After the Fight

The Fight's Over and I feel Terrible -- How Can I Soften Their Heart?

Let's imagine you and your partner have just had a big fight - lot's of nasty things have been said - plans have been spoiled and you are feeling awful and in unbelievable emotional pain.

If you are anything like I used to be, it is at this point you might be feeling absolutely desperate to see your partner again and have them feel bad for you and say they are sorry for the nasty things that they said and make up? "What do I say now?" you might ask ... or "How do I get them to come home?" 

So you reach for the phone or decide to go and talk to them (in the other room) to convince them they should NOT be mad or ignore you and that instead they should care about how hurt you feel. And to prove just how hurt you feel - and that you deserve sympathy - you might also try convincing them how awful they have been and that they are wrong. 

You know that this isn't likely to work and that they will probably block your call - turn their back on you or not answer, but you feel so bad you can't help yourself - and if your convincing talk and blame don't work, you might even start crying uncontrollably or threaten to hurt yourself or get angry and start yelling or worse.

Sometimes it may even feel better if you can get them angry again because at least anger is better than them just ignoring you. 

Or if they are truly gone and no where to be contacted or found, you will then look to whatever friend you can find for comfort and/or to alcohol or drugs (and maybe cigarettes).

If you can relate to any of this I want to step into your life right at the very moment you are feeling this way and make you stop! 

Yes you heard me right - this is the very time you need to STOP. 

I know it is the last thing you want to hear - but this is also the greatest point where you can create change for yourself. 

Put down the phone. Go back to your own part of the house. Put down the bottle of alcohol or that cigarette. Or if you are out looking for your partner or drowning your sorrows - make the decision that it's time to go home. 

Because 'convincing' and acting desperate is only going to hurt you, and it is this point exactly where you can create the biggest change in your life.

Now I know just how bad and desperate you may feel and that you may be feeling guilty too and I sympathize with that - but you are going to have to start learning to deal with this yourself.

I hear women telling me all the time that they can't control these negative feelings but I am 100% certain that you can.

If you feel you cannot rise above this yourself you simply have not reached rock bottom yet and the question is how low are you going to go before you understand that no one is going to help you if you will not help yourself.

This makes me remember a great book my cousin bought my kids when they were younger called Hatchet. It is about a boy who is marooned by himself on an island and soon realizes that tears and self pity are not going to save him and that he has no choice but to dig deep within himself for the strength and self love and preservation he is going to need.

How bad is it going to get before you realize this too?

So now after you have stopped I want you to dig deep.

Sure you desperately want to make that call and cry or brawl or do whatever you can to change their heart - but right now it's not the right thing to do and if you want a better relationship you will need to get more self control.

Because how can you trust anyone else to do what is good and right for you if you cannot even do that yourself?

So now that you have stopped in your mind I want you to see yourself doing two things. The first is to write down what first upset or angered you and then put that piece of paper away for later.

Then I want you to decide what you need to do now to take care of yourself (and your kids if you have them) and feel better again and get things back on track until you and your parter start speaking again. I also want this plan to mean that you will be self sufficient enough to not be needing them when they return or when you see them again. Because they too will probably need some space to get themselves back on track.

Now if you still struggle with this I highly recommend you try my favorite 'cheat' which is the Wellness Audio Institute's library;

People spend years learning to meditate to gain control over their emotions - but with the Wellness Audio recordings you can achieve this same state of calm and well being without any effort on your part (except deciding to take some time out to listen).

Guess what? I am listening to one of their recordings right now. Did Steve and I have a fight? No, not at all. He is out talking to aid agencies about our books, but it is a lovely day outside and I would rather be out there in the sun - but to reach my current goals today I need to work. So right now I am listening to my motivation album. Does it work? Sure it does. Is it what I have always reached for when I needed help getting motivated? No it wasn't - I needed to change my habits and realize I could do that myself without having to talk to Steve or anyone else about my work.

Just like I used to feel after Steve and I had a fight - you might be feeling desperate for your partner to answer your calls and come home. But maybe just like like Steve would do - they just switch off their phone for hours and leave you feeling miserable and as though nothing will end the pain?

Well I was wrong (and if you feel the same maybe you are wrong too) because the fact was that thing just hadn't got bad enough yet that I had to stop my self pity and learn to dig deeper.

The only question is really how bad is it going to get? I have had women access our material from jail where they have ended up wrongly accused by their partner before they realize that it is them and no one else who is going to need to find the strength to make things change.

So do you have the strength to change old habits that are not working and reach for something new?

This of course it not all the work you are going to need to do if you want a new life - but it is the start. It is where you start learning to be able to trust yourself to be able to take care of yourself and not let your negative emotions and wanting someone to take care of your sadness and hurt overwhelm you and get in the way of your goals.

