appreciate it. I’ve read “Through The Looking Glass” and the additional support and I’m working to implement them slowly. I am becoming more and more comfortable in my self-soothing practices and noticing my emotions/fears and working on addressing my co-dependence on a daily basis for the past 2-3 months. Thank you!!!

  44. Dealing with the silent treatment and emotional neglect. Married 31 years. My husband has NPD to some degree. I am learning about my codependent needs and currently working on them

  45. I don’t always know what’s going on in his world. Although, I don’t now nor have I ever feared sexual or emotional infidelity our biggest current issue is financial infidelity. I know I am codependent and recognize my NPD and BPD tendencies as well as his. I believe he covets money due to what he lacked as a child as well as a source of power in adulthood and our marriage. He typically uses money and gifts to attain admiration and a false sense of self preservation and control. Although my husband has acted out physically with both me and our children I can honestly say we do not fear him. When the kids were younger we felt as though we were walking around on eggshells but that has since passed for quite sometime. My husband has shown slow improvement in his NPD traits but the over spending and lying about money has continued and the more money we make (I have always made more than him) the worse the money issues have become which then leads to arguments and most recently physically acting out on both our parts (pushing, throwing things, manhandling) we have never hit each other but I know any physical contact is too much. We are currently seperated but have agreed to individual therapy and to try to reconcile. I know we have to heal individually before we can be together. The love is still there for us both and although I know divorce is a possibility I would hope the end result is we are able to come back together stronger.

    1. Setting real boundaries around your money needs to be the first step. An accountant may help you dig deeper. What he is spending money on will tell a story of it’s own.

  46. My husband of over 20 years has always had low emotional intelligence ( I think that is what they call it now). I took him for what he was and loved him just the same. He cheated on me a year ago twice he says but not sure I can believe that as I had caught him and took him forever to admit it. Then I found out he had been having an Emotional affair with (2 other women) an old love from 30 years ago and another one that was going on by text and phone for over 5 years. Along with finding porn on his phone internet account all the time, starting early mornings even at work, so a porn addiction too. He stopped all three things and said the EA was just a game ( I know better) and that he doesn’t know why he slept with the other person who happened to be 7 years older, and a large step down should I say. He is a classic narcissist and since I found this out 10 months ago about the cheating, I have decided to stay and work through it. But he doesn’t get it on how to work through it. He said he needed sympathy from the other women thats why he told them all ( I found out from another source) how awful I was, and our marriage was bad and intimate things that weren’t true. He said he only said them for sympathy. Well long story short, tried Marriage Counseling, went three times( he said no more), in the first session he broke down and said he has treated me bad our entire marriage and made everything about him in the marriage and he was so selfish, then came the childhood issues. I was taken back by this and actually saw a broken person sitting next to me.

    My Therapist has been telling me forever he is a classic narcissist and I need to leave as since me finding out about the cheating it has become very volatile as I refuse to be treated like he has treated me our entire marriage and expect him to talk about it. She also said I am codependent and I don’t realize it as I have always been the caretaker for everything and everyone in my life. So that is how I found your site, as I know there must be a way to salvage all these years.

    So to question #2: I am now holding him accountable for his actions, and he needs to earn my trust back, and show me that he can be trusted again. So he is now angered very easily. I am asking him that we learn to communicate with each other. We had never argued in twenty some years of marriage as I just would let it go, I never needed things for my birthday, anniversary or anything. I never complained that he didn’t give me a card even. I always went all out on his Birthdays and fathers day and even our anniversary would give him something and always cards even when it wasn’t a holiday. But that is me, the nurturer.UGH!

    He always puts people down and talks down to me. No one can do something good without him having a negative thing to say behind their backs. He doesn’t have friends, except for one that he only sees maybe once every couple years, although he says he would be there for him if he needs him. Which is true.

    He has trouble holding jobs and complains about every job he has and how stupid the people are. I should have never said anything about this as now he throws it in my face constantly. But if your positive about things, it makes it easier to do your job. I have never complained or said a word about him quitting jobs, I just work harder to make sure we pay the bills. But after the cheating is when I said something when he quit two more jobs within months and had no income for two months while I struggled with depression of finding out my husband had been cheating and lying for 5 years and trying to make ends meet.
    I finally found your site and some others last night and I didn’t say the word narcissist but read him the traits and said do you think this sounds like you, and he said NO, I said really? He said you wrote that didn’t you, I said No I am reading it off this website here, he said yes, it sounds like me. The traits were so true to him that he thought I wrote it!
    He always says I am up here ( above him) and he is down here. Like the lower person, as I have built a very successful career, and he feels his labor job is beneath me, and he doesn’t know why I would stay with someone like him who is stupid. I always say when he says that, ‘Don’t call my husband stupid as I wouldn’t marry a stupid person”. He works and that is very admirable these days. I love him because he is him, its just after the cheating and pain he put me thru I expect more from him now. Which is maybe what is causing his anger and even lower self esteem.
    He says he loves me and wants to make this work, but when he is angry he always walks for the door, as he knows that hurts me more than anything else. But always comes back.
    I am hoping your website can help me learn more about both of us and help us figure out how to salvage all these years.
    Thank you

    1. Hey begin again, You have come a long way in the journey already. You have exposed his double life and you are aware of the gap that makes him feel insecure (his lack of career success). I would still suggest you start at the beginning with our free intro tutorial at if you haven’t done it yet. The steps in our books are going to be invaluable to you and will help you establish a secure home environment for you both without you being a doormat or needing to become a nag.

