This is the third – and final – part of Sarah P’s series on Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and the narcissistic mother-in-law.  In this post, Sarah discusses attachment patterns, narcissism and infidelity while tying it all together with her example of Suzy, Steve and Steve’s narcissistic mother.  

If you missed the first 2 posts in the series, here they are:

A Real Story of a Couple Driven Apart By a Narcissistic Mother-in-Law

The Narcissistic Mother-in-law – Part 2

Attachment PatternsThe Different Kinds of Attachment Patterns

There are four different kinds of attachment patterns: secure attachment, ambivalent attachment, avoidant attachment, and disorganized attachment.

Securely attached adults: “Those who are securely attached tend to have trusting, long-term relationships. Other key characteristics of securely attached individuals include have high self-esteem, enjoying intimate relationships, seeking out social support, and an ability to share feelings with other people.”

Ambivalently attached adults: “Those with an ambivalent attachment style often feel reluctant about becoming close to others and worry that their partner does not reciprocate their feelings. This leads to frequent breakups, often because the relationship feels cold and distant. These individuals feel especially distraught after the end of a relationship.”

Avoidant attachment in adults: “As adults, those with an avoidant attachment tend to have difficulty with intimacy and close relationships. These individuals do not invest much emotion in relationships and experience little distress when a relationship ends. They often avoid intimacy by using excuses (such as long work hours), or may fantasize about other people during sex. Research has also shown that adults with an avoidant attachment style are more accepting and likely to engage in casual sex. Other common characteristics include a failure to support partners during stressful times and an inability to share feelings, thoughts, and emotions with partners.”

Disorganized attachment in adults: “A person who grew up with a disorganized attachment style often won’t learn healthy ways to self-soothe. They may have trouble socially or struggle in using others to co-regulate their emotions. It may be difficult for them to open up to others or to seek out help. They often have difficulty trusting people, as they were unable to trust those they relied on for safety growing up. They may struggle in their relationships or friendships or when parenting their own children.  Their social lives may further be affected, as people with secure attachments tend to get on better throughout their development.”

(Sources: About.com and Psychalive.com)

Attachment Patterns & Narcissism

When a child has a narcissistic mother or other primary caregiver during the crucial years of birth to three, secure attachment in disrupted. They usually develop either ambivalent or avoidant attachment patterns and these shape the very core of relationships throughout their adult life.

During childhood, “Children of Narcissistic Parents must adhere to the agenda of the Narcissistic Parent for their lives to be stable. Asserting their feelings, their rights, or their thoughts can lead to much bigger problems. These children of Narcissistic Parents learn that their feelings are invalid, unimportant, and inconsequential. They often stifle all feelings to keep the peace in the house. When a Narcissistic Parent is kind, the child learns that this kindness comes with an agenda, with strings attached. Generally, the strings include guilt or a feeling of being beholden to their Narcissistic Parent, “If I do this for you, you OWE me,” is a common behavior of Narcissistic Parents. The child is exposed to conditional – or love that requires criteria – love.” (Source: bandbacktogether.com)

Generally, children of narcissists will develop an insecure attachment style.

It is likely that Steve developed ambivalent attachment patterns. Since his narcissistic mother ran hot and cold all of the time, Steve did not have the opportunity for the stable, loving behavior that is required in order to develop a secure attachment pattern.

Into adulthood, someone like Steve might find it difficult to stand up to his mother because of this ambivalent attachment. He was never validated by his mother and so even as an adult, he seeks her approval and validation. This unconscious tie keeps people like Steve tied to their narcissistic parents in one way or another. These ties are very difficult to break.

This can be a fairly common conundrum for family scapegoats like Steve.

As a result of his attachment, Steve wanted to find a way to keep both his mother and his wife in his life. From my perspective, I would have recommended that Steve go no contact with his mother for good, but breaking these bonds is very difficult for many people and Steve was not ready for this step. This was why it was crucial for Steve to put Suzy first and delineate very strong boundaries in his relationship with his mother.

narcissistSteve’s Attachment to Suzy

Do all children of narcissists grow up to marry narcissists?

Yes and no. It truly depends on the individual and so many other external factors.

In fact, in Steve’s case, he chose not to marry a narcissist. At one point during therapy, Steve repeated fairly often that because Suzy was the exact opposite of his mother, he chose Suzy.

Suzy admitted that she felt this to be unfair. She had a difficult time understanding why Steve would make a point to marry someone like her, yet at the same time attempt to have a relationship with his mother.

For anyone who is securely attached, like Suzy was to her parents, this type of dynamic is difficult to understand. Yet, attachment runs deep. In fact, in the original attachment studies done with infant primates, scientists found that the infant monkey favored seeking out nurturing from a caregiver over the very food that was crucial to his  survival.

So, even though Steve was not getting anything positive out of his relationship with his mother, there remained the subconscious longing for a loving bond with his mother. 

There also remained a subconscious hope that one day his mother would change. I believe that all of these feelings find their root in the biological drive to securely attach to primary caregivers.

But when an individual cannot securely attached, wires get crossed and relationships become very confusing.

How does this relate to infidelity?

I believe that the attachment patterns that people develop in the first few years of life can indirectly effect a predisposition to having an affair.

If we look at Steve, the son of a female narcissist, we can see that there is a very dysfunctional undercurrent in the way that Steve’s mom relates to her son. During talks with Steve, it became apparent that Steve’s mother forced an emotionally incestuous dynamic upon him.

So, when Steve married Suzy, there was a type of symbolic threesome that had been established. Now, none of this was done on a conscious level and Steve did not drive this dynamic.

Still, Steve’s mother set up a dynamic where she was Steve’s symbolic wife and Suzy was Steve’s symbolic mistress.

In Steve’s case he was not aware of this and he was not a willing participant since he had been the only one in the family to stand up to his mother throughout his life. But, Steve may not be prone to having an affair since he has rebelled against his mother’s control.

But, let’s consider another type of son of a narcissistic mother—for example, the golden child. When the golden child gets married, the dysfunctional triad still exists and the son’s mother still falls into the symbolic role of wife.

But, the difference with the golden child is that he is likely to allow it, even if he is not consciously aware of the dynamic.

So, the wife of a golden child might be in a different situation than the wife of a scapegoat. The wife would still play the role of symbolic mistress; but, the golden child would only be loyal to the symbolic wife (his mother). This would all be an unconscious process on the golden child’s part.

But, since his wife falls into the role of mistress, there would be a subconscious awareness that one does not need to remain loyal to a mistress, but only to a wife. This may ultimately manifest in the golden child having a series of affairs.

But the over-arching issue remains the attachment pattern that was formed by the son of a narcissist. Since it is likely to be an insecure attachment, this might take the form of life-long dysfunction within his relationships. Much of that dysfunction might take the form of extramarital affairs.

I will admit that much of my thinking on this is influenced by my own research on these topics as well as the interviews I have conducted with couples like Suzy and Steve. Some scholars might agree with me, while others might not. So, it is not my intention to imply that these ideas are set in stone and not up for thoughtful debate.

narcissistic manAre You Married to the Son of a Narcissist?

