The Controlling Wife

So many times we hear about sociopathic men controlling women. Typically, it is females who become trapped in emotionally abusive relationships and cannot leave due to financial circumstances. However, there are also many men trapped in similar situations. I know that the term ‘controlling woman’ is a stereotype and yet I recently experienced a situation which made me think about it in-depth.

A dear friend of thirty years recently tried to end his relationships with  a sociopathic family member. I had been friends with this man, whom I’ll call Tom, for thirty years. I knew about Tom’s situation with his family member for several years. Several months ago, he came to me because he had decided to cut off ties with this individual, who happened to be his wife.

My friend grew up in a home with a very controlling mother and without knowing it he signed up for the same treatment in his marriage. I met his wife when they first started dating. She struck me as quite immature. She was 21 at the time but seemed more like 11. All that this woman wanted out of life was to have as many babies as possible and to not have to work outside the home. Tom, who was in love with his wife and eager to start a family, agreed that she should stay home with the children but he did not know that he was also signing up to support her financially for the rest of her life.

The number of children seemed to be the first point of struggle. After three children, Tom wanted to stop but she insisted on more. Tom wanted a vasectomy stating that they could not afford more children because his wife was not working and he had a blue-collar profession. After the fourth child arrived, Tom again stated that he wanted no more children. At this time, they had three boys and one girl. His wife insisted that she “needed” another daughter and begged and pleaded. So their second daughter was born. After five children, Tom insisted on a vasectomy.

After the vasectomy there was very little and eventually no sex. Without the possibility of pregnancy, Tom’s wife only used sex as a reward/punishment system, sending him to sleep on the couch so often that he eventually moved to the couch.

In addition to wanting more children than they could afford, Tom’s wife also had expensive habits including wine, clothing, make up and going out to lunch with her friends. She still did not work outside the home. Tom went without to provide her  wants and he subsequently ignored his own needs. His wife had been brought up in a wealthy family and she did not seem to understand that her husband was a blue-collar worker with a limited earning potential. Credit card debts ensued, not for necessary items but for luxuries. At one point the finances were strained after Tom was laid off from a manufacturing firm which was moving overseas. Instead of offering to find work herself to help pay the bills (the youngest child at that time being 8), his wife pushed for them to take a second mortgage, which they did, mounting to the debt.

Early on in this marriage, Tom’s wife took the lead of being the boss, of being in charge. He referred to her as a bully. If she did not get her way, then she would punish him with sullen moods, outbursts of anger, and fits of crying. She inflicted her moods on the children, who also responded to her manipulations by acquiescing to their mother’s demands. The entire household revolved around the mother. Anything and everything was done to keep her calm. Tom pressed her to see a psychiatrist but she refused.

With the economic changes after 2008, Tom found that he was unable to make enough money in his career as an industrial tradesman without traveling to remote areas for weeks or months at a time and sending the money back home to his wife. He lived in squalid conditions including musty hotel rooms, shared housing and even campsites to keep his expenses as low as possible. He was incredibly unhappy and yet he felt that he must keep working to support his children, especially as his wife continued to not work outside the home.

As the years went by the type of work Tom had to perform, which involved climbing and lifting for ten to twelve hours a day, began to have a toll on his body. Having inherited a genetic form of arthritis, his limbs became twisted and as he took medications to control the swelling at such high levels that his liver levels were altered. It was at this point that I came into contact with him again, after an absence of several years. He was desperate to change careers and yet he could not afford to. When I suggested that his wife should get a job, he felt thankful to me for saying so. And yet she continued to not work and he continued to tax his body.

During the past couple of years, Tom remarked to me that lately, instead of working five ten to twelve-hour days per week, he needed to work six in order to make enough money to satisfy his wife’s spending habits. He referenced her credit card bills, expensive clothing, trips to the hairdressers, cases of wine, organic food, vitamins. At this point, I interjected, “Organic food! You’ve got five kids and a workingman’s salary! You can’t afford organic food!” He sadly agreed and yet he seemed powerless to stop her from buying it.

Finally, last fall, feeling his body becoming worn out and broken, and with every day of work more painful than the one before, Tom had enough. He decided to call it off. The youngest child was fifteen. He announced his intention for a divorce, and told her that although he would fully support the children and household until the youngest was eighteen, she would need to get a full-time job right away, as he intended to transition to a career which would not destroy his body further.

