Identify the Predator

Your first step is to identify the predator. And what I mean by this is that you need to understand who your husband really is, or very well might be.

In my experience, more often than not, husbands who are controlling and manipulative have some form of a personality disorder. In many cases, these men demonstrate at least some signs of what is called narcissistic personality disorder.

Many women who have made it to the stage of reading this book are working with a therapist and have learned all about narcissism. If this term is new to you then you should consider reading up on the subject. When you google terms like “narcissist husbands” and “gaslighting” you’ll probably be shocked to see how other people’s stories are almost exactly describing what you have long dealt with in your own relationship.

In case you’re not aware, the non-technical definition of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (according, at least, to Wikipedia) is: “Narcissistic personality disorder is found more commonly in men. The cause is unknown…Symptoms include an excessive need for admiration, disregard for others’ feelings, an inability to handle any criticism, and a sense of entitlement.”

Sound familiar? I thought it might.

From my experience in hearing my client’s stories, you might be dealing with a narcissistic husband if you identify with any of the following statements:

  • Your husband often makes promises to you on important issues only to break them;
  • Your husband puts you down in front of other people, including children and family;
  • Your husband seems not to care about your feelings or hurting you;
  • When you suggest marriage counseling or things to fix your relationship your husband tells you that you are the one who needs fixing;
  • Your husband isolates you from others, including your family and friends; 
  • Your husband gets upset with you and sometimes very angry for what seem like trivial reasons, which leaves you often feeling off balance;
  • Your husband often accuses you of not being a better wife or more attentive to his sexual needs;
  • Your husband is obsessed with money and (in some cases) keeps details of finances shielded from you;
  • Your husband makes threats on what will happen to you if you leave him or “rules by threats” in the relationship; or
  • Your husband accuses you of being unfaithful but he is a serial cheater.

Also, other common traits I commonly, but not always find associated with narcissistic husbands are:

  • Your husband is an only child (or only male child) and has an extremely controlling mother;
  • You had a very quick courtship/engagement before getting married or your husband began dating you while he was married to another woman and told you terrible things about the previous wife (some of which you now know or suspect were not true); or
  • Your husband is a doctor or engineer.

The point of this chapter is not to give you a degree in psychology but you have to understand who it really is that you are dealing with.  This is because people with narcissistic personality disorders or those who are habitually controlling and manipulative will almost never be capable of changing who they are.  No matter how hard you try to please him, no matter how much love you give, no matter how hard you try to change, he is likely never going to become the husband you want him to be.  In fact, sadly, with age, he will probably just get worse. 

I have had some many very wonderful women in my office who cannot get themselves to accept the reality of who their husband is, and how he is never going to change.  Don’t let this be you.  You don’t have to get divorced and I’m not trying to encourage you to do so.  The reason you need to accept the fact of who your husband is and how he will likely change is that if you don’t you are just going to repeatedly make yourself upset by trying and failing to fix the situation.  That’s the sad reality.

If you know your husband has a personality disorder (or think he might have one after reading this) than you should strongly consider working with an experienced therapist for the sole purpose of helping you develop and implement strategies for accepting who your husband is, learning that you and your future is not defined by who your husband is and how he has treated you, and having the confidence to move on from your husband if that is what you determine, after careful consideration, is necessary for you to have the happy and fulfilling life that you yearn to be living.

If you don’t know any therapists, ask around for referrals or check out therapists listed on our website, www.StayMarriedFlorida.com. If you cannot find a therapist in your area please reach out to my law firm and we will help you get the appropriate referral.