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Long story short. Married 35 years. Amazing, well-adjusted kids. Husband is a narcissist. Everything has always revolved around him. He takes 6 week solo vacations every year to hint, fish, and backpack. I love the outdoors, but don't have desire to be gone that long. He also doesn't want me. Even at home, he has solo activities. I do too, but not if they interfere with family. He is always right. Everyone else is wrong. He gets angry if challenged- all the typical narcissist things. A few years ago, he had a major midlife crisis and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't help him. He took my frustration as lack of feeding his needs and found someone who would. He even filed for divorce. As soon as I found out and showed strength that I deserved better, he begged me to come back. I knew I shouldn't. He had said horrible things to me while with her, like I treat him like a dog. I cook, clean, love sex, spoil the neck out of him. Is that how a dog is treated? Maybe. Anyway, I came back, mainly to keep my family intact. My kids see him for who he is and I know they would understand if I left, but they are happy to have a nuclear family. There are good times. We travel , hike, and camp together. We go on dates. We have sex. But... It's hard. He's addicted to porn, and I'm no prude, but it lowers my desire for him. He discounts my wants and I give in to all his needs. I'm strong and independent, but want a partner. He thinks our separate lives works well. Any suggestions on how to survive this kind of marriage?

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Toxicity is not " an intact nuclear family" . Stop acting like a slave or martyr. Talk to an attorney for options and a therapist so you and he and your horrible marriage stops damaging your kids

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survive a marriage.

 

how to survive your marriage...

 

I don't think anyone should view their marriage in these terms nor would they want to.

 

How old are your children? You say they see things for what they are, but yet want the nuclear family together.

 

Where are you in this? Just the host for everyone else to feed off of?

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If your kids would rather you be unnecessarily happy so they could have a semblance of an intact family, then they perhaps inherited the narcissist gene from their father. I doubt this is the case and that's how you're perceiving things. Regardless, you can't sacrifice your one precious life on the planet living in an unhappy marriage.

 

Your kids will eventually be busy choosing their own life partners, which you will have no say-so in. Why should they have a say-so in your partnership or lack of one?

 

I divorced at age 45 and gave myself a chance to live the rest of my life in a happier state. So glad I did. Love yourself like he should have and get out so you can enjoy the rest of your life.

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Any suggestions on how to survive this kind of marriage?
survive a marriage.

 

how to survive your marriage...

 

I don't think anyone should view their marriage in these terms nor would they want to.

 

How old are your children? You say they see things for what they are, but yet want the nuclear family together.

 

Where are you in this? Just the host for everyone else to feed off of?

 

Yeah, wow. That's dismal but it says so much.

 

It sounds like this marriage is killing you. Maybe it's time to get out once and for all.

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Stop using your kids as an excuse to stay in a toxic marriage. No, they aren't happy. In fact you are doing irreparable damage to them and their future relationships by demonstrating to them that cheating and abuse are OK. Yes, cheating on your wife is a form of psychological and emotional abuse. You are teaching them to put up and shut up. Let me ask you - how will you feel if your son or daughter later on ends up in the same marriage and stays because that's what you taught them? Can you live with that?

 

Narcissists in general cause massive damage to their children and their psyche. You aren't protecting them from that, you are sticking to this man's side putting them through hell and for what? Artificial bs like going camping? What? You can't divorce him and take your kids camping minus the narcissist? There is literally nothing that you can't do without him and being without him means peace, actually relaxing and enjoying each other without needing to cater and pay attention to the narc.

 

Also, don't call yourself strong and independent. A strong independent woman would have left this louse you call a husband years ago. Kicked him to the curb. You are not independent, OP, you are codependent. Clinging for dear life to a sham marriage and a nightmare for a husband, creating excuses for staying because why? Afraid to take action? Afraid of change? Afraid to be alone?

 

Life alone is a million times better than life with a cheater. Stop making excuses, get a good lawyer and start making better choices for yourself and your children.

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Thank you. I kind of expected to hear from at least one person in a similar situation who chooses to stay. I have been to a therapist who also encourages me to leave. I'm getting there. Believe it or not, a woman can be codependent in a relationship while still being independent and strong in all other areas. I have a powerful career, great friends, hobbies, and am a total nurturer. People call me a loving woman of steel. I guess the poster who called me out on fear of change probably got it right. My kids are grown and all have spouses that are kind and giving. They want me happy. I am close to being ready. I appreciate all the wake up, tough love messages.

