Staying Put

By EyeOfTheStorm

I’ve recently reached a milestone in my journey distancing myself from a narcissistic personality. Like each journey, mine has some unique characteristics.

– I am a man. My wife is the narcissist. That is my own non-professional diagnosis, but I’ve been studying narcissism for about eight months now, and am confident in that statement. Having a wife who is a narcissist puts me in the minority. Apparently, being a man who will write about it online makes me even more of a minority!
– We have three children. Not that this is so terribly unique, but it is the central point of my decisions. Otherwise, I would have left after her affair and never given it a second thought.
– I am choosing to stay. Looking at how a divorce would work, the kids would spend half their time in each location. Not only is that a difficult life for a kid, but I do believe I can diffuse some of the anger/guilt that gets directed toward the children. I would not want to leave them completely with her – open to any amount of anger/guilt/manipulation. Therefore, mine is an emotional distance.

I have found a lot of advice online for leaving a narcissist and recovering, but not as much for staying. And the advice for staying with a narcissist includes things like catering to their every whim and building up their ego to stay protected. That is of no interest to me.

I have started down my own path, and am interested in sharing it as I progress. I am interested in any advice you have, as well! I’ve started with three giant steps I need in order to move forward.

Step 1 – Be Honest about the Relationship

This is not going to be a loving, giving relationship. Gone are the days of constantly giving out of love. In that mode, my return is blame, guilt, infidelity, and anger. Oh, and lots of confusion! I realize that my wife picked me because it helped to bolster her own image in some way, not because she ever wanted to share a life with me.

Moving forward, I realize that she views the relationship as part of her image, and simply wants the relationship to exist in a way that protects that image. For example, we are more successful than our friends if we have dinner at home during the week. Great – I agree. And I make sure I am a part of that and that I have the kids in the right place at the right time.

There are examples of me not conforming to her image, though. Our neighbors mulch in April, and we are apparently inferior to them because we do not. I mulch in June every year. I do it on time and do a decent job. But I do it in June so the mulch is at its best during the dry season.

How do I manage the April-June season of complaints about not having mulched yet? I am coming to grips with that. I know to first observe any comments, questions, or snide remarks without responding immediately. I simply try to figure out what part of her narcissistic image is being disrupted, and see if I can understand how that triggered her response. It is more of an ongoing experiment than a relationship. And since I know my motives for being here are the children, I am able to view it as an acceptable situation.

Step 2 – Learn the Image and Reactions

We’ve been married for well over 10 years, so I have fumbled my way through many of the landmines that come with a narcissist. I know not to mention my writing hobby because it will trigger all kinds of issues. That is not an acceptable hobby in her eyes.

But only recently have I come to put together a framework of what a narcissist values and how they respond. They value the image they are trying to protect, and they respond with various ways of trying to manipulate the outcome. Anger, lies, using other people, or whatever it takes – the goal is to protect the image, and they subconsciously use those emotions to manipulate everything back into alignment with the image.

You also need to throw in a healthy dose of randomness, because you cannot accurately predict responses. You can spot trends. I know if someone enters the house, trouble is ahead. Having an immaculate house is something that she sees as part of the image she has of herself. If the house is messy at all (there are 5 of us here, so there’s always some mess), what follows is either blame for me or the kids, new resolutions for how we live our life, or inquisitions as to why a person was ever in our house in the first place.

Step 3 – Set Your Own Goals and Methods for Achieving Them

This is a bit like advice for anyone. But it is different when done in the context of living with a narcissist. I eliminated the goal of having a wife who publicly supports me in my career and charitable endeavors. That cannot matter if I am with her. And with the other goals, how I work around her narcissism impacts how those goals can be achieved.

I can go through those specific goals later if you are interested. But for now, I’ll just give a couple examples of how I work to achieve them by either ignoring the narcissistic responses or working around them.

In some cases, like taking care of my own health, I now work toward my goals regardless of what she thinks. Every day she complains that my exercises are silly, I’m wasting my time and hers, etc. Note that she exercises every day as well, which doesn’t seem to be a contradiction to her. I ignore the comments, and am back into a healthy BMI and athletic percent body fat. I’m happy with this, and my confidence/results help me to ignore her reaction.

