narcissistic ex-husband

4 Things To Keep In Mind When Dealing With a Narcissistic Ex-Husband

narcissistic ex-husband

 

Marriage is meant to be a beautiful thing experienced between two individuals who care for and support one another as equals. It is a rarity for someone to be dealing with a genuinely narcissistic individual as a life partner, but these situations do exist.

There are times when even after the divorce has been finalized, the other partner still has to deal with their narcissistic ex-husband for one reason or another.

These reasons can include having mutual friends or even having children with each other. Regardless of why there are ways that you can keep your distance and deal with having to face your narcissistic ex-husband once in a while for reasons that are out of your control.

How to Deal With a Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Keep Everyone Involved in Mind

Even if you were not married, there was still a “divorce” of sorts that took place between you and your now ex-partner. When two individuals decide to part ways, especially if they were together for a long period of time, it is generally more than just the two of them that are affected.

If you do not maintain boundaries for yourself, if you have children together, then this type of boundary-stepping can also affect the dynamic there. Being raised by a narcissist does its own kind of damage.

Maintain Your Personal Boundaries

By coming to the understanding that you have experienced a real separation for a purpose, it can become easier to deal with the definitive ending of your relationship with a narcissistic individual. Sometimes narcissistic individuals will try to hang on to some semblance of a relationship with their ex-spouses, even after the separation. If this is allowed to happen, then the relationship between them continues in a dysfunctional and unhealthy way.

Many narcissists like the idea of having multiple wives, in a sense. One to take care of their emotional needs and another to take care of their physical demands at home. Being firm with your ex-husband and setting boundaries between you can help to prevent this type of inappropriate “sister wife” situation from forming.

Personal Safety is Key

If you do not feel safe in your own home, then there are steps you can take to reestablish your sense of personal safety. Let’s say that you live in a home that you shared with your narcissistic ex-husband for many years. Perhaps he knows the home and the area like the back of his hand and you no longer feel comfortable living in the area, now that you have divorced.

Whether you have a restraining order on your ex-husband or not, there is no reason why you should have to live in a state of constantly looking over your shoulder. You can either choose to move to a new home or you can invest in something like a high-tech smart security system to protect yourself.

Remember That It’s Your Life

While you may have to interact with your narcissistic ex-husband, unless they are court-ordered to maintain a certain distance from you, that does not mean that you have to deal with them in any way outside of the necessary interactions. If you have to speak to your ex, due to matters having to do with your children or business-related manners, there is no reason to give in to any of their expectations on what they want from you beyond these short interactions.

Being polite and civil is different than spilling all of your most intimate information. You do not have to answer any of their personal questions if you do not feel comfortable in doing so. Since you are split up, there is no longer any reason why you should have to answer any questions they may have on your whereabouts, who you are seeing, and what you have been doing without them around.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

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Why Does The Narcissist Emotionally And Psychologically Abuse Others?

why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others

 

I’ve researched narcissism for years. Have worked with narcissistic clients and those who’ve been harmed by a narcissist. There is one thing they all want to know, “why am I this way, or, why is he that way?”

Why does the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuse others?

If you’ve ever suffered narcissistic abuse, you’ll spend a lot of time trying to understand what makes a narcissist tick. Why they behave the way they do, why did you fall prey to your narcissist?

If we’ve been hurt by someone we love it’s only natural to want to find understanding in what happened. We believe that if we can only understand our pain will lessen.

So, whether you’re a therapist, researcher or victim, there is an interest in knowing why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses.

There are many theories. Probably as many theories about why the narcissist is narcissistic as there are people wondering why.

Some of the possible reasons’ the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others:

  • They were abused as a child.
  • They were emotionally abandoned by their mothers as a child.
  • They were abandoned by their fathers as a child.
  • They suffer from a form of attachment disorder.
  • Their needs weren’t met as a child.
  • They weren’t shown love as a child, as a result, never learned how to love.
  • They weren’t taught how to love themselves as a child.
  • They were raised to believe that they are better than others.

Here is what I’ve determined: It doesn’t matter why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses others.

The why, I’m definitely sure has to do with family of origin issues and the reasons may be as varied as the damage done in a particular narcissist’s family.

If you’re ever going to understand why your narcissist abused you, the answer more than likely lies in his family history. You’ll get a better understanding of what happened to you by understanding what happened to him as a child.

But, again, why does it matter?

Why spend the time and energy on trying to figure him out when your time it is better spent on healing and moving forward with your life?

I can tell you from experience that no amount of understanding is going to lessen your pain. Once I fully understood my ex’s behaviors and actions, my pain was still there. Nothing was going to take care of the emotional pain I felt after years of abuse and losing someone I loved except TIME.

I also exhausted myself and put more focus into trying to figure him out than I did taking care of myself. The deeper I dug into information online and his family history the more I became entangled with him and we were divorced!

When I thought about the stories I’d heard about his mother and his absent father the more empathy I felt for a man who was trying to destroy me via the family court system. That isn’t when you want to feel empathy for someone!

Narcissistic men attach themselves to empathetic, kind, and caring women. We’re an easy target during the dating period, marriage and even during the divorce process. Our tender hearts can hold us back from doing what needs to be done when divorcing a narcissist…fight fire with fire!

I remember my neighbor telling me about seeing my ex in the grocery store shortly after he’d left home. Her words, “he looks like the walking wounded,” wounded me. I instantly wanted to bring him home, take care of him and fix him.

I wanted to excuse his behavior, just as I’d done during the marriage and make excuses for him instead of setting boundaries WITH him instead of taking care of myself.

If you’re like me and have dealt with or, you’re now dealing with understanding why the narcissist emotionally and psychologically abuses, I’m sure you’ve made excuses for them also.

  • “He had a rough childhood.”
  • “He had a terrible mom who never loved him.”
  • “He had an absent father and craves love and attention that he didn’t get in childhood.”
  • “He is wounded, so he is lashing out at me from a place of pain.”
  • “He is afraid to be vulnerable with me because he is afraid of abandonment.”
  • “The stress of years of damage has caused him to snap.”
  • “If I had a second chance, I could love all that damage out of him.”

After he left, I made the same excuses for his deplorable treatment of me that I had made during the marriage. Such excuses on my part not only kept me emotionally tied to him but also kept me from moving toward healing from what he had done to me.

Not all people who were abused grow into abusers. I was in bed one night, ruminating on him and his behavior when it hit me…I didn’t have a perfect childhood, but I CHOOSE not to abuse others.

My father was an alcoholic. My mother enabled his alcoholism. I was sexually abused as a child by a family friend. I experienced a tremendous amount of trauma as a child. You know what I did about it, I got therapy! I learned to deal with my childhood to keep it from impacting others negatively.

I lay there and thought to myself, “Hell compared to my childhood he led a pretty cushy life.” That’s when I realized exactly why narcissists abuse emotionally and psychologically others.

Because they can!

