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By December 18, 2013 36 Comments Read More →

Married to A Sociopath: A False Sense of Control

By Quinn Pierce

 

Learning Avoidance

When you are in a relationship with a sociopath, you quickly learn the act of avoidance.  Without saying a word, a sociopath can let you know exactly when he or she is angry or disappointed with your behavior.   That leads you to begin reacting to subtle clues and hints that may never be stated, but are clearly understood.

For me, I began avoiding all situations that would create that indescribable tension in the house.  The feeling of walking on egg shells while holding my breath.

Hollow Choices

Sometimes, it would mean turning down a shopping trip with friends, or a trip to the store without the children.  It just became easier to avoid these situations altogether.

At the same time, the boys and I knew what types of activities were ‘safe’.  And those usually included anything that put my ex-husband in a good light.  He would take the boys anywhere there were people to praise him for being a good dad.  He would suggest I go out with friends if there were others around to hear him encourage me to have fun without him.  It was always a way to maintain his façade.

This action-reaction type relationship became a sort of game.   I would try to read what would be acceptable and plan according to his moods.  He would control what everyone did by his non-verbal responses and reactions, which he could later deny and attribute to my ‘over-sensitive’ nature.

False Sense of Control

Whatever method, it was a way to reduce conflict.  Ironically, to outsiders, our relationship appeared to be very much controlled by me.  I was often accused of being controlling and domineering.  And, of course, my ex-husband would never claim otherwise.

That wasn’t the only strategy he used to make it appear as though I was in control.  Another technique he used was leaving me to make decisions without any input from him.

Purposeful Silence

For a long time, I really did feel as though I was in charge of certain areas of my life.  What I didn’t realize was that he was actually putting me in the position to take all the responsibility if things went wrong.  For example, if I made a decision about what car to buy, he could then complain about how much it cost, how it drove, the practicality and/or design of the car, etc.

It was one of his favorite ploys.  Instead of saying anything negative before or during the decision making process, he would use his silence to his advantage.  If the decision was something that made me happy, he could easily find something to criticize claiming he never approved of it in the first place.

If the decision was something that put him in a good light, he could pretend it was just as much his idea.  And probably the most significant to him, if the decision made other people upset or angry, he could say he didn’t have anything to do with it, it was just my decision and I was controlling.

I can’t remember a time when he ever gave a definitive answer on any decision.  Unless he was forced to do so, he would gladly let others decide for him, and even then, he would complain that he was not given a choice, etc.

Coming To His Rescue

In keeping with his need to not get his hand dirty, he also convinced me and others to fight his battles for him.  I remember how distraught he would be when he was ‘unfairly wronged’ by someone else.  He was very good at playing the victim role to me, as well.  I would feel this almost maternal sense of needing to protect him from these cruel people he would describe.  And, sometimes, I would do just that.

I made phone calls and wrote emails to people who were supposedly treating him unfairly and making him feel so terribly hurt.  There are days I think I owe several people apologies, because I now know it was more likely that my ex-husband was the one to do the hurtful acts, and I was used as a pawn to deflect what he had done.  But, for one thing, it’s too embarrassing to even write such an apology at this point, and secondly, it will only pull me back in to a world I have long since walked away from.

Choosing the Important Battles

The real irritation for me was learning that my ex-husband actually maintained a relationship with these people, most likely by painting a picture of me that cast him in a sympathetic light.  His skill at manipulating others was a big factor when it came time to decide which relationships I should try to maintain after my separation.  The reality became clear quickly: unless I wanted to play tug of war over friendships with my ex, I was going to have to walk away from almost all of them.   And that’s what I did.

I didn’t have the energy to try and present the real story to friends and family who already believed I had been the controlling one for most of my marriage.  I had two young children who needed me much more.

Learning How to Heal

We were no longer walking on eggshells, but it would take a while for us to get used to the feel of our new steps.  When you learn something and believe it to be ‘normal’, even if it is unhealthy, it takes a lot of retraining thoughts and emotions to a new situation.

Anything new, even feeling safe and happy can be an uncomfortable feeling that actually makes us uneasy.  Sociopathic spouses spend much of their energy creating a sense of ‘normal’ that does not exist outside of that relationship.

My healing continues with hard work, support, and forgiveness…of myself.  I struggle to make decisions without questioning my choices, and I have to make a very conscious effort every day not to avoid unpleasant tasks.

Once I am able to accept happiness and safety as my new normal, I will finally have real control over my life.

 



36 Comments on "Married to A Sociopath: A False Sense of Control"

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  1. Dave says:

    Sorry if that came off the wrong way Delores, im only going by what most women have told me.

    I ran our company, took our kids to and from school, did the majority of the house work, and cooked everyone dinner, that does not make me Gods gift to women, just makes me a decent guy, my wife would get angry with me if I even called her to ask what she wanted me to make for dinner, saying she didn’t want anymore responsibility and why couldn’t I do something on my own.

    My whole complaint is that even doing all these things, I was still told that im mooching off her, that I do close to nothing, and the things I do are little and insignificant, while she would pat herself on the back and make it out like she is the best woman on the planet. She constantly told me I had it made, to which I told her “we” have it made.

    Delores, I cleaned, I cooked, I did 4 peoples laundry, ran the kids around, ran our company routes everyday, mowed grass, hauled and chopped our firewood for winter to save on heat bill, fed and changed both kids when they were babies ect ect….I don’t think these things make me special, nor should a woman have to kiss my butt for doing them, my whole complaint is that it was never enough for her, she was always complaining and putting me down like I was some kind of bum.



