It is never easy to address a problem with my husband, because the problem I start out with is not the one we will end up discussing. Somehow, no matter how important or relevant my issue is, he can always invent a far more exciting issue that he'd prefer to talk about. Unfortunately, my original problem will never get resolved because I have to spend hours refuting the non-existent problem I never had in the first place.

"Hon," I'll say, "you have four nights in a row you've planned to be out this week, could you pick the two events that are the most important to you and be at home the other nights?"

"Fine, I'll just stay home all the time if you don't think I should be allowed to have any friends or do anything fun."

"Is it possible for you to leave work a little early to take Kevin to his basketball practice tonight? Natalie is sick and I don't want to make her wait for two hours while he plays."

"So you can't handle taking care of the kids, and I'll have to quit my job and we'll have to sell the house ...you just don't appreciate how hard my work is and what I go through to keep a roof over your head."

You'll note that the invented problems, were they actually real, would make me look a tad unreasonable. There is no such thing as a legitimate problem if it requires him to take responsibility and change anything about his behavior.

Everything is always my fault.

He's lied to me about finances and personal issues, but he always excuses it because I am too judgmental and too independent.  I don't respect him enough. I've kept him from bonding with our children.

My requests for marital therapy indicated I wasn't committed to marriage and just wanted to get a divorce. Which justified his having extramarital affairs. The communication problem is entirely my fault for not understanding that he's a goal-oriented man who needs to have everything broken down into specific tasks.

Yet, "Please take the trash out" yields no results, in spite of the apparent specificity and directness, perhaps because it isn't an important enough job.

He is the very picture of heroic self-sacrifice, describing to his friends his unloving, uncaring wife, with whom he will stay - for the sake of the children. He is the one competent person at his work, and only his herculean efforts save group projects from certain failure. Nothing is his fault, it is the fault of the jealous under-miners who surround him.

In short, I married a narcissist.

He is always right. His grandiosity allows him to ignore common sense and reason. He is such a capable driver that he can ignore winter storm warnings if they interfere with his vacation plans. He can drive after three or four drinks, unlike other mere mortals.

And I am afraid to have him take care of our children for a weekend if we divorce.

4 Comments