  47. I have indeed tried to hold her accountable and she didn’t like that. She may be sulking but it seems more triumphalist, she maybe looking for love somewhere else. But I have gotten the impression she is proud and arrogant and needs someone to put down currently & I guess that is me, even though we are separated. I think she is massively angry & fearful. Though I still can’t get at what. She says she has given up hope & can’t make the journey back, (while I haven’t), but she is acting on that. But as to what is making her feel so weak & small I don’t know.

  48. Do you have any experience or information on Parental Alienation.

    My separated husband (narc and I’m codependent) has lied and framed me so as to alienate my five kids from me.

    I had to leave the abuse and I’m disabled and can’t even drive so he is raising them. Only one still talks to me now. They have been told that I don’t really have a disability and that I was the one who was abusive and crazy and broke up the family and now is draining him and them for their money. :/

    1. Not specifically, but this is one of the dangers of separating without a well thought out strategy and plan. Back From the Looking Glass has the most important advice I discovered about keeping your kids on side. The steps may not save your marriage (it may be too late for that?) but will help you deal with him and build respect in your community and with your children.

  49. Hi Kim! My husband and I only married a year and a half ago. Before that, we dated on and off for 6 years. He lied to me about the reasons for his first divorce.. and the truth came to light after the marriage when I got to see his anger. Any slight criticism or even perception of such, makes him fly off the handle. He was terrible to his kids and his first wife. This, they have told me. He is still not fully accountable. However, he will say that he takes 75% of the blame for divorce number 1. We have argued a lot and he can’t handle conflict of any kind. He shuts down. He also has major trust issues. He suffered sexual abuse from the age of 7-12 by an uncle and his family didn’t believe him when he told. Not until adulthood did it come to light, and they knew the truth. They (his parents) have never apologized to him. And in fact, his entire faniky accepted this pedophile when he admitted his wrongs and became a “New man” over night. My husbands nightmare simply got swept under the rug. He has been angry for years. He is 47 now. Today, his famiky basically enables and excuses his anger… I believe, out of guilt. I am definitely a classic codependent. He is a classic narc. I love him and do not want to give up. I recently moved out and he was cold as ice.. acting as though it was what HE wanted. I filed for divorce and had him served. He signed. Now, I am in limbo taking them up to the court. He has continued to help financially. Has continued to help me with my daughter. We still go out to dinner, are intimate, etc. It’s like we are dating. I don’t believe he is a cheat. Though I DO believe he is a flirt. I dont believe he has ever or would ever cheat on me. I believe he is just discouraged of relationships and doesnt feel capable. I do think I put too many demands on him. I owned up to that. Part of me believes he loves me, yet feels life would be easier on his own. I don’t think he has any intention of going elsewhere. I am so confused as to what to do. I was so excited to find your site. It was my glimmer of hope. I just wish he felt as hopeful as I do.

    1. Hey MissyB, It is a long hard road ahead but the fact you have set boundaries and still keep an attachment is a good sign. I wonder if it is his pride that can’t admit he doesn’t really want the divorce? I also wonder if he would consider doing our Baggage Dumper program? The videos in that series with Dallas would really help him – you can find the details in the top right hand box on the page here

  50. Hi Kim, Thank you for making this information available. I’ll answer question 2 along with a bit of background for context. My husband provides zero emotional connection, is almost always silent (even when asked a direct question and even thennoftrnnignores me or at best gives single word answers in either a hostile or whispered tone), has totally shut me out of his life but is willing to spend some time with the kids, is never mentally present when he is home, and is often emotionally abusive through stonewalling, lies, and gaslighting. I’m also sure he loves me and I love him. He does not invest any time at all into our relationship. We’ve been through gobs of counseling and our counselors say he doesn’t care about having a relationship and he has a problem with rage. I learned through your articles that I have been extremely codependent and have probably pushed him to exaggerate his already existing tendencies to lie and shut me out. I also have aspergers, which I discovered at 35. I’m very successful career wise and I have good long term friendships, so I don’t think I’m extremely affected by aspergers or I’ve managed to compensate well. Anyway, neither my husband nor I have any interest in finding anyone else. I left my job to move for his career 2 years ago, and his behavior towards me has been even more emotionally abusive since the move. I’ve tried to hold him accountable and he doesn’t like it. He’s not honest and he twists things. For example, he was in a drunk driving accident (only him) and earlier that night he told me three times he had nothing to drink. He accused the medical staff of fabricating his BAC of 0.2 (three times the legal limit). So it seems he has some severe delusions. He also told me that if I would be better he could be nice to me but my behavior caused him to act the way he did. I stupidly believed it for 17 years. After I had kids, I saw things differently and am painfully setting boundaries. He’s great with others but not with his family. In fact, he seems incapable of considering my feelings ever. He’s extremely cold and distant at home. He rarely even responds to a direct question and almost never participates in conversation. But he goes all out over anything negative. In fact, if he’s in a mood, I lock myself and the kids in a bathroom while he rants at me outside the door until he leaves our home. The kids and I sing loudly to drown him out but they’re getting older and starting to see through it. Right now, I’m planning to go back to my old company to test the waters about maybe getting my job back. I’d rather the marriage work and I know he loves me but he’s just not aware that he’s unkind and not accountable. He’s very successful in his career as far as achieving goals but not so much as to saving money. He can manipulate almost anyone to do whatever he wants. I’m not good with people and struggle with non verbal communication. I read your looking glass book. I am thinking of starting on the codendence 10 step with support program for $29 first month and $19 the next. Do you think that would helpful or do you have something different to recommend? Thank you.