Some readers might be wondering if they are married to the adult son of a narcissistic mother. That very well could be, but, it is always advised to talk with a skilled professional who has great knowledge of personality disorders.

If you are interested in reading more about what the wives of son’s of narcissists’ experience, there are so many different blogs online. All you need to do is put those key words and so many different blogs and perspectives will appear.

However, the common thread that I have found when reading blogs on this topic is that there is no behavior that is too irrational or outlandish when it comes to a narcissist. I have encountered many stories that are even more irrational and explosive than Suzy and Steve’s story.

Only recently have psychologists turned their full attention toward writing about the adult children of the personality disordered.  The damage that has been wrecked by narcissists on their children is absolutely astounding. Adults who have been forced to develop coping mechanisms in order to survive a narcissistic mother are a type of walking wounded.

What they have found is that these adult children of narcissists need even more support than previously thought since they suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, addiction, and difficulties in forming stable intimate relationships.

Yet, to the outside world, the children of narcissists appear to have had a childhood that was idyllic. Furthermore, the narcissistic parent will never take accountability.

The fact that narcissism is something that is unseen to the outside world coupled with the fact that the parent will never take accountability makes the path to healing all the more difficult.

Fortunately, there are excellent resources available and there are a few books I would recommend if you know someone in this situation.

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I would recommend the following books:

Toxic In-Laws, Susan Forward PhD

Emotional Blackmail, Susan Forward PhD

When He’s Married to His Mom, Kenneth Adams PhD

If You Had Controlling Parents, Dan Neuharth PhD

Children of the Self-Absorbed, Nina Brown

 

Readers do you suspect that you are married to the son of narcissist?

Share your experiences!

 


    46 replies to "Attachment Patterns, Narcissism and How They Relate to Infidelity"

    • forcryin'outloud

      I can say my H has always teetered between avoidant and disorganized attachment. Still does. He has always engaged in flirtatious behavior with women and many times stood at the edge of the cheating cliff line. Ironically, the time he decided to cross this line his personality disordered mother was involved. Like you stated Sarah P. my MiL has always been the symbolic wife and my therapist agreed with that analysis. Actually we referred to her as the original OW. Worst part of it EVERY therapy session revolved around my MiL. These people are so toxic and invade your life so thoroughly that literally EVERYTHING does become about them. Only is all negative, every bit of it.
      On a side note, my H came home yesterday irritated because his assistant called him out on much of the behavior described in the 2 last attachment descriptions above. From his comments she seems very frustrated that he doesn’t communicate when issues arise nor is he receptive to discussing issues. She told him he is hard to talk to and also said she is sure I have told him these same things. Boy was he agitated. Said he told her she is not his wife. Which I sure she thought, “Thank God.”

      Again Sarah P thanks for this post. From my perspective of having to deal with this dynamic for over 28 years you are spot on.

      • Sarah P.

        Forcryin’outloud,

        That is a big deal that your h is not able to keep his behavior in check with people who are not within his family system. Usually they can present a facade to the world, especially within the context of work relationships.

        Has your husband always gotten feedback of this sort from co-workers or is this new?

        I imagine he would be peeved. Bet he was triggered in a major way after someone outside of the family pointed out his behaviors accurately and succinctly.

        • forcryin'outloud

          He has gotten this feedback from a previous female co-worker and a boss who knew he was capable of more but stunted in his relationship maturity. Both times he has mentioned this feedback his mother has been in a “crisis.” It seems when she is yanking his chain he doesn’t have the forethought or energy to keep the facade going. He is highly successful which I will take a great deal of credit. I keep him balanced and have supported him to my own detriment. He is crafty and a skilled manipulator himself. Most people either love him or they are intimidated by him. As our son says, “when he comes in a room it’s like 10 people have come with him.” He has great presence. Also, he can get most anyone to do what he would like…I’ve always been amazed by that talent…and it’s not necessarily always a good thing.

          • Sarah P.

            Hello Forcryin’outloud,

            I also believe that you deserve credit for keeping him stable. Many times when they have grown up with narc moms, they have no internal center of stability. If they are smart, they will find an external center of stability– usually their wives. (And yes, it is to the wife’s detriment).

            But it sounds like your h has a great deal of charisma and can maintain a facade when his mom is not in crisis. Did his infidelity correlate to a time when his mom was in crisis and the facade cracked? Or is the infidelity just easy because he is charismatic? It seems there are certain types of ow (usually the most dysfunctional ones) who are drawn to married, charismatic men. We know the infidelity is there because of the disrupted attachment, but is there a trigger?

            If your h is peeved that he was called out in his behavior by his assistant, do you think there might be an opening to talk about his family of origin issues?

            Just received a book called “The Narcissistic Family” that is meant for diagnostic and treatment purposes. As I have said before, there is almost nothing out there that addresses the unique issues of sons of narc moms. From what I have read of the book so far, it does not address this problem either. It has only one chapter on how these adult children behave both in sexual relationships and friendships. That one chapter is only 9 pages long! (And it doesn’t discuss attachment issues, affairs, or anything else we are discussing here). Most of the stories in this book are about daughters of narc moms. I really wish there was more out there that addresses sons of narc moms, but I haven’t found it yet.

            • forcryin'outloud

              Sarah P.

              I have lost all hope in talking with him about his family issues, both birth and adopted. Every time I have brought it up in every circumstance I meet a wall worthy of Fort Knox. So, just recently I have decided to give up. It’s not worth it to me any longer.

              As far as the dropping of the facade I have to be honest and say I believe it’s when he is running on emotional empty so to speak. This usually coincides with daily or several times a week contact with his mother. She’s always in some crisis mode to be frank. So, my theory is he lets her in the door to his head and she runs wild in his amygdala while wreaking havoc on the frontal lobe. LOL!

              The OW is about as close as you can get to his mother. Their FB pages looking like the are channeling each other. A little freaky. Every potential OW I know about has been a damsel in distress with an abusive man or a lazy man or an addict man. Our therapist told him that he couldn’t rescue his mother…that she is unable to be rescued, then she repeated it and asked if he understood what she was saying. It was amazing to look at him and see the shock on his face. He was clueless as to his actions and why.

              One last thought. I believe he cannot or doesn’t choose to see his Mom for who she is. He doesn’t comprehend how unhealthy her actions are to others not just him. And if you bring up her foolishness he gets ridiculously defensive, going into verbal attack mode or gas lighting. On the upside he has created good boundaries with other women since a few months past d-day. And he has no contact with anyone he danced on the cliff with or the OW or her family. If he does I’m done.

            • Sarah P.

              That’s some awesome insight on your h trying to rescue the damsel in distress. Have noticed that tendency in my own H, especially when we were newly married. I brought it up to him early on and now he is more mindful of his behavior.

              If your h is hiding behind Fort Knox, he is trying to wall in a ton of pain. The stronger the wall, the softer the center.

              Seen in that light, we can have compassion for him. His pain must be profound.

              It’s great that he has cut contact with everyone who is a potential temptation. He is trying. But certainly stick to your boundaries and remind him you will be done if he crosses the line again.

      • Sarah P.

        Poor wife!!
        And yes, it does say it all. Am surprised that happened in Great Britain. I completed my first master’s degree in England and found that everyone was so ‘subdued’ and
        did not act out (as compared to us Americans). I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened here in the US, but Cornwall? Now that is something new.

