Why does he treat his new wife so much differently than he did me?
If he had been like that with me we’d never have gotten a divorce!
I don’t think this is something that just happens with narcissists. I have heard this from nearly every woman who has been divorced and watched her ex-husband move on into a new relationship. You sit back and watch in amazement as he seems to provide her with all of those things that you begged for over the years – and he does it so effortlessly, too.
Of course,his new wife thinks you are crazy. How could you leave someone that was this sensitive, this romantic, and this thoughtful?
And, on the other side of the coin, if you’re in a new relationship with a divorced man you may be thinking those same things about his ex-wife.
We All Grow and Change
All of us grow and change over the years. Certain experiences, both positive and negative, change us forever.
In marriage there are unintended hurts, offenses, and betrayals. Over time some things are resolved, some things are healed, and some things create wounds that begin to erode the relationship despite the attempts to move past it.
Since this happens with both spouses there are three possible changes for each event. The circumstance may change the husband, the wife, and/or the marriage itself.
You may not even be aware of the changes over time because they can seem so small and insignificant. You have children, you have careers, you develop new interests, and you grow in different directions. Hurts and differences that you could overlook in the beginning get bigger and more difficult to get around.
All of that weaves itself into a self-protective armor that you automatically put on whenever you are around your spouse, even when he becomes your ex. He does the same. You’ve heard of the term, toxic relationship?
It doesn’t start that way but once it becomes toxic it is very difficult to de-contaminate.
Someone New Creates a New Dynamic
When someone new comes into the picture it creates a new dynamic. It’s a clean slate, for one thing. There is none of the history, hurt, and toxicity in the new relationship. Since the new spouse is different the whole relationship is different. Everyone is older, more mature, and hopefully has learned valuable lessons from the last relationship.
Your ex may remember some of the things that were important to you and do them for his new wife. Since she didn’t have to beg, or even ask, she reacts with delight that he is so thoughtful. He feels good because it she seems so simple to please.
Basically, she is getting the benefit of your struggles.
Don’t take it personally. It can be really painful to watch your ex treat his new wife so well. I know that I have questioned what makes her “better” than me. The answer is simply that they don’t have 30 years of history yet, he is no longer on crazy amounts of painkillers, and they are more mature in their 50s than we were in our 20s.
Now, the Narcissist
While some of that may be true for the narcissist, a lot of it is way too simplistic. A narcissist doesn’t really change. He will romance his new narcissistic extension just like he did you at first. He will be charming, romantic, sensitive, and he will be everything she always wanted in a man. That’s what they do, remember?
He will tell her how different she is from you, how she is his dream woman, and how you never appreciated him. He will deny any angry outbursts or violence but if he can’t deny it he will explain it away as it being a “very difficult time” in his life – subtly casting the blame on you, of course.
He will make her feel like a princess as long as she is providing something he needs – supporting him financially, admiration, a place to stay, or the “look” of a normal, responsible man.
Over time he will begin the same stuff he did with you. He will lie, cheat, and make excuses. At first he may blame you for it – its leftover behavior from the trauma that you caused him. At some point that will change and he will become Jekyll and Hyde with her. You know how that goes, right?
You see, for a narcissist, things don’t really change. He can pull off his persona for a while but eventually she is not going to be enough for him either. Eventually she will not meet his narcissistic needs and things will go south – just like they did with you. She’ll suffer a financial setback, gain some weight, get an illness, or become aware of his crap. The pattern will continue.
Whether your ex is just a jackass or a full blown, out of the closet narcissist the fact is you need to accept that he is going to treat women in other relationships differently than he treated you. If you take it as a statement about who you are you’ll never be able to regain your self-confidence or move on.
Disassociate Yourself from the Past
In other words, lose the baggage.
You have to move past your previous relationship if you are going to be able to grow in a new one. It is so easy to find narcissistic tendencies in your new spouse that you can easily spiral down into the old patterns and ways of responding.
Keep in mind that everyone has some narcissistic tendencies. When you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist you are sensitive to those things, and even looking for them because you are going to naturally want to protect yourself. Try to focus on the fact that this is new and it is different.
When my husband and I were first married everyone in the house tensed up if he lost his temper. I am not talking about screaming or yelling. I am talking about irritability. We were just really sensitive to it. We moved into our old battle stations. My teenage sons became protective of me and their younger siblings, the little kids disappeared, and I tried to diffuse the situation by any means possible.
The differences were many. My husband does not hit or throw things at me and the kids. He does not scream at us or call us horrible names. He is not volatile, and he is not hooked on prescription drugs. Still, if we continued to use the protective mode we had adopted during my previous marriage it is likely that new issues would have been created.
A good counselor can help you work through the old patterns that you need to deal with before you can move on in your life. Sometimes just talking to other women who have been through the same things can help, too. Join First Wives World today and get connected to a group of women who understand what you are dealing with.
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