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 Post subject: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2011 9:00 pm 
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I am just stewing in hatred toward my husband. It is so hard to sit with this and not act out but I must. What brought this on was being screamed at. He knows how I feel about that but he does it to bully me into shutting up and not talking about how I feel when I get triggered. When I say something that is true but not pleasant for him to hear he screams. I am really tired of it. I have been doing a really good job of not acting out on people when I am triggered but this is going to be very difficult. He has also come from a very abusive background but he doesn't seem to be interested in doing the work. He told me that he was but he lied to me. I have a really hard time tolerating lies since I grew up in an environment where I was constantly fed lies and invalidated. I had to deny my perceptions to survive. I am trying to find some sort of balance here and it's really tough going. I suspect that he is a narcissist with avoidant qualities. I cannot fix him. I can only focus on walking away when he acts out. I think that he is extremely threatened by my recovery. I have realized that it is not safe for me to tell him about my process. He has shown me time and time again that he is willing to emotionally abuse me rather than get some help for himself. I know that there is a terrified little child inside of him but still... being abusive is unacceptable. I had so much hope for this relationship and for us to grow and recover together and I am so disappointed now with the destructive cycles that go on. I just can't participate in these cycles. I have realized the ways in which I am contributing to this and I am taking appropriate steps to protect myself.

Is anyone else on here involved with another personality disordered individual as a significant other? If so, how do you cope?

I am leaving all options on the table and that includes leaving him but I do not want to be rash about it. I need to protect my interests. I have invested a lot in this relationship both emotionally and financially.


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 Post subject: Continued
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:01 am 
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Radical acceptance works. Letting myself sit with those intense feelings without judging myself and expressing myself in my journal, on this board, and to emotionally supportive friends dissipated the feelings of hatred.

I was able to be genuinely pleasant toward my husband this morning and accept the fact that he is incapable of giving me what I want. I have to get my emotional support elsewhere for now and that is ok. I wasn't sure if I was going to be ok with that but today I am. I am very glad that I made the choice that I did.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Renee,

I know it has been a few weeks but I wanted to acknowledge what you went through and I'm glad your technique worked for you in that situation. Have there been other similar situations since then? (Just curious.)

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 9:40 am 
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Yes. I am dealing with it in chunks. I have decided that I need to pull back from my husband emotionally. I try too hard to please him and it just feeds his narcissism. I have decided to spend time with friends and just do things that I like. Should he want to get into recovery I will have his back. I have realized that he is simply too emotionally immature to support my recovery in the way that I had anticipated that he would. He has his own triggers. I am not going to try and help him anymore unless he actually asks for it. I do not know what the future brings. I may reach a point when I just feel that I want and deserve someone who is emotionally available and if that happens he is shit out of luck. I already feel that I deserve that. I am just focusing on myself and leaving the rest in God's hands. It is actually a relief. I have definitely had a bit of a paradigm shift when it comes to personal responsibility.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 10:53 am 
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Something that's akin to what you describe (focusing on yourself, if he chooses to make better decisions you'll support him) is the beauty of the boundary/consequence approach. "I won't be around you when you scream at me. Come back when you're able to speak like a normal adult." Letting him know what behaviours you find unacceptable and advising what the consequences will be should he make an inappropriate choice leave the power of that choice in HIS hands. By doing this, you can remove the vast majority of the emotion out of his behaviours in your eyes.

Right now, when he screams, you're taking it personally. "I told him I dont like this but he continues to do it so that must mean he's intentionally trying to anger/hurt me." The reality is that his screaming is NOT about you. It's about him not having any other way to cope. It's about his failure as an adult human being rather than a personal attack toward you.

By calmly describing to him the behaviour you find unacceptable and outlining the consequences of an unfortunate choice to engage in that behaviour ahead of time, when things are calm, you're planting the seed in his mind that he has a choice. Early on, he might not have any alternative to his acting out & screaming so it will likely continue because he doesn't know any other way. Which means you have to be double-sure of the consequences you lay out for him. Be absolutely certain you're willing and capable of acting on those consequences. Because if you fail to follow through, it was all for nothing and you've collectively taken fifteen steps backwards. (He will see that your words are empty and that he's free to keep acting any old way he wants. Your next twelve attempts at boundary/consequence setting will bounce off him as meaningless, even if you do follow-through on the consequences.)

When he rants and screams, you can then tell yourself "well, he must want to be alone so that's what I'll give him - alone time." At that point, it's no longer about you - it's about him and his inability to make rational choices, his inability to cope effectively.

If, one day, he looks at you and says "I really want to scream my fool head off but I don't want you to leave" that will be your cue to help him find a better way to cope.

His actions are not about you.

You are right to focus on yourself and your own recovery work.

I'm not entirely sure that completely pulling back from him emotionally is the answer. I'm guessing that you wouldn't like that if someone you cared about and loved did that to you. If you were in the midst of a very trying time, you would want your trusted loved ones to stand by you and be willing to support you.