        As for the guy– he was obviously projecting a ton of unresolved anger against his mom onto his wife. And when the wife called a spade a spade by ‘singing’ her viewpoint about his mom, he was triggered in a big way. If I had not seen the viciousness first hand that some moms are capable of with their adult sons, I would have thought the wife to be unfeeling and cruel. But, my guess is that the guy had a narc mom and his wife felt profoundly relieved when his narc mom was no longer around to meddle in their lives. I am guessing the wife had been driven to the brink by his mom and that was the reason for her behavior. But no matter what, the husband’s reaction was WRONG. He really serves as an example of how moms with unhealthy interactions with their sons can scar them and impact the son’s future behavior toward others.

      • forcryin'outloud

        If it walks like a witch and nags like a witch it’s a witch!
        My MiL is an old mean lonely woman who now has to pay friends to keep them. She has PFFs – Paid For Friends because she has sucked the life out of all the rest.
        No disrespect to the dying but I will not shed a tear when my MiL dies.
        Sad but entertaining article. I love those Brits!

    • Jeddy

      My husbands ea started after he started working with his npd mother. She parentified him all his life, treated him as a confidant and partner. We lived away from her so it was ok for years – but both h and mil told me it was strained because of me. Frankly I’ve always felt like the 3d wheel with them, even though my h never fed into her oddness, he didn’t know how to set boundaries with her. Fast forward, he’s now a business and personal partner to his mother, and begins ea with an employee who looks just like his mother. Eeew. During the ea and the cover-up, 12 months total, I was treated like textbook hell. I got dumped for the other 2 women. At least 2 therapists have pointed this out to him, which practically had him retching. His mothers lack of boundaries extended to the workplace, I almost feel like she would have endorsed the relationship with the also married ow. We haven’t been in contact for months, her choice. I’ve mentioned before she’s a therapist. She throws herself huge celebrations, requires speeches and sideshows and the like, and I haven’t attended since ow is always invited as well. So my h continues to look like the golden child so devoted to his mother and I’m the bitter wife who never participates. It’s really hard. One therapist asked him if he’d rather divorce his wife or his mother. The interesting part is that his childhood was hellish, he was given too much responsibility and saw too much turmoil as a result of his parents’ idiocy. Mil of course thinks she was superwoman and flawless, and not only raised perfect children, but all her nieces and nephews owe their happiness to her involvement as well. It’s been a hard week this week for me, trigger-city, and I’m questioning the value in making my marriage work, even though h has for the most part done the right things. But when the ea involves your mil, sil and a subordinate who still reports to h, it is often too much to bear. And the humiliation comes in nauseating waves. It’s such a twisted situation, and I’m a very private, drama detesting person.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello Jeddy,

      Certainly understand that you are a private person and detest drama. That makes it all the more difficult. The internet is great because it allows all of us who are looking for the same answers to brainstorm together without have to ‘air dirty laundry’ within face-to-face social circles. Love this blog that Doug and Linda have set up.

      Wow, I see so many layers of issues here– where to start?

      As you have seen by now, it’s almost like the affair is no longer the primary concern. The affair is the symptom/fall out/result of the unhealthy mindset of your h. But, the root of his mindset comes from being forcibly enmeshed with a narcissistic mom.

      I use the term forcible because it inherently implies that this is not a two-way relationship in regards to the enmeshment. In many cases, one can find instances where both mother and child are happily enmeshed in a codependent fashion. Your h has resisted the enmeshment all of these years, so it is a one-way enmeshment.

      But, since he doesn’t know how to set boundaries, he has been ensnared and he is so emotionally entangled that he might have trouble getting free (that is without a good therapist). But, it sounds like you already have had a great therapist and so that is excellent news. (Are you still seeing that person? Sure hope so!)

      But, even though your h would probably like to get free from the enmeshment, he also knows that he is going up against a David and Goliath type battle where the narc is the much more powerful one. Still, he can win the battle.

      It’s amazing how narcissists are a formidable opponent. I believe many people would have a better chance coming out on top in a fight with a grizzly bear. For at least the grizzly bear acts logically according to instincts and will leave the situation if someone ‘plays dead’. But, not so with narcissists. They are not logical, do not behave reasonably, and their only instinct is to destroy whoever it is that refuses to bow down and worship the narc. Still, your husband has a chance of getting free– he just has to know what he is up against and want to be free more than anything.

      The fact that the ow looks like MIL is creepy. But it adds yet another psychological layer here. I am going to take a crack at it:
      Since the ow looks his his mom, she is a symbolic surrogate for his mom. Subconsciously, if he can have a ‘healthy’ relationship with the ow, he (subconsciously) might believe that the pain of being raised by a narc mom will leave him for good. Again, none of this is conscious and if you told him, he might vehemently deny it. The issue is, no matter who it is, anyone who has had a painful childhood, especially men, do not like to come face to face with the fact that they had a bad childhood. My own husband gave me some insight on this. He said after one visit with his parents: “If I don’t deny, soften, or make excuses for my mom’s behavior and if I look at her behavior honestly, the only possibility left is that she is truly an evil person. If my mom is evil, I am basically an orphan and that is too much to deal with emotionally”. That was a huge insight for me because it explained why he still wants to and is able to have a relationship with her. He does not want to be an emotional orphan. He wants to believe he has a mom and so he re-writes many things that happen so that he doesn’t not have to come face to face with the pain of not having a loving mom. I have put myself in his shoes and know I would feel terrible if I did not have loving parents. So in your H’s case, there is a lot of pain associated with his childhood but he cannot bring himself to admit it at his core. I don’t believe the fact that the ow looks like his mom is a coincidence. It seems that by having a relationship with her, he can attempt to subconsciously work through psychic pain with his own mom. However, giving it a reason or explanation does not make his behavior right.

      Wanted to also address the ethical implications of all of this. If your MIL is a licensed therapist within the US, most states have very strict ethical codes. I do not believe what she is doing is illegal, but I know that most therapists would consider it an ethical breach for sure. (I am referring to the fact that your MIL is a therapist and knowingly employs and supports the affair between her son and another married employee in the office). There are so many things that are wrong in that scenario. But, it is apparent that your MIL is ‘la grande dame’ of her own little artificially created universe and what she says goes (or else!) And she also believes she makes the rules and is infallible.

      I agree with your therapist asking your h who he will divorce– you or his mom?

      But the point is, I believe he must choose. His mom is happily destroying your marriage and I do not believe he can sit on the fence any longer. I do not know what he can do in the practical aspects of his life, but I would strongly advise for him to cease working there and find another job. It would also be great to move out of the area again.

      Jeddy, we are all here for you and rooting for you!

    • Tryinghard

      Sarah

      I know when the old witch dies there will be no tears at my house. I will have to work very hard at not singing that tune, I will however be humming it in my head and quietly laughing in my head during the funeral. Sometimes my softer self feels sorry for her as I sometimes feel sorry for the OW but then I remember that we all have choice and the have made theirs and are living and dying with the consequences of those choices.

