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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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When I announced my impending divorce I generally got one of three basic replies:

It’s about time!

God hates divorce!

Your life will be ruined!

Marriage is a commitment!

But he’s so NICE!

Of the three it was the last one that was the most difficult to deal with. The people who mourned my ending marriage saw it as the death of something valuable rather than the more accurate analogy of neutralizing a zombie.

Dr. Jekyll in all His Glory

I have talked to a lot of women in the years since my divorce and many of them were married to clones of my ex. One of the most frequent statements is “But why? He’s so NICE!”

Narcissists are amazing when it comes to wearing masks. They are often abusive in some way at home but complete gentlemen when in public. If your neighbor needs her tire changed he is right there to do it, all the while complaining that her husband should be more considerate of her. He’ll play catch with the lonely boy down the street while his own kids watch from the porch. My ex used to work with kids at church, go on camping trips, and do activities with them and my kids would come home completely amazed that he even knew how to do those things. His idea of spending time with them was having them do something he liked – and if they didn’t like it then they became invisible. When he took up mountain biking he expected the kids all to go but when they stopped, one by one, he went alone. It did not occur to him that they might like to go to an art museum or build a fort with him.

But, as usual, I digress.

The narc has a way of making sure that everyone knows what a good guy he is no matter what might be happening behind the scenes. It’s another way of making you look crazy. He’ll be an elder in the church or even a pastor, he’ll do volunteer work when your house is falling down, he’ll give to charity when the kids need new shoes, and you can bet he’ll make sure everyone sees.

It’s truly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde come to life.

When We Get Behind Closed Doors…

Once the front door slams shut all bets are off. Anything can happen. It might be a Dr. Jekyll day where the family sits down to a nice dinner followed by a game of monopoly or it might be a Hyde day with him ranting and raving while you and the kids hyde…I mean hide. I know the drill.

You are on your way home from church or some other function and you have your antennae up trying to second guess his mood before you get home and are subject to it. The skin on your arms feels kind of crawly, you can see the hard set of his jaw, and that little vein in his neck is bouncing around. Yep, it’s a Hyde day. I would lose myself in a book, if possible, while the kids hunkered down in front of the TV. We tried to avoid eye contact with him at all costs.

When he was called out in public for his altruism and dedication we tried very hard no to roll our eyes.

That’s When You Stop Caring What People Think

I always have been one of those that wants people to like me and to think highly of me – at least until the people I knew began to question my pleas for help and my reports of his abuses. I realized that it didn’t matter what they thought of me because they weren’t seeing anything clearly, anyway. I realized that these people were making judgments based on their own experiences without regard to the reality of my experiences. It was like someone telling Neil Armstrong that the moon didn’t really exist because they had never walked on it.

Not very logical is it?

No one can make a judgment call on what you are dealing with. More importantly you don’t need anyone’s approval to make choices that are best for you and your children. Let me tell you, they are not going to take responsibility for your emotional scars so they don’t get input on whether you leave or not. You might feel indecisive and frightened but ultimately you know what is best – even if you don’t realize it.

Just Stop

Stop covering for him. Stop making excuses for his behavior. Stop trying to be the go-between in his relationships with family or friends. Stop letting him emotionally manipulate you! Accept the fact that he is behaving like an ass and it doesn’t reflect on you, nor do you have control over it.

In the church we are told to respect our husbands and I certainly agree that respect is an important part of marriage. When we lie and cover for his immature, narcissistic behavior that’s not love, that’s not respect – it’s just us assuming the co-dependent role. Really, can you ever respect someone you have to cover for?

Of course not.

But the Future Is so Uncertain!

You may be afraid to make changes because the future is cloudy. What will you do? Where will you go? How will you survive? Will you be alone forever?

You know, life is uncertain. No one expects to lose a job, get a serious illness, or find themselves alone. We don’t think about these things as possibilities yet they are ever present. Making important changes in your life can be frightening but at least you are prepared and moving toward a positive outcome.

Everyone needs encouragement. Join First Wives World and talk to others who understand just where you are and know how to help.

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: See-ming Lee 

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  • Comment Link ghia Monday, 19 October 2015 08:56 posted by ghia

    I'm feeling the same and I'm suffocating right now. I found this article because i googled, i'm married to jeckyll and hide. I like that I am not alone, I need someone to talk to.