Tom’s resolve lasted a few months while his wife battered away at him daily. First, after having ignored him sexually for years, she began pursuing him against his will. He felt extremely uncomfortable about her advances and asked her to stop. She did not. Since he was working several hours away, and saw her only occasionally, at first this was not too difficult. But then she began calling him and texting him unceasingly. After having ignored him completely for years, she began a campaign of constant contact, which anyone outside of the situation would consider harassment. She agreed to go to counseling to address her poor behavior, then she missed the appointments. She yelled, screamed, cried, withdrew. She harangued him, argued with him and accused him repeatedly of neglecting his duty. She shamed him. She told him that his children were suffering because of his actions. She upset their teenage and young adult children, whom she drew into her confidence as she designated herself as the victim, suddenly thrown out and forced to get a job, as if doing so were an indignity she could not bear. Soon his young adult children began to call him at work asking, “Why are you making Mom get a job?”

None of Tom’s children seemed to be aware of the breakdown of their father’s body, or how hard he worked, or what that work did to him. All they heard was the deafening yells of this woman who was simply a large child not getting her way. Finally, after several months of harassment, Tom needed unexpected surgery and wound up unemployed and living under the same roof as his wife. Due to pressure from her and his oldest daughter, he finally gave up his intention to get a divorce and agreed to reconcile with his wife. Undoubtedly, he will work six or seven days a week until his body fails, which cannot be too many years from now. (He is currently 50 years old.)

As sad as this story is, I know of several men trapped in similar situations. Their female partners control them by withholding sex, and making them feel ashamed. They accuse them of neglecting their duties and being bad fathers if they consider leaving their wives. My friend Tom knew that it was possible to get divorced and still be a good father and he set out determined to do this and yet his intentions were undermined by his wife convincing him (and the children) that if he left her, he was also leaving the children. This case is particularly sad in that the wife used the children to such an extent that Tom began viewing them as if they were much younger and more helpless than they were. A secondary aspect of this family’s dysfunction is that the adult children were also growing dependent on Tom to be the person who not only made all the money but who solved all of the emotional squabbles in the household. Two of the adult children were still living at home and not contributing anything to the household in terms of either money or labor.

Control and manipulation are gender neutral. Anyone can play in these twisted games. My heart goes out to all persons trapped by controlling partners or family members; may you all find the courage to escape.



Two Great Blogs on Healing from Narcissism/ASPD Relationships

coming out of the fog

coming out of the fog (Photo credit: theloushe)

I spent the first year of this blog writing about my emotional response to my lover’s betrayal. During that year, I also realized that in addition to being a drug addict & dealer, my ex also has Antisocial personality disorder, along with Narcissistic personality disorder.

I’d spent twenty-five years blaming his drug and alcohol addictions for his behavior problems, lack of empathy, criminality, lack of familial responsibility, lack of a life plan, inability to handle finances, etc. In reality, his addiction issues were secondary to his personality disorder, which he was most likely born with (ASPD) and then became worse through childhood abuse (developing into NPD).

Ninety percent of the resources which have helped me through the process of learning about personality disorders and how they affect relationships have been on the internet.

The only good thing about healing from a relationship with a person with Antisocial personality disorder is realizing that I’m not alone, and gaining strength through reading about the experiences of other women. (There is a significantly higher percentage of men to women who have ASPD and/or NPD, so most of the material I have found has been written by women.)

I admire the selflessness of these writers who have gone public with their stories in order to help and to warn others about how dangerous these individuals with personalities can be. These men (and women) can destroy your life. They are often charming and outgoing and can gain your trust easily. Once your trust is gained, they will take and destroy anything they can from you including  sex, your self-esteem, your peace of mind, your ability to trust others, years of your life and often, large amounts of money. These individuals are con artists and swindlers.

If you are suffering from a relationship with one of these individuals, then I urge you to visit some of these exceptional blogs for more information. (My blog only offers the tip of the iceberg of information about relationships with individuals with NPD and/or ASPD).

The Narcissist Continuum (

“This website is intended to be a safe place for discussing pathological behavior with a general audience.

The Narcissist Continuum, written by a woman who survived a decades long relationship with a male narcissist, is an excellent resource which covers the topic of narcissism from A-Z. It’s encyclopedic breadth covers topics ranging the personal to the scientific aspects of surviving a narcissistic relationship while also covering such pertinent topics as infidelity, morality, healing and parenting. Scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and check out the links to dozens of blogs on topics related to healing from a narcissist.