In other cases, like keeping a clean house, I already learned that cleaning can be a problem. I will insult her by doing her work. I will make her angry by doing a lot of housework one week when she is busy, and then going back to letting her do those parts as she becomes available. Instead, to achieve this, I work with the kids to make sure we clean our rooms, leave no clutter, etc. We do certain jobs that are clearly ours, making sure that the house can be easily cleaned any other time. I do more than my fair share, but stay away from jobs that seem to disrupt her stride.

That is the framework for how I am progressing from now on. I am only a couple months into the process, and still have frustrations when she gets angry for no reason. But I feel much better now that I have a clear path and have started to see some progress in the kids and myself, despite staying in the relationship.

I would be interested in any similar situations or advice, and look forward to providing more details and updates as I proceed.

Best wishes,
EyeOfTheStorm

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25 Responses to Staying Put

  1. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi EyeOfTheStorm! Thank you for contributing your story here. I chose to leave, but I feel different perspectives are important in dealing with narcissism, because everyone is different and every situation calls for responses that work for those involved – no cookie cutter solutions here!

    So I welcome different viewpoints and decisions, and I thank you for sharing yours. 🙂

    As for you being a man involved with a narcissist, I’m not entirely convinced that means you’re in the minority.

    I have no empirical proof, no studies to back me up, but just using reasoning, it seems to me that since narcissists are usually the last to see a therapist and generally do not, we would know about their existence mostly from their victims. And I have to wonder if women would be more likely to admit the crazy making behavior and emotional devastation to one another and to a therapist than men in the same situation would.

    So perhaps it’s not that men are in involved with fewer female narcissists than women are with men narcissists, but that men may be less likely to tell anyone about it.

    In my personal experience, I have seen women who carried extreme narcissistic traits if not actually the personality disorder itself. Also, while there may not be as many stories about narcissistic women from men,there are no lack of stories about narcissistic moms from their children.

    So I figure those moms had to have been hooked up with a man, husband or otherwise, at one point or another. Right? So I wonder about them. Where are they? What are their stories? Maybe they will be inspired by you. 🙂

    Anyway, again, thank you for sharing. I look forward to talking to you some more, and will do so over the next few days, but for now I have to go.

    Take care!

  2. PhoenixRising says:

    Hey, EyeOfTheStorm, I just found an older blog post of mine. 🙂

    http://parentingwithanarcissist.com/2010/06/19/narcissists-arent-just-men/

  3. strongwoman2011 says:

    Hi Eyeofthestorm, I chose to leave. Finding sex toys and dirty wine glasses in the bedroom was enough for me. The cheating, degrading my skills, emotional abuse was more than I could handle while pregnant. My boy is 4 months old and I am on my own. Although I am lonely, every day my confidence increases. I cannot imagine the stress you are experiencing by “walking on egg shells” with your wife. Its admirable that you want to protect your kids. I think that you deserve the warmth, care and passion that can be found in a healthy relationship. Your kids deserve to see a healthy relationship mirrored to them. I do admire your resilience for staying. It also breaks my heart. My father was in an abusive relationship with my stepmother for many years. As a child I learned to express little of my true feelings and I didn’t ask for a lot. I resented my father for staying with an abusive woman. Everyone in the house catered to my stepmother. My mother died when I was young and my father was determined to have a traditional home. When my step mom would leave on “solo vacations” those times with my Dad was the happiest time. My father didn’t realize that he was enough I didn’t need a maternal figure. I wanted and needed a stable home. I didn’t want to tip toe around my step mother.I had to so I could reduce the abuse. I would fantasize about her leaving forever. It took 19 years for my father to file for divorce. I am still resentful. My perception was that my brothers and I were unhappy and my father didn’t care enough about our happiness to end it. I am aware that your circumstances are different however similar enough to think twice about remaining in your marriage. Coming from an adult-child that lived through it..It was difficult

  4. strongwoman2011 says:

    Eyeofthestorm, I felt it was important for you to read about my experiences. Its hard to leave and its hard to stay. Have you ever talked to them about seperation and/or divorce? Children are amazing and insightful. I would think about resigning yourself to an unhappy life.