They have free will. No one is holding a gun to their heads and making them abuse those closest to them. They know right from wrong. I had witnessed my ex doing the right thing many, many, many times during our marriage.

With certainty, I finally knew he was mistreating our children and me because he was making the choice to mistreat us. It was within his power to treat us civilly and respectfully; he was choosing not to.

I talked with my therapist about my thoughts and his response was, “emotional problems are no excuse for bad behavior.” And he was right. I didn’t have to make excuses for my ex, I no longer felt the desire to understand why he did the things he did. I was ready to focus on myself and recovering from the abuse.

Narcissists emotionally and psychologically abuse because they are bullies. They destroy women, families, and children and cause grave harm because they are bullies. Bullies with bad childhoods but it isn’t my job or your job to fix a bully who doesn’t want to be fixed or feel he needs to be fixed.

You are not responsible for their actions. You are not responsible for their feelings. You are not responsible for their actions. You are not here to take abuse from them or anyone else and that’s what your quest to “understand” is causing…more abuse for you.

When we let go of the need to understand and figure out “why,” we let go of the narcissist and begin to heal. Are you ready to let go? Are you ready to heal?

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What Happens To Men Who Defy Divorce Court Orders? NOTHING!

divorce court order

What Happens To Men Who Defy Divorce Court Orders? NOTHING!

Over the years, I’ve spoken to many women whose ex-husbands were defying divorce court orders to pay child support. What most of them have learned when they take their ex back to court for contempt is that judges rarely throw a deadbeat in jail. They threaten to do so, but in my opinion, it isn’t often that a judge will follow through on a threat.

Not enforcing a court order undermines a woman’s ability to care for her children. For some reason though, a judge seems more concerned with how being jailed will negatively affect a deadbeat father. It isn’t only child support orders that aren’t enforced — in the Family Court System, it’s any order.

In September of 2014, my former husband and I finally went back to court on the post-majority expense issue and another issue having to do with housing. My ex was ordered to pay 93% of our son’s college expenses. He angered the judge by behaving arrogantly so the judge retaliated by slamming him with 93% of the expenses. However, with grants and scholarships, my former husband would have only had to pay a couple of thousand dollars a year. It wasn’t like the man was going to go broke helping his son with college expenses.

The judge also ordered him to follow through on the agreement he had made with me for housing dating back to September of 2010. The judge did something that I thought was very odd. He read into the court record what he had ordered and then he told both lawyers to get together and come to an agreement on how the order would be worded. Once the lawyers had come to an agreement, the judge would write the order and sign it.

My lawyer immediately contacted my ex-husband’s lawyer trying to come to an agreement on the wording. That wasn’t an easy task. When a man has been ordered to pay and do things he doesn’t want to do, his lawyer will drag his feet because the last thing he wants is an order signed by a judge.

I had a son in college who wasn’t getting any help from his father with his expenses and the housing issue was hanging over my head. I was constantly stressed over not knowing from one day to the next if I was going to lose my home. Nine months later, I was still stressed out.

Finally, after motions by my lawyer and threats from the judge, we had an agreement on the wording. In July 2015, the judge signed an order, nearly ten months to the day after we had gone to court. It was an order that my former husband never had any intention of following in the first place.

Shortly after leaving the marriage, my ex developed a sense of entitlement. Having children to care for emotionally and financially no longer fit into his agenda. He did the least he could do as far as supporting them and obstinately refused to do more even though it had been court-ordered. What he has done to them emotionally would cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.

He scoffed at the July 2015 court order just as he had all the other court orders. He was court-ordered to sign mortgage documents on a substitute home for his children. Instead, he went out within days of getting the order and signed mortgage documents for a home he was building for himself. It was a blatant snub and he got away with it.

I took him back to court for contempt of court…once again. The judge yelled at him and threatened to throw him and his lawyer in jail that day. The judge ruled from the bench in February of 2016 telling my ex that he had 60 days to comply with the original decree of divorce, which had been written in September 2010 or he would go to jail.

My ex never saw the inside of a jail and never will because judges don’t enforce court orders. To hell with those annoying written laws, the laws that mandate a judge punish someone for defying court orders. It’s those unwritten laws that determine what really happens when defiance occurs and nine times out of ten, nothing happens.

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Maddie’s Story: How I Fell In Love With a Narcissist

fell in love with a narcissist

I fell in love with a narcissist and lived to regret it.

 

The night we met, the moment I saw him, I wanted to get to know him. He didn’t make a move, though. Every time I smiled at him, he smiled back. I caught him looking at me several times but, that was as far as it got.

Connie and I left and went to another local bar. We sat at a table with friends and were talking. Within a few minutes, I looked up and saw HIM and his friends walk in and sit down. They sat next to an empty table. Connie and I got up, went out the back exit and back in through the main entrance. We sat at that empty table next to where he and his friends were sitting.

I was determined to have at least a conversation with him and, where there is a will, there is a way. I was determined to make it happen. You have no idea how many times I’ve asked myself since that night why I didn’t just let it slide. If wishes were horses, this beggar would be riding a damn fast one!

When we sat down next to his table, he felt the movement and turned to look. He saw me and a HUGE smile swept across his face. With that smile, he sealed the deal and I welcomed him in with no awareness of what that would mean for our children and me.

He was easy to fall in love with. He dropped a love bomb on me that no woman could have resisted. Unless, of course, she didn’t care for dimples and blue eyes.

What do I mean by love bomb, think flattering comments, tokens of affection, or love notes on the mirror, kitchen table, or windshield, or, flowers sent to my workplace. He pulled out all the stops. Within a month I couldn’t imagine life without him. I was full throttle in love.

What were some things he did to reel me in?

He was a jeans and T-shirt guy. I liked my men buttoned down. He went out and purchased 6 Izod buttoned-down shirts.

At least twice a week he would drop by work to take me to lunch.

Every time we got in his car he would reach over and buckle my seatbelt.

If I left his apartment in the middle of the night to go home, he’d give me time enough to get home and call to make sure I was there and safe.

He told me I was beautiful but not often enough that it would sound manipulative or cheesy.

He loved my friends and family. He genuinely appeared to enjoy their company and was always willing to spend time with them.

He shared his life with me. I didn’t have to dig for information about him, he readily volunteered it. He entertained me with stories of growing up with 8 brothers. He shared with me what it was like living in a mining community in Alaska and fishing for Salmon on a big fishing boat. He had led a life of adventure. I was a small town girl whose head was turned by phrases like, “I’ll take you there sometime.”

We planned our first sleepover, and he picked me up and took me to a local department store. He purchased new sheets, pillows, and a comforter and duvet. “Only the best for my girl,” he said. Imagine that? He wasn’t just thinking about getting in my pants. He wanted me to feel comfortable and cozy while he was in my pants. That’s the kind of shit that will make a girl swoon.

Two of my favorite things back then were Dr. Pepper and Snickers candy bars. On Valentine’s Day, he gave me a dozen roses and a gift basket with a dozen Dr. Peppers and a dozen Snicker’s bars. Imagine that, he had been paying enough attention that he knew my favorite soft drink and candy bar.