    1. Hi Rachel, Back From the Looking Glass is included in the $29 special (which you have already bought) but it would still be a cheaper way of getting 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence and a download (normally $18.95) along with my support group and master class. 10 Steps is one of my favorite books of ours so I always recommend it. I think the master class will also help you tremendously as it will help you start really tracking his triggers and help you hopefully get under his defences. That process can take weeks and sometimes it can take years but as you two are committed to staying together it will give you long term support in managing your difficult home environment.

  51. I have recently ended a two year relationship with a man who I believe has NPD. I left a twenty year relationship with an alcoholic for him. My relationships have all been similar… abusive! I do not want to make the same mistakes again… I am successful in career, friendships, and had a good family home ( maybe Mum a bit hysterical) but I do not understand why I choose such terrible romantic partners. Help?

  52. My husband’s “other love interest” is drug use. He’s even said he imagines it feels a lot like an affair to me. The lies, staying gone for hours at a time, not answering calls or texts. Thankfully he hasn’t used in a couple days, but I know the urge is still there and very strong. He’s using it to cope with grief for his father’s death and brother’s suicide. It’s the example he was given…cover your pain with substances instead of facing it or dealing with it in healthy ways. Things between us have improved since I stopped the crying and begging. Partly it’s because my perception of things changed, but also his reaction to my reaction has gotten better because I’m not reacting like I did. Thanks.

  53. Kim,
    I cannot thank you enough for offering your help to those of us struggling with this very painful issue.
    I was told many years ago by our marriage counselor that my husband was a narcissist. The counselor said he would never change and handed me the name of a good lawyer. I looked up the word narcissist but that was the end of my research.
    My husband came to me a couple months ago to tell me he had a problem and needed to get help. He started confessing to much I knew about, and much I did not. I have been reeling ever since. He decided to seek counseling for himself and has been going for 6 weeks now.
    I’ve never seen him break down like this or exhibit such remorse for the wasted years he said he spent chasing happiness based on lies. He confessed to the affairs, lies, porn addiction, drug use, secret bank accounts and putting everything in his life before me and our two kids.
    He has shown great remorse for the pain he has caused and he insists he wants us to have a better marriage. He still has anger issues, and after one such episode I started doing research into emotional abuse. I was shocked to find everything he confessed to listed as signs of NPD. Everything I was feeling and experienced was listed as signs you’re married to a Narc. After finding your website, I realize I am codependent.
    I have only confided in 1 friend throughout the years, but never fully revealed the extent of his behavior or my turmoil. After so many years I am struggling with how to tell people.
    We have been married for 38 years. We were very young when we married, 17 and 18. Our entire life together is classic NPD and codependency.

  54. My husband admits that he is utterly selfish and has never put anyone’s needs ahead of his own. He doesn’t know how to even start. For 30 years I thought that I needed to be a better wife. I thought that all of my sacrifice would endear him to me. Ha. I was wrong. I am now living in the deep disappointment of that mistake.

  55. Dear Kim and Others —

    I have 45 years of marriage invested.

    I was a homemaker for 20 years (my husband’s military career) and then I had a successful career for 20 years. I retired last June. My husband, 8 years older than me, had been retired already for a few years. So we now spend much more time together – really for the first time in our lives.

    We have two children – a daughter and a son. They are 10 years apart. Our daughter works as a licensed mental health practiticioner and our son works for the department of justice. They are married and each have two daughters.

    My husband is a good man – but in terms of narcissism he is arrogant and proud with a need to put other people down. In the morning, it’s like I’m a garbage dump to listen to him criticize everything happening in the news. I often find other things to do, leaving him to rant on his own. He feels he deserves to rant and anyone who doesn’t agree with his rant is simply wrong.

    Growing up, I hated listening to my mother complain about other people. She was not someone I really had conversations with. She wanted me to, but it felt very uncomfortable. So it seems that I am experiencing this again with my husband.

    He has a sense of entitlement about him and he has made very large purchases without my awareness. Porn has been there – I’m not sure if it is now. We have been physically intimate rarely for the last few decades.

    He has anger issues – inappropriate anger – usually expressed these days at people we don’t deal with on a regular basis – like someone on the phone if he’s trying to settle a bill. But I have been on the receiving end of his anger many times and occasionally am still – and for many years I walked on egg shells.

    My career was healing for me and helped me realize my value. I do believe I was codependent and still have work to do. I tend to withdraw for a day or two when I’m angry at him. I’m sure that’s not good and might exacerbate his anxiety.

    He makes circles with his fingers/hands on the arms of the chair or on the gear shift if driving. The amount of time he does this has steadily increased the last few years. He seems to have a lot of pent up energy when talking with someone.

    When we are with other people – he is very self-centered. Whatever someone else says he can refer back to himself. He takes up 90% of the “air time.” He very much likes being with other people and if I’m present, I’m simply taking care of the logistics. It’s come to be a chore for me to be with him and with other people. I feel like I have to protect them from him – point out that he is interrupting someone, that type of thing. If he is talking with just one person and they are standing up, he keeps moving forward until the other person is practically cornered.

    He exaggerates a lot. Sometimes I don’t even recognize a story he is telling another person – it is so far from the reality of what actually happened. And within a few minutes of meeting someone, he makes sure to let them know about his advanced degrees from prestigious schools.

    He brags about me to others – but I wonder at times if it’s simply to add to his own status. At the same time, I am not one to boast about my abilities, but I do value them. I do want others to feel comfortable in my presence, so I am aware of how my words and actions are coming across.