  5. PhoenixRising says:

    Thanks for sharing your insights into this, Strongwoman. It’s valuable and gives us things to consider.

    There are SO many things to consider, and I just wish we all had a crystal ball, to take into consideration our special circumstances but, alas, it doesn’t work that way. It’s good to listen to the experiences of others, in fact many times, it’s been a life saver for me, but ultimately, it came down to me.

    I think the whole issue of whether to stay with your children and deal with narcissistic behavior/abuse or to leave, knowing that your children will be with your ex for periods of a time without you is a very difficult one to make.

    I actually made both. I stayed for two years for the sake of my children after I realized I needed and wanted to leave. Finally, it got to the point where I realized that if I didn’t leave there’d be nothing left of me to give to my child never mind protect her (my others moved out on their own).

    But it certainly wasn’t the perfect solution. I actually had to deal with anger from my child as to why did I leave her there? She resented me for the time I got to be away and she had to be there – even though I had her more often. She tried to understand intellectually, but emotionally it just felt like me looking out for myself and not her.

    She’s worked through that though, and now realizes and sees how much better she is to at least have a safe haven to go to as opposed to both of us being stuck there. She’s also older, and as a result, she has more say in where she wants to be.

    It’s been a very long road.

  6. EyeOfTheStorm says:

    Thanks for your comments. As for whether there are more female narcissists than the stats suggest, I think your logic makes sense, PhoenixRising. Looks like it’s not an overwhelming majority either way.

    And as for the staying/leaving, I appreciate the input from both of you. I am moving forward with a decision, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t second-guess it at every turn! If moving forward and standing my ground doesn’t create the environment I am hoping to create, then I will certainly re-think my choices.

    I’m hoping the driving difference is that I’m no longer choosing to take the abuse. True, I don’t step on known landmines if there is no reason to step on them. But if I need to step on a landmine, I step at it. When she is yelling about something stupid, I tell her she is yelling and should look at herself. When she argues about that, I tell her I’ll stop arguing the point, but that in no way does it mean I agree.

    Not that she really responds well to that, but I’m not here to make her think she always wins.

    I’ll keep working my plan for now!

    Thanks again for your comments,
    EyeOfTheStorm

  7. PhoenixRising says:

    I think what you are doing is commendable, EyeOfTheStorm, and that is making the best decision you can for yourself and your children with what you have. I especially admire you for being willing to ascertain the actual outcomes of your decision periodically. That is really a valuable practice we should all be mindful of.

    As much as we’d like to think or hope for the “right” answer, as if life really were a multiple choice test, it just doesn’t work that way.

    Not everyone wants to leave or can leave a relationship with a narcissist. You’ve shared your reasons for staying, EyeOfTheStorm.

    Others may choose to stay for those or other reasons. Some may be prohibited from moving out for economic reasons, and not necessarily standard of living economic reasons either, but survival reasons.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how different people survive – in the relationship or out of it. Because whether or not another parent makes the same decision as our own, every decision made by courage, growing awareness and commitment to the dignity of our own spirit and those of our children is something we can all learn from.

    I especially want to thank you, StrongWoman, and you, EyeOfTheStorm, for setting such a beautiful precedent on this blog for sharing different views while respecting one another. This is really a much needed skill in our world, and it just warms my heart to see that expressed so elegantly here.

    It’s really refreshing to see different choices expressed and expounded upon without the other person feeling or acting as if they had been personally attacked.

    I expect that there will be moments from time to time when people may inadvertently step on one another’s toes, but the beauty of real communication is taking the time to explain and to understand, to keep talking with the intent of sharing and clarifying, all the while being strong enough to allow the other to disagree.

    How different that is from what we’re used to in our experiences with the narcissist!

    I don’t expect perfection here, but I just wanted to express how much I appreciate the sincerity of all the sharing that has transpired on this blog.