Because what is it you want anyway? To feel better or is it really for someone to take care of you? If you want to feel better the truth is that what I am offering you here now means it couldn't be easier for you to do that yourself.

If instead you want someone to take care of you - maybe you can see now that this is what might be driving love away in your life. Do you find people attractive who are sad, angry, miserable or upset? Sure you may have reason to be upset with your partner but you need to deal with that like an adult and with your head together and not like an emotional wreck. My bet is that they have trouble taking care of themselves sensibly already, let alone knowing how to take care of you!

Or maybe it is the other way around and your partner won't leave you alone after you have had a fight. If so tell them the truth. Tell them you love them but that you cannot make them happy if they won't work on being happy themselves. You can also suggest that you listen to these recordings together. If you leave you also need to tell them where you are going and when you will be back.

This is tough work - but it is important work on the road to change. It is embarrassing to talk about too - but I really want to help you now. How bad did it get with me? Well even me creating psychosomatic illnesses in myself wasn't enough for me to see the way I had been going needed to stop. I would have argued with anyone back then that my illness wasn't psychosomatic - but it was. I had chronic infections in my lungs and throat just for starters. Why? Because deep down I felt that being sick was the only way I was going to get Steve's love. Did it work? No. Because who really wants to hang around with someone who has such little ability to make themselves happy that they think they need to be sick to be loved?

Once I saw this I changed all that and stopped waiting for Steve to take care of me and instead I started taking care of myself.

Did you know that codependence can be fatal? How many people die from psychosomatic illnesses which they created in themselves only because they didn't realize their happiness was inside them and not on someone else? How many people have commit suicide believing the same thing?
This is serious and this is why I try and relate this same message over and over in so many different ways.

Stop reaching for the phone. Stop reaching for that thing that will hurt you and stop making yourself sick! Instead reach for something good for you and start giving yourself the love you need!

In the past I have called these recordings my secret weapons but that's wrong - Instead I want them to be your new secret and for you to make these powerful tools your own. Let this from now on be your thing that you do when you feel yourself off track or getting upset.

Because no one else is going to save you and build the life you want if you can't find your own inner calm and happiness to keep a light heart and your daily goals on track - even after you have had a fight. That kind of strength is attractive.

Your state of mind is the most valuable thing in your life so don't leave it to anyone else. 

You are going to need all 4 pillars to build a new life - which include you learning strong boundaries to limit abuse - but here is where it begins.



  1. I soften their heart by prayer...asking God to bless them and sending my love to them in prayer. Only God can do the real comfort. The other person is not healthy enough to help me and themselves. They run if I am needy. They don't want to be my mom/parent. Celiac is real...not pretend. A person can feel different every day and stress can make it worse. Do something every day that feeds the soul...walk in nature/ kind to yourself so you can be kind to others. Don't be hard on yourself or you will hard on others. I say thank you even if what they did is not much and sorry even if I don't think I did anything wrong. I just try to make peace/harmony and hope I can be compatible and all oppositional defiant disorder will cease and they will want to be in harmony with me. I don't comfort myself well...I cry by emotional. I am get very quiet and not talk much...but I keep trying. I wish I could be myself...highs/lows and still be accepted.Only God gives 100% unconditional love.

    1. You learned how to walk and you learned how to drive and you learned about how to take care of yourself through diet. Learning how to deal with your husbands disrespect and regulate your own emotions better is no different. God won't help you through prayer with things you will not stand on your own two feet and learn for yourself! If you are hungry God will not feed you if the plate of food is in front of you and you are perfectly able to put the fork to your mouth yourself! Apologizing for things you have not done wrong is showing yourself as weak and there to be exploited. Why should you surrender so easily to your partner's bad side? How does this make you good? You believe in Jesus but he never would have done such a thing! He stood up for himself and even took a whip to the money changers in the temple - and constantly displayed courage. He may have said turn the other cheek but that is different and even could be seen as a form of strength and defiance it is not apologize for things you haven't done!

      You have been on this site for years and the tools are right here in front of you - take them up and start facing this man who torments you. The answers you need are all here!

    2. I had to respond... Kim is right, you must do what you can, God has already made a way. Faith without works is dead. Keeping the peace and making peace are different. I also, used to keep the peace, and it alluded me. Now, I use Kim & Steve's advised to be a peace-maker. (matt. 5:9 says the peace makers will be called the sons of God.) Just like Jesus, with the money changers, he used conflict.
      I now feel like myself again, and know my acceptance comes from Christ, not my husband. I love myself more now. I hope this clarifies your journey to peace.