      My husband is very charasmatic and a true salesman. Is is also very adept at cover ups, brushing shit under the rug, and compartmentalizing. I am always on my toes. I’ve learned NOT to always show my hand where he is concerned. I can’t manipulate him and don’t want to I can only control myself and I am getting very good at it. Understatement is the rule.

      We are in a similar situation as FCOL. We are partners with his father. I am sure the only reason he has any relationship with her is for his sake and the sake of the business. We cannot buy him out or won’t since he will inherit that part of his estate. His sister inherits the balance of their personal wealth. I can ride it out. I’ve been through worse and they are old and sick. Sounds harsh but I’ve worked too hard and been through too much hell with these people to do otherwise. I used to hate her or them but now I’ve come to just not caring about them and keep my distance. I only dread when they come back from FL and have to visit them again. I’m going to keep that to a minimum. I’m planning in advance. I won’t be taken by surprise by them anymore.

      My H has told me many times that I saved his life after fighting for our marriage and getting the OW out of our lives. He calls me the glue that keeps our family and business together. My mother used to call me her rock. I can be very tough.

      I do believe my H saw the affair as temporary and that I would never find out because he was so good at covering it up and wasn’t really gone at normal times when an affair normally happens. He was well trained at keeping secrets since childhood and adolescence to keep his mother blissfully unaware and avoid blow ups . He brought that to our marriage. The OW kept passively telling him she knew all his secrets and put fear in him that she would tell me. I think it was easier for him to carry on the affair than to risk her getting mad and telling me. For a long time it worked. Poor guy had all these balls in the air juggling me and her. Finally on DDay they all fell down on him. I think he’s lost some of his penchant for ever risking living like that again. At least I hope so.

      Maybe I lived in naïveté or blinders before but no more. I’m living authentically now. As I’ve said before, it won’t take infidelity to make me leave but any kind of disrespect or taking for granted behavior. I will leave and no one will see it coming! Hell hath no fury…..

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Tryinghard,
        It seems like you know the situation and see it clearly for what it is. Is sounds like you have the strength to leave if you chose to leave one day.

        As for dealing with in-laws, it seems the best approach to take is remain out of face-to-face contact with them for as long as you can. When occasions come up where face-to-face visits are required, work hard at distancing yourself from your triggers prior to the visit. For your own sanity, learn how to keep your internal peace during face-to-face visits by knowing that everything they say and do is about them and the ‘fictional story’ that they are telling themselves internally. (But limit the visits!!)

        I have come to this place with my own MIL, but the thing that is hard on me is when she incites yelling arguments between herself and my husband. Or when she gets my FIL so wound up about nothing that he starts arguments with my husband, while MIL sits and gleefully watches, adding fuel to the fire whenever possible. That is the part I have no control over because I have no control over her. As we all know, we can only control our behavior and our reactions to events.

        Since she incites these arguments, we have set the type of boundaries where she no longer has the opportunity to incite arguments– that is, we pay for them to stay in a nice hotel when they visit, we don’t stay with them when we visit, we try to stay out in public places with them. After all, narcissists want to keep up a facade and so they generally won’t incite arguments in public places because it makes them look bad. So far, after we set those boundaries we hardly see them (by their choice). Even my husband has figured out that his parents do not want a loving relationship or a relationship that is a two-way street. He has figured out that since we have set boundaries where they do not have the opportunity to argue and demean, they do not want to see us. They don’t want a relationship– they want to argue, control, and gaslight.

        I find it tragic.

        So, if you can find ways to hang in there, it’s worth it.

        • Tryinghard

          Hi Sarah

          Once again you’ve given me an aha moment:)

          I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. I’ve seen two therapists, one psychiatrist, and one marriage counselor. I’ve read many books and have googled countless websites pertains to narcissism and infidelity. I think I’ve only scratched the surface of trying to get what is going on in this sick human psyche but I am getting there. Like FCOL said, I’m exhausted.

          My H is doing everything right, I think:), but more so I am way smarter than ever. I’ve learned to sit back and observe. We don’t talk much anymore about the affair and I really don’t have any more questions. I pretty much have my answers to the whys and hows so I feel at peace with that part.

          I am always worried he or we will revert back to our old ways. Tigers don’t change their stripes, so I’m on my toes always.

          Where my in laws are concerned I know what and who they are so I won’t ever be caught by surprise. I try to keep myself and him away from them and yes there are times when I have to be with them. I keep my part of the conversation and dutifully nod when required. I offer up no conversation or discussion which is easy since she talks incessantly with her narcissistic blather. My breaking point too is when my H sits there and takes her yelling. It really affects mine and my H relationship for days afterward. It bothers him and he becomes very sullen and moody. For myself I will continue to get up and walk away from it. I will not sit there and watch it. I think I will even point out to him how her outbursts affect him and our relationship. He promised me he would never allow anyone to ever hurt me again including and especially him. Well this hurts me. She’s accused me of stealing from her and yet he expects me to be around her as if she never did or said that. It’s abhorrent. I have many more instances where she has attacked me personally, but I’m sure you can imagine.

          You are right, if this where any other relationship we would separate ourselves permanently, but since it’s his parent we are prisoners. I know what she says is no more real than the blatherings of a demented person but the difference is she knows what she’s doing and finding great joy in doing it. It’s sick.

          Before the affair I just took it, got mad, and moved on but since the affair and the ensuing turmoil my emotional well being can’t stand it. I don’t like many social situations actually, let alone this one.even “rocks” have their breaking points.

          I think I’ll just ask her and her pacemaker to stand a little closer to the microwave oven when she comes over :). Did I just say that out loud?

          • Strengthrequired

            I think that’s the second time you said it th, lol

            • Tryinghard

              Lol SR. Probably more like the 4th or 5th!!!

          • Sarah P.

            Here is another coping tool for yourself. When your MIL accuses you or your H of something, remember that 99% of the time she is probably projecting something she has either done in the past or has thought about doing.

            So if she accused you of stealing, it is likely that she has stolen in the past.

            But, as a coping mechanism, narcs have to project anything they have done that is imperfect onto others. They have this same mechanism in terms of the golden child. If the golden child does something to harm them, they literally re-write in their minds that the scapegoat did that thing– not the golden child. It really is a type of insanity, but its an insanity where they know what they are doing.

            Now, even normal people can project based on their internal view of the world. But the internal world view of ‘normal people’ is not as skewed as the internal word view of the narc and most normal people don’t rewrite things. They might have an opinion about why something happened, but they don’t rewrite the entire event and accuse innocent people of things either they or the golden child did.

            I came across this dynamic personally the last time we visited my in-laws and stayed in their home. (After that visit, it was the last time we were to stay in their home ever again). I brought my mom with me as a buffer since my MIL liked my mom.

            So to give background to the situation. My h’s little brother is the golden child and his wife is also the golden child because she is like a younger carbon copy of my MIL in her attitude. The last time brother golden child and his wife visited, his wife refused to eat anything my MIL prepared. She would go out to eat and refuse my MIL’s cooking. Well, this made my MIL furious and she ended up telling my husband about it. When she told my husband about it, he said, “Well, at least my wife loves your cooking, praises it, and helps with dishes”. Now, that was a barb on his part, which wasn’t necessary.