    When we married, I truly had little self-confidence. Working outside the home really helped me realize my value.

    Since coming upon your website several days ago and reading much of what you have online, although this knowledge is at once liberating, I have been left with a heavy feeling and I feel angry at him and angry at wasted years. I realize I need to give that up and focus on making today the best it can be.

    Thank you to you and Steve for your work. I can’t believe now that we could be as happy as you two seem to be. But I will do what I can toward that end. I do feel the need for support – and I have had a therapist tell me before that I deserved better (i.e., leave him)- so your approach is a new, fresh one – that I would like to try. I also believe the destruction of the family is so very terrible and I want to thank you for that realization – that tossing things and people out is one choice – but there is a better one.

  56. My husband spoke of abandonment emotions about his mother while we dated. He had hard feelings towards her because she put him in daycare at a young age. (I wonder if abuse occurred but he won’t acknowledge it.) He has transfered his distain to me over our 37 years of marriage. He has numerous times lied to me, lived different worlds (one at work, one at Church, one at home, one in town, etc.). He says he’s never done “sinful” things, but his lying doesn’t let me trust him for much areas. He has been the only bread winner and he kept the majority of his money for his wants and desires. I’ve spent much effort in providing what the family (8 children) need with intense frugalness. He has over the last 10 years increased his verbal chippings at my abilities, value, personhood until I feel I am but a slave. If it was menial work, it went on to my shoulders until I did the work of two or three women AND homeschooled (because he had bad experiences in school). He has a problem with secret eating that even his sister told our children that he did at her place too with no confessions. (Still didn’t make it right with her after he found out the children knew.) He has a fragile self-image and wants LOTS of affirmation and complements and not following every detail of “his leadership” brought him to a point of suicide last fall that was ALL MY FAULT. His parents made up for their busy lifestyle by cuddling their Kenny. His sister continues this for him since his episode last fall. Poooooor baby boy. I have set boundaries to have him ACTIVELY walk right through them. Hah, I told him many a time that I keep the checkbook since he can’t handle money only to have him go do something to reroute the funds. He’s quite the sneak. With very little and sometimes no guilt.

  57. Hi Kim,

    I do believe there is hope now that I have found your website. I believe my husband sulks when I try to hold him accountable. We barely had an argument for the last year since I did not nag but also did not clean up his messes. His biggest problems are not putting things away, not finishing projects, and not slowing down and hearing the kids and I. We are still in love with each other and have a close intimate sexual relationship as well as a close emotional relationship most of the time. I am not sure exactly when I became codependent to him. I was taught that we help our partners grow and that our partners as well as our children help us to see areas we need to work on and grow in. A combination of things led to my not holding my tongue about 3 weeks ago. My father passed away 3 months ago and I see our children’s lives as even more precious than before. My husband got an attitude and made excuses when I asked him to please move into another lane next time after 2 vehicles almost crashed next to us and almost hit our van. Instead of saying ok he went on about how he does not have to move over and other things. The same thing happened again the next week and I calmly reminded him that our kids lives are a priority over him not having to move over. Both times this turned into a 2 hour argument where he acts superior and entitled and then gives me the how dare I suggest he do anything different to then you drive all the time from now on to his pulling over and getting out of the van and walking away while our kids cried to his saying I was right and please remind him when he gets like that and ask him to please move over next time. But he doesn’t really mean it because when I do as he asks he gets mad at me! Our 5 year old son has been crying because his friend from our homeschool group is upset that we haven’t had her over in over a year, our 9 year old son is also upset that we don’t have friends over because I am embarrassed by my husband’s mess in the house, vehicles, garage, and our yard since I had to stop cleaning up after him due to a neck injury from boxes falling on me in a store and because I was tired of putting his things away because he refuses to do so. The only times he is cold to me are when I have caught him in a lie and have proof that he can’t argue with, like when I accidentally found porn on my computer after he committed to not watching it anymore in therapy several years ago and he denied it for months saying he had no idea how it got there. He is really knowledgeable on computers and I am not stupid. The only way it for there was from him downloading it and watching it. We also argue when he drinks. I ask him to stop when he starts slurring and he gets mad and says he is not slurring. The problem here is that I am not able to wake him up when he drinks and one night I had a cyst rupture and could not rouse him so that he could watch the kids while I went to the hospital. I know he does not like when I get upset and he hates his mess and how he breaks things like our kids bikes by throwing his yard tools on them instead of putting them away. He also snaps at the kids and talks over them when he makes an assumption and they are trying to defend themselves. He had always been an amazing father but this part has resulted in our 9 year old being constantly angry with his dad and our 5 year old hitting his dad and they both have been telling him they hate him. I think there is hope for us but after trying everything I can imagine to help him with these issues and thousands on therapy I am at a loss as to what to do.

  58. My wife may have another love interest and it may be imaginary. She commented once recently she has guys who are asking to take care of her. I find this to be unlikely.

    Also, I did try to hold her accountable she had been verbally and emotionally abusing me and her excuse was that I don’t provide for her. We have no kids I’m a student and self employed I’ve contributed just as much to our household as her but she hid a check she received from me that we were both expecting and by the time I realize the money was gone spent frivolously but granted not selfishly.

    She is prideful and arrogant and needs someone to put down I believe as well. I called her on this and she framed me and set me up the next day for a domestic violence charge when she got upset that I didn’t fix her a bowl of cereal. Granted she was recovering from surgery but she could fix her own bowl but I refused bc she had been saying the night before she wanted a divorce but I know that she will pretend she didn’t say it until it’s convenient again and act like I’ve made her stay when she wanted to leave.

