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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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A lot of attention goes to the narcissist when it comes to research and writing. There are literally so many articles and books about narcissistic husbands (roughly 75 percent of narcissists are men) that you could not read them all in a lifetime. More are being written every day. Why?

Because there are a lot of narcissists out there and there is a lot to be said about them.

But did you ever wonder why some people get into relationships with narcissists and others don’t? Have you considered that many women who leave narcissistic relationships get right back into them with another person?

Your Role as a Narcissistic Extension

While the signs of a narcissist are pretty obvious once you know what they are it is more difficult to see the symptom of the narcissistic extension, which is basically the co-dependent in the relationship. This person is the focus of the narcissist’s abuse and, deep down in her spirit, feels that somehow she is to blame for his actions.

If I was prettier…

If I was smarter…

If I was sexier…

If I was thinner…

If I was more talented…

You see, the narcissist suffers from delusions of a sort, assuming things that aren’t true, but the narcissistic extension also believes things that aren’t true. The difference is that they both believe that it is the narcissistic extension’s fault no matter what “it” is. She will carry the blame for everything from the loss of his job to his latest affair and everything in between.

Your role as a narcissistic extension is to be the scapegoat, diverting all of his sins away from him as efficiently as the picture in the novel, Portrait of Dorian Gray. You are also the source of his energy, the supply of admiration and affirmation that he needs to feed on like the emotional vampire that he is. When you are the scapegoat your life is miserable beyond belief but it is broken up by those moments of ecstasy when he is feeding off of your admiration and you feel like the center of the universe.

It’s interesting to note that many horror story authors describe the victim of a vampire as having intense moments of ecstasy, as her blood is being drained from her. So intense are these moments that they become addictive and the victim allows herself to be used as a supply until the last drop of blood is gone and she has nothing left to give.

Sound familiar?

You're Part of the Pattern

Even though the narcissist’s actions are not your fault (repeat after me, they are not my fault) you do play a part in his melodrama. You are part of the pattern and it will be hard to stay away from narcissists until you understand how you enable their existence.

The Trophy Wife Pattern

I tease my new husband all the time that I just want to be his Trophy Wife. I just want to be arm candy without having to think about anything at all except which shoes to wear with which dress.

While it is funny in my situation now it can be sadly true in a narcissistic relationship. This is usually the first part of the cycle. You are treated as an object to make him look good whether it is by your looks, your social contacts, or your social abilities. You don’t have to think for yourself because your entire existence is for the sole purpose of making him look good.

Don’t think that it’s just the outward things he’s looking for either. If you have an ability that he can use to further himself you fit into the Trophy Wife part of the pattern. You begin to slowly exchange the idea that you have value for the idea that you have value for what you do for him/how you make him feel.

Here’s the thing, though. You can never fill that black hole inside of him. Your ability, or talent, or looks may make him feel good for a time but soon you’ll find that rather than affirming you he is criticizing you for the very thing he valued so much before. At some point you will be devalued, become not good enough, and in order to save your marriage you’ll more than likely slip more and more into the martyr part of the role.

Avoid this by keeping a guard on your own feelings. Remember that you can’t make him happy or angry but the he has to take responsibility for his own emotions. Learn to love and affirm people in a healthy way without allowing yourself to be made into an object.

The Martyr Pattern

One of your roles as a narcissistic extension is to pay attention to his needs, even to the neglect of your own. Many of us are good at that. We are moms and we sometimes get the mindset that our needs are last on the list whether it’s a need for clothing or a need for an afternoon off. The narcissistic extension is the one that has one, frayed bra held together with a safety pin while the narcissist is buying $100.00 designer ties.

You try to regain your importance in his life by being more and more of a servant.

Here’s a newsflash – your needs are just as important as the narcissist’s. If you are constantly putting your own desires aside to enable the narcissist to get what he wants you are doing yourself a disservice and allowing him to continue in his narcissistic pattern.

Avoid this pattern by making your own needs just as important as his. Don’t be the one that constantly give up things so he can have the things he wants.

The Inevitable Fate of the Narcissistic Extension

Once you are no longer acceptable as a trophy wife and have nothing left to give as the martyr you will be dropped. He will have someone else within short period of time if he doesn’t already have someone waiting for him. Fidelity is not one of the narcissist’s strong points.

If you recognize that you have been a narcissist’s extension, the supplier of his needs in one way or another, and feel that you have been literally sucked dry and have nothing left, then it’s time to take steps to make sure that you don’t go there again.

Talk to a counselor and join First Wives World for support, advice, and understanding.

Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Josemanuelerre

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  • Comment Link miranda henderson Friday, 28 August 2015 06:19 posted by miranda henderson

    thank you so much for your article. I wonder if you can help me.
    My Narcissist husband of 18 yrs and 3 small kids later and currently in process of div, to prove to be the perfect dad and wanting joint residency. I have realised that he will win as this is his mask. I have to prove what he is, expose him for who he is in court. can anyone help with finding cases where this has been proved and won in sa. any behavioural dysfunction case. my attorney is going down the wrong rd. I am a mum going to go all the way at to prove that its not good for me as the ex wife to a narcissist and for our kids to have joint custody.

  • Comment Link marye Monday, 23 June 2014 05:47 posted by marye

    bsl - my only advice is to talk to a lawyer, preferably one that understands your culture. Often the first consult is free, sometimes lawyers work on contingency. good luck - good thoughts sent your way.

  • Comment Link bsl Sunday, 15 June 2014 04:41 posted by bsl

    Thank you for this article. It describes my situation perfectly. Things are worse as we are both South Asian, and there are significant cultural expectations from both families on me, the wife. Can anyone out there recommend a lawyer in the NYC area that is savvy enough to deal with this? There is a huge financial disparity between us, and I am afraid I will not push for what I am entitled to. To add to this, I don't have access to any of our information as it is at his mother's house. Could use some advice. Thank you!

  • Comment Link marye Monday, 19 May 2014 14:20 posted by marye

    Soccercoach - I would have responded sooner but have been on vacation without Internet (wonderful and terrible). I was involved with a church that preached a twisted form of submission. I, too, thought I was serving God when I served him, and I was not open to divorce. I had accepted that I was stuck... Everyone needs to get their own revelation, of course, but there was a point where I realized that I was enabling him to sin, to live in sin, to pull me into sin. That was not the will of God, nor was it pleasing to God. Submitting to authority is not the same as being a doormat or submitting to sin, no matter what the church says. Praying for you!

  • Comment Link soccercoach Sunday, 18 May 2014 23:16 posted by soccercoach

    The Martyr Pattern
    One of your roles as a narcissistic extension is to pay attention to his needs, even to the neglect of your own. Many of us are good at that. We are moms and we sometimes get the mindset that our needs are last on the list whether it’s a need for clothing or a need for an afternoon off. The narcissistic extension is the one that has one, frayed bra held together with a safety pin while the narcissist is buying $100.00 designer ties.

    LOL! exactly. My ex rattlesnake was like this. Spending thousands on impulse buys restaurants, movies, computers and PORN.... while I was the dutiful churchy wife not allowed to stand up to her husband and he was in charge of the budget he never ever stuck to. I would beg for a pair of tennis shoes. Not realizing at the time that he got off.. got aroused sexually by me grovelling... or begging.

    I had ONE pair of shoes.. and even though the money was mine.. he was in control of it.
    My shoes had gotten wet in the yard when I was doing yard work and smelled like wet grass from a distance. But I was not allowed to just go buy myself some.

    So.. really the part where I differ was I was not trying to please him... because I had long since decided that he is acting on his own and I am just a parallel person in the household and I am forced into an non-intimate relationship where I am the mom-wife and he is the man-child and there is nothing I can do about it because the church will not let us divorce so I am not even allowed to consider it.

    But the Serving him... that was from the CHURCH.. I was serving God by serving him no matter how badly he ignores my needs as a grown woman for real affection and love. It did not matter I am not allowed to leave this. I am not allowed to stand up to it, I just have to accept it and try to make friends at church and be happy that I have kids. PERIOD. SO I was not trying to impress him I was just stuck in a mental prison where I did not think I was allowed to divorce and remarry . I could divorce and never be allowed to date again. But not remarry, not share love with a mature grown real man. NOt allowed.

  • Comment Link Mrs. Vincent Valenti Is Gone Monday, 12 May 2014 17:05 posted by Mrs. Vincent Valenti Is Gone

    I so see my part in this and how I put his needs in front of my own.L ots of packages arrive from Amazon. The down payment this f'er spent on Internet chat porn could have purchased a mansion on Long Island's north shore. Gifts from him have been something he can also use.

    Don't attempt couples counseling with these guys. Not all therapists are that bright or efficient in handling this kind of loser. He'll turn the sessions into a blame game, competing with you so the therapist will try to find you to be the crazy one. Also, stop doing anything for him. No diners, laundry, sex, touching nothing. See how long it takes him to move on. Also this f'er never did a damn thing around the house. Anything he leaves around that should go in the trash, I just toss it in his office be it a dirty fork, wrappers, used plastic cups. Just toss it in his space and close the door so you don't have to look at his mess.

    Make everything about you, just like he did to you. It's all about you and not about him. See how long he stays around. Start seeing others for casual dates just to get your mojo back.