    You all make me feel good to be a person. 🙂

  8. EyeOfTheStorm says:

    You’re right, PhoenixRising, it does feel nice to be able to discuss different points of view in an open environment. I hadn’t thought of that!

    And you had asked a question, strongwoman, about if I’d talked to my kids about it. I haven’t brought up the consideration of ME leaving. But a friend separated recently, and my kids came to me, separately, asking to make sure that I never did the same. My daughter said, “I would never want you to leave.”

    I thought of replying, “Oh, I’m taking you with me.” I just thanked her instead!

    It’s all still a big gray area. I do wonder if it’s my own reluctance or my desire to help the kids that is driving the decision.

    Perhaps it just feels funny that those two factors are pointing the same direction.

  9. Survivor says:

    It is very hard to always know what to do. I stuck around for a long time. Even when the physical abuse started with the NPD exhusband, I still stuck around beause of the children. It got to a point where friends were asking me to leave. It is heartbreaking thinking of what I had to do to literally survive. He was smart. He only hit me. I was dumb. I didn’t call the police. I was scared. So when it came time for the custody battle, there was no record of his abusive behavior. The kids are verbal targets and not physical ones for him. He is remarried to someone who is more of a doormat than me but he doesn’t act up when she is around. The kids tell me they fear that he will start treating her like the way he treated me. I won’t tell them but I see some of the same things. The kids will tell me their memories of how I was yelled at and placing myself in front of them to protect them from their father’s yelling. They understand that I fought for them in the custody and didn’t leave them but I left the abuse. Is there always a perfect answer? No. Are there things I wish I would have planned differently? Yes. I am human, not perfect. We all do the best we can and hope our kids survive a dysfunctional relationship with the NPD.

  10. Lioness says:

    Me and my ex separated once when my daughter was two, after his first affair, then got back together when he guilted me by saying we should be together for her 2nd birthday, then separated for the last time before she entered kindergarten. Now that she is 13 and feels comfortable discussing her feelings about the past with me, she tells me that she is grateful that he and I are no longer together, that she remembers him yelling at me all the time and it scared her.

    But in my case, there was a lot of abuse involved – physical, emotional, pyschological, verbal, reproductive coercion – plus the constant affairs and cybersex. I think everyone’s case is different and we all just have to manage the best we can with whatever our situation is.

    When my ex and I separated for the second and last time, after not seeing my daughter for a month because he evidently couldn’t be bothered, he began manipulating her something awful, trying to use her to make me feel guilty about not being with him anymore even though he was the one who threw me out for daring to confront him about his cybersex. He’d train my daughter to tell me that “Daddy is lonely without us, in the apartment all alone” and make her teary eyed and sad.

    I found that when I was with him, I was really beginning to resent my daughter, that’s the other reason I think that in my case leaving was healthier. Every time he was physically violent with me, it was because I dared to expect “his highness” to actually heaven forbid watch his own kid. So I felt really trapped and enslaved, and it was hard not to take it out on what appeared to my messed up mind as the source of my enslavement. He would not even watch her on a Saturday afternoon for me to go to the doctor for a horrible sinus infection, when he was unemployed with absolutely nothing he had to do. He’d refuse to watch her even as a baby for me to go to the store. So between the two of them, my daughter and my abuser, they became my jailers.

    Leaving him, I could finally see who the real blame lies with. With counseling and support groups for abuse victims, I am rebuilding my relationship with my daughter, and realizing she’s as much a victim of his actions as I am.

  11. strongwoman2011 says:

    Thanks PhoenixRising for your warm words. I do appreciate the openness and acceptance on this blog. Eyeofthestorm: you are a strong parent. Your days must get difficult. I am continually frustrated with my ex,NPD lack of respect for my time. I found out a custody battle will be extremely costly. My family has been pressuring me to refuse him contact with his son. Currently, he sees him at my home only. He has proven to be inconsistent. Classic Narc, when he would rather do something else. He doesn’t show up. When he is present he is critical, clock watching and distracted. I am worried about the future and how insignificant my son would feel with a father that is self-absorbed and ego-preserving. Based on this blog and other sources; I have to be strategic about a court battle.Its something I would have to save funds. I also have to have everything documented. Its exhausting! And the pressure from fmamily doesn’t help. I don’t like it but this man is in my life. Do I let my son decide what kind of father he has? Or do I work towards zero contact? He is inconsistent with visits, multiple sexual partners and all the other narcissistic traits.