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Thank you. I kind of expected to hear from at least one person in a similar situation who chooses to stay. I have been to a therapist who also encourages me to leave. I'm getting there. Believe it or not, a woman can be codependent in a relationship while still being independent and strong in all other areas. I have a powerful career, great friends, hobbies, and am a total nurturer. People call me a loving woman of steel. I guess the poster who called me out on fear of change probably got it right. My kids are grown and all have spouses that are kind and giving. They want me happy. I am close to being ready. I appreciate all the wake up, tough love messages.

 

You know my heart just broke for you. Your kids are grown and you are still choosing to stay in an abusive marriage using them as an excuse? Those people who are calling you a loving woman of steel aren't doing you any favors. It's not a compliment, it just keeps you stuck pretending and playing up to an image, an illusion. Staying in abuse is weakness not strength. You need to learn to love yourself a little more and pretend strength a little less. Yes, lots of otherwise highly successful professional people have horrible, dysfunctional, abusive relationships. You are far and away not alone in that, but doesn't mean you need to continue with this. Please check out chumplady.com blog - lots of advice and support there for leaving a cheater. Lots of calling it for what it is as well, unpleasant truths about cheaters. Most importantly you'll find lots of women who left at various stages of life and are so much happier for it. Maybe you can find some strength and inspiration there to finally leave.

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The reason he doesn't want to divorce you is likely purely financial. You should be getting him off of your bank account if he's added to yours, and remove him as a user of your credit cards. In many states, since you've been married longer than 10 years, you might be entitled to half of his retirement savings at the date of the divorce, and entitled to half of his pension if he has one at the point of his retirement. If he's the higher earner, know that you are entitled to his higher rate of social security benefits without it negatively affecting him, even if you're divorced. Consult a lawyer about all of this and don't let him manipulate you into getting less than your fair share. Make sure you don't leave the family home until consulting with a lawyer about that as well. There might be laws you know nothing about and now is not the time to be making mistakes when your livelihood is at stake. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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Is he retired? Cheating is not synonymous with "midlife crisis". Does he still have this mistress or cheat with other women? You must consult an attorney asap to discuss your options in the case of divorce. He has already filed, so he wants out and sooner or later one of his mistresses will convince him.

 

Get your ducks in a row and privately and confidentially consult a lawyer. Do not make any obvious financial moves without doing that first. Do not leave yourself open to being blindsided by pretending being a good housekeeper will hang on to a man.

Married 35 years. found someone who would. He even filed for divorce. He thinks our separate lives works well.
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It's time to leave. See a lawyer in private and start planning.

 

This marriage has long sailed and he is not in love with you. You know it in your heart. It's time to have greater strength. You may think you are strong but you need more. You can restart your life again away from this negative cycle. Give yourself a chance to live a different and happier life. The kids will manage and adapt. There will be a new routine and a new normal. Get out of this. I think both of you are different people too and you really do deserve to be with a partner who wants to spend more time with you.

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Gee, he sounds a lot like my ex. I was married for 29 years; divorced for almost 1.5 years. I won't get into details but suffice it to say, that even if I won a Nobel prize, he would not have been impressed. It was always about him. IMHO, he is a narcissist. It was his way or the highway. According to him, I was always in the wrong, I didn't know what I was talking about, etc. He was dismissive. He was so darned disrespectful, and verbally and emotionally abusive. That said, I was not thrilled with the marriage but I accepted him for who and what he was. I was very grateful for the fact that he made a very good salary which, in turn, gave me the opportunity to raise my kids and not have to go to work. I did work at the beginning of the marriage because he was still in school. Before him, I also had an incredible career. I actually felt sorry for him because his behaviour made me realise how insecure he really is. I truly took my vows seriously. Poor excuse? I don't know but it's how I felt. I tried really hard to fulfill his sexual needs (or should I say fetishes) but, apparently, it was not good enough. He dumped me. At first, I was devastated beyond words but now I find that I am much happier without his sorry a$$.

