Can a marriage be sustainable when a spouse has Knight in Shining Armor complex?

Knight in Shining Armor complex

This is the latest installment of our ‘You Decide’ series where you will provide your opinion on an affair scenario. In this particular scenario, Sarah tells the story of a friend who is dealing with her husband’s affair and his Knight in Shining Armor complex.

By Sarah P.

A friend mine had a question for me recently. Last year, a woman who was significantly younger than her husband, was her husband‘s direct report at work.

My friend would often find them flirting and she was very uncomfortable with this.

He explained that the young woman simply needed his mentorship. He explained that since she was younger and like a daughter, he was only playing the role of a mentor.

My friend still felt discomfort; her intuition was on high alert.

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Several months later, my friend found out that her husband was knee-deep in an emotional affair with this young woman.

Her instinct was to leave the marriage, but her husband wanted to repair the marriage. They had been married for several years , they had children, and they were looking forward to a future with grandchildren.

He was able to get the young woman transferred to another department and vowed never to speak to her again, never to email her, and never to text her. He agreed to no contact.

See also  Discussion - How to Handle the Topic of Infidelity?

My friend decided to give it a shot and they saw a therapist. Her husband promised to the therapist that he would never talk to this young woman again, for any reason, even if she reached out within a work context.

The husband pleaded to save the marriage and appeared to be more loving to my friend.

Later, my my friend found out that he was back in contact with this young woman via Microsoft Teams. This is the way people at work are now cheating because conversations can be both private and deleted.

All About Work Affairs: If You Feel a Cringe When Your Spouse’s Colleague is Around, Take Note

My friend was absolutely devastated when she found her husband’s computer open and new messages that the young woman and her husband were exchanging. She saw messages where the young woman pleaded that she needed him in her life.

Her husband had broken his promise to my friend. My friend was absolutely shattered. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her marriage at this point, or if she could even trust her husband again.

She told him all of this.

Her husband lashed out at her emotionally, got angry because she was “spying” on him, he gaslit her, he said it was only about work, and she needed to back off.

This setback flooded her with pain and brought her back to the very question of whether or not she wanted to stay in her marriage.

It appeared her husband was very good at living a double life. He was very good at telling her that he loved her and he was very good at reassuring his wife.

See also  Discussion - Why Do Cheaters Affair Down?

But, at the same time he was also extremely flirtatious with this younger coworker and other women at work. Her husband seemed to have what I refer to as Knight in Shining Armor complex. Unfortunately, with Knight in Shining Armor complex, a husband will be a charming Knight to every woman except for his wife.

White Knight Syndrome – The Need to Rescue Others

A long time ago I wrote a blog post that touched on this. And I asked a rhetorical question to these men, “If you want to save someone, why can’t you save your wife? If you want to serve someone, why can’t you serve your wife? For your wife has needs. If you were giving the best of yourself away to every woman except your wife, how do you expect to have a happy marriage?”

If he had only put that charm into his marriage, it could have been a lifesaver; it would have enlivened their marriage.

She did not understand why he would constantly show his best self to other women, and show the worst of himself to her.

I believe her husband suffers from Knight in Shining Armor complex. But, can this type of marriage be sustainable if a husband or wife is always looking for flirtation and ego strokes from other women or men?

Readers, what would you do if you were in her situation? You decide!


    9 replies to "You Decide: The Knight in Shining Armor Complex"

    • Kittypone

      In my honest opinion, that is no “shining armor”; more like a “tarnished backpack”. He has issues (therefore, the backpack), he is only “shining” to other women, but shady and gaslighting to his wife (therefore, the tarnished), so he can go get his issues fixed at some other shop, because THIS one is no longer accepting him as a customer!!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Kittypone,

        Great response! Also this is so true. Men with this personality type are very sparkly to others.

        “This one is no longer accepting him as a customer.” 😂

    • 2nd place

      This has been my life. Watching my husband treat any attractive woman, a stranger or someone we know, better than me, while I get the gaslighting and anger. Then listen to women tell me how “lucky I am.” He’s polite, flirty, stares at them with a longing in his eyes, overly friendly to them, always willing to help them with a smile on his face, yet I’m to feel special because he does a project around the house and brings home a paycheck. How I wish he’d act that way towards me. He says he’s “neighborly, being a gentleman, it’s who he is..”. I see it as other attractive women’s opinions of him are more important to him than mine. A need for ego stroking. No amount of appreciation, affection or glowing words from me is ever enough. Yet a smile or flirtation from them is everything to him. I always wonder, how far has it gone when I haven’t been there to see it or stop it. I wish I rated as highly as these women do in his eyes.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello 2nd Place,
        I am so sorry that your husband is behaving this way. There are so many women I have spoken with who have husbands who act like this.