  12. PhoenixRising says:

    Welcome, Lioness!

    He’d train my daughter to tell me that “Daddy is lonely without us, in the apartment all alone” and make her teary eyed and sad.

    Oh, my goodness, can I ever relate to this! When my child was very young, when I first left, her father used the same type of manipulation tactics. He’d take out old videos of happier times, of us hugging each other, sharing sweet kisses etc., and then tell my child in a plaintive voice, “I don’t know why she left…I still love her.”

    And I wanted to just smack him – HARD – because he did know why I left, and he knew just what he did to push me out the door, and even if he truly was confused, which he wasn’t, he had NO right to bring her into this.

    When I confronted him on this, he played that game with me – “Well, I don’t know why you left.”

    Like I wasn’t there. Like I was one of the other members in his audience that he performs for. It just boggles me!

    But what I find most egregious is how he used her.

    In such a toxic environment, it’s not surprising you lose sight of things, lose perspective, wind up hurting those you love the most, who need you the most.

    That’s one of the things to look out for when you remain in such situations. You must be VERY, VERY vigilant not to get caught in this downward spiral that constant emotional badgering or just the energy it takes into protecting yourself, being on guard, sidestepping, etc, can take on you.

    Only after I paid the price with my relationship with my first two beautiful children, did I begin to really wake up, to realize just how much I needed to get out of there…because as long as I was in that situation, my ability to be whole was compromised…without seeing it happen, so slowly can it creep up on you.

    I’m glad you’ve given yourself the space you need, and I’m glad you and your daughter are healing in your relationship. It’s not too late. And you’ve given increased your daughter’s chances in being able to make better choices for herself.

  13. PhoenixRising says:

    Good luck on zero contact, StrongWoman. It takes a LOT for any court to deny a parent access to their child. I know of cases where police are periodically called in by concerned neighbors, where emotional and physical abuse has been documented, and still…still, the court decides the abusive parent has rights to the child.

    I’m not trying to dissuade you. You have to do what is best for you, and perhaps you have a good chance to achieve zero contact. But it’s just my experience that that is one basket you should definitely not place even most of your eggs in, never mind all of them.

    Yes, you can let your son decide what kind of father he has…but not alone. You can make all the difference. You can’t spare him from pain, but you can arm him with knowledge as he is able to comprehend.

    Validate, validate, validate him. That is the most powerful weapon against the gas lighting, the hurting, the usury of narcissism.

    It does get better. It’s hard…for a child to see through their delusion that all children have of the near perfect beauty and goodness of their parents. But even harder for the child of a narcissist, because behind that delusion isn’t a real person who is good in essence, a flawed person perhaps, a person who makes mistakes, but someone genuine, someone you can trust to be authentic with you, someone who underneath it all loves you – you, for who you are, you who are seen by the eyes of those who matter.

    That doesn’t exist for the child of a narcissistic parent. Which makes the non-narcissistic parent all that much more important.

    The strongest weapon protecting your son isn’t zero contact.

    It’s you.

  14. PhoenixRising says:

    Survivor,

    They understand that I fought for them in the custody and didn’t leave them but I left the abuse.

    .

    Yes, my daughter understands this too now. Not at first, but over time. And she appreciates it.

  15. PhoenixRising says:

    EyeOfTheStorm,

    I haven’t brought up the consideration of ME leaving. But a friend separated recently, and my kids came to me, separately, asking to make sure that I never did the same. My daughter said, “I would never want you to leave.”

    I wonder if she meant she never would want you to leave the marriage or leave her in the relationship without you. Because that would reflect on how safe she feels in her own home.

    There’s a difference between not wanting a parent to leave because it would destroy their happy home, their safe place…and not wanting a parent to leave, because they don’t want to be left behind in an environment that is stressful or with a parent they don’t feel particularly safe with…if they, too, walk on eggshells.