    3. That is not true about only god giving unconditional love. I have unconditional love and I am a human. The problem is, MOST people do not have unconditional love and that is the single thing that is destroying god today, as god works through all of US.

      I am preparing to leave a narccisistic abusive relationship. It doesn't mean I don't love the psycho, it just means that it's not good or healthy to stay with someone for too long, if you cannot help them. They have no feelings, other than Fake, made up ones.

      Best of Luck to all, and may you please try to find the unconditional love within you! That is the only thing that is going to save us as a human race!! And that is our ultimate goal! It basically will tell the devil that he has to piss off now, because LOVE(unconditional love, not fake love) is far more powerful than the lower emotions of the "devil"

  2. Kim -

    Maybe it is because I am stronger myself and "getting" the message more now. (I've been around this site for years.) I think this is one of your better and most clear postings.

    Thanks MR

  3. Thank you, Kim! This blog came in at the right time when I am feeling exactly what you just described! I just started the self soothing technique & there's still so much to learn but I know I'll get there in time

    Jac x

  4. How do I discuss everyday issues with my partner? Things that need answers? For example, my son has an overnight outing with his class at school (mostly seniors). Do I just give the permission, and take the "blame" if something goes "wrong?" My husband is aware of this issue, but will not address it. Many, many other issues like this and more important, as well. How do I cope, with what I think are issues that need to be handled? He will say or do something, and the very next moment deny that it happened...what's that? He does that most times when we talk. I walk away, but it doesn't solve the issue. Then we spend several days "not talking." After 3-7 days, he just acts like nothing ever this just crazy-making? HELP!

  5. Valentine's week was a big ball of confusion for me that got straightened out by him telling me I WAS NOT his girlfriend.Where I ever got that idea was a total misconception from the mixed messages from my ex BF who' I've been seeing a little. Sometimes I invite him over for dinner. Sometimes he calls me when he needs a favor, brings stuff over that can't use anymore, wishes I'd cook for him,cuz he's tired of eating out, does his laundry here and asks me to rub his feet and take care of him when he's sick. I have to admit I encouraged it since I am recovering from a broken leg and need him to help with a few things around the house I can't do yet, plus I'm lonely. I offer to let him spend the night,(once a week) sex sometimes. He isn't seeing anyone else and got me a nice orange tree I've been wanting for years on Valentine's.. however, he does not make "date plans" with me, and if I see him on a weekend, it's at my suggestion.
    I ran into him at a club last Friday and asked him "what he was doing there, don't you have a girlfriend?" He said NO.
    I was there only cuz I had nothing better to do and was tired of sitting home on a weekend. Looks like he uses his weekends to look for somebody else, I didn't understand his mixed message, and why he bothered on Valentine's Day. he was even going to take me out to dinner. Now he says I act controlling that I would expect to spend time with him on a weekend. Now I made myself look stupid and he is turned off to me. I feel we were just starting to get somewhere and I blew it. So I have decided not to call him. How will he ever think better of me??

  6. I know what you mean by emotions crashing down. We lead ourselves into a certain story line of how we think things will go, using whatever "signs" we see, but only learn their brains our not our brains.
    My Valentine's week was a confusing ball of disaster. My ex ad I have been getting closer again. Let me explain I have been recovering from a broken leg and he said if I needed anything just call. So sometimes I do, and I usually make him a meal. He brings his laundry over, helps me out with some job I can't do, I let him spend the night, we act as if we were still living together. He even says he still loves me and it would hurt him if I dated other men. however he doesn't make weekend plans with me, throws back at me why he wasn't happy, won't make time or say he's willing to see us fix things, but gives me a Valentine gift and says he'll take me out to dinner.
    Well the weekend came and I was a bit lonely so I got out of the house and went to see a local band. By now, I'm getting frustrated that he doesn't invite me on weekend fun activities. (I'm walking again now) He will go with me once in a while if I call him to suggest something and if he has nothing else going on, he'll say okay. Well he was at this club I went to, saw me, and ran out of the place. To me it looked like he was on the hunt. Cause he didn't come over to talk or anything. So I caught up with him and asked him why he was there and doesn't he have a girlfriend? (meaning me) and he said NO. Well I guess I didn't know that was my status and he felt embarrassed and controlled by me. We had a good talk and I feel straightened out, but why would he give me a Valentines, say he still loves me and feel bad if I met someone else, yet he doesn't "date" me? I feel so stupid and am not calling him for anything. I thought we were starting to get somewhere, but now I think I blew any chances.

    1. Hi Sally, Sorry it took so long for me to answer you. Please check out the post (you will find it in the index at the top of this page) called The man who won't commit and whose eyes keep straying ...

  7. Thank you for a timely reminder :)

  8. How do you handle a situation where a spouse acts happy after they have been in a terrible fight? One spouse is left with hurt feelings and the other acts as if nothing were wrong?