    I don’t know what makes her feel so small. I know she says her father was verbally abusive. I’ve seen evidence. She says when she was young she would lock herself in the closet he would scream at her mom and also that my dad “doesn’t/didn’t know how to talk be just yelled” “my mom and I would just cry”. Also I feel her mother has played the role of martyr and is highly controlling and suggestive and causes my wife to have anxiety bc her mother has used tears to get my wife to break up with me while we were dating and nothing was going on really. My wife seemingly out of the blue was just tired of our relationship and money blues and left for a few days threatening to leave. When she came back her mom called with sobbing tears and threatening to abandon her if she stayed with me.

  59. Hi Kim,

    My husband projects, “You are so critical (telling him, when you speak like that to me, I can’t talk to you” or “When you change your mind, please leave me out of the story. It was your choice.”) “. He used to rant for hours, misusing scripture, screaming I’m destroying the kids, am selfish, going to hell….etc. Now, I rarely put up with it. I’ll say, “I don’t get the impression you want to hear what I have to say” and his response is, “That’s your problem”-very angry. Then later, he denies having said it.

    His image is critical to him. He has lied to my kids about me, but they won’t tell me what he says. I know he tells them, “Mom is controlling. The counselors say she has a mental problem.” And that the counselors say he’s done everything he can. Not true; they told him the know he’s a perpetrator. My (now older) kids use to trust me, now they don’t. Also, he’d pull them aside after I’d leave with the younger kids because of his anger. He’d tell them I was usurping his authority and so “Mom” left. I have all boys, and he uses their male ideas about how women are (what he and his family has taught them) to get them to side with him. He use to verbally attack me for hours, neglect me, ignore me, etc. until I learned some boundaries (Though I hid a lot, my kids grew up seeing a lot of this and hearing it-it’s affected them). I’d started to say, “I’m committed to this marriage, but not the way it is.” He’d get angrier. My older kids rarely will make arrangements with me, they now contact him. I use to be the hub of our family—now he’s trying to take that place. Laughing with the boys—but it all seems so fake and empty.

    He was escalating. We separated, he was vindictive with the kids–played all summer–wouldn’t do any work when it was his time at the house, etc., then a pastor told him he needed to be in the house to fix the relationship. He got angry when I wouldn’t go along, because I hadn’t seen him ask for help (He’d go to counseling, but manipulate the sessions or placate, but not take to heart what was said.) He moved back in, and wanted me to lie to the kids and tell them I wanted him there. He’s in a separate bedroom.

    I did get most of my kitchen back–as he’d taken that from me (Weird how a lot of women say this it seems).

    Where I live, the police will only help if I have signs of physical violence and then, it is blamed on the woman for not leaving. He’s been physical. Now, he’s not, as I have tight boundaries in place. His heart hasn’t changed though.

    My husband’s family is large and he’s lied to them about me and played the victim. The family is filled with “Christians”, but I see little kindness in them. There is a lot of image and pats on the back for position and competition winning–job–sports–etc. that gets the accolades. Performance. My husband was livid when I started saying no to doing his family things because I was sick and couldn’t do everything anymore. His family has now lied to my kids, tried to get them to believe they’d been abused by me which I don’t think worked, and tried to get them to join their side by taking them boating, etc. My second just got married, and his wife says the family is trying to buy them off. She doesn’t know about my husband’s abuse, but knows we’re not together.

    My husband has also lied to people about me to isolate me, telling them things he knows would hurt them, “She won’t let our kids play with yours because she says yours are rebellious”, to divide them and me. It’s worked.

    He has never seemed connected to me. He’s never been personal. He use to say he didn’t need that. Now he says that was dumb, but his behavior/language still shows I’m more of an object than a real person to him. He likes the image of being married. The image of having good kids (mine are pretty good, but I think most of it’s because I always worked hard to teach them. They do have major holes because of the lack of love in our home). He likes the image of looking, “good”, which means, I have to look bad to everyone. I live a very clean life, am honest (aside from the hiding his mistreatment), and am content working at home, and taking care of my responsibilities. He knows what to say about marriage-there should be respect and we should date–and he cares about me–but it’s all future faking. I think he’s more angry that his brother now knows he’s not getting sex, than about not getting it. His can’t look like he has a problem, so made me look like, “it’s understandable that you’d shove her down”, instead of owning that he’d rant and block me in a room or restrain me.

    He’s always said that he’s nearly perfect and I’m damaged (When I was hurt or upset by his treatment-I know it’s blame shifting).

    He has a good job and is careful not to mess up. Now he mows the lawn, etc. and says he’s doing it for me. I know it’s for his image, because he’s always saying how hard he works and how he’s perfect and if I’d just have sex with him, we’d be ok (When I was having sex with him, he was mean to me, or often didn’t initiate sex–he’d eat and work on projects in the garage.)

    The damage he’s done to my relationships through his smear campaign breaks my heart. My kids are hurting. My oldest has found a girlfriend and is never home–and not following God. My husband blames me. I won’t have sex with a man who would do that to me.

    I feel a little stuck with some one the suggestions in Back From the Looking Glass. He’s managed to be in a one up position. He makes me want to throw up, but I know how damaging this is to our kids and God can change my feelings-so I want to do what I can to turn this around.