If I liked Chinese food, so did he. If I like riding Rollercoasters, so did he. He liked EVERYTHING I liked. I like romantic comedies, guess what, so did he. I loved John Grisham books, low and behold, so did he. I bet if I’d told him I like Herpes he’d have done whatever he needed to gift me some Herpes.

His father and brother came to town to visit him. He insisted I be part of all their plans.

He marked his calendar down to my birthday and made sure I knew that he was going to make it special. He told me I deserved to feel special, and “you just wait, your birthday is going to be something else.” And, he was right, he pulled out all the stops.

He was the most caring and giving lover I’d ever had. His focus was on satisfying me and making me feel cared for during sex. It was true lovemaking. Or, it was to me anyway.

He was like a fantasy, a gift of a man.

A man I had never imagined. You can’t fathom that kind of attention, affection, and love. Thoughts of a man like him didn’t lurk in the shadows of my mind because I had no idea such a man was possible. I felt like a 4-year-old who’d been given permission to eat a bowl of sugar.

We dated for a year. A year filled with comfort when he held my hand and feelings of security when he would verbally include me in his future plans. As an adult child of an alcoholic father, he gave me everything I’d ever craved. And then I became pregnant.

That’s when I was devalued, got my first taste of what it’s like to be on the wrong end of a Narcissist

To be continued.

Maddie’s Story Part I

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Why It’s Hard To Leave a Narcissist

leave a narcissist

 

When we fall in love, it’s natural to become attached and form a romantic bond. But once in love with a narcissist, it’s not easy to leave, despite the abuse. Although you’re unhappy, you may be ambivalent about leaving because you still love your partner, have young children, lack resources, and/or enjoy lifestyle benefits.

Outsiders often question why you stay, or urge you to, “Just leave.” Those words can feel humiliating because you also think you should. You may want to leave, but feel stuck, and don’t understand why. This is because there are deeper reasons that keep you bonded unlike in other relationships.

Why it’s Hard to Leave a Narcissist

Narcissists, especially, can be exceedingly charming, interesting, and enlivening to be around. Initially, they and other abusers may treat you with kindness and warmth, or even love bomb you. Of course, you want to be with them forever and easily become dependent on their attention and validation. Once you’re hooked and they feel secure, they aren’t motivated to be nice to you. Their charming traits fade or disappear and are replaced or intermixed with varying degrees of coldness, criticism, demands, and narcissistic abuse. (See “Narcissus and Echo:  The Heartbreak of Relationships with Narcissists.)

You’re hopeful and accommodating and keep trying to win back their loving attention. Meanwhile, your self-esteem and independence are undermined daily. You may be gaslighted and begin doubting your own perceptions due to blame and lies. When you object, you’re attacked, intimidated, or confused by manipulation. Over time, you attempt to avoid conflict and become more deferential.  As denial and cognitive dissonance grow, you do and allow things you wouldn’t have imagined when you first met. Your shame increases as your self-esteem declines. You wonder what happened to the happy, self-respecting, confident person you once were.

Research confirms that it’s common for victims to attach to their abuser, particularly when there’s intermittent positive reinforcement. You may be trauma-bonded, meaning that after being subjected to prolonged belittling and control, you’ve become childlike and addicted to any sign of approval from your abuser. This is referred to as Stockholm Syndrome, named for hostages who developed positive feelings for their captors.

You’re especially susceptible to this if the relationship dynamics are repeating a pattern you experienced with a distant, abusive, absent, or withholding parent. The trauma bond with your partner outweighs the negative aspects of the relationship. Studies show that victims of physical abuse on average don’t leave until after the seventh incident of violence. They not only fear retaliation, but also the loss of the emotional connection with their partner, which can feel worse than the abuse.

Additionally, codependents, who are usually preyed upon by narcissists and abusers, often feel trapped and find it hard to leave any relationship. They can be loyal to a fault due to their codependency.

After You Leave a Narcissist

Narcissists and abusers are basically codependent. (See “Narcissists are Codependent, too.”) If you distance yourself from them, they do what it takes to pull you back in, because they don’t want to be abandoned. Narcissists want to keep you interested to feed their ego and supply their needs (“narcissistic supply”). Being left is a major humiliation and blow to their fragile self. They will attempt to stop you with kindness and charm, blame and guilt-trips, threats and punishment, or neediness, promises, or pleas―whatever it takes to control you so that they “win.”

If you succeed in leaving a narcissist, they usually continue their games to exert power over you that compensates for their hidden insecurities. They may gossip and slander you to family and friends, hoover you to suck you back into the relationship (like a vacuum cleaner). They show up on your social media, try to make you jealous with photos of them having fun with someone else, talk to your friends and relatives, text or call you, promise to reform, express guilt and love, ask for help, or “accidentally” appear in your neighborhood or usual haunts.

They don’t want to be forgotten but keep you waiting and hoping. Just when you think you’ve moved on, you’re reeled back in. This may reflect their intentional spacing of contacts. Even if they don’t want to be with you, they may not want you to let go or be with anyone else. The fact that you respond to them may give them enough satisfaction. When they contact you, remember that they’re incapable of giving you what you need.

You might feel guilty or tell yourself that your ex really still loves you and that you’re special to him or her. Who wouldn’t want to think that? You’re vulnerable to forgetting all the pain you had and why you left. (See “Why and How Narcissists Play Games.”) If you resist their attention, it fuels their ambition. But once you fall into their trap and they feel in control, they’ll return to their old cold and abusive ways. Only consistent, firm boundaries will protect you and disincentivize them.

How to Leave a Narcissist

As long as you’re under their spell an abuser has control over you. In order to become empowered, you need to educate yourself. Come out of denial to see reality for what it is. Information is power. Read up on narcissism and abuse on my website. If you’re unsure whether you want to leave, take the steps in Dealing with a Narcissist to improve your relationship and evaluate whether it’s salvageable. Regardless of your decision, it’s important for your own mental health to redeem your autonomy and self-esteem. Take these steps:

  1. Find a support group, including a therapist, 12-Step group, like Codependents Anonymous (CoDA), and sympathetic friends―not ones who bash your spouse or judge you for staying.
  2. Become more autonomous. Create a life aside from your relationship that includes friends, hobbies, work, and other interests. Whether you stay or leave, you need a fulfilling life to supplement or replace your relationship.
  3. Build your Self-Esteem. Learn to value yourself and honor your needs and feelings. Develop trust in your perceptions and overcome self-doubt and guilt.
  4. Learn How to be Assertive and set boundaries.
  5. Learn how to nurture yourself. This is a life skill and also insulates you from abuse. See “12 Tips to Self-Love and Compassion.” Get the Self-Love Meditation.
  6. Identify the abuser’s defenses and your triggers. Detach from them. On my website, get “14 Tips for Letting Go.”
  7. If you’re physically threatened or harmed, immediately seek shelter. Physical abuse repeats itself. Read about the cycle of violence and actions to take.
  8. Don’t make empty threats. When you decide to leave, be certain you’re ready to end the relationship and not be lured back.
  9. If you decide to leave, find an experienced lawyer who is a family law specialist. Mediation is not a good option when there is a history of abuse. See “Do’s and Don’t’s of Divorce.”
  10. Whether you leave or are left, allow yourself time to grieve, build resilience, and recover from the breakup.
  11. Maintain strict no contact, or only minimally necessary, impersonal contact that’s required for co-parenting in accordance with a formal custody-visitation agreement.