            So, fast forward to our last visit. Once again, I was eating MIL’s cooking, praising it, and helping clean. Then, one night, she refused to cook dinner and took my mom aside. My mom came and found me and she was very disappointed in me. My mom said that my MIL said that I never eat MIL’s cooking, that I criticize it, and that I never help clean. Then my mom said, “Why would you do that? I didn’t raise you to treat hosts that way… she deserves an apology.” Well, I was flabbergasted and told me husband to come and talk to my mom and have my mom repeat what MIL said. So, she repeated it and my husband went beet red. My husband said, “No, that is my brother’s wife. That is my brother’s wife who does this every time they visit. Sarah is always the opposite and goes miles out of her way for my mom.” So, then my mom of course got pissed because she felt she had been manipulated, which she was, and in my mom’s world, people just don’t behave the way my MIL did.

            So that is just one instance. There have been many times my MIL has projected things into my husband that his brother has done.

            So remember when your MIL accuses you of stuff, she is projecting some kind of garbage onto you that either she did or one of the golden children did.

            Narcs live in an extremely black and white world where someone is either 100% perfect or 100% evil. So when the GC does something that the narc perceives as evil, the narc cannot make sense of it in their construct of the world so they literally re-write it in their minds and then project it onto the person who is a scapegoat. The narcs also do this when something they did it ‘evil’.

            That doesn’t jibe with their self-concept of utter perfection so they project their own evil onto others.

            Maybe the next time you see them, you can sit back and watch, and play a little game with yourself and keep track of how many examples of narc behavior you can count.

            Pretend you are an anthropologist studying a strange tribe that follows bizarre social rules. This way you can take yourself out of the situation from an emotional perspective. That can prevent any blow ups you witness from activating your internal fight or flight mechanisms. Once you can prevent behaviors you witness from getting to you, you have ‘won’.

            But, that is not to say you should continue to expose yourself to these folks if not necessary!

            • Tryinghard

              Sarah

              She’s also a hoarder and shopper. Their home is a disaster area.

              I like the idea of observing the strange tribe. I’m going to try it. Think they’d notice if I took notes 🙂

            • Strengthrequired

              If they do th, just say to them your writing a book and they are the leading roles. Lol

            • forcryin'outloud

              I’m seeing some really creepy patterns here. My MiL is a hoarder and shopper too. Once when we visited the in-laws the dining room table was completely covered in about 5 feet of Hallmark store type trinkets. I remembering rapidly blinking while staring at the sight. But the wackiest thing is the entire house is covered in angels…angels on the walls, shelves, plates, throws, pillows, curio cabinets filled with angels, angels in the bathroom, on and on. She sent us these hideous angel wall hangings for Christmas. She said we needed some angels in our house. Cra, cra, craaaazy! Probably thinks they will keep her golden child, my H, safe from me, the wicked witch.

            • Sarah P.

              Or maybe the angels are there to protect MIL from herself!

            • Strengthrequired

              Sarah, what you said I have seen in my h cousin it. One day when my h and I were at the beginning of his ea, and were separated, my h stayed the night with me. Well my h cousin it decided to cry to my h sister and her husband and tell them that she was worried about my h, that she believed I had done something to him, because he was not with her, or answering his phone, etc, so I must have had him put in jail. My goodness, she had manipulated my sil, into believing that, that is what I had done.
              She ended up after her first visit at 11pm at night, crying to my sil, then knocking at my sil door again at 6am in the morning, saying the same things, being hysterical saying the same things, that I had my h put in jail. My sil ended up so into her story, that she called our home, making sure my h was ok, and that I didn’t have him in jail. I couldn’t believe it, here we were trying to put our marriage first, and she had my sil call to get him away from me. My h if you believe, left within 5 mins of that call.
              So anyway, the reason I brought this up to you, was my h cousin it, actually used to get the police onto her husband, so of course that is what I must have done, in her mind, and it was so easy for her to manipulate my sil, into believing such rubbish.

            • Sarah P.

              Well, sounds Cousin It is a certified narcissistic, probably with some features of borderline behavior. Once again, is Cousin It a first degree blood relative or is she someone who married into the family? If she is a first degree blood relative, it makes the fact that she chased your husband and tried to break up your marriage all the more bizarre. I have male first cousins and the thought of attempting anything romantic with them is not even within my periphery. It’s one of those things that would never cross my mind and so when I hear about women doing this (including my h’s cousin) it is something I realize happens but I also cannot wrap my head around what a woman who does this must be thinking. It is so incredibly bizarre. I realize that in the ‘olden days’ some of the royals would have arranged marriages with first cousins for political purposes, but it’s still bizarre and was done for the purpose of furthering empires. Many times those cousins did not even have a choice– they were pawns in a grander scheme. So, Cousin It sounds like she is far off her rocker and troubled in many ways. Hope your husband stays away– far away– forever.

            • Strengthrequired

              Sarah, yes blood relative. I too cannot wrap my head around it, I can’t comprehend it. Let me just say this woman is relentless, yet, I believe her agenda was more out of materialistic than for love. Yet what astounds me even more is that her family were all in on it, mother, father, sisters, they ambushed my h, and he just didn’t know what to do, or even how to handle it due to his state of mind at the time. That’s what makes it even worse, they knew he was not ok, they knew he had a wife and 6 children, one just a baby, yet they continued to pressure him.
              I’m not sure I will ever understand their behaviour, but if she was my daughter, I would have been looking out for her well-being, not trying to help her break a marriage, take a father away from his children, Instead of helping her find a descent man that is single, they just helped add more pain to their daughter. It’s nuts.
              I am hoping my h stays far away from her, and her family, yet what is funny, through the ea, they drummer it into my h head that I was the one keeping him from his family, yet it had not once stopped him from seeing his family. If anyone stopped anyone from seeing family it was cousin it’s husband. Funny how I ended up being the one that did the same things as her husband. It was even told during the ea, to my h, that I was seeing her husband, lol. Unbelievable, and due to my h state of mind, he actually asked me if I was. Now I’m no crazy person, with what I have heard about her husband over the past 20 years, he was just as crazy as her, I’m definitely not about to bring someone like him into my life, or my children’s life.

            • Sarah P.

              Wow, cousin it’s family is thoroughly messed up considering they were all behind her. You are smart to consider her motive in all of this. The motive probably is materialistic. Does she have something to gain financially? I am beginning to think Cousin It’s behavior possibly beyond narcissism. It sounds like the stuff that is described in the book The Sociopath Next Door. What most folks don’t realize is that most sociopaths are not in jail. The author of the book said only about 15% of the prison population is actually composed of sociopaths. She says most of them live and walk among us since they are adept at lying and silently slipping out of situations when cornered. Her behavior is without conscience. Stay far far away if you can, or send her to a galaxy far far away!