    1. I think it depends a lot on what the fight was about. If the person who still feels upset believes a boundary has been crossed - they need to self soothe and then take steps to protect that boundary once they are calm. Staying upset won't protect that boundary. This may not mean that they are all warm and cuddly with their other partner again - but they will need to get calm to deal with the problem effectively.

    2. I'm not sure if a boundary was crossed. If it is, is it his or mine.I confronted my husband about something I had discovered about a recent business trip he took. He admitted that he uses his trips to escape from responsibilites and obligations at home that are becoming too overwhelming. He does not call while he is away because he wants space. He does not want to connect with home while he is away. He wants to feel free to engage in behavior that is not acceptable at home. When he does come home, he does not seem as if he is glad to be home and did not seem to miss anyone, except the dog. Is this MY boundary crossed or one that one that he may have set for himself that he is struggling to keep and so has decided that if he is away, it doesn't count.

    3. This is certainly him crossing YOUR boundaries! His commitment to you and his responsibilities to his family don't end when he is away on business! I highly suggest you get The Love Safety Net Workbook and start working through the exercises in all 4 areas - but especially the chapter on limiting abuse!

    4. Thank you for giving me some clarity. I have been trying to keep my distance from him so that I can stay grounded. Last night I did tell him that I did not think it was a good idea to go back to our normal routine, since neither of us were happy with the way things were going. I said that I needed some space and he said that he was ok with that.He admitted that he had some issues to work out. I said that I would need to hear how he planned to do that. He just walked away.
      I do have The Love Safety Net Workbook. Ironically, I had started to read it several years ago to help me with my relationship with my adult daughter who is still living at home. I did open it up again since this fight with my husband and I started to read it again. I read the introductory, and started to read the first part called Attachment and decided that I was not ready to try some of the exercises here. I never even thought to skip this and consider that my situation would be better addressed first under Limiting Abuse. I did not consider that this was my situation at all. I have always thought that we were just too young when we married and that maybe it was easier for me. But I do see that 32 years later,we are still handling things the same way. Things get better for awhile,and we have made some major changes and have set boundaries for the way we argue, that have helped. I have been working on some of my own issues with codependence. But I am seeing now that the closer we come to working out problems between us( we started to go to a counselor) on one hand, the more often he is engaging in escaping. I will find the courage to read the section on Limited Abuse. Thank you.

    5. Ok, so I have been reading the workbook and I have been feeling a little better. I stopped being mad and we did start talking again without revisiting the argument. I have been working on spending time self-soothing and I have been trying to decide how to approach a conversation where I let him know that I have set boundaries.(The longer this waits the more awkward it is becoming-like an elephant in the room) I have also been doing a lot of research on line about what our argument was about...pornography. The more information I find,the more I start to feel upset again. We are speaking without any attitude,but we are by no means "warm and fuzzy" In fact we have not shown any affection at all in a week and a half.I don't feel like I can be affection right now, at least not until I set a boundary. I have two concerns, one that the distance that has been created between us will be even more of an excuse to continue seeking outside attention, and two at what point do I stop needing to understand the extent of my husbands surfing. Should I just let it go? He has apologized each time, but it is without any commitment to stop and seems as if things are escalating. Do I need to know how far things have gone? I don't find this behavior acceptable How do I present this to him, if letting him know how I feel is not enough to make him commit to stopping? Am I asking him to stop or am I hoping that eventually he will want to on his own if we can agree to work on exercises from the workbook?

    6. Okay great work getting started. Neither of the things you suggest will likely work. Please read the limiting abuse chapter and exercises in the workbook. Once you have worked through the personal bill of rights exercise you will also need to let him know that if he wants to prove his innocence he will need to allow security software to be put on his computer.

      Boundaries aren't set with words and promises but actions and the workbook lays out what you need to do step by step.

    7. I understand how important it is to take care of my own emotions and I am willing to help my husband to get better and repair our marriage. Trust is not just an issue that may be the root of his problem alone. His behavior has violated a trust between us as a couple, and has now caused me to mistrust him. In order to start rebuilding that trust, besides monitoring his behavior(if he is willing- and suppose he is not)how can I begin to trust if I still have questions as to how far his secrets life has taken him?Don't I need to ask whether or not he has been beyond the internet and has had physical contact with someone? How can we begin to rebuild trust without full disclosure?

    8. Building trust is a slow process and the first step is learning to be able to 100% trust yourself. What will you do and how will you react when you find out what he has been up to? Will you become reactive - or will it bring understanding and the beginning of a plan.