 

Kids know what's going on. Don't kid yourself. Get out of this toxic marriage. Don't put up with this bulls*t. You will be better off alone, trust me. Your kids will understand your decision to leave. I'm sure they want their mother to be happy. You will be: without him!!

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Thank you to everyone. I truly appreciate goddess. She has lived it. I do have an attorney. We are both physicians, so money is not an issue. It is difficult to change medical facilities at this point. We are both fully vested. Another year, we can semi retire. His affair lasted about 4 months. He knew she was beneath him. Just a distraction, which doesn't excuse the cowardly act of cheating. His filing for divorce, he says, was guilt and knowing that cheating is a deal breaker for me. It's so hard when you have built a good life, even if dysfunctional. I do have separate finances due to inheritance. I researched homes today. Hopefully this pandemic will soon be over so I can move. I don't want current house. It is not a home. Thank you so much to all of you who inspired my strength to move on!

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Thank you to everyone. I truly appreciate goddess. She has lived it. I do have an attorney. We are both physicians, so money is not an issue. It is difficult to change medical facilities at this point. We are both fully vested. Another year, we can semi retire. His affair lasted about 4 months. He knew she was beneath him. Just a distraction, which doesn't excuse the cowardly act of cheating. His filing for divorce, he says, was guilt and knowing that cheating is a deal breaker for me. It's so hard when you have built a good life, even if dysfunctional. I do have separate finances due to inheritance. I researched homes today. Hopefully this pandemic will soon be over so I can move. I don't want current house. It is not a home. Thank you so much to all of you who inspired my strength to move on!

 

OMG, my ex is a physician too. That is wild! I sincerely wish you the best of luck, Cheryl. You deserve it. I have two adult sons. Of course it's hard for them at the beginning but they understand. You will find happiness and peace. Give yourself time to heal. Sending you big hugs xx

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Thank you to everyone. I truly appreciate goddess. She has lived it. I do have an attorney. We are both physicians, so money is not an issue. It is difficult to change medical facilities at this point. We are both fully vested. Another year, we can semi retire. His affair lasted about 4 months. He knew she was beneath him. Just a distraction, which doesn't excuse the cowardly act of cheating. His filing for divorce, he says, was guilt and knowing that cheating is a deal breaker for me. It's so hard when you have built a good life, even if dysfunctional. I do have separate finances due to inheritance. I researched homes today. Hopefully this pandemic will soon be over so I can move. I don't want current house. It is not a home. Thank you so much to all of you who inspired my strength to move on!

 

Good luck. I think you will start feeling much better once you truly get back on your feet!

 

What are you going to do about the job? Will you go somewhere else?

 

You think you have a good life with all of the dysfunction you are living with, but you're only living half the good life.

 

I think you will probably start to see that a few months out of the marriage, when the constant stress that you are under starts to alleviate.

 

It's called 'dysfunction' for a reason. It doesn't work. It is unsupportive, counterproductive, and it is damaging to health.

 

Your marriage really is killing some part of you. Go save that part!!

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Believe it or not, a woman can be codependent in a relationship while still being independent and strong in all other areas.

 

I believe that is true. But many believe otherwise, and I think that's a common misconception.

 

People have a difficult time accepting that dichotomies can exist in one person. They can be pretty unforgiving.

 

There's a thread somewhere on this board about the series, "Dirty John," a dramatization of a true crime story.

 

It was interesting to see the way that some of the posters attacked the victim's (Debra's) character.

 

Debra was a successful business woman who made very good business decisions.

 

But she made abysmal relationship decisions and her marriage to John became absolutely disastrous.

 

A couple of the posters on the thread actually seemed offended that Debra was considered a victim at all.

 

They seemed to think that she should be held accountable for her bad decisions, and that murder was apparently a suitable lesson!

 

Some of the judgment on that thread was pretty amazing :D Definitely popcorn worthy.

 

I do think it's practical for people to sort of take an 'average' of all situations when making decisions. But I think that it's a bad and lazy practice when judging other people.

 

You just have to look at a bell curve to see there are very few true situations that actually fall into an average range, and that averages are often borne of substantial deviations to either side.

 

AT ANY RATE, you are weak in this one area, but you do have strength inside of you and you are capable of getting stronger. You just have to take it slow and commit to the effort.