        I think they are trying to fill a void that cannot be filled. It’s like they are buckets, but have tremendous holes in the bottom of the bucket. Such buckets don’t hold water. So, they are looking for water constantly to fill the metaphorical bucket.
        No woman can do it. That’s why they look to many women to fill the bucket. It takes an army of women to fill the bucket.

        And the wife gets the short end of the stick.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Hi Sarah
      It’s an interesting complex that’s for sure. I believe it can present itself in much more subtle ways. For instance the pastor who refuses to set boundaries with his parishioners…..after all he is doing the Lord’s work. Or perhaps the counselor who puts the needs of his patients above his family. Everything is an “emergency” or “crisis”….of course to be put ahead of the mundane needs his family might have.

      In their professional lives these people are heroes. Or in their volunteer work….they would never say no. People pleasers that thrive on being exactly that….a knight in shining armor. They aren’t necessarily mean or bad to their families…..but their need to rescue takes precedence!!

      Ask me how I know. I have lived this life. It certainly wasn’t that my husband off flirting with other women or womanizing. He was still a committed father etc. Pretty much burnt himself out…..never being able to say no. Slowly as time went on there was no balance left in our lives. He lost touch with himself. And yes, left himself open for an affair.

      It’s exhausting living with someone that gives the best of themselves away and leaves you the crumbs. I don’t know if they ever stop to ask themselves why they NEED TO RESCUE??

      • Sarah P.

        Hi ShiftingImpressions,

        Thank you for your comment and I agree with absolutely everything you have said. In these situations, everything looks great from the outside looking in, but it’s the family who truly suffers.

        I personally do not understand the drive they have to please others and put their family on the back burner.

        Maybe it Hass to do with the dopamine reward system. all of us get dopamine in different ways, but most people already have enough dopamine in their bodies. If they don’t, they look to external factors and people pleasing is one way to get that dopamine hit, while also being socially appropriate and even praised.

        Having a family is real life, there are bills to pay, there are parents to tend to, there are children and grandchildren to tend to. It’s part of daily life and you don’t get a gold star just for doing the tasks that daily life requires of all of us.

        So, for that person who is always putting everybody else above their family, they are often told how wonderful they are. They are getting constant emotional gold stars from everyone. And they are also seen as heroic by everyone who benefits from their people pleasing.

        But, in real life, it’s the family that needs both parents the most. A Husband needs to be a hero to his wife and to his own children and grandchildren.
        There are so many heroic things a father and grandfather can do within their own family. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the time and the love that you give to your own family members. For, there is no way to get that time back. The time we have with our families, is the most precious of all and so many people take it for granted. It makes my heart very sad that some people don’t have their priorities straight.

        There will always be a million volunteer organizations to tend to. But, there is only one family and only one marriage. There is only one set of children and grandchildren.

        I don’t think people pleasers understand the deep regret they will face one day when it’s their time to pass from this earth. They will come to realize that they never got to be the hero in their own families. And really the only legacy that we leave is first with our own families and also by touching the lives of others in positive ways. A person can touch the life of total strangers in positive ways, while still being there for their family, and not overextending themselves.

        If someone lives in a compassionate mindset all day long, they usually bless whomever they encounter throughout the day.

        For example, anytime I leave my house, total strangers are drawn to me. This is been the case since my late 20s. I will be at the grocery store and a total stranger will start telling me about problems they are facing and while I am in the grocery line, I will help them find hope and a solution, and then I go about my day. So, I am helping people wherever I go, without it impacting my family.


        • Shifting Impressions

          It’s a tough way to live. My husband sacrificed himself. He tried to be everything to everyone. It was way out of balance. He lost touch with his feelings.

          These last nine years have been extremely difficult but he is much more in touch with his own needs and emotions than he used to be. The fact that he was always there for the kids made it possible for us to get through this journey with his relationship with our adult kids in tact. The grandkids are one of the greatest joys in his life.

    • Deb

      Hi Sarah, it’s Deb. Remember me? More trouble in paradise here but boy, do I have one of those knights. Thinks he has to “help” women!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Deb,

        I am so sorry that you have one of those knights.
        He doesn’t have to “help” women and needs to redirect his chivalry towards you. 🙏

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