      Asking him right now probably isn't going to get answers. You need to do some investigating yourself. Don't obsess about this and stay focused on your own life and goals too - but it is very important that you get yourself out of the dark first and then take your time following through the exercises I have recommended. The personal bill of rights is not a list that you leave up to him to honor. Follow the steps in that exercise carefully and you will find the leverage you need.

    9. This does make sense to me now. I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. I am not ready to trust my emotions, they are all over the place. Since I have asked for some space and I am no longer mad,(that emotion I am sure of)I am ready to sit down with him and tell him that anything that hurts our relationship is not ok with me and that I will be talking to someone about it.(We have a counselor that we were seeing together that he really liked-outside of him, there is no family member, no minister, no one that would care if I told.We have no one that could give any support--sad to say. I am sure this contributes to issues that we both have.
      I also don't think it wise to risk his job and public humiliation(I am presently not working outside our home,also we have three children that we are supporting while they attend college that would be devasted.)I am not in physical danger. I would like for this to stay between him and I for now,at least until I see if things get better. Since our fight two weeks ago, he has not used his computer at all. He is waiting for me to get myself collected and since he has asked how we can fix this, I think he is waiting to hear what I have to say. Your advice in the workbook is to keep conversation short, but to let him know that I won't leave. I plan to do that and then move forward with the exercises.
      I again thank you for the coaching. It has been reassuring to know that there was a place that I could get some help. You willingness to help without gimmicks directed toward profit has truly been a blessing. When I am in a better financial situation, I would like to be able to take advantage of some of your other services, but for now, thanks for getting me this far. I hope to return with a progress of good things.

    10. You are doing great. Hang in there.

  9. Kim,
    I am new here and have never posted a blog. I want to thank you for inviting me here. I have a unique situation and would like advice for a MPD person who has a brain injury so the disorder is more pronounced. My husband gets angry when things don't go as He thinks they should which is all day. Since we have 4 children at home and me,he tries to control us all but can't control himself and has loss of short term memory. He says many discussions never took place because he can't recall them and he believes he is right! He believes his way is the right way and is angry when they don't go his way. Last night I was invited with the kids to go to my married daughters house to watch a UFKC fight. Anyway, he wouldnt go because I wanted to bring a "project" to do while watching the fight. So I let him stay home and took the kids. I just hate that he tries to ruin events if he can't control everyone. He can "perform"in public but he is angry and mean at home. I am concerned because our daughter with Down Syndrome is picking up on his swearing and finger gestures. I wonder how I should handle this when she doesn't know better when her father role models this for her. The teacher says she will confront him but she hasn't . Thanks for your comment. I really am just facing that I need to set boundaries and don't know how. I am going to buy the self soothing tapes. Thanks.

    1. I would be making it very clear to your husband that if his aggressive behavior continues you will need to get in touch with his doctor about organizing supported care for him somewhere outside of your home. This may or may not be possible - but if he feels the threat of him being put in an institution is real this may give you some leverage. The kinder you are about this, while still being firm, the more he will be likely to believe that you mean it. If it does continue I think you do need to talk to his doctor and ask for help. I would also suggest that you contact our help desk at and let them know about your situation and I am sure they will help you get our books and audio products.

  10. Dear Kim,
    I tried to find my old post to reply to but I was unsuccessful and so I have to decided to just write you

    again. I have really appreciated your advice in my crisis, and have trusted your opinions on the matter a

    great deal. I formerly signed my name anonymous, but I will sign my name this time, so as not to be lost in a

    sea of anonymous people. I had told you all about my husband's severe emotional, physical, and verbal abuse

    and I had gotten the Looking Glass 2 years ago and failed to implement the Limiting abuse section until now.

    Last month he assaulted me and I finally had him arrested. He plead guilty and is now staying at the homeless

    shelter and awaiting to take a batterer's class. He cannot come to the house. My question to you is, how do I

    know what boundaries are reasonable in this situation? Right now he can see us with a third party, but I have

    already broken that part of my own protective order. I feel as though I am failing. His attitude is awful even

    though he says the words that he is sorry adn that he will never do it again, I dont feel that he is truly

    sorry or that he is changed. He seems to believe that love is control. It scares me that my own value to him

    is that I can be controlled. How do I go about "parenting" him? If I leave and stop contact which is what

    everyone says to do, then he will surely replace me in a heartbeat and find someone else, which is painful to