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We all really need to stop conflating career/financial success with emotional/psychological health. The two are not connected.

 

Narcissists, sociopaths tend to be particularly successful. Their disorders actually help them be so - emotional detachment combined with image management drives them to be ruthless and highly successful. They can manipulate, lie, cheat, steal, blame others, step on others, set up other to take the fall and feel nothing but satisfaction at the end result of personal success and all the hero worship that brings from the outside world. That doesn't make them any less disordered and if you have the misfortune to cross paths with one of these on a personal/relationship level, you will get destroyed by these people. Behind the facade lives a monster.

 

The victims of abuse are also emotionally/psychologically disordered people. Quite literally the ying and the yang of a toxic vicious circle. No, stating a fact is not character assassination. You cannot even begin to fix a problem if you cannot acknowledge that it exists. Healthy people do not put up with abuse, they walk away at first sight.

 

Real life example is a good friend from college. Super attractive, very smart and successful girl in a long term relationship. They've been together 3 years. The first and only time his mask slipped and he showed her an abusive side, she dumped him. No and's, no but's, no trying to hang in there and fix him or wait for him to change. She was gone in a heartbeat. Her stance was simple "I will NOT be treated this way." Period. Full stop. Did she love him? Of course. Was she sad and devastated about the break up? Most certainly. She also healed and moved on. Part of emotional health is knowing how to let go.

 

People who have codependence issues cannot let go or have an exceptionally hard time letting go. They will put up with abuse...because...insert whatever excuse here - looove, hope, ego, fear, etc. Codepence has nothing to do with intelligence, education, career success, etc. It's a broken way that a person has learned to relate to others and only way out permanently is to unlearn that and learn better. Without that....OP and others in her situation will just turn around and date another abuser. It's what's familiar and what feels comfortable. One cannot fix a problem until one acknowledges that there is a problem.

 

OP has zero excuses in terms of divorce - kids are grown, finances are not an issue, etc. Codepence IS what is keeping her stuck. She can choose to work on herself and get unstuck. I mean what's the alternative? More abuse? The cheating thing....cheaters rarely cheat just once. It's the one time she caught him. Yes, yes cheaters are very sorry, sooo sorry they got caught (not that they cheated, only that they got caught, so inconvenient) and yes he may love bomb you and promise the world and even pretend for awhile until you trust him again and stop looking so close, so he can go right back to cheating. Also, no, it's not midlife crisis or any other bs excuse you want to make up for him. Cheating is about entitlement - I do whatever the eff pleases me and I don't care who I harm with that. It's a character problem and one he's had from the get go. Codepence leaves people spackling over, living in denial, putting up with unspeakable bs all because.....inability to let go. Living with a cheater is like hugging covid-19 without a hazmat suit. Sure....you might get lucky and survive, then again, you might end up 6ft under. Codependents love to convince themselves that it's not really covid, it's just a cuddly bunny and if they pet it juuuust right, the bunny will not harm them and all will be wonderful.....optimists on steroids.... Stop and get off the crazy train OP. You have no excuses for putting up with abuse. None.

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This has been interesting. As I mentioned, I am a physician- a psychiatrist to be exact. I know my relationship is dysfunctional. I know my husband has NPD. I have always known that. I chose to be in the marriage. One thing that interests me is the overuse of certain terms. Abuse- what is abuse? Yes, maybe during the affair, there was emotional abuse with saying terrible things to me. I also understand that the typical male who is conflicted will say hurtful things to justify behavior to himself. Believe me, that does NOT excuse it. I believe a woman (or man) knows what constitutes abuse. I don't feel abused. I feel neglected, not treated with respect, not always loved, but not abused. You may disagree, but it's like the nuance between children being teased vs being bullied. Kids and parents love to jump to the word bullied, where most of us would call it typical behavior for youth. Certainly not ok or acceptable, but not bullying. I am in charge of my life. I know my marriage is not healthy, but I am not a victim. We had probably 30 good years, raising a good, healthy family. Only recently did things take a turn where the NPD became something I can't tolerate (cheating being a main factor). I know it's time to move on. I appreciate those supportive people who have helped me gain the strength to leave, without judgment of my character.

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