Psychopathyawareness (

“To help other victims of psychopaths, both male and female, I have started the website Psychopathyawareness. This website explains clearly, for the general public, what psychopaths are, why they act the way they do, how they attract us and whom they tend to target. Above all, I hope that psychopathyawareness will help victims find the strength to end their toxic relationships with psychopaths and move on, stronger and wiser, with the rest of their lives.” Claudia Moscovici

Psychopathy awareness, written by survivor, Claudia Moscovici, is the Bible for those recovering from relationships with a psychopath. (For those of you who are new to these terms, “Antisocial Personality Disorder’ has replaced the term ‘Psychopathy’ in the DSM-IV).

If you are in a relationship with someone with ASPD (a psychopath), or you are recovering from a relationship, then you must immediately go to this blog and spend a minimum of two hours reading the enormous volume of information which Ms. Mocovici has written.

If you aren’t sure but suspect that your lover may have ASPD,  you should visit Psychopathyawareness to find out more information. This site is full of scientific information about how the brains of psychopaths differ from ours. (They do!) If you think that your psychopathic lover can change because there is some good inside of him, then you need to visit this site.



The Narcissicist’s Seduction: A Card Trick

Card trick

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever watched someone perform a card trick which appeared to be  magic? Has anyone ever explained a ‘magic’ card trick so that suddenly you understood how it worked and why you were fooled by it in the first place? Have you ever experienced the ‘Aha!’ moment which comes after dissecting the steps of a card trick?

The Narcissist‘s Seduction is  a card trick. (Please note that while using the term narcissist, I am also referring to Antisocial personality disorder, sociopaths, psychopaths, as all these disorders seem to bleed into each other in the middle and all perform many of the same card tricks.) Before you know that it is a trick, it appears to be magic. Once you’ve been fooled, however, you can dissect the layers and see exactly how the narcissist deceived you and with what ease you were deceived.

While the Narcissist performs his card trick of seduction upon you, the world around you, once gray and common, becomes magical. You would never guess that the very special relationship you are developing with the narcissist is actually a formulated recipe to create an aura of intimacy so that you will open up your trust and let this person into your life completely by throwing normal caution to the wind.

The narcissict who came back into my life after an absence of eighteen years played the most spellbinding of card tricks on me. It lasted close to three years, during which time I was under his control.

With an onslaught of cards and letters pleading forgiveness based on his ‘getting his act together’, with gifts of money and jewelry to myself and our adult daughter (whom he had not supported or raised), with nice clothes, exceptional manners and excessive friendliness to our friends, with constant attention, flowers, and putting his best foot forward by accentuating his upcoming art show and hiding his degenerate friends, by making puppy dog eyes and expressing his sadness at the years  spent without us, by swearing to our daughter that he had always been and would always be in love with her mother, by lying about his drinking and getting high, my ex husband the narcissist managed to wriggle a center stage position in our lives within four months of contacting us.

As my daughter recalls, “He sent a few gifts, said the right things, dressed nicely, was extremely polite, and we opened the door of our life wide open to him, willing on very little grounds to forgive all his previous bad behavior and neglect.”

As an opener of the card trick, the narcissist preys upon your vulnerabilities. I was vulnerable to this narcissist for several reasons. First, I was disappointed in love and lonely. Second, I had unresolved feelings for the narcissist. Third, I had a fanciful delusion of ‘true love’ which was probably based upon our relationship when were twenty and he had worshipped me on a pedestal. Fourth, I had a belief in life as  a spiritual journey, in which I should trust the people who came into my life if they appeared to have good intentions. Finally, I had a soft heart and forgave easily.

All of these characteristics combined within me to create a perfect storm for the narcissist invasion of Spring 2008.

When the curtain fell two and a half years later, the narcissist’s mask dropped and I could see him for what he truly was- an emotional manipulator who had used me for a sexual relationship and as a short cut to have a relationship with our daughter. Heartbroken, my world broke apart, and I have chronicled my emotional reeling in the first several months of this blog.

For many months last year, every day brought new revelations of what the narcissist had lied to me about, as I pieced together the pieces of the shattered reality he had convinced me to be true.