  11. (Part 2) He constantly pressures me to move back in the house and if I dont want to spend the entire day with him,

    then he says I dont love him, Im hurting him, Im selfish, and Im cruel to him. He doesnt want me involved in

    anything else but him. If I have any other appointments or obligations then he claims that I put everything

    first before him. Sometimes I really feel bad for him. I want this to work but I dont feel ready for him to be

    in the house and I feel like hes suffocating me and has forgotten about all the abuse. Suddenly he is the

    victim! And all I hear about is how I hurt him. So, I guess ultimately what Im wondering is : Based on your

    knowledge of NPD, am I putting him in a position where change is impossible because he cant do it unless I am

    with him more? Others tell me that by keeping contact with him, I am feeding his need for control over me and

    not helping him break the denial about his abusive personality. Both seem to make sense, but seem to be

    competing views. What is your opinion on this? Sorry this is so much.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      I really feel for you - but it is very hard for me to help as the AVO I got on Steve was very different and allowed him to stay in our home. If you could ask the police if that is possible would be great. This way he can come home but if he threatens any of you again - comes home drunk etc. then you only need to call the police and they will put him straight in jail. Him knowing that threat is hanging over him will help motivate him to change his behaviour and if it doesn't you have the police to help you. This will only work if you are brave enough to go through with putting him in jail if you need to. It also has to be made clear to him that it is about him and not you. You don't want to have to call the police but as you do not know how to handle him if he is aggressive you have no choice but to ask for their help.

      I used to say to Steve ... "If I say I feel intimidated that is my truth and you should not argue with that but back off. If I say I feel intimidated and you argue with me I have no idea how to deal with you when you are like that and so from now on I will have to get the police here to help. I don't want to have to do that but if I say I am finding you aggressive and you won't back off you give me no choice."

      So if you really feel up to it and the police will consider that kind of order he can come home and you can agree you will help him get back on his feet and that you will set small challenges for him and you will give him say 3 months to see how that goes. If however he is not for real about change he is best to think long and hard about that option because if the abuse starts again this time he will end up in jail.

  12. Dear Kim,
    Thank you for answering so promptly. I can get the protective order modified if I want to to where he can live in the house. I think right now I am just scared and not really trusting him that he will behave in the long run. I know he will probably be good for a little while. I think I also dont trust myself since it takes me soooo long to take action for abuse and I tend to not know where to draw the line and feel like a "betrayer" for calling the police. I dont trust myself that I will hold him accountable because the abuse escalates so gradually it starts with stuff that you cant really call the police for. I dont know if that was your experience as well.
    Also, what do I do about him manipulating the kids, making selfish demands, calmly calling me names, and him trying to isolate me and the kids. For example, he would not allow my 4 year old in preschool or to have play dates and would not allow a babysitter or let us go to any social kid stuff. If I stood up to it, he would take something away that was of value to them, or give them the silent treatment to get back of me. How do I punish that stuff? I think that is the stuff that is most disturbing to me and scary because I dont know how to get help for that. It is the kind of stuff that is so damaging yet does not make it to the police's radar. How did you handle these sort of things?

  13. It is precisely because you don't know how to deal with this that you can in all honesty tell him that because you don't know how to deal with him - from now on you will need to call in outside help if this behavior of his continues. If he does things to the kids - you tell child protective services or the police. If you don't want him back though don't have him back! The only way he is going to change if is if he 100% knows that the rules of the game have changed. You can say that you will have him back but you do not know how to deal with this list of things - then you give him your personal bill of rights as described in the Love Safety Net Workbook and you let him know who you will be calling in to help if he continues to ignore your rights. You tell him that you love him and that you want him to learn better behavior but that you cannot handle him on your own anymore and so if he wants to fight you you will need to call in help.

    That needs to be 100% clear from the start and you need to stick to it. You need to let him know right at the beginning that if he thinks he can con you he should not come home because he will just end up in jail.

    I also must stress that you cannot take this on only getting advice from this blog. You will need Back from the Looking Glass and the Love Safety Net Workbook and also 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence. You finding the courage to stay calm - end non productive conversations - and call in outside help as soon as there is a problem - while also staying focused on your own goals are the new skills you need to learn to end your part in this drama. You will wear out your copies of these books refering back to them and they are designed for you to be able to find stuff easy when you need it. This can change but it is not easy and there can be no grey area. He is either committed to change - and if so you will stand by him - or not. That means that if he comes home you won't expect more than he is capable of but he does need to be making progress with small goals without argument and a 100% no abuse policy needs to be in place. If he disagrees he can do so politely, otherwise he can talk to the police. The very first time he insults you or calls you a name you call the police and report it. If they say you can't do that or ask if you want someone to come out just say thank you for making a note of that and hang up. He won't know what they said on the other end of the call and he will be scared. If he is intimidating you however then you do need to get them to come out. If he wants to be intimidating that is the consequences and you cannot protect him. It is his doing and not yours.

