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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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How many times in the last few months have you had the thought that if you had tried harder, been prettier/thinner/more stylish, or [fill in the blank] your marriage would still be intact?

If you’ve been in a narcissistic relationship chances are you have a lot of those kinds of thoughts even if you are thrilled to be off of the emotional roller coaster that used to be your marriage. You are torturing yourself with those types of thoughts because all of them point to your perceived failure. Surely everything that happened could have been avoided if only you’d been a little more perfect.

Climb into my pumpkin coach and let’s take a ride around fairyland, shall we?

It’s All My Fault

A common lie that we believe is that the entire house of cards came tumbling down because we sneezed. There was no room for error in our lives – if we burned dinner we had created a disturbance in the kingdom that would be felt for days. Did you wear black because he likes it on you only to be told that he was tired of seeing you in such drab colors? Or, maybe you just were ignored no matter how hard to you tried to be beautiful.

The truth is that since his opinions and even his personality changed from day to day, depending on who he was hanging around with and what his motives were, it was impossible for you to change at the same speed he did. You were always a step behind.

Honestly, you shouldn’t have been trying to change to satisfy him, anyway.

I Can Fix Him

One of my favorite fairy tales was about a princess and her brothers. The brothers were turned into swans by day and the only way for the sister to break the spell was to knit shirts from nettles for each of them. During the entire time she couldn’t speak a word or the spell would become permanent and they would never be human again.

Those of us who have been married to narcissists seem to think that if we do the right thing, say the right thing, or create the right set of circumstances we’ll break the spell and he’ll become the man we really believe he is deep down.

Guess what? That’s a bigger fairy tale than Hansel and Gretel. Nothing changes a narcissist until he wants to change.  Not circumstances, not knitting nettle shirts, and certainly not you.

I Am Worthless and Unlovable

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Did you ever think about the fact that when the evil queen looked into the mirror and asked who was the fairest in the land she never saw herself but always had the face in the mirror tell her how she looked?

You aren’t evil, not even a little bit, but you have likely been receiving your answers about how you look and who you are from your narcissistic ex. You probably haven’t looked at yourself in years. Do you really think that he has been giving you the truth?

Narcissists wouldn’t know the truth if it smacked them in the chops. They are incapable of telling it unless they have a very good reason – and then it is often with a twist.

You are not worthless and you are not unlovable. It’s time for you to take the mirror, clean it off and look at yourself to create your own opinion. Stop allowing it to tell you who you are.

Breaking the Spell of the Lies We Believe


In fairy tales words are used to cast spells and change reality. Believe it or not the narcissist does the same thing but it’s not quite as obvious. There are no murmured incantation, magic wands, or clouds of fairy dust – just cold, calculating words meant to control your actions and feed his need for drama and attention.

All of the pretty words, all of the ugly words, and all of the words in between are as meaningless as the fairy tales you read as a child. It’s time to let go of them. They aren’t real and they can’t touch you, hurt you, or define you anymore.

Don’t let them.

Put on the Glass Slipper and Head to the Dance

Prior to my first marriage I was confident, pretty, and made a lot of mistakes because I jumped into things without thinking them through. After three decades of playing Cinderella I was a shambles. All of that sweeping, cleaning, and putting someone’s needs above my own demoted me from somewhat spoiled princess to a kitchen wench. There was no Prince Charming in sight, either.

There comes a point in time when you have to stop being a victim. You have to decide for yourself what to believe, put on your own glass slippers, and decide to head to the dance all by yourself and have the time of your life.

You don’t need a rescuer. You can do that yourself. It’s time to get a new mirror, stop making nettle shirts (because your ex sure isn’t going to change into anything else), and throw out the book of spells. You may have been under a weird enchantment but it’s time to wake up and shake it off.

Learn to be your own hero. Depend on your own strong characteristics and abilities. 

Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User- martinak15

Waking Up to a New Reality

The weirdest thing happened when my ex-husband and I separated. Within a few days everything looked different. I felt different. Even the atmosphere in the house was different.

I wanted my marriage to work – I sure wasn’t happy it was over. I did try to talk about reconciliation but my attempt was half-hearted and he was lost in the magic of cyber-sex with his high school girlfriend. Reconciliation was not going to happen and I was relieved to be off the hook.

With each day that passed I found more of myself. It was like Sleeping Beauty must have felt waking up after a 100 year nap. I was fuzzy-headed, uncertain, and confused but I felt light and alive for the first time in what seemed like forever.