    I’m not saying it’s one or the other. But just on this quote, I wonder from what perspective she was sharing this with you.

  16. strongwoman2011 says:

    Thanks PhoenixRising. I have to remind myself that I have to be strong, supportive and validating for my son. I get angry and frustrated with my ex and I worry about how my son will feel. I have to trust that my love and guidance will be enough for my boy. It will be difficult when he asks questions “Where is Dad, he said he would be here?” The “syrupy sweet” is gone for now. He has a new woman to get his Narcissistic supply from. A four month old can’t give him the ego boost he needs. My counselor gave me some tips to communicating with him. If I want to get something I have to veil it in a compliment. This is infuriating! I know that I cannot make him more self-centered than he already is so… There is a video on Youtube. A psychologist stating that only a life-crisis can cause a Narcissist to look at their behaviors. Treatment compliance is rare. They don’t believe they have any problems. If everyone would do what they wanted there wouldn’t be a problem. I am going to try this approach with the visitation schedule and savings account for our son. Last night he was supposed to be visit at a set time. He arrived late, stayed for 45 minutes and left. This allows me zero time for self care.(Walks, gym coffee with friends) I just realized he likes the idea of me waiting around for him. GRRRR I have decided that a custody battle will not net me anything right now. Phoenix you are right, in a previous job I worked with youth that were under PGO of the Province. Their parents still retained access! Kids that witnessed or were the victims of heinous abuse. Thanks for the support.

  17. Rich says:

    Dear EyeOfTheStorm,
    Thank you for your post, I can understand what you have embarked on and am very supportive.
    I agree men who write about there experiences are a minority; however there are probably many men who suffer and may be too proud to tell all.
    I’m a man, I married a narcissist and we have a child together now 12, She already had a daughter who was 4 when we met. After a 10 year marriage I left and divorced her. I have been out of the marriage over 2 years.
    I have written on other sites adding to blogs, supporting people, telling my experiences, although haven’t for a while, The narcissist in my life found my posts and then her own edited version ended up in the courts during battles over contact.
    I understand EyeOf TheStorm’s desire to protect his children. The only way my ex wife can attempt o get any narcissistic source from me, is through our daughter.
    Why did I leave? I knew nothing about narcissism through our marriage. I had watched my wife destroy all her family relationships. If you didn’t agree with her she couldn’t cope. She began to destroy our friendships, the only friends I had, were kept away from her. There were other things in our relationship that caused concern, her sexuality was very strange, she would walk around the house naked, yet sex was dirty, if you were in a vulnerable position, such as on a ladder or changing a light bulb she would attempt to expose you in front of people or the kids. I was ridiculed, everyone was at some point. Working in a bar she would come home and tell the number of people she had been able to get to expose them selves or had flashed herself to, but the attacks on others were the worst.
    As the years went on I became worried that she would one day turn on me and was becoming depressed. The times I had spent on my own with tears rolling down my face, wondering how to get out.
    On my 38th Birthday she said “I have met someone else, he is younger and better looking so it will never work, therefore your birthday present is, I am staying with you!” I left.
    I stayed in local hotels, got all the messages that she was missing me and how our daughter was missing me and wanted to see me. I moved into my own flat, I set up good contact with my daughter, (my stepdaughter was old enough to make her own decisions). Overnight I felt like a better person, within a month I filed for divorce and in her eyes that was my ultimate sin. I had rejected her and she retaliated, she tried to stop contact with my daughter, I was accused of being an aggressive and violent man and taking money from stepdaughter’s bank account. I sought an order from the courts to see my daughter, she constantly breaks it and says it me, she will not agree holidays, then when she does she will threaten to withhold our daughter’s passport.
    I am constantly reported to the police for, Harassment, aggression, violence, more recently stealing her post. This tends to happen when I reject her demands. I have letters from the police telling her I have not done anything, yet it still continues, as she believes I have and tells others I have.
    I get phone calls, letters, emails from her “friends” that I have beaten her up or beaten my daughter. My fiancée is told I am a danger to her children and grandchild.
    The past 2 years have been a really confusing time for our daughter. She has to have 2 sets of clothes, toys, everything. Mum will not let her bring anything from her home to ours on her weekend stays. She sees both lifestyles.
    Last year, at Christmas despite having a court order for our daughter to stay with me, her boyfriend tried to stop me, he called the police, they handed her over.
    This year, mum was going to buy her a “Blackberry” it’s all she wanted, to BBM her friends, it seems to be the present of choice for her age group, all she talked about up to Xmas was her Blackberry, I even received letters from her mum about it asking if I would contribute half to the monthly contract. I was getting her a laptop. I phoned her Xmas day, “What did Father Christmas bring?”
    “A Laptop” she replied, “mum says I’m not allowed to bring it to you!”
    On Boxing Day, she opened the gift from us, another laptop, I asked her what she wanted to do? She could keep the laptop, put all her Sims on it and take it wherever she wanted, there were no encumbrances, or we could take it back. She said “Dad, can we swap it for a Blackberry?” So we did just that.
    The moral is that being in a relationship with a narcissist, you do whatever you can to protect those you love and show them the right path. You are constantly set up fail and have to deal with their random actions. There is no right answer from either inside or outside the relationship and I admire EyeOfTheStorm for what he has decided to do.
    The last thought goes to my fiancée, who has been a fantastic rock and my best friend. In choosing to be in a relationship with me, she has also chosen to be in a relationship with a narcissist, we have already been to counselling to learn how to deal with my ex wife.
    Co –Parenting with a narcissist – to stay or to leave?
    ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’