  14. Hello Kim,

    How would you deal with this one? After being horrible (and me relatively calm) and walking out on me, spoiling our plans, yelling, calling me names, even telling me it's over and move out, 'uninviting me' from a trip that was my idea etc. I have now been given a note with a list of all the things that is bothering him. Some completely ridiculous (being upset at me for doing a 'covert investigation' when he was the one doing the wrong thing) and some are from 15 or more years ago (before we knew each other). Of course, nowhere in there is any acknowledgement of his role or how he hurt me or that his behaviour is inappropriate (of course).

    I don't want to dismiss it as that's not likely to help anything. But commenting on each point and/or giving him a list of my own is, as I'm sure you realise, also unlikely to achieve anything and will play into his poor me, my feelings are all that count mentality.

    What do you think? Maybe tell him we've tried things like this before and it only goes around in circles. Perhaps if he really wants to discuss it then we do so with a mediator (counsellor) there who can perhaps enlighten him in some way that his expectations may be a bit high (I know a good one and my husband is not the type who takes over with counsellors or gets them on his side - in fact the counsellor I'm thinking of has told me that he is amazed by my strength).

    Would love to hear your opinions. I have learned from you that buying into this isn't a good idea, but I'm just not 100% sure what exactly is the right thing to do.

    1. Hi M,

      I wonder what was behind his rage? Personally I would call him out on that and ignore the list he sent you. Something like ... "I know you are nervous about finding a new job - but I am sure something will come up for you soon - If you have calmed down now why don't you come home and take it easy for awhile ..."

      You are in the middle of this not me - but I think it is important to choose your battles and cut off conversations that are basically him just dumping on you.

      You will need confidence to pull this off and you will need to be able to judge whether he is ready to let it go, and if not, you need to be ready to be strong and get on with your own goals until he calms down.

      Best I can do long distance - but I hope it helps!

  15. Dear Kim,

    I have written to you b4 about advise. At this point, he as decided to move on. My heart sincerely feels as though it has been ripped to shreds! I have never hurt this bad! I believe him to have already started seeing someone else. I know that you & your husband were able to make your relationship work, but since he has chose to brush me aside, I genuinely don't know how to stop this acing feeling. I simply can't stop the tears from falling. From the contacts you have had with others in NPD relationships, what in the world can I do? I feel as though I gave so much to our relationship, what now?

  16. This has been a revelation to read as I have been sat for three days wondering whether to text or call her after a massive row that ended in horrific verbal abuse.

    I need to take ownership of the facts that I permit this abuse, that I contact her expecting and demanding she understands how I feel, how hurt she has made me.

    Its time I changed, and its time I took control in a positive way, of myself.

    a constant in my relationship is her threatening to do terrible things; cheat on me, bad mouth me to our workmates, tell my innermost secrets, humiliate me etc, how should I best deal with these threats? My strategy has always been "I tolerate your verbal abuse, because I can forgive that, but the moment you cross the line into following through on your threats I am out of your life for good" do you think this is a decent strategy?

  17. Hi Shine on,

    You need to learn how to end these conversations where she is abusive
    before they even begin. There are scripts for this and all the steps
    and exercises you need in our Steps to a Peaceful Home Package which
    you will get the chance to purchase when you subscribe to our site
    here; the relationships skills you will learn
    will be well worth the small investment whether you manage to save
    your relationship or not.

  18. Dear Kim,

    My Narcissist husband left two weeks ago and I am resentful because he says he's happier. He's not working and is staying with his dad who has bought him a brand new car. He calls to check on the kids and likes to give me advice on taking care of them. I sent him a string of angry texts last night and then regretted it. We've been to individual and couples therapy and just went in circles at the couples therapy. Our couples therapist was also his individual therapist. He just decided when he was going to her that we needed to be seen together because our relationship was the biggest problem is his life. After a few months of alternating couples and individual visits, he starting seeing her alone again. The last session he came out looking dejecting and saying he was lonely. He says this a lot. He starting saying this not even two weeks after we got married. I found about like two weeks after the last session with his therapist that she told him that they should no longer have a standing appointment, but that he should call when he feels he needs to come in. I was irritated with her decision at first, but then realized that perhaps she was trying to get him to take some personal responsibility. I had started to feel that maybe he "seduced" her and got her on his side because it seemed the sessions were all about me getting self-esteem and making a plan for my life. I couldn't understand how I could do this living with someone who insisted on having their own way and loved the pull the rug out from under me when I started working on my own goals? I have to put up with him putting questions in my head about everything I do. I made the mistake of relying on him too much and asking him for advice about everything and even asking him to decide for me. I didn't want to fail in front of him . I'm not alone in this. People are always asking him for advice and afraid to look foolish when they're around him.
    I feel resentful that he's gone, because the kids think this is normal. I don't want them to think that people just leave whenever they want. That's how my husband wound up this way. They still ask for him, though. I don't know when he'll be back or if he's just slowly leaving. I have to go out of town this weekend and he has insisted on driving me, since he doesn't want me driving the brand new car. He doesn't think this is weird at all. I feel so lost. I feel like a single parent. I want to move on and not focus on him, but he's not really gone. I would like us to have a good relationship, but then I wonder if I'm just looking for Prince Charming to "rescue" me. He called me "Princess" when we were dating and even got me a Princess cut diamond engagement ring. Maybe I haven't let go of the fantasy, even after 12 years.