Boundary/consequences aren't about walking away (emotionally or otherwise.) They are a way of supporting and encouraging a person to make healthier, more positive life choices that will allow us to remain in their lives as a means of support to them.

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:55 pm 
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You are totally right. I prayed about it and God removed my pride. I am not going to be cold to my husband but I am going to do exactly what you described. I realized today that it is not about me at all. Other people's behavior is always about them. I need to stop trying to control things. I consider myself a control freak so all of this letting go is very new and strange yet very liberating.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 3:44 pm 
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Renee, it's been a few days. Have you had a chance to work on the boundaries/consequences since Friday?

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 7:33 am 
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Yes. It has been going really well. I still have had some internal turmoil but it has lessened in intensity as a result of my making new and healthier choices. I am in the process of assessing if I am loved enough to stick this out or if I am just a source of narcissistic supply. I am keeping a much cooler head and I am being balanced and realistic about pros and cons of the relationship and if it is ultimately healthy for me or not.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 12:30 pm 
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I think there's a difference between "feeling loved" and "being loved." You may not be feeling the love but he may be thinking he does indeed love you & has been showing that love all along. Some people define demonstrations of love very differently so to categorize a person's actions as "not loving" may be erroneous. He may not know what he does is being seen as less than loving. He may not know how to express his love for you in any other way. Unless or until you have those conversations with him, I fear you may be misjudging things - throwing the baby out with the bathwater as it were. In analogy form, you might be cursing the fruit for being a grapefruit when you're really expecting an orange. He may have both available but he's always just handed over the grapefruit because that's what he learned was "the best". I would encourage you to have those conversations with him. "When you ____, it feels as though you don't care about or love me." Stop, wait for him to speak, stop, formulate thoughts, boil it down to it's most simplistic form and share a new thought or feeling.

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 3:32 pm 
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I talked to my coach today about what has been going on and she feels that he is way too controlling. He is indeed very pushy and demanding. He wants what he wants and he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. I guess that kind of aggressiveness can be attractive at times but at other times it is quite offputting. I understand that people show love in different ways. I have tried to do what you suggested but when I speak about how I feel he screams. Perhaps it makes him feel inadequate in some way? I really do not know. I am tired of trying to express myself and not really being heard or responded to in an appropriate loving way by him. I will be getting my emotional support from people that are safe. I am not going to a dry well for water. That is just self abuse. I grew up with an NPD Father who showered me with affection and love as long as I acted the way that he wanted me to. I really fear that I am just repeating this pattern. I am just going to have to keep working on my recovery and see what the real truth is.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 9:52 pm 
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It sounds like you've already made up your mind and firmly categorized him & the relationship.

For what it's worth, my husband can be controlling as well. In the beginning, it was a help to me as I struggled to find boundaries & consequences. To figure out what "appropriate behaviour" actually was. Nowadays though, it can be annoying.

Just the other day, this past weekend, I believe, we were at the beach (on vacation) and he pointed out a pregnant Asian woman who had two small children with her and her White husband. He told me that the mother and kids had been to "our beach" several times already - three or four - the previous week and each time she was there by herself with the kids. She would paddle-board and have both kids sitting on the board as she paddled. She was obviously quite capable and confident at the beach all by herself. But since it was her husband's day off and he decided to tag along, he figured he was in charge. Of everything. Don't put that there. Fold that this way. Move that over there. Don't do that. Move over this way. And on and on and on. For a good hour. When he pointed this out to me and commented on what a control-freak the guy was - all unnecessarily and needlessly, where she was MORE than capable & competent - I said "Uh huh" and stroked his arm with a wry grin on my face. His response? "Yeah, bite me." He knew that I was pointing out the ways in which HE can be needlessly controlling.

There are other times I just look at him and say "Controlling much?"

Many times, though, my temper is shorter than it should be and I simply snap at him. "Do you take me for a complete fucking moron? I know what I'm doing and I don't need you barking out every step at me." Sometimes it makes him crankier. Sometimes it tones him down (once the task of whatever is completed.)

Lately though, we've been noticing that we share similar thoughts. If I'm thinking "That's a shame" he might actually say it out loud. And vice versa. One of our dogs has this thing where he rubs his paw/forearm against his head when he's cuddling. We've interpretated that to mean "Get out of my head!" so when my husband and I arre thinking the same thing but one of us actually says it first, the other one will mimick the gesture. Sometimes when he's being excessively controlling or domineering, I simply tell him "My brain works just fine, thank you very much. I don't need your verbal play-by-play."

At the same time, a few years ago, at a family reunion, one of the groups had T-shirts made with the top ten family sayings. #1 was "You're doing that wrong." So where he can sometimes be overly-controlling, I know I can get a bit too involved, insisting someone else (him) is doing it wrong.

My point is that NO ONE is perfect. Everyone has their flaws. Some will try to work on them with reminders in-the-moment. Others will disregard all forms of feedback or input.