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Maddie’s Story: I No Longer Blame Myself For The Harm My Narcissistic Ex-Husband Caused

narcissistic ex-husband

 

blame – adj : expletives used informally as intensifiers; “he’s a blasted idiot”; “it’s a blamed shame”; “a blame cold winter”; “not a blessed dime”; “I’ll be damned (or blessed or darned or goddamned) if I’ll do any such thing”; “he’s a damn (or goddam or goddamned) fool”; “a deuced idiot”; “tired or his everlasting whimpering”; “an infernal nuisance” 1: an accusation that you are responsible for some lapse or misdeed; 2: a reproach for some lapse or misdeed.

I was 45 years old, divorced and raising two sons on my own and for six years I had needed someone to blame for my predicament. I was finally able to blame someone after a conversation with my son. He was having some difficulty, emotionally, with the financial problems we faced to keep him enrolled in his college courses.

He was struggling at a time when his only concern should have been what courses he would take and living the carefree life of a college student. He was upset and through his tears, he said to me, “Mom, if we had played a role in this I might be able to deal with it. If I held some responsibility for the way things are with Dad it wouldn’t hurt so deeply.”

I began to reflect on my role in the pain of my divorce and the damage done to my children. Isn’t it human nature to want someone to blame your problems on? If there is someone to blame then we might be able to extract some justice and feel vindicated for our suffering.

As I sat thinking back I realized that the ultimate blame lay with me, the person who had fallen in love with and married his father. I had looked across a room one night a little over two decades ago and with one momentary look at his face, my fate and the fate of my children had been sealed. What came in between then and now has been, at times, powerfully loving and incredibly cruel.

How I Met my Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Connie and I chose a table close to the door and ordered a couple of drinks. We hadn’t been there long when I glanced over at the bar and noticed a group of guys sitting at the bar. I had an immediate and intense attraction to the looks of one of them.

He had a square jaw line, full lips with a perfect receding hairline. If there is such a thing!

He had a little boy look about him. He smiled at one of his friends and there were dimples, deep dimples that lay right below beautiful, icy blue eyes and rosy cheeks. He had a sweetness to his face and before I had even spoken to him, I knew, from his look, that he would be able to grab my attention and hold it.

I look back now and realize that look was the look of the “walking wounded” and that my attraction to it had to do with my need to rescue, take care of and love unconditionally anyone who needed to be fixed.

And, wounded he was. Wounded beyond fixing no matter how hard I tried. He was one of nine sons raised by a devout Catholic mother who thought it her religious duty to procreate but not mother and an absent father who thought raising the children was women’s work. He became the love of my life, the father of my children and a man who would do immeasurable harm to those who loved him most.

To be continued…

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Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms

a message of hope on mother's day

Courtesy of Brooke Kelly Photography

We have all the odds against us, but we are going to beat those odds.

 

“Four years ago, my life fell apart. I was married with a 3-year-old little girl, and we lived in an adorable gated neighborhood in the suburbs, just 4 miles inland from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I could cross highway A1A at work and eat lunch on the beach. My Jeep always had sand and seashells in it.

I felt so fortunate to have this opportunity in life after working my way through nursing school, and eventually finishing grad school with a newborn. I finally had my dream job as a pediatric nurse practitioner. My career took me to Nashville, Kansas City, and that’s where we ended up on the beach. Sounds like an amazing adventure, right? Well, little did I know, my husband was living a double life and my world was going to come crashing down on me very soon.

I was on my way home from work on a Monday afternoon, just 2 days after my daughter’s luau birthday party, and I found out we had been evicted. All of our belongings were thrown out like trash, even her new birthday presents. I wasn’t allowed back in our home, and I was told the locks had been changed.

I felt sick and like I had no control, like I had been stabbed over and over and I was moving too slow to stop the bleeding. After questioning my husband and our landlord, I discovered that we were 3 months behind on rent and other bills, despite the fact that I was shelling out money to him for our living expenses. He couldn’t answer where the money was going, but all of a sudden, things made sense. His erratic sleep habits, weight loss, running errands all the time. He always had somewhere to go and never wanted us to tag along.

I did some digging and found empty pill bottles and many empty beer cans in his car. The car that drove my child to daycare. The car that always parked in the guest parking spaces in our neighborhood instead of the driveway. I also found several years worth of MY mail in his trunk. He had been keeping random letters from collection agencies, bills, and birthday cards from me for YEARS. Why did he keep all these secrets from me?

Confused, hurt, and angry were my only emotions for the next few days.

I was running on fumes and couldn’t eat or sleep. I felt so stupid for not seeing the signs. I had been so busy with raising a child and building my practice at work. I was married to a drug addict who abandoned us in a Target parking lot 4 miles from the beach.

He had been lying to me for YEARS, and my credit was unfortunately ruined because of it. I had no idea how easy it was to open credit cards and take out personal loans in your spouse’s name. I thought I had stayed on top of my bills but had no idea he was secretly hiding things from me over the course of our 7-year marriage.

I later found out that he had another daughter! He lied about being in the Marine Corps, he lied about his education and his job. I had been living nothing but lies for almost a decade of my life! I thought to myself, ‘How could life be so cruel? How could I be so dumb?’

That first night living in a hotel, I made a Walmart run at 8 p.m. to get clothes and toiletries for us to survive the next few days while I planned my next move. I washed clothes in a hotel sink. My daughter and I tried to make the best of our ‘vacation’ as I called it, while I cried over the things we had lost, wondering how in the world I would sort through this mess. My sweet baby girl lost everything, and we had no support there.

Our closest family was in Tennessee, about 10 hours away, and my soon-to-be-ex-husband left us alone to fend for ourselves without showing any remorse. At night, I would just think of all the things we had lost. I cried silently at night, in the shower or while I was driving. I missed my belongings, and I missed the part of my heart that was stolen. I could never get those things back.

I cried for my daughter because she didn’t deserve this as part of her story. I worked so hard to get where I was, career-wise, and everything was just ripped away. Why couldn’t I just go back and change things sooner? He was a con artist, and I got duped.

I tried to smile through the pain and be strong for my daughter.

I tucked my tail, hung my head, and began my journey home. At 32 years old, I moved back into my old bedroom with a 3-year-old. I was so ashamed of myself. I left the beach and moved back to crummy ole Tennessee. To make things worse, it was SNOWING when we moved back. It was March and snowing in Tennessee. How could this situation get ANY worse?!