  19. Hello Kim,

    Yup, big blow out last night, the frequency and intensity of the fights has kicked up tremendously in the last year. I've always known he has an addictive personality, but it was never hard stuff - just cigarettes and liquor. The problem is I tried a cigarette at a rock bottom moment and he was completely overjoyed. I don't want to smoke. He has objectified me smoking as his latest addiction and it is rippling into every part of his being. I can't stand it, but it is one of the few things he says I can do to make him happy (sometimes this doesn't work either, of course). Intimacy is so hollow now with this latest twist - I miss the man who was once a really sensitive caring friend.

    I am an independent person able to set aside his occasional spouts of selfish mania. But it has gotten to the point where he hates everything that is a part of me, started yelling at our son without basis, and ultimately he has verbally beaten me out of love. If I am strong, if I express concern, if I am compliant, if I am patient, if I keep good humor, no matter what I do, he finds a reason to detonate in anger. The resulting blowout is a schizophrenic blend of blame and martrydom. He feeds off it and has a hard time stopping, like a snowball effect.

    In a rare moment I lost control and told him to find someone who can satisfy his need for attention, because I will continue to disappoint him and while it's not something I'm happy about, it is what it is. He continually asks if I want him to leave or if I want a divorce so that I will "give him permission" and assume responsibility for our break-up. I have no interest in another man, and this is the only time I want to be married - no matter how it ends up.

    I don't like seeing him unhappy, but there is not a damn thing I can do about it. Now I need to GET HIM OFF OF ME - literally he is becoming an obsessive control freak about how I spend every minute and that I prioritize everything over him. The enjoyable moments are few, and I'm getting gun shy about setting him off even when he is not in that mode. I don't need a post-fight gesture of affirmation from him - I want a ray of hope that he can find his way out (sadly, even if it is without me)

    My Christmas wish is that he get counselling, and possibly some medication because he is so miserable, and has no way of climbing out of his depression. He told one counsellor that yes, the wife is responsible for making sure he is never lonely, and got up and walked out. He has alienated himself almost completely with the exception of friends I have pulled into our midst.

    I've gone through the workbook, but I was looking for any advice for this "cold, heartless and selfish bitch" married to the addictive former athlete narcissist?

  20. Hi Kim,
    What do you suggest I do? - My husband's behaviour has been deteriorating constantly - with swearing, shouting, demanding, scaring me, following me around the house when I need time out, calling me names etc. For the past 4 weeks he has been sleeping in another room - locking the door and wont come back. He hardly shares stuff with me and puts me down. Any thing we do together is with angst and tenssion as he makes it horrible. I tried limitting the abuse by using various methods including yours. In the beginning he used to say sorry - now not even that. I am the worst wife ever as he says.... After he came home and started an argument shouting at me and saying I am mentally ill and calling me names, he jumped at me with his feast like he was going to attack me - I got so scared that I started shouting and crying and left the house - he then called the police.... I dont know what to do (I went away for a while to be with my family and away from him - he knows where and for how long). I do not know how to deal with him and what is best to do at this stage. Any thoughts?

  21. This article really hit home with me. I've been doing exactly what you have described over and over again...for years! I expected my husband to carry my emotional baggage when I should have been doing it on my own. He has asked me to change and work on my issues for years and I said I will but never really did.

    And then, after a recent argument, a light bulb finally went on for me. I now clearly see what I have been doing and see that I took no responsibility for my issues. I started going to therapy, reading a lot on the issue and really trying to "fix" myself.

    But then, we had another argument and this time, my husband is beyond frustrated and angry and has completely shut off. It's been a little over a week and he won't talk to me or engage in any communication with me. When I approach him, he either ignores me or yells. I tried to write him a letter, admitting my faults and all of my issues, but I'm not even sure he read it. Now I'm finally ready to change, but I'm afraid that I'm too late.

    How do I have him open up to me again? I really want to work on myself and our marriage, but he's gone cold. A lot of other articles I've been reading said to give him space and be patient until he's ready to engage. But I feel like as days pass by, we're just getting further and further apart. Any suggestions or insight you have on how to actually "break the ice" would be super helpful!!! PLEASE....


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