In retrospect,  I realize that his whole performance was a card trick. I see through it all. I see my vulnerability, his deliberate lies and putting his best face forward, his overzealous politeness to my friends and family, the gifts, the long phone calls, the vows of eternal love, as simply steps of the narcissist’s card trick of seduction. The trick worked; he eased his way into our lives without ever having to explain or atone for his past behavior. He simply glossed over it.

The narcissist card trick is all about show. It is about anticipating what others will want to see in order to gain their trust. The trick  is about front loading affection and intimacy with gifts and money. In this way, it is a sort of bribery. Narcissists lie, cheat and bribe their way into our lives because they want something from us. We are only a means to an end for them, and the seduction trick is their entrance ticket into our hearts.

Now that I see how the trick works, it is no longer a mystery. It is perfectly clear. But my knowledge is four years too late.


When Not to Forgive

Cover of "How Can I Forgive You?: The Cou...

Cover via Amazon


As a  consequence of my relationship with my ex husband, the narcissist with Antisocial personality disorder, which has spanned on and off, some twenty-six years, I have learned the hard way that forgiveness is not always the right move.

Specifically, when you are dealing with a person with Narcissistic and/or Antisocial personality disorders, forgiving them is probably not in your best interest.

We are taught to forgive. Many of us were raised in the Christian faith, the main tenet of which is that, as Christians, we must forgive those who wrong us.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
Matthew 18:21-22, KJV

When my ex husband returned into my life after an absence of eighteen years and asked me forgiveness for the action of twenty years before, I forgave him. Our culture values forgiveness. We see the theme of forgiveness and redemption in movies and on television and we hear it in pop music lyrics.

We are steeped in what we believe to be a concrete fact; that people who screw up and mess up our lives have a right to be forgiven if they have stopped the offending behavior, demonstrated self-reflection, and asked for forgiveness.

To not forgive under such conditions would be considered cruel and selfish.

And yet, I say to all who read this, that you should not forgive the person in your life with Narcissistic and/or Antisocial personality disorder if to grant forgiveness will result in this person regaining access to you in any way.

If you want to spiritually forgive the person because you understand that they are not in control of their actions, that’s fine, as long as you don’t let them back into your life.

I have not this person who has damaged my life with his behavior. This is the first time in my life which I have not forgiven someone. Forgiving him when he came back into my life in 2007 was probably the worst mistake of my life. Or, perhaps I could have forgiven him, but told him to stay away from me.  Forgiving him and offering him a second chance was just an abominable decision on my part.

Yet, I received so much positive feedback for forgiving him. From friends, from family. “Isn’t that wonderful, that you are giving him a second chance!” Yes, he was Lazarus, raised from the dead by the power of my forgiveness.

I believe that we attribute some miraculous spiritual power to forgiveness. As if my forgiving him for abandoning me and our infant daughter to a life of crime could somehow invest a mantle of spiritual grace onto him, the forgiven one, and ensure that his path from thence on would be a holy one. A person can only be worthy of forgiveness through their actions. We forget this in our desire to be kind, and let them off the hook, by granting forgiveness based on a verbal request accompanied by self-reflective jargon. We forget that we, the wronged, have some rights here. We have the right to not believe the supplicant, the right to keep ourselves safe from further harm, and essentially, the right to NOT forgive.

Last year, I was struggling with my inability to forgive this person when I came across the book, How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To, by Janis A. Spring. Spring presents the option of not forgiving someone who has harmed you, but, instead, reaching closure through a process of letting go. I went with this option and did not forgive him. I chose to not forgive consciously and deliberately.

If he wants forgiveness for what he has done to me, then he can ask it himself, from whichever higher power he chooses. (However, we know that for the Narcissist, there is no higher power beyond himself.)

How can you accept the forgiveness of a person with Narcissistic and/or Antisocial personality disorder when they are such pathological liars, anyway? What is an apology from such a person worth? From the former ‘love of my life’ it was worth nothing.



Where Narcissicm Ends and Antisocial Personality Disorder Begins

Antisocial Personality Disorder

Image by genelin1211 via Flickr

Let me be perfectly clear. Before last year, I had never studied the definitions of Narcissistic or Antisocial personality disorders much less compared the two. I know there’s quite a few people out there who get their kicks by informally diagnosing the difficult people in their lives with one type of personality disorder or another. This is not me. I have never done this. I am only writing about the differences between the two disorders because of the emotional upheaval in my life  the return, after a twenty year absence, of my first husband, and his subsequent behavior and treatment of me.