            • Strengthrequired

              I would love to send her to her parents, lol. The galaxy sounds great too, lol
              She fed my h all the sob stories of her being a battered wife. Yet when she left her h before her clinginess to my h, she told me how she was happy that she could go out shopping with her h and be friends with him. Doesn’t sound like a battered w of two decades, to me.
              Yet once she put her hooks in deeper to my h, her h became a villain again, as did I.
              She would tell my h, how am I going to live, where am I going to live, how will I support my children. Of course he felt sorry, and offered to help her, then he became deeper involved then what he wanted.
              She often told him, how it was his fault she never left her h, and he should have been there for her, he just took it, as it was his fault, she needed help and he didn’t help her. ” hello, he wasn’t even in her life for two decades, how the hell was it his fault?). She had left her h three times in the 20 yrs.
              so naturally it’s his fault, he was happily married, working hard with business, and family commitments, that of course he should be responsible for her well being, and mind you that of her three children.
              She also told him, how he was to give her children money, the same as his own children. He even rented an apartment for her and paid for her rent. Unbelievable. Thankfully she is no longer at the apartment, so he is nolonger paying her rent.
              Mind you when he was, he was struggling paying for his own family and business commitments. She came into money after her divorce, and couldn’t even help him, like he helped her, she just wanted more from him. So that’s where I see, it was all material. She wanted my life, my h and my family, as well as a child with him, so she could hold onto him.
              I just hope I can keep him away from the damaging person she is, as well as how damaging to him her family are.

            • Strengthrequired

              Keeping my children away from that craziness is my priority though, I can’t control what my h does, but I can control what I do.

            • Sarah P.

              Wow– really, truly get Cousin It out of your life for good if you can.

              Heck, maybe you should find a different name for her than Cousin It. At least the real Cousin It was harmless and just happy speaking gibberish and hiding behind his sunglasses. Unlike the real (harmless) Cousin It, this lady is truly damaging.

              Time to find a way to ensure that you and he go no contact and stay no contact with her.

    • jeddy

      Thanks sarah. He claims he will be out of the business by the end of the year. Im not so sure I can allow myself to believe him. I think im going to move away this summer and probably not come back. Its our old home, lots of support for me, and I can start my life again. Whether he follows or not is irrelevant right now – I have to do this for me. I want our marriage to work but im not willibg to put myself in a vulnerable position. We have not dealt completely with the ea and the ow. He is frustrated that im not handling triggers well, they speak and meet regularly for work. Im also concerned that the ea was a pa. Im so filled with doubt this week perhaps because they had a company mtg, with mil and ow. Add to this that I bring my own shit to a marriage (depressed and bpd martyr mother) and im feeling overwhelmed. Tackling the move ($, starting a new career,schools lliving situation, deciding what to tell people, wondering if im doing this for the right reasons) and the tears flow. Throw in a splash of birthday perimenopause and pms. What a hormone cocktail. I think I need to triage my life and figure out the priorties. I really appreciate the support from cyberspace though.

      • Tryinghard

        Jeddy

        Maybe a little bit of distance is just what you need. You’re lucky you have someplace to go. You don’t need to say anything to anyone. Cut the toxic people out of your life till you are stronger. I guess that includes your own mother.

        Maybe with the distance he will realize what he’s losing. Maybe not. It’s a risk you will take but the alternative is not good. The fact that she is still there impedes the reconciliation. The fact that he has no empathy for the triggers is huge! I feel for you.

        The hormonal thing can be helped by visiting your gyn/ob. Get some hormones for a while. I remember the peri time and it was awful physically and mentally.

        Also don’t think too far in the future. One day at a time and one small step at a time. You Ned to get stronger before you can deal with all those tremendous outside forces. In the mean time there are two people disrespecting you big time in my opinion. Recovery is a monumental task when going it alone and it sounds like you are. Hell it’s tough enough when the husband is helping.

        I feel for you but maybe it’s time for some tough love and ultimatums where your H is concerned.

        I hope you will stay in touch with us. For me this has been the only place I could vent and get the support I’ve needed.

        To your point about ea versus pa. Does it really make a difference? I find it hard to believe these men limited their affairs to only talking. It is so easy for them to cross that line physically and very hard for them to admit since this would be the worst thing that could happen to a man if the shoe were on the other foot. Call me cynical but I just don’t buy that these men are only embroiled in the emotional part of it. I don’t see men getting involved with another woman and risking everything just to talk. Especially to a woman.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Jeddy,

        I am sure everyone shares the sentiment that we are all here to support one another even though the thing that facilitates such support is Cyberspace. Fortunately there are real women at the other end of the computer and we are all going through similar things. In olden days, we would all be sitting around in the village knitting circle using our hands to knit sweaters and blankets. This is kind of like the cyberspace version of that and in this case our hands are busy writing words of encouragement.

        So here are my opinions on your situation:

        If you can move back to your old house, your old support system, and get away from the toxic system in which you live, that would be a great thing to do. Clearly you have far too much on your plate and it is amazing that you are able to keep on keeping on. That is a testament to your tremendous strength.

        As for a new career and new schools, that all can be a new beginning for you.

        It sounds like it is time to focus on YOU (and then also your children). Right now you need to put your oxygen mask on first. You cannot be your mom’s savior, you cannot be there for your husband to be a buffer in situations where the messes are his, you cannot keep getting pulled in different directions. You need to figure out what you need to do to feed your soul, to help you maintain equilibrium, and to sustain yourself. I don’t know what form that will take- only you can know and decide for yourself what feels best for you.

        As for your H, it seems what he does is irrelevant. Right now it must be all about you and he needs to figure out whether or not he is going to step up to the plate. But, in a sense, I believe he needs to be cut loose to deal with his mom and the ow on his own without you as a buffer. He can no longer be given the opportunity to drain you and he needs to come face to face with the realities in his own life. Also, I would bet that he does follow (eventually).

        Also, it is my opinion that he has no right to be frustrated that you are not handling triggers well. He created the situation– it is his situation– not yours. You have rights here and one of your rights is to be upset about what he has done (and continues to do) and do what you need to do for YOU.

        But, ultimately, that’s all an opinion. You know the situation, you live in it, and the best thing to do is whatever feels best emotionally for you.

        A good rule of thumb to use as a guide– Ask yourself these questions:

        1. Is this situation that I am in honoring me as an individual?
        2. Are his actions honoring me?
        3. Is a certain relationship; marriage, work, friendship, or family member honoring you and contributing to getting your deepest soul needs met?

        Then the questions:

        1. What would need to change in this situation for me to feel honored and valued?
        2. What concrete steps and actions could be taken that demonstrate he values me?
        3. If a relationship, job, family member, friend (etc) is not meeting my needs and is draining me, could I consider letting that relationship go? And if so, how would that look? What steps would I need to take that are also comfortable for me to take?

        Allow yourself the tears because they are very healing and sometimes after the tears stop we have great moments of clarity.

    • Broken2

      My husbands father has Narcisstic Personality Disorder as well as the fact that he is antisocial. He has always bended the rules and in fact says they aren’t for him. He cheated on all of his wives including my husbands mom and made it a game to go after wealthy, vulnerable woman. He has always hated me and has tried ruthlessly since the day I met my hubby to get rid of me. He is a thief, a liar, a criminal that just got out of prison after 18 years to pick up right where he left off trying to control our lives. I have laid down the line in the sand with him which only enrages him. Luckily he lives 2000 mile away with a GPS tracking system attached to his leg but when that comes off I truly fear for us. I also read the book Emotional Vampires (it was written about him…I’m sure) and I am currently studying abnormal behavior in school which has given me insight into my husbands behavior.
      I have to give my hubby credit…..he is doing really good for the background he comes from. I believe in part that is because he and I met at age 14 (we are now 55). Of course it doesn’t excuse the affair but it explains his behavior.
      I enjoyed the series more from a learning standpoint but it definitely gave me insight

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Broken2,

        Sorry to hear what you are dealing with and glad you enjoyed the series.