  • Comment Link smf74 Thursday, 18 December 2014 15:06 posted by smf74

    I absolutely relate to this, especially trying to figure out what the mood for the day or weekend would be. Literally, the day could start out okay, but by 10 AM on a Saturday, he would be stomping around, yelling at everyone, and acting alike a small child ranting and raving at the smallest things. Or, he decided it was "his" day and laid on the couch sleeping on and off, while I ran around getting chores and errands done. Mind you, I was working 2 full times jobs, and he had been fired, so he was running his own business...didn't work. It is so frustrating when people say, "He seems so nice, and he is so funny!" Well, try being married to him for a few months and get back to me is what I want to reply! He wanted a mommy, not a wife. I was glad to send him back to his mommy, who is miserable and married to an older version of him. As for me, I am dealing with the guilt of the kids not having their dad around, but they seem entirely content and so much happier. But, otherwise, I am happier than I have ever been. I am getting back to myself and knowing what I want, not always worried about making him mad or what he needs. Done with that!

  • Comment Link MJ2014 Wednesday, 29 October 2014 15:07 posted by MJ2014

    It's like you have lived in my house with me. This is exactly my case.

  • Comment Link Tash Saturday, 18 October 2014 07:18 posted by Tash

    So well put:
    "You know, life is uncertain. No one expects to lose a job, get a serious illness, or find themselves alone. We don’t think about these things as possibilities yet they are ever present."

    I think a lot of us go into denial because it's hard to accept that the unthinkable has happened, that we have been/are being abused, and that our families/relationships are disintegrating, or that our kids are going to be affected by the fallout.

    But it's healthy to acknowledge that we do kind of live in denial of reality most of the time, as though life is more of a storybook than the evening news.

  • Comment Link o johnson Thursday, 09 October 2014 08:44 posted by o johnson

    I married Jekyll and after living with him I knew he was a Hyde. But I hoped for better days and hung in there. It turned out to be 21 yrs of Jekyll/Hyde .At 46 yrs old I left, being very polite about everything making sure it was amicable, so as not to "upset" him. Did'nt ask for anything,1/2 of nothing is not much.

    I am now a young 72, have been and managed on my own all these years. I worked with Health Dept. until I retired. I thank God every for every day, I have everything I need but every day I pray for help to Forgive the Hyde, that I suffered with behind closed doors.

  • Comment Link Vette65 Tuesday, 30 September 2014 01:34 posted by Vette65

    Jecky and Hyde, yes turn it on for the new,people, we know what it was like behind closed doors, or trapped in a car driving place to place to torture us to find a good deal,only to be told about a store my son and I originally started with. He second guessed our resources to prove a point, in the end we laughed,(me and my son) the name of the store, Go Huck Yourself the salesman told narc there's a store called. 'Go Huck Yourself' I couldn't help but smile. It was a very hot,day with holiday weekend traffic galore fun. Jeckly & Hyde, narcissists or bipolar I think they are really one in the same.
    my stbx wants me,to dismiss the case. Poof and promised to always take care of me and our son. He just doesn't want the courts,in our business. Nothing would have progressed without the threat of the legal system. Trust? I like living separate from his control and questions.

    He said today that we are just going through a midlife crisis... I said I know what I lived.

    it's about energy and how we feel around people.
    Relationships' needs a recipe a plan or a person who can treat you right,respect,friends,interdependence, not co dependent. Laughter and the ability to relax around each other. I still have to ask for a time out, we are in counseling to see if we have another chance. I don't think so.
    thank you ladies. I love this forum.

  • Comment Link Zakir Borodin Tuesday, 30 September 2014 00:26 posted by Zakir Borodin

    You got one of three basic replies, and then you list five replies. That's not a good way of capturing the reader's interest or trust.

  • Comment Link FIS Tuesday, 23 September 2014 07:16 posted by FIS

    I actually married Mr Hyde and I was trying to make people see him as Dr Jekyll. I was so surprised when I told people that we were splitting up that several of them said they never liked him, and thought he was pompous, arrogant, churlish and opinionated and only accepted him because I chose to marry him. They saw through him all along, and hoped things would improve, but they were relieved when we broke up.

  • Comment Link SharP Saturday, 20 September 2014 13:59 posted by SharP

    I say the same thing guardianangel. But I don't usually say pray for him, I say you can pray for him if you want to. I can't be responsible for his spiritual condition anymore. I don't ask people to pray for him I did that as a wife and I don't want the coddpendent wife role anymore. Well said Mayre. I new it was a bad morning if he didn't say good morning. It was a good morning if he did.

  • Comment Link marye Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:08 posted by marye

    Obviously I don't know the difference between 3 and 5... :/

  • Comment Link guardianangel Friday, 19 September 2014 23:21 posted by guardianangel

    OMG! I can't tell you how many times I actually end up consoling the people I tell about the divorce! The easiest way to break the news was to say that he went nuts and I had to get a divorce to protect myself and the kids from further financial ruin - pray for him. Usually that will shut them up.

    He seemed like such a nice, fun-loving, generous guy but watch out at home. The scariest times for the kids and I were when he would start with "Do you think I'm stupid?!" It is so much more peaceful now that he is gone.