My daughter, on the other hand, was thrilled to make snow angels and ride in a makeshift sled with grandma and grandpa. My parents were ecstatic to let us come home. My daughter had her own playroom and slept with mama every night. (Fortunately, my parents keep EVERYTHING. Her playroom was like taking a peek back into my childhood. We’re talking original Cabbage Patch dolls, a Little Tykes kitchen from 1985, y’all. It was glorious!)

Since I had to work diligently on getting my nursing licenses in order, I wasn’t able to apply for any nursing jobs for the next few weeks. My plan was to take an assignment as a travel nurse to save up some money and pay off these old bills that I recently discovered. In the meantime, my daughter and I were going to the gym and the park almost daily.

My heart was bruised, and I needed to slowly put my life back together. I needed to show my daughter that this was our new normal and that living with grandma and grandpa would be a fun adventure. I was trying to convince myself of this too.

A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms

I desperately needed to find some friends, but I had no idea where to even start.

I finally texted an old guy friend from high school (actually, I think I went down my Facebook list and sent messages to everyone in town. I was THAT desperate for adult interaction). I jokingly asked if he knew any hot single dads. This wasn’t even relevant in our conversation, just a random thought that popped in my head. To my surprise, he said yes and immediately gave me a name.

Good heavens, was I ready for this? I was SO newly divorced, but hey, I needed friends and I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to get out of my parents’ house to meet people. My Facebook detective brain got to work. This single dad had a daughter, who appeared to be the same age as mine. After showing my mom his Facebook picture with his daughter, she screamed, ‘I KNOW THAT LITTLE GIRL!’

Come to find out, his ex-wife’s sister does my mom’s hair, and my mom had seen pictures of this little blonde girl. We live in a big city, so this is a rare occurrence. My mom wanted some juicy gossip, so she pushed me to meet him. (If she thought meeting a stranger was OK, then surely it was fine, right?!) I sent this random guy a Facebook message, and he answered back. I gave him my number and HE. CALLED. ME. So, awkwardly, I answered the phone.

He said he wanted to talk. Like, with his voice. What in the 1990s was going on?! We talked all night just like teenagers. I think it was 2 am when we finally hung up. Maybe it was sleep deprivation, but I felt like one tiny piece of my heart was placed back.

Two days later, we met for lunch. I was a little rusty on appropriate first date clothing, and I was raiding my mom’s closet for most of my attire since I was just starting to rebuild my life and wardrobe. I happened to have a job interview that day, so I wore some comfortable black flats and a pair of my mom’s black dress slacks. Yup, slacks. With pleats down the front. I also wore this shirt I lovingly call ‘the curtain shirt’. This was my 1st first date since I met my ex-husband, 10 years earlier.

He was on his lunch break, so he showed up wearing police gear and a gun on his hip. I was intimidated at first because he is a big dude with a beard and a lot of tattoos, and again, this was my first date in a decade. I am a nurse practitioner and I had never had any type of personal interaction with a police officer in my whole entire life. Now I was on a date with one!

He insisted we take a selfie that day to send to Brian, the guy that introduced us.

We went to the Bayou and sat on the patio. I don’t remember one thing we said during the entire date because I was nervous and trying not to make a mess. I ordered a shrimp po’boy (I couldn’t have ordered something messier, right?) and I don’t even remember if I ate half of it.

I just remember looking at him and getting butterflies. He had the prettiest hazel eyes and I had never dated anyone with a beard, so I’m sure I stared at it. When we were done eating, he walked me to my Jeep and gave me a hug.

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms 1

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

After lunch, I was on cloud nine. I had the biggest grin all day, and I was smitten. I could not stop thinking about him! Was I ready for this? I thought, ‘There was no way he could be interested.’ After all, I was just damaged goods. With my awful credit and all the baggage I had, surely this guy would just move on and there was no reason to get my hopes up. I just couldn’t stop thinking about him, but I definitely wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship.

To my surprise, he called me that night. (What is up with this guy? Why can’t he just text?) We had our second date on Friday night, and our first kiss. I knew at that time this was something special. However, I wasn’t quite ready to trust him, and I certainly didn’t want my tender heart to be yanked out of my chest again.

I saw him again on Sunday, which happened to be Easter. We decided to let our girls meet each other that afternoon. My daughter needed some friends too, and they became instant best friends. We looked at them playing, and then looked at each other. Huh, these girls could be twins. I could feel my heart slowly starting to grow back together.

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms 2

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

On Mother’s Day, he told me he loved me.

I knew I was falling hard and fast. When you know, you know. But, I wasn’t quite ready to let my guard down. He gave me a key to his house and told me to ‘snoop away’ while he was at work. And…I did just that. I went through every piece of paper in that house, and I couldn’t find anything. He always left his phone unlocked, his email pulled up on his laptop, he was an open book. He did not have a thing to hide.

He showed me his credit score, his bank account, and his up-to-date mortgage payments. He was a genuine, honest, open, loving person. I was damaged goods with a credit score of 300 and a deadbeat ex-husband. But, for some reason, this guy loved me and adored my daughter. I was slowly letting him into my heart and he was helping me rebuild, piece by piece. I certainly didn’t need to be saved by anyone, but he swooped in and saved me.

We discussed moving in together, but I just wasn’t sure. Things were still new to me, and I just had to protect myself and my child. I couldn’t move her again if things weren’t going to work out with us. And plus, staying in Tennessee wasn’t part of our plan. This was supposed to be just a pause in our story. Or so I thought.

He asked me to be his forever wife.

We were sitting on the couch one morning in June before he went to work, and he pulled out the biggest sapphire ring I had ever seen. He asked me to be his forever wife, while my daughter watched E.T. and clapped for us. At that moment, I knew my intent to move out of Tennessee just wasn’t part of the plan right now. Something brought me back home and love was going to keep me there.

My daughter and I moved into his 3-bedroom, 2-bath bachelor pad, which he insisted that we call OUR house. He had almost no furniture and nothing on the walls, so he told me to ‘go nuts’ with it. I had so much fun starting over from scratch. Losing all of my belongings had been so terribly painful, and I got a lump in my throat when I thought about my things just being tossed out like trash.

I shed millions of tears over the things I would never get back. However, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. I had a blank slate so that we could start OUR home. Funny how life works out sometimes.

We talked about getting married just to make things official, and I started researching courthouse weddings. I knew we needed a photographer to capture our special day, so I emailed a husband/wife team to check their availability. Well, they had 1 available date for a wedding. August 15. Wow. This was less than 2 months away and my heart skipped a beat knowing this was actually happening. I called Steven and asked him what he was doing on Saturday, August 15. He said, ‘Marrying you.’ That was all I needed to hear in order to make this happen.

We decided to elope on August 15, 2015, which was about 4 months after our first date.