  60. I’m so glad you guys exist, you seem to be the only ones that have taken the bull by the horns.

    I had a daughter with my NPD 5 years ago (she committed parental fraud by poking the condom, she was desperate to get pregnant), I actually discovered she is a covert NPD only 6 months ago after a brutal discard that damaged our daughter very badly, she could not see any of this, she’s very cold blooded. All these years we were in and out living together and not, I always left because of her abuse.

    Two years ago I hacked her computer and social media and I discovered that most of what she told me about her was a lie, she has a long history of cheating, liying, fraudster etc etc….she even had emails that she wrote to herself, they are bizarre and it seems like the real self talks to the false self and the other way around. She confesses how she can’t stop destroying her future, how she is out of control. You know how this goes. 4 Months ago I “unmasked” her and this put her in hospital for 8 days under a sever nervous attack, her Lupus flourished just overnight and paralyzed her. But when I went with her to Texas where she comes from, I discovered a broken, horrendous home, a brother that I never heard about that has been in jail for sexual charges, a family full of drugs problems, HIV…. I could not see a glimpse of that marvelous childhood she told me about. And yes, she is very, very thin skinned and absurdly jealous.

    Current situation: I’ve been rebuilding my life at full steam, putting my shit together and going up as strong as I can. She refused to arrange a parental agreement (the way it works in New Zealand), and I was forced to ask Family Dispute Resolution.
    I was SO, SO lucky…that the mediator that we got assigned is an expert in mental illness and has a doctorate in Neuro Linguistic Programing. My ex found herself cornered, because if she would not address FDR, our case would be pushed to court, and she knows I have a copy of all her very dark and dodgy past…..and that is a no-no for her.
    two months ago she assaulted me in front of my daughter and she got a police restrain.

    Here’s the funny thing: Despite how Sam Vaknin and others interpret NPD, which is very pessimistic and analytical, I also came across other Co-dependants and “victims” that have a more courageous approach, and talk about the NPD in a much more humane way. I’ve learn, and discovered myself little by little with tiny tests I’ve been doing, that NPD’s are kids desperately asking to be controlled and tunneled into a better future, they are trapped in their magical thinking and false self beyond self awareness (and so do I….but working on it). She had no reference, no healthy childhood, she was abandoned and I would not be surprised if molested. In her adult life she has been testing the possibility of being a “sugar baby” online, she’s obsessed with money and social status. When she met me, she had luxury vehicles, properties, and I had $1200 on my bank account and a bicycle. Huh?! I was still very good romantic supply for her.

    Here’s what happened during the FDR with the specialized mediator: She went in there just like a heavily armored burglar, bazooka included, to rob a bank. But she got out of there with 4 credit cards and two mortgages. HA!
    The mediator was an EXPERT with language and communication techniques, to the point that she even managed to have her relax….in the first hour she wanted full custody, but by lunch we were sitting together laughing about funny things about our past and talking peacefully about our daughter. The last time I saw her was when she got almost arrested.

    The bottom line is: I do believe it is possible to face this and turn it to better. I am working as much as I can to correct my own magical thinking, see my blind spot, face my lack of responsibility and focus on remastering myself. Since I’ve started this (unconsciously at the beginning, and now reinforced based on your system), she has been magically “attracted” and respectful with me. So I start to see the pattern you guys talk about.

    I have solid indications that even if she did a horrible discard, with other men she had behind my back, secret trips and some other nasty stuff, she is deeply wounded that our family “did not work”, and she has a deep inner conflict between love and hate with me. But you know, I blame her, she blames me. Nothing good comes out of this and it’s pointless to make her see her blind spot: she won’t. Instead I am focusing on my own blind spot.

    I can’t wait to get your books.

    I won’t give up. This “dance” we both do, my spirit tells me that this is part of my personal growth and I have to face it. She is my mirror and I’m hers, but first I need to fix my own issues. When we are together in a healthy vibe, we both entertain each other in the most charming ways, and we have been an amazing power couple many times. But now I see why we collapse. I’m not going to continue to blame her, I’m working on myself.

    I want to do what you did Kim, actually, I’m already working on it.

    What’s coming next? Well I already wrote a lot so I won’t bother you, but I see light at the end of the tunnel. All the things that seemed to be a threats, failures, complications, conflicts with third parties….the nightmate that NPD’s create around them (and I let it happen….) I can see how they are all pieces that have been placed in a way that it just requires me to work with them towards MY advantage, and for the good of us 3. Yeap! more magical thinking….but the difference is, if you work hard for it, it can be done.

    And there I go. I won’t give up. I’m stronger than this.

    Thank you guys for being there and putting your heart on this and passing on your hope and example.

  61. My husband is very arrogant and likes to belittle everyone, but I got the worst treatment. He feels that I should deal with things just because we are married. He told me that everything was my fault, and if I wanted counseling, I should go by myself. He said that he already knew everything that he needed to know and didn’t need to learn anything else. I tried to put up with it all for 2 years but I couldn’t handle it anymore.