    Happy New Year to All

    PhoenixRising Reply:

    @Rich, what a nightmare. I am SO sorry you have to go through this, and my thoughts are with you and your daughter. It’s totally understandable she’d be confused. This kind of behavior is confusing. It’s crazy making.

    “Co –Parenting with a narcissist – to stay or to leave?‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’”

    Oh, my gosh. Truer words never said. Perhaps that song wasn’t written specifically for the narcissist but it is SO appropriate!

    And it’s like that, isn’t it? No matter how the legal status changes, or distance, the N always will have some kind of impact on your life, and with children it’s amplified.

    I am happy for you though, Rich, that you have a wonderful partner in your life. And even more, inspired, that you have the courage to take the chance to love again. Thank you. No doubt, the love you have for your daughter is a lifeline to that precious child.

    EyeOfTheStorm Reply:

    @Rich, thanks for your comment and support. I have decided that my situation is somewhere in the middle of the extremes. My wife is certainly manipulative and not concerned about others, but sees enough value in self-restraint that we have not had police involvement.

    That is what probably gives me the choice between staying and going. I weigh the benefits of leaving vs. the benefits of staying, and I think it is a better situation for the kids if I stay.

    I have been very focused on my own goals, and am very confident these days. I am less impacted by her twists and turns, and even set up situations where the clear choice for her to maintain her image includes doing some of the things I wish she would do (get the kids to start homework before I finish work, for example).

    I certainly wish you the best, because it sounds like you are dealing with someone who is a few steps further removed from reality. From my limited view, it sure looks like you are taking the right steps. I hope your ex finds a new scratching post so you can enjoy your new relationship.

  18. PhoenixRising says:

    Happy New Year to you, Rich, and welcome! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I’m not in a position to do your comment justice, but I didn’t want to not say hello…so hello 🙂

    My time will free up a bit later this week. Perhaps even tonight, if I’m lucky!

    In the meantime, I hope you and Bunnyhop2, our two new members of this blog will get to hear from some others.

    Take care, and talk to you soon.

  19. seashel2001 says:

    Dear Eye of the Storm – Wow, I am in the same boat. My husband, an Attorney, is the Narcisstic parent in our marriage. I just read the book, “Splitting”, which was written to help Non-NPD’s prepare finaincially for divorce, when ever that happens. We raised 5 children together, and are down to 1. Our son, who is 15. I thought I was ready to divorce, after reading some books and self-diagnosing my spouse also, but after I filed for a legal seperation (to start), I had a dark feeling come over me, that I should finish this marriage, at least till our son gets to college. Not to far off. I have been through 18 years of fights, disappointments, hardly any affection, sex, you name it. It’s been hard. I have A.D.D., so at times, my responses to the hurts, made me look very bad. It was hard to remain graceful.