I could not believe how my life had changed in those few months. I survived a failed marriage to a con-artist, moved back in with my parents as a single mom, and was now planning my wedding.

The plan was to keep our marriage a secret until our Halloween Party, and then surprise everyone by dressing as a bride and groom and showing off our wedding pictures. However, Steven refused to take off his wedding band and we just couldn’t keep it a secret longer than 2 weeks.

We got ready for our special day in a hotel room at the Peabody and walked to Court Square Park where a family friend performed the ceremony. Our little blonde girls were the flower girls and the bridesmaids. My new husband and I danced to our song playing on his phone in his shirt pocket. ‘Fall Into You’ by Brantley Gilbert. Yes, it’s cliché that we live in Tennessee and danced to a country song, but have you heard it?!

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms 3

Courtesy The Kennys Photography

The girls went home with my new mother-in-law for a slumber party so we could spend our first night as a married couple, kid-free. We had an amazing dinner, laughed over drinks in the Peabody lobby, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. This was not a dream, but my real life. The entire day was perfect.

We eventually bought a bigger house with a pool, and then right after my 35th birthday in 2017, we found out that we would be adding an ‘ours’ to the mix. We had our 3rd daughter, Junebug, and completed our family. We had our little blonde bookends, and this brown-eyed baby girl is the perfect caboose.

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms 4

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

Some people will tell you that our marriage is doomed. We both have extremely stressful jobs (his more than mine). We are both divorced and got married 4 months after our first date. We both have ex-spouse drama and are currently involved in a custody battle (I am winning). We have all the odds against us, but we are going to beat those odds.

People are always curious to hear our story, so we just look at each other and smile. Usually, our story goes, ‘We met on a blind date and got married 4 months later.’ In the end, love wins.”

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms 5

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

The post Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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narcissistic, challenging or high conflict ex

10 Strategies For Dealing With a Narcissistic, Challenging Or High Conflict Ex

narcissistic, challenging or high conflict ex

 

One of the most crucial things to keep in mind post-divorce when you were married to a narcissist or challenging person is to set good boundaries and abandon any thought of co-parenting successfully.

If one of the reasons why your marriage ended was due to your spouse being a narcissist, you probably hoped that things would get better for you and your children after your divorce. Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments might be that co-parenting with a narcissistic ex-spouse doesn’t work any better than being married to him or she did.

While co-parenting is advised by experts as an optimal situation for a child’s well-being after divorce, attempting to do so with an ex who has a high conflict personality or a personality disorder is usually unsuccessful. In most cases, an amicable relationship can’t be achieved between parents and parallel parenting is the only paradigm that should be attempted.

Parallel Parenting

Many parents don’t realize that there is an alternative to co-parenting when their ex is high conflict or has narcissistic traits. During a recent conversation with Briana, she shared her insights about the hazards of co-parenting with her former spouse who was challenging and self-centered.

Briana put it like this: “Justin made our life miserable after the divorce. He was argumentative, controlling, and late picking up our kids – or worse he’d cancel at the last minute, or not show up.”

During our conversation, I explained a solution for parents who want to co-parent with an ex who is narcissistic or challenging.  According to Dr. Edward Kruk, Ph.D., “Parallel Parenting is an arrangement in which divorced parents are able to co-parent by means of disengaging from each other, and having limited contact, in situations where they have demonstrated that they are unable to communicate with each other in a respectful manner.”

Truth be told, parallel parenting allows parents to remain disengaged with one another (and have a parenting plan) while they remain close to their children. For instance, they remain committed to making responsible decisions (medical, education, etc.) but decide on the logistics of day-to-day parenting separately.

10 strategies for dealing with a narcissistic, challenging, or high conflict ex:

1. Accept that co-parenting is not in the best interest of all children – especially when one of their parents is high conflict, self-centered, or lacks empathy.

2. Don’t tolerate demeaning or abusive behavior from your ex and be sure that you and your children feel safe. This might mean having a close friend or family member on hand when you talk to your former partner. If you plan for the worst (and don’t expect that your ex will have moved on or be caring) you’ll be less likely to be blindsided by his/her attempts to control or get back at you. Be sure to save all abusive emails and text messages. Don’t respond to them since this can perpetuate more abuse.

3. Limit your contact with your ex and try not to take calls from them when your children are nearby. It can be very hurtful to them to hear you and your ex argue – especially about them.

4. Set firm boundaries for your kids. Since their life with their other parent is unpredictable, you will have to provide stability. High-conflict personalities thrive on the possibility of combat. Be prepared and write a script to use when talking to him/her and try to stick with it, using as few words as possible. For instance, if he/she tries to persuade you to change the parenting plan, say something like: “I’m not comfortable with this idea. I’m sure you have good intentions but this won’t work for me.”

5. Be the parental role model your kids need to thrive. Show compassion toward your children and don’t bad-mouth their other parent in their presence. Children are vulnerable to experiencing loyalty conflicts and shouldn’t be in the middle between their parents. Be aware of your tone and facial expressions during interactions with your ex in front of your kids.

6. Keep your eye on the big picture in terms of your children’s future. Although it’s stressful trying to co-parent or even parallel parent with a difficult ex, it’s probably in the best interest of your children. Adopt realistic expectations and pat yourself on the back for working at this challenging relationship for your kids.

7. Focus on the only thing you can control – your behavior! You alone are responsible for your reactions to your ex’s comments and behavior. But don’t be persuaded by your ex to do something that you’re uncomfortable with just to keep the peace. Adopt a business-like “Just the facts, ma’am” style of communicating with him/her.

8. Don’t express genuine emotion to your ex or apologize for wrongdoing in the relationship.  If your ex is a perilous or abusive narcissist, they might interpret your apology as proof of your incompetence and use it against you, according to Virginia Gilbert, MFT.

9. Make sure you have a parenting plan that is structured and highly specific – spelling out schedules, holidays, vacations, etc. to minimize conflict. Using a communication notebook to share important details with your ex can be an essential tool and help you stay detached and business-like.

10. Do accept help from counselors, mediators, or other helping professionals. Make sure you have plenty of support from a lawyer, friends, family, and a therapist. Use a third party mediator when needed. Educate yourself about strategies to deal with a difficult or high-conflict ex. Therapists who utilize cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) are usually the most successful dealing with survivors of a relationship with an ex who has a personality disorder.

Under the best circumstances, co-parenting is a wonderful opportunity for children of divorce to have close to equal access to both parents – to feel close to both of their parents. Experts agree that the outcomes for children of divorce improve when they have positive bonds with both parents. These include better psychological and behavioral adjustment and enhanced academic performance. However, few experts discuss the drawbacks of co-parenting when one parent is hands-off, has a high conflict personality; or a personality disorder such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

However, it’s crucial that you take an honest look at the effect your ex’s behaviors and the dynamics in your relationship are having on you and your children. Once you accept that you can only control your own behavior – not a person with a difficult or high conflict personality – your life will greatly improve. After all, you and your children deserve to have a life filled with love and happiness!