  62. I am not married to this man. He is 59 and lives with his mother. She is 84 and pays the house payment. They live as husband and wife only without the sex. He does what ever she says. She hates me because I take up his time so then he can’t do things for her. She told my parents that the first and only time she met them.
    I met Jeff 5 years ago. I fell in Love with his huge personality almost immediately. He is 6’5 with a very loud voice. He is very homely. But you should see the girl swoon after him. I do not believe he has ever cheated on me.
    It was his dad that was the main abbuser. The mother is very passive aggressive. She throws his and my things away. She goes out of her way to find things. One time she came in his room and took the towels I had bought and threw them in the trash. When I questioned her she said she didn’t know who they belong to. Every time we leave for the weekend she does something weird. Like a dog peeing on their territory.
    His verbal abuse is always there. He is alway looking for a reason to say what I said is wrong. Even when it’s my story he listens, tells me I’m wrong and repeats it back to me so it sounds like he’s telling me how the story should of been. Only it’s exactly what I said. I can’t even explain that. It so crazy.
    Then there’s me. I can’t really say he much different from my dad. Says your wrong. Walks around it comes back to exactly what you just said. There is nothing I can say right. I can repeat what Jeff just said. And now I’m selfish. And I’m thinking I just repeated you. How was it right when you said it and wrong when I said it. I’m not even sure what I’m saying is even understandable at this point.
    Most of the physical abuse is in bed at night. He keeps me awake most of the night someway or another. Sometimes he hurts me. Sometimes just bumps into me over and over. Then there are the night he leaves me alone. that’s usually Sunday night . He has to work on Monday morning so for some reason that’s a good night.
    I see him as a child of god. And I want to be able to keep this relationship. When he is good he good. And I love the good part. If only the good part was always up front.
    May I add he works all day and night. Only sleeps a couple hours a day here and there. Comed in from the shop and falls asleep. Jumps up and goes back to work. All day and night. When I’m there he try’s to stay in bed all night.
    Your probably going to have me find the door.

  63. I’m so confused. I’m living seperately, he kicked me out of his house. After a week he text me madly, but I maintained no contact like I’d been reading in all other advice. He has a lady staying at his house. I met her. She told me that they have been lovers for 16 years. And she said he met her for sex one day while we were on holidays. The last few days he has been emailing me constantly, so I sent him the links to Steve’s articles. His emails were Jekyll & Hyde. He said the lady staying with him mentioned that we had spoken. He accused me of assuming everything. I told him what she had told me, he claims that he showed her my email and she laughed at it and called me s lying bi*ch. He said he was blown away by how low I had stopped. I was really thrown. I tried to explain further but I was losing ground. So I said I was going to bed tonight with a clear conscience, etc. I feel like there is no hope now.

    1. I am sorry to hear what you have gone through. If he has kicked you out and is living with someone else I think letting go would be healthy. Learning to set better boundaries in future may help you in your healing.

  64. I think he has two realities, one that springs from his core, and another that springs from his notions of how things should be. I think his core is fragile and his notions rigid, with the latter developed as a way to deal with (without dealing with) a difficult upbringing. At his core I believe he loves me. However, I think when it comes to how he sees himself in the world and how others see him, he constructs what he thinks should be the reality. His behaviors and attendant emotions are based on the degree to which that construction holds up (this is my guess). Unfortunately, this construction is vulnerable to outside forces, and so even just some mild winds can threaten the constructed reality. When that happens he panics and tries to manipulate outside events and people to get them back into the right construct. The panic plus terror result in behavior that is at best verbally terse and emotionally cold and at worst insulting, angry, shutting-out, delusional (confabulating reality), all of which he generally directs at me. This has taken a long time to piece together in my own mind and articulate. The bad times, like the good, ebb and flow. I do my own form of confabulation during the good times and think, “maybe it’s all better now and will never get bad again.” I know now that’s not likely to happen unless one of us makes changes that will work, and that seems to be me. I’ve enacted the three changes Kim suggested in the introductory tutorial and already there is greater peace in the house. Now I’m poised to take the next step, just not sure what it should be.

  65. Hello,
    There are so many comments I cannot read them all! However I see in them the progress my husband and I have made over the last year of our 46 year old relationship. I met him at 17 and we were pretty much exclusive since 18. When he had his affair at age 55 I was so horrified and destroyed. His narcissism had bloomed into all consuming after his retirement and he was in a fantasy world. He has been in a fantasy about his boats and cruising the world since he told me at 18 that we would be together but I had to understand that there would always be boats. At least he knew himself and his desires. At 18 I had no idea what a boat life was. This is his hobby and passion to the exclusion of everything else. We were members of a co-op yacht club for many years but the club’s property was bought out and club vanished. We lost track of friends of 20 years and our social life died. Still we were concentrating on boats.
    I began to realize subconsciously that I needed to do for myself. But I became a shopaholic, because I needed to feel that I was as important as all of the needs of whatever boat he was dumping money into. I then outright started to hate the boats. But he continued on. He is high energy and loves fixing up boats, using them to travel, then selling them so that we can continue to keep our home. Paying back accrued bills in the process. He was bitter about that, but honestly speaking, some of the boats were less than we had hoped for when they were rehabbed. We are now on boat number 20. Its name is Walkabout.
    I am seeing a therapist who has finally enlightened me to his narcissism, which I concur with. I am moving out of the codependency with the understanding that that is the issue and I must do for myself take care of my needs, and this is not done shopping. I am no longer the shopaholic. When he had to sell a boat he often was angry with me for spending, a small percentage of our debts compared to what keeping 45 ft boats cost us. It helps me so much to learn where he is coming from. His childhood was classic no emotional support at home, divorced and bent up parents. On his own at 12 when his dad left and his mom withdrew into depression that completely drew her away from him and his needs. He was left to deal with all of it while she focused on his older sister and getting her through vet school. She is the narcissist in her family. My own upbringing was devoid of emotional support and we hooked up so early, I honestly believed we saved each other by love. We became friends without sex for over a year.
    It was magical until he started to turn into his dad. The drinking, nightly in his chair by the tv, covers two bottles of wine. No conversation. I drank with him for years and regret the damage we did to our own kids. But now it’s just us. I quit drinking. I was on opiods for 7 years due to injuries I have suffered helping in construction and also from sailing, away from medical help and having to self heal from things that would have required hospitalization. I think those postponed my awareness of what our problems really were.
    He thinks he is doing better, he did have his one night stand and the rage I felt after all we had been through together, and mostly in partnership without disagreement, then suddenly I felt used, didn’t trust him. I fell into a deep depression. Put on mood stabilizers that did no good. Took them because I was told to. Like covering a mess with a blanket.