It’s been four and a half years. I am not always successful at pushing away negative thoughts or walking in my new glass slippers. Sometimes I miss the life that I had. I liked being a stay at home mom, I liked homeschooling, and not a day goes by that there isn’t a moment of anguish and grief over losing those things.

The life that I have found is based on reality. I have good days and bad days but I am queen of my life, responsible for my own happiness. My new husband is excellent at slaying dragons but when he is not around I can swing a mean sword, myself.

It may not seem like it now but you are coming out into a new, better reality. Seek the truth of who you are and brush away the lies. It will get easier over time.

Are you ready to move on into your new reality? Join First Wives World today and get tips and advice from those who have been exactly where you are. 


*Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: KatB Photography


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  • Comment Link Leslie Saturday, 22 August 2015 16:05 posted by Leslie

    I just recently looked up narcissist and narcissistic abuse. What an eye opener. Suddenly it all made sense. I too was told it was all my fault and there was something wrong that I couldn't take criticism. He'd say things to me that weren't true about me, but were about him. Now I just tell myself it's none of my business what he thinks about me. It's not true and he's projecting. Of course I have days it still hurts and I'm sorry he couldn't see ME as I really am. I loved that man and he could have had a wonderful life with me and he chose not to. He will never be happy with anyone but mostly himself.

  • Comment Link Green Jello Monday, 24 March 2014 20:26 posted by Green Jello

    When I separated from my ex, he once (during a horrible screaming fit where I could not escape the room) told me that "Everything (was) my fault".

    I actually considered it for a moment, and then chose to accept it. Here's the funny thing...once I just accepted that everything was my fault, then nothing was my fault. It was the most freeing experience of my entire 14+ year marriage.

    Now it's just a standing joke with my family and friends when something in their lives goes askew... we blame everything on me, have a good laugh, and then move on. :)

  • Comment Link SharP Sunday, 23 March 2014 15:31 posted by SharP

    My Ex was narcisstic and cycled. I could tell which man he was in the morning by if and how he said good morning and walked to the bathroom. I would make all my decisions for the day based on that. He was so emotional. I was the man in the relationship and he was the woman emotionally. I am learning to be female. I love being the girl.

  • Comment Link bk2 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 20:32 posted by bk2

    I find that I too sometimes have trouble walking in those glass slippers, and some days they pinch my feet, but I wouldn't want it any other way. Once I shook off the fairy dust, I realized just how ridiculous and pompous he sounded. I saw the way that he projected and assigned his feelings and behavior to me and others. I could finally stand up to him and say "I don't feel that way, I don't think that way". I could finally set boundaries, and it would make him angry when I held firm and there was nothing he could do. He has called me every name in the book. I hope it made him feel better, but he can no longer define me. He is responsible for his relationships with his children, not me. He is responsible for his decisions and actions, not me. And I am finally at peace.

  • Comment Link Petie63 Wednesday, 19 March 2014 20:31 posted by Petie63

    My latest thought about what I did wrong was: "If only I knew his real problems, I would have responded differently and our marriage would have stayed together."

    The more I learn about narcissistic characteristics, the more I see the how this would not have helped and kept me from growing out of a marriage that might have been all I thought it was.

  • Comment Link Vickie Fowler Tuesday, 18 March 2014 20:00 posted by Vickie Fowler

    It's always the same, isn't it? We search for the answers and the way to fix the relationship from within ourselves. The self-blame and torment only makes us feel worse about a situation we have no control to resolve. Shake off the fairy dust, indeed. We should never take on so much responsibility for a hopeless romance.

  • Comment Link Christine Howard Tuesday, 18 March 2014 20:00 posted by Christine Howard

    I was engaged to someone whom I believed to be a narcissist but not sure now if I was the one as he is still with the woman he cheated on me for and I know they were engaged at the most 8 months after we split and past two years hes had lovely holidays abroad with her and always said he couldn't afford to go with me we went from a caravan to a two room tent to a tiny bell tent then nothing everything I started to enjoy he would begin to hate and take it off me. When I see pictures of them together on facebook I know I shouldn't be looking they look so happy together and all that time Ive been grieving hes moved on just like that and its hard just when I start to feel better I go down again through my own fault by looking for clues about them. Hes one of those people that always come up smelling of roses and gets away with it I keep reading that the new woman will be discarded at some point but after two years it seems that they still going strong and must be intending to marry