Follow Terry Gaspard on TwitterFacebook, and movingpastdivorce.com. Terry is pleased to announce the publication of Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-lasting Relationship (Sourcebooks).

The post 10 Strategies For Dealing With a Narcissistic, Challenging Or High Conflict Ex appeared first on Divorced Moms.



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the narcissistic parent

The 10 Commandments Of The Narcissistic Parent

the narcissistic parent

 

My son walked into the room and handed me the phone. “Dad can’t talk right now; he just poured a bowl of cereal and doesn’t want it to get soggy.” My ex, who hadn’t talked to his son in twelve days, was more concerned about his cereal becoming soggy than a few moments of communication with his child. That is what it is like to co-parent with a narcissist.

In fact, there is very little co-parenting that occurs, most of your time is spent attempting to undo the damage a narcissist can do to his children. The narcissistic parent isn’t capable of “normal” paternal instincts. They view their children as objects meant to fulfill the narcissist’s needs, instead of the other way around.

A couple of years ago I found the list below on a blog that is no longer online. I’ve not read a more appropriate description of how the narcissistic parents. If you are divorced from a narcissist, I suggest you print out The 10 Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent and tape it to your frig. You will be referencing it often!

The Ten Commandments of the Narcissistic Parent:

  • I am who I tell you I am.
  • You will tell me things I want to hear or you will not be heard.
  • You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken.
  • Love is conditional upon the aforementioned.
  • Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death.
  • There is only one road in and out of here.
  • Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys.
  • Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die.
  • Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good.
  • Narcissism is a myth.

Let’s go over each briefly. Allow me to add my own two cents to what Jay wrote based on real-life experience.

I am who I tell you I am:

Our children learned this about their father the hard way. I don’t suppose there is an easy way! Their father would say one thing, do another and when they questioned his behavior, he would become highly offended. He thinks of himself as a loving, involved father even though he goes years without contact with his children.

In his mind, he is loving and involved but doesn’t see or talk to his children because they have the audacity to point out to him that “loving and involved” fathers behave in a loving and involved manner. Since his children are people who know he is not who he tells them he is, he chooses to surround himself with people who will believe he is who he tells them he is.

Confusing huh? Imagine being a child and attempting to intellectualize and rationalize such behavior from a parent.

You will tell me things I want to hear, or you will not be heard:

Refer to the example above. Our children didn’t tell their father he was a loving and involved parent, so he know refuses to hear anything they have to say. He ignores text messages, doesn’t respond to emails. He is completely out of touch because they failed to tell him what he wanted to hear.

You will feel the way I want you to feel or you will be forsaken:

This is the one that does the most damage. The narcissistic parent places no value on his children’s feelings. When we don’t value other people’s feelings our actions can do irreparable damage to those people. Our son was upset over something his father wrote him in an email. He responded and told his father, “Dad, when you say things like that, it hurts my feelings.”

His father responded and told our son, “I am not responsible for your feelings.” And then he went on to explain to the child just how unreasonable it was for his son to expect him to care about his feelings. You can’t tell a child in one voice, “I love you” and then tell them “If your feelings got hurt it is your fault” in the next and expect that child to not be emotionally damaged.

Love is conditional upon the aforementioned:

Yes, if a child refuses to feel the way the narcissistic parent needs them to feel, love, attention, caring, concern, all will be withheld. The bad news for the narcissist, children eventually adjust and move on.

That old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” works against the narcissist. I can, thankfully say that as adults our children rarely think about or mention their father. When you withdraw your love from someone they will eventually “let go” of their love for you.

Intimacy is vulnerability, and thus, death:

The narcissist alludes to intimacy without becoming fully engaged in intimacyTrue intimacy with another person means allowing yourself to become vulnerable, emotionally dependent.

Vulnerability and dependency are the kiss of death to the narcissist. Your child will love the narcissistic parent; the narcissistic parent is only able to love what the child can do for him.

There is only one road in and out of here:

And, it is a bumpy road! The road out is far more difficult to navigate.

Children are like toys that become useless when they break, which is why they must be replaced with better toys:

My ex replaced our children with a step-daughter. She reveres him, she extols his wonderfulness. She is much like his children were before the divorce. She will forever be the recipient of his goodness, until she questions a behavior or, disagrees with a belief. When that happens, she will learn how bumpy that road out can get.

Parents are really one person in two bodies. When they individuate, they die:

When my ex and I divorced in his mind I was dead. I was no longer an object that was of any use to him so any needs, feelings or desires I had become of no consequence to him. Since I was no longer important to him, he felt our children should view me through his eyes…I was someone who didn’t matter.

He could not co-parent with me; doing so would mean acknowledging me as an individual outside himself. To him I am not an autonomous human being, I’m something he tired of and discarded. The fact that our children love me and refused to also abandon their relationship with me plays an important role in his inability to continue to have a relationship with them.

Conversely, siblings are really one person in several bodies. When one individuates, that person shall be hunted down and slaughtered for the greater good:

When we divorced our children were 14 and 7 years old. The older child was quick to call his father out for hurtful behavior. The younger child made excuses and did whatever he could to keep his father happy. All the younger child cared about was spending time with his Dad. Due to that he detached himself from the emotional pain and focused on pleasing his father.

Our older child individuated, became separate from his brother and had to be done away with emotionally. Our older son is now 33 years old. His father has rarely acknowledged him since the divorce. He came to his high school graduation after 4 years of never attending a parent/teacher meeting, extracurricular activity, regular visitation and refusing to enter into counseling. That is the only time since our divorce that he has shown interest in our older child.

His child was “hunted down” and “slaughtered” emotionally.

Narcissism is a myth:

I believe that a narcissist knows they are different. They realize they are unable to form normal emotional attachments with others. Admitting to that difference would mean becoming vulnerable to the opinions of others. It is for that reason that most narcissists will deny their disorder.

The narcissist is awesome, just ask him. Awesome people don’t have personality disorders dontcha know? For the narcissist, any relationship problems are about YOU, certainly not about them and their awesome selves.

I tell clients who are co-parenting with a narcissist to keep their expectations low. Don’t expect the narcissist to tackle parenting with the same parental instincts they have.

And, never believe that you can “get through” to the narcissist and hold them accountable. Focus on your parental duties, be diligent in cleaning up the emotional messes the narcissist leaves behind and get your children into therapy. They are going to need it!

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8 Constructive Ways To Confront Your Passive-Aggressive Abuser

passive-aggressive

 

What do passive aggressive behavior and domestic abuse have in common? Physical and verbal abuse are easy to identify, but psychological and emotional abuse may lurk for awhile before the victim realizes it. These types of covert abuse are subtle or disguised by actions that appear to be normal, even loving and caring. In certain circumstances, passive-aggression could be considered covert abuse; if you are in a relationship with someone you think is an abuser, you can find resources available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

According to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, “Passive-aggressive behavior is a pattern of indirectly expressing negative feelings instead of openly addressing them.” Their feelings may be so repressed that the person doesn’t realize they are angry or feeling resentment.