        Hey for your own sake, try to protect yourself from your FIL. He sounds like a dangerous person (and both a narc and sociopath.) Please be aware of your own safety and try to take proactive measures to prepare for the day when the GPS tracker comes off.

    • tryinghard

      I am beginning to think that in all our stories there is at least on parent that is full blown NPD with our spouses having the traits.

      Scary to say it also seems impossible or a least a herculean feat to permanently remove these people from our lives and relationships. I’m really thinking I will have to draw the line in the sand as well with regards to my MIL unless absolutely necessary. No contact except on a very perfunctory basis. OMG if prison were in the picture I think I would have to leave if he didn’t subscribe to the no contact rule! It is so sad to me that adult children don’t see these toxic relationships and continue to need these sick parents in their lives. It’s as if they are still 6 years old!!

      I don’t know, maybe the best thing to have done was get the hell out when we had a chance! These people are the creepiest of creeps. I wasn’t raised with any of this kind of bull crap so I was like a lamb before wolves. Well I have my wolf bait out and they aren’t going to corner me again.

      • Sarah P.

        Tryinghard,

        Totally agree with your assessment of the common thread. This week I have been studying a book about full-blown criminal psychology that was written by a former FBI special agent.

        He said that he has found in his many years of interviewing the worst serial murderers he has found this: not a single one of them came from a functional home and many of them were extremely verbally abused and berated.

        He also said that as a result of the childhood abuse that they suffered, they were no longer able to process love and their 3 underlying life motives became: power, control, and total domination of the victim.

        When many of the households of these killers were described, I could see a pattern of narcissist abuse at the bottom of many of these stories. Now, I differentiate ‘narcissistic abuse’ from abuse that occurs when a non-narcissistic parent is high on substances or when that person is stressed. The difference is, the narcissistic parent is taking out rage in the moment. When the rage subsides, they usually have insight into their behavior and apologize. That is what I refer to as ‘standard abuse’. But, ‘narcissistic abuse’ comes from a different place altogether. Narcissistic abuse is also based on power, control, and utter domination of their victim. It’s also like the narcissistic abuser is also incredibly sadistic and has a very measured goal to destroy the utter core of their victim– furthermore they derive great pleasure in doing so. So when I read about the behaviors of the parents of these serial killers, I see that they are narcissistic abusers, not ‘standard abusers’. Well, these all all connections that I am making on the fly because I am putting together a book about this. As you know, I am researching different areas to try to form a whole picture of what is going on. Once I have an idea of what is going on, I will set forth a hypnosis and either prove or disprove it through further research and interviews.

        Luckily, we also know that humans are highly adaptable, naturally possess empathy, and have tremendous inner reserves. Because of this, most children who suffer ‘narcissistic abuse’ do not grow up to become serial murderers.

        But it is still an interesting thing to consider and it provides adults who suffered through ‘narcissistic abuse’ the validation that what they suffered is just as real and just as damaging as ‘standard abuse’.

    • Sarah P.

      Typo:
      The difference is,

      the NON-narcissistic parent

      is taking out rage in the moment. When the rage subsides, they (the non-narcissistic parent) usually have insight into their behavior and apologize. That is what I refer to as ‘standard abuse’.

    • Joan

      I have to say that just reading about the attachment disorders has been astoundingly accurate. My husband’s mother died in late 2010, and the year after my husband became extremely infatuated with an 18 year old girl – tried to impress her – daily lengthy emails, etc. I found out about it after a couple of months and ended it. He was really angry because he was really into this – and I didn’t know how much until I ended it. He secretly followed her on line and I found that out. I do not trust him. He doesn’t think what he did was that big of a deal – but the therapist we have been working with for two years finally read the emails and told him this was very bad news for any other spouse – because it showed a great deal of affection. He keeps alternating between denying and admitting culpability and now I am wondering if he is still “into” looking her up, etc. Really horrible to be in therapy for two years and don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. But he is out of work and feeling awful about himself too. We are having bad financial problems – and of course all of this is secret from family and most friends (I just have a couple of good friends who know this happened – but they don’t know that we are still in therapy about it). It is all awful – he doesn’t want to really “win” me back like he did for her. He doesn’t believe he did anything that wrong – but that is the problem as to why I cannot trust him. Plus I think that is not something that would ever impress me because it is low ethical behavior to not think it wrong unless someone finds out. And he truly feels like that. Such an awful thing. Our kids are grown but stil living here (low paying jobs,etc) Our stress level is off the charts and I am tired of getting upset – nothing gets his attention otherwise. If I am quiet he thinks everything is fine and he doesn’t do anything about it then either. I am waiting for him to sincerely try to work to win me back – but after 33 years maybe there just isn’t anything else to do. He doesn’t believe he will lose me because I haven’t left so far. But I have no money to leave. And the only reason I would leave is to prove to him that he needs to work to win me back. The thing is, he would probably say to himself,” Well that’s what she wants so OK” and not bother to try. I feel pretty sad most of the time about it.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Joan,
        So sorry to hear about your difficult situation.

        What you are describing sounds complex, but, I believe the root of it is stress that was originally brought on by your MIL’s death.

        I do not believe this is so much about the 18-year-old girl as it is about your husband and his own internal struggles. Instead of dealing with the incredibly painful stress that he is facing (which is overwhelming him), he escapes to a world of fantasy where he can have a moment of emotional reprieve from constant stressors. Also, if he is unemployed, it is likely that he feels very emasculated because of the cultural messages that say a man is only as good as he is worth.

        Now, this does NOT excuse his behavior. This is an explanation of some things that might be going on with him that contribute to his hurtful behavior.

        Furthermore, he should not ever contact the girl or even follow her online. That needs to remain a behavior that is off limits.

        But, your pain still remains regardless of the issues that he is going through.

        If you can, I would recommend doing some things for yourself that feel empowering to you, regardless of his reaction. Right now, you have a lot on your plate, so like I told Jeddy, please put your oxygen mask on first. While you cannot change others around you, you can seek out things for yourself that empower you and make you stronger.

        Joan, I hope and pray that your husband gains insight into his behavior and starts to work through the pain and stress he is feeling instead of attempting to escape into fantasy land.

    • Sarah P.

      PS-
      Sometimes I like to read blogs and watch youtube videos where people like a gentleman named Ollie Matthews talks frankly and in-depth about what it was like to grow up with parents who were what I would call “narcissisticly abusive”.

      If you want to hear something that will blow your mind, he posted a phone call with his mother (where he secretly recorded it). During the phone call he attempts to confront his mom about the death threats she made against his girlfriend. Now, his mom doesn’t know she is being recorded and it provides a rare look into how narcissists behave when the mask comes off. If you want to see it, go into youtube and search “Ollie Matthews Call from Narcissistic Mother”. Listening to the utter irrationality, the yelling, and the threatening will truly blow you away.