I had a friend once tell me "Several people have told me that I have 'rough edges' but I don't even know what that means so how can I possibly smooth them out??" Occasionally, I'd just say "Hey, K? Rough edges." following an exchange with me or someone else. She had no idea that she was being rude, brusque, abrupt, dismissive or condescending. She relied on me - as a true friend - to help her identify those things as they were happening so she could decide if she would be able to make amends, analyze her state of mind while it was still fresh, etc.

My point from all of this 'rambling' is that sometimes it's not enough to just TELL someone they're being overly aggressive or controlling or that they have rough edges. Sometimes it's a a longer process before they begin to realize what, where, when and why they get that way before they're even able to tackle the concept of self-improvement.

My husband? He's gotten a LOT better. Many years ago, when I was in solitary therapy (not couple's counseling) I expressed the same concerns with my T. She commented in much the same way - that he sounded quite controlling & domineering. But that was 8 years ago and we're still together. I attribute a non-zero amount of that to my willingness to brave the possible onslaught of whatever when deciding to stand up for myself and assert my Genuine Self, making it clear that I wasn't a puppet waiting for him to pull my strings to make me dance however he wanted. Likewise, there's also a non-zero amount of HIS willingness to accept the things I say as valid and put some amount of thought into his own decision-making processes.

It's a two-way street, is all I'm saying.

It sounds to me like you've already emotionally washed your hands of the relationship and you're all but done with the marriage. It sounds like you have already determined that your husband is a new version of your controlling father and in a quest to help your inner child mature, you're perfectly willing to ditch the husband as a father-in-effigy.

I don't necessarily get the sense that you've tried non-reactive (in your part) ways of communicating with him when he gets that way. I don't necessarily get the sense that you've used the boundary/consequence approach with him, especially when he gets that way. In other words, I don't necessarily get the sense that you've really put healthy effort into having a mature, adult relationship with him.

Keeping in mind, of course, that I only hear your side of things in short snippets of text - much the same way your 'coach' hears only your side of things in short snippets of words - and yet we seem to have reached much different conclusions. I get the sense that this 'coach' of yours is nudging you toward leaving your husband and that makes me wonder what sort of hidden agenda she might have & might be trying to have played out through your marriage.

I have absolutely no vested interest whatsoever. I don't get paid for any of this. I barely know you. I don't know him at all. What I can tell you is that my opinion is that you seem to have a bee in your bonnet and have already reached conclusions which are fast-becoming things that cannot be undone.

I'd hate for you to act impulsively before trying as many things as possible that have worked for others in similar situations.

But to each their own. It's your life and YOU get to make your own decisions and YOU have to live with the consequences of those decisions for the rest of your life. I wish you the best of everything and I'm sure things will turn out exactly how they will.

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:50 am 
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Thanks for responding. I have not washed my hands of the relationship but I have washed my hands of tolerating the yelling. I believe that to be a healthy boundary. I am in a wait and see period where I am pulling back and protecting myself. I am not mistreating him in any way. I am figuring out the best way to defend/assert my boundaries. I am focusing on my own recovery rather than worrying about what might or might not be wrong with him and babying him.

This morning I had a very healthy and feisty exchange with him. I do not want to allow myself to flip back into a mode of idealizing. I am being cautious.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:45 pm 
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If all you've done is commit to yourself that you will no longer tolerate the yelling, that's not really a boundary. At least, that's not a very effective or healthy boundary. Most effective is conveying that boundary in advance of the behaviour along with the consequences for violating the boundary (which of course then requires that consequences always be followed-through upon / carried out no matter what.)

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 8:35 am 
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I have done that. That is part of not tolerating the yelling. The consequence of him acting out is that he acts out alone. I leave the premises and take all of the time that I need to feel better. I really don't appreciate your assumption that I am not defending my boundaries correctly. You may not like my approach but who are you to judge whether it is healthy or effective for me?

I would really appreciate not being invalidated by being told that something is not what it is. I am working very hard on all of this and it is a bumpy ride.


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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 3:51 pm 
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Renee, you're relatively new to the site. You did not specify that you had shared the potential consequences to him violating a clearly stated boundary in your post. I was sharing information that had not been covered / discussed / mentioned in our conversation or in this thread. I can only go on the information at hand and you had not presented anything that suggested you had done the effective, healthy form of boundary setting when you posted "I have washed my hands of tolerating the yelling. I believe that to be a healthy boundary. I am in a wait and see period where I am pulling back and protecting myself."

Where I said "If all you've done is commit to yourself that you will no longer tolerate the yelling, that's not really a boundary. At least, that's not a very effective or healthy boundary." it seems as though you've eeither misread what I wrote or only focused on the bits that justify your anger or expectation that people are out to get you, be abusive toward you, etc. I said "IF all you've done is A, that's not a HEALTHY/EFFECTIVE boundary." I did NOT say "You obviously have no concept what boundaries are and you've done everything horribly wrong and are completely worthless."

Perhaps it would be best for me to step away from you for a while. Best wishes in your journey.

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 Post subject: Re: Personality Disordered Husband
PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 5:12 pm 
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Thanks for the clarification because I really felt as if I was being told that I was doing it wrong. Sorry to have misread you.


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