When confronted with their behavior, they may appear surprised or disappointed that anyone would think that about them, as if they are misunderstood or held to unreasonable standards. They have a real desire to connect with others emotionally, but their fear of such a connection causes them to engage in self-destructive habits.

Common Passive-Aggressive Behaviors

  • Ambiguity/Lies: Take the proverb: “Actions speak louder than words.” A passive-aggressive person is known for being deceptive in their word. The best way to judge how they feel about an issue is to watch their actions.
  • Blaming/Victimization: They have difficulty taking responsibility for their actions and will find many excuses to avoid doing so. This includes when they shirk deadlines and ignore agreed-upon itineraries and timelines. Victimization is a related symptom of passive aggression; since nothing is their fault, they are always the victim.
  • Lack of Anger: Passive aggression is marked by misplaced anger. The passive aggressive person may have been taught, as a child, that anger is unacceptable. They may appear indecisive or “down for whatever”; however, by not expressing their personal ideas and preferences, a passive-aggressive person may build resentment for others through their own repression.
  • Fear of Dependency/Intimacy: According to Scott Wetlzer, author of Living With The Passive Aggressive Man, “Unsure of his autonomy and afraid of being alone, he fights his dependency needs, usually by trying to control you. He wants you to think he doesn’t depend on you, but he binds himself closer than he cares to admit. Relationships can become battlegrounds, where he can only claim victory if he denies his need for your support.” With that, it would be difficult to create an enduring, intimate connection with them.
  • Obstructionism/Power Grab: Passive-aggressive behavior shifts power in a relationship to make the perpetrator feel bigger and more entitled to affection or other gestures, while the victim will feel undeserving of their partner’s love. Similar to their willful deception mentioned above, a passive-aggressive person is also prone to emotional manipulation.

Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive-aggressive behavior.

1. Focus on one issue at a time. Don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but it won’t be very helpful to go through everything in one sitting. Remember, they avoid conflict so take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.

2. Have a time limit. Confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.

3. Make sure you have privacy. A public display will only exacerbate both sides of the issue. Shaming someone never gets positive results.

4. Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.

5. Focus on your feelings. Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. It will lead to more productive communication if you make the conversation about the marriage and how you are feeling.

6. Stay on topic. Someone who avoids conflict may also be inclined to deflect or go on tangents during the conversation. You do not have to defend yourself for wanting to discuss your feelings, and doing so would derail the conversation.

7. Respect their space. If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.

8. Remind them that you care. Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better. Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.

The Passive-Aggressive Person and You

A passive-aggressive person attracts and is attracted to co-dependents or anyone who is quick to make excuses for other people’s bad behaviors. This may not be intentional, and rather is a natural mesh of personalities—psychological abuse is never the fault of the victim.

The most important factor in saving a relationship is both parties willingness to change. A person who expresses passive-aggression likely has deeper issues that a therapist or counselor would help them to work through. Victims of such behavior may also choose to seek therapy to heal from the wounds of the relationship.

The passive-aggressive will say one thing, do another, and then deny ever saying the first thing. They don’t communicate their needs and wishes in a clear manner, expecting their spouse to read their mind and meet their needs. After all, if their spouse truly loved them he/she would just naturally know what they needed or wanted. The passive aggressive withholds information about how he/she feels, their ego is fragile and can’t take the slightest criticism so why let you know what they are thinking or feeling?

God forbid they disclose that information and you criticize them.

Confronting the Passive-Aggressive

Beware, if you confront the passive aggressive they will most likely sulk, give you the silent treatment or completely walk away leaving you standing there to deal with the problem alone.

There are two reasons for confronting the passive-aggressive. One, if done correctly you may be able to help them gain insight into the negative consequences of their behaviors. Two, even if that doesn’t happen, it will at least give you the opportunity to talk to him/her in a frank way about how his/her behavior affects you. If nothing else you can get a few things “off your chest.”

Below are 8 constructive ways to confront someone with passive-aggressive behavior.

1. Make your feelings the subject of the conversation and not their bad behaviors. Use “I” statements and not “you” statements. More than likely you will get a more productive response from the passive aggressive spouse if you make the communication about the marriage and how you are feeling.

2. Don’t attack their character. You may feel angry and want to strike out but, doing so will only cause the passive aggressive to withdraw and refuse to engage in communication.

3. Make sure you have privacy. This is only common sense. Do not call out your passive aggressive spouse in front of others.

Shaming someone never gets positive results.

4. Confront them about one behavior at a time, don’t bring up everything at once. You may have a laundry list of grievances but that doesn’t mean you have to communicate the entire list in one sitting. Remember, the passive aggressive fears conflict so, take it one grievance at a time to help them feel comfortable.

5. If they need to retreat from the conversation allow them to do it with dignity. Tell them you understand their need to leave the conversation but, before they do you’d like to agree on another date and time to continue discussing the topic.

6. Have a time limit, confrontation should not stretch on indefinitely.

7. If they try to turn the table on you, do not defend your need to have an adult conversation about your feelings. Having dealt with the passive aggressive you know that one of their main tactics is to try and turn the tables. Be on the lookout for that to happen and instead of becoming defensive insist that they stay on topic.

8. Be sure they understand that you care about what happens to them, that you love them and that you are not trying to control them. You are only trying to get to the bottom of your disagreements and make the relationship better.

Nothing is more important than helping the passive aggressive to feel safe in engaging in what they will view as a conflict.

Inside the Passive Aggressive’s Head

The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.

The passive aggressive never looks internally and examines their role in a relationship problem. They have to externalize it and blame others for having shortcomings. To accept that they have flaws would be tantamount to emotional self-destruction. They live in denial of their self-destructive behaviors, the consequences of those behaviors and the choices they make that causes others so much pain.

The passive aggressive objectifies the object of their desire. You are to be used as a means to an end. Your only value is to feed the passive aggressive’s emotional needs. You are not seen as a person with feelings and needs but as an extension of them. They care for you the way they care for a favorite chair. You are there for their comfort and pleasure and are of use as long as you fill their needs.

The passive aggressive wants the attention and attachment that comes with loving someone but fear of losing their independence and sense of self to their spouse. They want love and attention but avoid it out of fear of it destroying them. You have to be kept at arm’s length and if there is an emotional attachment it is tenuous at best.

The passive aggressive has a real desire to connect with you emotionally but their fear of such a connection causes them to be obstructive and engage in self-destructive habits. They will be covert in their actions and it will only move them further from their desired relationship with you.

The only hope for change in the way they deal with relationship issues is if they are able to acknowledge their shortcomings and contributions to the marital problems. Facing childhood wounds, looking internally instead of externally to find the cause of problems in their life will help them form deeper emotional attachments with a higher sense of emotional safety.

The post 8 Constructive Ways To Confront Your Passive-Aggressive Abuser appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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