    PhoenixRising Reply:

    @seashel2001, welcome!

    I’m not surprised anymore to hear how many narcissists actually are lawyers. I don’t know if that’s coincidence, or if there’s something within that profession that meets the needs of a narcissistic personality. Although, I have to say I’ve also met some very fine people who are attorneys as well.

    Thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll take a look at it. It sounds really good.

    And you know, it’s hard to remain graceful around an N, whether you have A.D.D. or not! N’s do know how to push people’s buttons. And they are infamous for making their targets look like the unstable ones. The thing is, when you’re around N’s they do eventually make you unstable. But it’s the symptom of the problem, not the cause of it!

    You know what is best for you, even if at times it seems like you don’t know what’s going on at all! Three years may not be long, but it can feel like an eternity.

    I wish you luck in finding what works best for you. May you come to that place of resolution soon. 🙂

  20. consciouslycrazy says:

    I’m still not certain my children’s father is a narcissist, but he has narcissist qualities and he certainly is good at gaslighting.

    In any case, I did leave. I left for almost two years, and what followed was a nasty custody battle, all sorts of emails and texts all throughout the day, constant berating. He made up so many stories, we shared the kids 50/50, and he threw them in the fire more times than I can count. Told them lies about me, always putting them in the middle.

    It was so crushingly hard. He wouldn’t let up.

    We are back together now. Going on two years. I had to make a decision, like you, and I now live this life. To protect those children.

  21. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi StayingPut, so sorry for being inordinately late in approving your comment. I just posted about my absence, but I still apologize for any negative impact that may have had on you.

    My heart goes out to you and I am so sorry you were backed into such a corner, but I truly do appreciate that you had to make the best decision you could for your children.

    No one can make these decisions for us. There’s no right or wrong answer. We can only do the best we can. I hope you have the support you need, and I want to extend a late welcome to you on this blog.

    Welcome and best to you!
    PhoenixRising

  22. Serena says:

    Thank you very much for writing this post. I have the same problem (I am female) but am struggling daily to stay also, and it is a nice validation that others are in the same battle. On the surface, we are a poster couple for success: attractive, intelligent, with very successful jobs, a large social circle of friends in a major city, and two beautiful children, 3 and 1. My Narcissist is entitled, obnoxious yet all consider him to be the coolest guy in town. He has made it very clear that he will use every dime of savings for our children to try to take them away from me, just to do so-and scheme for the rest of his life to “win” against me with parental alienation to everyone. I am a normal person, so there is no drama but this excites him as a cerebral narcissist. Unfortunately, as his respect for women in general is so poor, my daughters, as soon as they stop being obedient or out of the cute ornamental phrase-will be subjected to 24 hours a day of criticm, derogatory comments, sneers and be dropped off with (anyone) merely to be kept away from me, as a “win”. As I was an expat for a large company, when I was sent back to the US, my income on paper is triple what I actually make since they paid for housing, car and the tax differences in Europe. So if I leave, I would also potentially pay a huge sum of alimony to him even after all of the gifts he has given me -intimidation, verbal abuse and gleeful sabotage of any happy moments I may have and the random occasional duties that I need to count on 10% of the time for the kids, like an occasional pick up from school). So, now my career is stalled due to my unreliability (meaning my children’s financial security – I realize is just a job), I am away from any support outside of babysitters and a good network of girlfriends that have their own obligations – and now may have to give 1/2 my time with my kids and income for this wolf in sheeps clothing takes pride in trying to destroy me slowly? NO! I am trying to get my ducks in a row but always being on guard and the obligations 24/7 of small children that I adore and a very full life are wearing me down. I am determined to have patience and I’ll revisit your situation to see if you can help bolter my resolve until my storm hits – and it is certainly coming soon. Thank you again.

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