    • Strengthrequired

      Sarah, just listened, but I couldn’t stand going through the whole thing, it was just too much for me to handle. Interesting though, I didn’t think people would put things like that up, maybe I am stuck in the olden days, lol.
      Maybe I’m just liking being hidden away now, so I don’t need to associate with the likes if people like what I have dealt with.
      Thanks for sharing.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Strengthrequired,

        Well, even if you listened to the first two minutes, you would have gotten the gist of Ollie’s mom’s behavior. That phone call is amazing to me because it is a condensed example of all of the tactics narcissists use on their victims: gaslighting, deferring blame, lack of insight, verbal violence, threats of bodily harm, lying, manipulating, and finally turning themselves into the victim (even though they are the aggressor).

        When I came across Ollie’s video, it was astounding because I have heard almost the exact conversation from my MIL directed at my husband for some implied ‘slight’ against her that he allegedly did.

        And also like Steve and Suzy’s situation (yes, real people I have counseled who were ok with me telling their story), Ollie’s mom was ready to attack his girlfriend the way Steve’s mom was ready to attack Suzy. So, even though these two couples don’t know each other and live a thousand of miles away from each other, the man’s mom in each case behaves the same way. So, basically most narcissists do the very same thing so it gets to the point where you can predict their behavior in such a way as to not be surprised.

        • Strengthrequired

          It’s pretty upsetting knowing there are people out there like that. When cousin it started using our surname, after every coiled of weeks something new for me to hear about, about something I have supposedly done, even at one point where she accused me to my h, that I had sent her a threatening message (from a phone number I don’t even know lol) and showed it to my h, saying I had sent it to her, that she was afraid of me. My husbands crazy mind at the time, had to even ask me about it, which baffled me as to why he would even ask, because it’s not like he didn’t know me after all. Yet this is how she manipulated him each day. After all the things this ow had done, I wouldn’t have put it past her, to have sent that message to herself by using her friends, or had a friend send it to her. She has done something similar before and afterwards to get me and my h away from each other.
          Now when she changed her surname on Facebook to ours, that’s when I turned to my h and said, you need to stop all contact with her, what does she need to do, to show you she is crazy? She is using our surname ( her maiden name is different), if that doesn’t scream crazy, if that doesn’t scream out to you as fatal attraction, I don’t know what does. What do you need to finally have it sink in, either her doing something to me, or our kids. We ended up moving approx a month or two later, yet it still didn’t stop him from seeing her.
          Yet I felt safer, until I found out he had told her where we moved, so then there were people asking the management in the apartment we moved to, do we live here?

    • Sarah P.

      Strengthrequired,

      Don’t mean to be offensive when I ask this, but have you asked your husband why he is keeping in contact with her? Why would he provide your new address after moving?

      Is there a chance that an emotional affair is still going on?

      I find it very strange that she changed her name to your surname (implying to the world that she is linked to your husband).

      Something is rotten in Denmark.

      • Strengthrequired

        Ohh Sarah, he didn’t tell her our address just the suburb we moved too. I was really upset with him after he told me that he told her where we moved to. She would have found out roughly where a outs we were through people we know, even though they didn’t know the address they came pretty close to finding us. So much for me trying to hide.
        We will be moving again soon, so hopefully this time she won’t find out where a outs we are. We have a business, so she only has to look it up or my h name up on the internet, to find out where he is, if he ever found our way clear of moving the business. ATM we can’t afford the time or money to move it, or even changing his phone number is a waste of time, because she can still get it. It is really draining.

    • Strengthrequired

      He stopped communicating with her 4mths after we moved, he realised that I was at my wits end and if he didn’t stop I was ready to leave, I had a place lined up and he knew.
      He doesn’t understand why he let it go on for so long, he does know he felt sorry for her, and he knew he wasn’t about to leave his family for her. She tries to keep the contact, but he has only one thing in his mind, keeping his family together and saving our home and business, so if she calls, and he answers mistakenly he cuts her off. Tells her he is too busy to talk.
      I guess with my h, he never thought his family would be the way they are, he never thought she would be the way she was, until she showed her colours.
      As for the ow, she still tries because she wants him to see that she is there waiting, that’s all I can understand from it.
      My h has changed so much back to himself since he stopped seeing her, he is nolonger short tempered, or even defensive, while when he was trying to cover up his communicating with her, he was just different.
      So now I give him the benefit of the doubt, as I am a believer that if there is a lie, it will come out and show itself.
      I sit back and watch.
      She changed her name to get to me, and to imply she was his. As I said she kept trying every few weeks something different to get me to leave my h, and would question him as to why I stay, why don’t I leave him alone so they can be together. So every couple of weeks she would try something else, and hope that, that would make me leave.
      It was when her mother was with her, and had just left that she then decided to use our surname. When I saw that it was like a knife to the heart, she still uses it over a year later. My h would ask her why she did that, she would just say because she wanted to.
      As I mentioned to him, if it was anyone else apart from a family member that changed their name to yours, you would have been freaked out and concerned that there was something seriously wrong with this person.
      Honestly when I look back at all of what this ow has put me through and my family, I wonder why I stayed, she put me through hell, and my h didn’t have the balls to stand up and knock her down, all because of hurting her feelings because she was family.
      My son was just telling me the other day, that if she doesn’t stop calling his dad, he wants to call her and set her straight, I told him he needs to leave it alone, I don’t need her causing trouble for him, as I know she would get straight on the phone to my h and start crying etc, or sending him messages that his son told her off. Yet he also mentioned he wanted to tell his dad that he either chooses losing his son or losing her as apart of his life, if he doesn’t stop her calling him by getting the police involved.
      Sometimes I think my h needs to hear that, but I don’t want my h to lose his son, because he has lost enough already over this ow.
      We all have.. It’s a hard situation to be in when you have young children too, who don’t deserve to lose their dad or mum, because of stupid choices made. I guess when you love someone you put up with a lot, especially for the sake of keeping the family together, until it just becomes too much.
      I would love it for cousin it to go overseas and stay with her family. She lost that right of being called family here.

      • Sarah P.

        Had a question about cultural context here. I see that you are writing using the spelling commonly used in the British commonwealth countries. Are you Canadian by any chance? I like to look at cultural context when thinking about situations since laws and/or customs can be different than in the U.S.

        Now, onto my opinion…

        People usually do not stop distasteful behavior until the pain of the behavior outweighs continuing the status quo. That is human nature.

        I have also come to realize that affairs flourish in secrecy.

        So, if your husband’s son gives him an ultimatum, I see that as a positive thing. It will force your H to draw the line between him and the OW for the final time. I realize your H was victimized, but he still made some choices that allowed that. I think it would be ok for him to suffer the natural consequences of his behavior.

        Also, I am glad you see the OW’s tactics and her underlying motivation. Stand your ground and do not leave.

        I have been thinking about doing another post about what to do when the OW keeps doing things that bait the wife to leave. I have witnessed an interesting example (and an effective one) recently in the media. I think I will be writing a post about my observations and an approach that wives can take.

        In the meantime, stand your ground and remember it is ok NOT to protect your husband from the consequences of his behavior.

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