The man whom I had considered the love of my life turned out to be the liar of my life and I have discovered that I am not along. In the past year I have read the stories of so many people, both men and women, whose lives have been destroyed by narcissists. I have read less from people recovering from relationships with ASPD individuals, and so I am setting out the explore the relationship between the two.

It became apparent to my therapist last year that my former husband had Narcissistic PD. According to the DSM- IV, an individual meets the criteria for this diagnosis if he or she has five of nine of several traits. The narcissist in my life has five of these criteria, including lack of empathy and using others for personal gain (inter-personally exploitative.)

Although this diagnosis explained part of his behavior, it did not cover nearly all of his traits. When I stumbled onto the DSM- IV definition  of Antisocial personality disorder, a thousand light bulbs turned on. He has all seven of the characteristic traits of this disorder , and only three are needed for a diagnosis:

  1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest; (He has sold drugs for his entire adult life, over twenty five years.)
  2. deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; (He is a pathological liar– to me, our daughter, his family and his former friends. He has admitted that he lies so much he doesn’t know how to tell the truth.)
  3. impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead; (He has never planned ahead. He has never not given in to an impulse if it is something which will bring him immediate gratification.)
  4. irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults; (He is not aggressive; he is constantly irritable.)
  5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others; (He would not keep drug dealers out of our home when our daughter was a baby; twenty years later, he lied to me and our daughter about his involvement in organized crime and had us sleeping in his house one day and dealers in his house the next.)
  6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations; (He has always held the same job, which suits his lifestyle, but he has never honored his financial obligations. He never supported his daughter during her childhood; he never provided a home for me (his wife at the time) to live in while I was pregnant, etc.)
  7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another; (He has always blamed me for everything. He views himself as the victim of a hard life. Nothing is his fault.) (From

Therefore, it is clear to me that although my former husband has narcissistic traits, the real underlying cause of his life long deviant behavior is the Antisocial personality disorder, which, not surprisingly, goes hand in hand with drug and alcohol addiction.

And how did I wind up back in a relationship with this man, at the age of 40, after he had been so unreliable, so undependable, so reckless back when we were 22?

Because he lied to me. He swindled me. He conned me. Not just me, but our adult daughter and my father. He came into our lives in a calculated and deceiving way because he wanted things from us. From my daughter, he wanted a relationship. He wanted to have the good feeling of being a Dad, and think that he could erase the past by sending money and presents. The crazy thing is that it worked for a couple years! From me, he wanted a renewal of our sexual/romantic relationship. And he got it! All he had to do was dress nicely, hide his friends, send presents and pour on the charm!

He came back into my life and told me seven huge lies. First, that he only drank ‘on the weekends’. Second, that he had quit getting high and using drugs years before. He even had a long explanation for exactly why and how he’s quit. Third, that he had quit dealing drugs eons ago- that it had been a passing phase when he was younger. He told me all these lies with a straight face, sitting facing me in conversation. I asked him repeatedly about these things as they had been such a huge problem twenty years before. He managed to convince me that I’d misjudged him- that he’d been a troubled young man who had eventually straightened out, and if only I’d stuck around, then we could have been a family together. He spun it all so that within a very short amount of our being in contact again, I felt badly for having abandoned him in our twenties. He downplayed the past drug use and dealing and presented such a clean cut facade that I doubted my decision to leave him in 1989 when our daughter was a baby and then to break off contact. I began to feel as if I’d overreacted. I shared this with my father, and even he felt bad that we hadn’t given my young troubled husband more of a chance.

Very soon, all the trouble he’d caused by his total lack of parental responsibility was overshadowed by how emotionally overwrought he was over all the years he’d spent alone, pining for us.

This was the tone of the first year of our ‘reunion’. Absolute insanity! He had me second guessing my decision of twenty years before to take the baby and leave while he was still, in the present moment, pretending to be the long-lost father and soul mate of the year AND still dealing drugs with the same old crowd from two decades before!

My life, which I’d devoted to goodness and purity, went down this path of absolute insanity based on the lies of a psychopath or sociopath! I’m trying to sort out the definitions between these two terms but they are both related to ASPD. I guess psychopathy is a subset of ASPD? Not sure how all the term/diagnoses interconnect, but it sure is creepy to look back and see how easily we let him back into our lives with only an apology, a clean cut appearance, expensive gifts and flowery words.

Once you have a damaging experience with a person with ASPD, your ability to trust will never be the same.