    This last month I grieved for spending these long years with him knowing I wasn’t being treated right because of his boat preoccupation. I have been very angry at myself. He has a mean streak that is scary. He also had a perverse pleasure and in making me sad when he never acknowledged a birthday or anniversary, or valentine’s day or mother’s day. No romance. Just our marriage and daily sex.
    Since I have taken my therapists advice I have lost a lot of the rage at him and myself for staying and taking it all of these years. I was fully credentialed as a teacher and the one thing I regret the most is not working full time. He and his boats took all of our free time, it was hard to keep homes and remodel them alway s knowing we were flipping them and money went to boats as well as the “next house”. He would belittle me for wanting a house, said he only worked on them for me, I would say we had to live somewhere, an argument that fell on resentful ears. Until this last house, I always knew my present home was just an investment as far as he was concerned. He was very open about his poor opinion of women working and having independence. So he did not support me when I did work full time, so I ended up going back to part time.
    So now I understand him better and am not going for the games. I am doing things to help myself have peace of mind.
    Weird thing is we never fought, until his affair. Then all of the anger that was inside of me welled up and it was war at our house. He has continued to have his boats, just bought another one. He is determined to make it beautiful but the fantasy almost killed this project. Our local harbor does not allow lay people to work on their own boats in their yards anymore, which means we have to get this boat running with a new engine dropped in by crane, something that is happening this month. Before we can run it up the coast to a harbor that has a boatyard that will allow him to do his own work. We cannot afford to pay to have it done, have never paid anyone to work on our house or boats, do it ourselves.

    He has been 3 years without a boat while we fought, almost divorced, and finally have both seen that this is our life, we need to work together. I have been more confident about posing relevant concerns and he has been more forthcoming about respecting my needs to do something different than boats all of the time. He has been more compassionate and I don’t treat sex like a bodily function but now a celebration when things are going really well. Now instead of rage I just get quiet and sometimes when I am frustrated with him I just sleep in our spare room. I think we are both coming towards the middle again. But I know I have to honor my own needs and not cow tow to him always. That right to do that (I was brought up in an environment where the husband was king and my mom had no opionions of her own) is very freeing. It turns my stomach to be enraged at him and he has a way of letting me know he does not feel responsible for making me so angry. He, as a narcissist, still does not see how his behavior instigates this rage. I am realizing it’s a waste of my energy too. It does not produce the desired affect, which would be his saying he was sorry. Instead he puts his bike on the truck and takes off for a bike ride for a couple of hours. He just runs away, which causes horrible abandonment feelings in me. I know he’s coming back, but it hurts not to be recognized and validated. And it causes more anger.

    Taking care of myself is very liberating. It does not mean I am a bad wife. I am pursuing a lot of small outlets that give me friends, I had none as I was so isolated for so many years trying to always please him. My therapist said I have to take care of myself, and she is right. My husband just goes about his business in his own little boat world fantasy. He used to be a brick wall to me but he has started to respect the need to communicate and little by little has finally felt like expressing his feelings, something that has been missing about 44 years. Even eye contact! I feel like I am more in control of my reactions to his slights, no more throwing coffee mugs and raging, it only makes me look weak. This is a work in progress.

    He said cheating was not a happy thing for him and has not pursued that avenue of entertainment. He just wants to be on a boat. It’s the weirdest thing I attribute it to his reading a lot of books in his solitary youth that glorified a mode of travel and life that frankly was a hundred years ago. He’s still trying to recreate it. God save me if I disparage that! But the wake up call was finding his great plan to fix up this latest boat is so difficult without a boatyard willing to let him work on his own boat. The world has changed, now only rich people in our home harbor keep boats. I would gladly walk away from that scene, and I am conquering my fear of abandonment if he decides to take off on a world cruise. It won’t be with me. But now I know it is a vital part of his identity and he would not be himself without it. He would be lost, as impractical as it is. He would never agree it is impractical. I am speaking up about needing other outlets of travel now that we are in retirement. Boat travel is one of the hardest modes of travel you can choose. It is both physically demanding and at times horribly boring. This man will not go on a plane and hates airports. I love to travel, but not always by boat. I feel displeased that my waning years are not spent doing the road trips we took every year from the time we were first together until his infidelity. I want to go back to that too. That has not happened for several years. It is like his last card to hold to have his way. He says he is never leaving me, but sometimes I pack my back pack and make for the open road. I drive for several hours and cool off, decide I don’t want to travel alone. His response to these episodes is do what you want. This is where I worry about the cruelty. When he feels he has been wronged he will abide by his motto: don’t get mad, get even.

  66. Hi Kim,
    Though I don’t know all the details , I do know he has another love interest. She’s married also , so they are hiding their affair from the public. We live on a small island in the Caribbean.
    He also has a sexual addiction in addition to covert narcissism. He has walked out on me and refuses to talk up to now 15 months later. He has also served me with divorce papers. I feel it’s an end for us. Should I even try to help here when my hands are tied?

  67. I plugged through and left a comment also, but it got lost because I wasn’t logged in from just clicking the link,… don’t know if that can be fixed,…

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