It took a herculean effort for me to walk out on my narcissistic spouse. The craft of a narcissist, it seems, is the ability to stretch the boundaries between partners, pushing spouses to the verge of leaving and then tapering back to let them become accustomed to the loss. And then to push the boundaries again, repeating the pattern until their victims have nothing at all left. When there is nothing left to take, they become abusive. That was where it had to get for me to leave.
Following, through the end of this post, is a document I put together to bring to a therapist for advice. The only edits I am making are to remove the identities. This is exactly where I was when I made the decision to get out. For the record, on my very first visit, the therapist said -- "language" included -- "You need to get the f*** away from this woman. You cannot fix this person!"
Reasons for Divorce
- controlling behavior
- demeaning comments
- I'm always walking on eggshells trying to keep her from getting mad.
- taking over major decisions I should be involved in (i.e. giving our car to her family)
- demanding decisions and rejecting all my choices
- given up on initiating sex years ago – always rejected (I know not to use the word "always", but on this issue it is justified as I started taking note at one point – not one accepted advance in months). We have sex, but only when she initiates.
- she sits alone in her recliner, reading a magazine. Very unapproachable.
- cannot watch TV, listen to music, or enjoy the computer without the "evil eye"
- when I talk about my interests, she cuts me off – literally says, "I don't care about that"
- when angry about anything, it's OK to yell at me (huge difference between this and venting). She uses a phrase, "I need a dog to kick". I'm generally that dog.
- went to counseling years ago, and after a year, all seemed fine. 6 months after that, she referred to the experience as "that huge waste of time I put her through".
- I've considered leaving many times for financial reasons. I asked her for help – that we see a budget counselor, or even to just divide the income/expenses into hers, mine, and ours so I could save. She said she likes having control of the money.
- We rarely visit my family because the budget goes to hers. We pay for her parents to visit us at least twice a year (in addition to Christmas, when we fly them out to take care of the kids over their break instead of dumping the money into daycare).
- I used to fight. I really did. But *everything* was a fight, and she doesn't fight to resolve – she fights to win. There was no getting my way without an endurance match, and I couldn't enjoy anything I "won" because of the hard feelings it caused to get it. So I have given up. And I hate it. I don't want the kids to see this as an example of a relationship.
Two key arguments -- "straws that broke the camel's back"
- late May - She got angry at Quartus calling from a friend's house as we were talking about plans for our back yard. Started yelling at me to handle him and gave me the phone. Afterward, she told me I do nothing but play video games and drink beer (for the record, I drink maximum one beer per night and play a game for an hour or two after everyone's in bed). She blamed me for 15 years of high blood pressure and heart rate (repeating "15 years!" for emphasis at the end). She used foul language several times during this assault. Told me, "You never make a f---ing decision!" I replied, "I try. You won't accept my choices." She came back with, "Great! That's a great way to help lower my blood pressure!"
- May 30 - International festival at kids' school. We decided to go out to eat instead of staying due to lines and food choices. Along the way, she decided she didn't like the restaurant choice I'd suggested (Del Taco, because they sell hamburgers and chicken nuggets our pickiest child would eat). I suggested El Torito. No good. As I tried to guess what she wanted, she got more and more angry and resorted to swearing at me in front of the kids. By that point, I'd suggested I could cook at home (too much time), fast food restaurants (she wanted table-service), and table-service (it was a Friday and the wait would be long). When I gave up and asked where she wanted to go, she said, "Why can't you make a f---ing decision???"
That was the point where I realized I wanted out – that I had wanted it for a long time. Not because we'd had that argument, but because we have that argument all the time (in addition to the other reasons listed above). She rarely resorts to swearing, but generally uses words like stupid or idiotic to describe my choices.
I have not been happy for years. But leaving always seemed harder than staying. It hasn't gotten any easier, but I can see at least a chance to be happy – even though the thought of living alone terrifies me.
For the record – as far as "doing nothing"… I fold and put away laundry (she generally puts it in the machine and then takes credit for "doing laundry"). I fill and empty the dishwasher. I most always cook when I'm home first (though that's not an issue with me because it's rare on a workday). I usually shop for groceries. I vacuum (she can't due to a shoulder injury, but Secundus does sometimes). I clean the toilets and bathtubs (she can't handle chemicals). I do the parent-part of most every science and art project the boys bring home from school. And, though I "never make phone calls", every bill in our house is in my name because I'm the one who set up all the accounts. I also pay all the bills. I am admittedly not good at managing projects (i.e. the back yard) and doing large maintenance projects (flooring or painting), and I tend to procrastinate about them. I don't say I'm perfect, but I cringe every time I hear an impassioned "you do nothing around here. NOTHING!"