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  2. satya says:

    Ouch! I have a feeling my neighbors are like that. The husband works all day and comes home and is given tasks to do by the wife and it’s never enough. I knew them well because the wife was sort of a friend for a while, always inviting me over. She telecommutes so she stays home and watches the kids. She always claimed she worked hard all day but she literally lounged around all day, usually watching stuff on Hulu. I know because I did this with her (My schedule changes day by day so I often have mornings or afternoons free) the kids basically take care of themselves. They are homeschooled but I rarely saw them do any schoolwork. Our “friendship” was strange in that she controlled everything- I was never asked what I wanted to do, it was always whatever she wanted. She often talked about her husband, that he never did anything, she did everything, but that was not at all what I saw. To me, it looked like he never rested while she hung out in bed day and night. If I ever expressed a different opinion on anything, I was instantly dismissed. She even complained to me about other people who disagreed with her, how terrible they were, even though to me, it seemed just healthy and normal that people have different perspectives. I slowly faded my visits, especially when I recognized how lopsided our relationship was. This really offended her, and she started this whole campaign about how I was angry at her for something etc with anyone who would listen. It’s been years now, and she still acts very coldly towards me even though I never did anything. I would have loved to have been straightforward with her and tell her exactly what I felt, but she never gave me that opportunity.

    She has other people she knows, lots of them. I think she just wants a whole crowd of sycophants surrounding her. Also, she wants 5 kids, she already has 4, not including the child the husband has from a previous marriage. They are not financially well off, and actually already quite crowded. To this day, I don’t think she even knows a single thing about my interests, studies, etc because we never had a single conversation that involved me. If you are out of this relationship, Dave, may you never be in one like this ever again. I hope you find someone who has the depth and maturity to handle a real relationship, one who is capable of love and empathy.



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  3. Dave says:

    TY Satya,

    Notice in all my comments ive never once stated my ex was lazy or didn’t do anything, actually quite the opposite, shes a work aholic. I think shes obsessed with work. I told her “I do what I have to do, then I do what I want to do” She said “that’s your problem, you only do what you have to”

    She insisted on leaving list everyday, as if I didn’t see the dishes or the laundry needed done, or some more wood needed split, or the kitchen floor was dirty, it was quite aggravating. Then again she would leave herself a list too. She would spend almost the whole weekend doing work, we used to watch NFL football together on sunday and I would grill out, but now she just buries her head in the computer while I watch the game.

    I wish I could find the person you described, however I haven’t been away from her for a whole month, im still worried I may go back, ususally she guilt trips me into thinking its all my fault so ill beg my way back and apologize and she can make more stipulations for my return, I have not done that this time which is probly making her angry, so shes waiting it out, but I suspect it wont be long before she attempts to “talk” to me about us. If im ever in a relationship with another woman again and I start seeing SP behavior im grabbing my bug out bags and running for the woods!!!!!



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  4. Divorced from Gaslighter says:

    Elisee:

    The reason your husband or ex created crisis after crisis at church was to keep your family moving from church to church. If you had stayed anywhere for a couple of years, you might have developed a close relationship with a pastor or fellow congregant, and then started discussing your marriage, your unhappiness, etc. My ex did not attend church with me, and revealed his atheism soon after we married, but his behavior was similar in that we never lived in any one place long enough for me to form real relationships with anybody in the local area. He then made fun of me for having no friends.

    Dave:

    I agree with the previous responses to your comments that most women would be thrilled to have a husband who cooked. Your only mistake was in continuing to care what she thought about your menus AFTER she told you off for asking her opinion.

    My husband thought his time was EXTREMELY valuable, and that it was wasted on doing any kind of manual labor or house work. And he could not take time to drive the children anywhere, because his car always had to be spotless in case he had an opportunity to get together with a client, and he could not commit to any pick up or delivery schedule for the children because of his clients and their needs. His idea was that EVERYTHING should be done by me because my time was not as valuable, or by “hired help.” Problem: we were heavily in debt and could not afford hired help. Solution: He cooked occasionally (cooking only foods that he alone enjoyed, such as “sardines & rice” or ultra-spicy stuff. In the entire time we were married (12 years) he never cleaned a bathroom, vacuumed, did a load of laundry, mowed the lawn, etc. In addition, we were always moving and remodeling — as soon as the house was nice enough to have people over, it was time to pack up and leave. And packing was my job, even though the decision to move was always his.

    Your marriage actually sounds unusual for Lovefraud members in that BOTH of you did a lot of work, but your ex just griped endlessly that she did more. Most of the people on here have stories more like mine: the spouse had “high standards” but balked at lifting a finger to help.

    I don’t know the ages of your children, but try not to get dragged into the ex’s games, even if it means you spend less time with the children. When the children are with you, don’t ask them anything about what goes on with “mom.” If you pump the kids for info, they will start telling you as little as possible about their thoughts and feelings and plans. As they get older, they will have access to cell phones and the internet, and I would say that it is much harder to “cut off” a parent than it was 20 years ago.

    Don’t get hung up over who gets which holiday — create your own holiday traditions. If she gets Thanksgiving, have your own Thanksgiving in October (it works for the Canadians!) If she gets Dec 24 & 25, look into an Orthodox church. They calculate Christmas and Easter differently. Christmas always comes later with the Orthodox, so you get the added benefit of being able to buy toys AFTER they go on sale. I’m not sure how Easter works with the Orthodox, but you get the idea. DO NOT let her turn you into some sniveling whiner that the kids will despise, and do NOT spend the next 15 years spending your time, energy and money on trying to get justice from the court system. It will never happen.

    Your ex screwed you out of the business idea you had. Pray for a new idea, and go from there. Best wishes to you, and a belated Merry Christmas. I hope that you got to spend some time with your children.



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  5. Dave says:

    DFG,

    Thanks for the response. Yes after 1 or 2 times getting yelled out for asking what she wanted to eat, I should have just ignored it and made what I wanted, however a few months ago I did that, and she complained when she got home cause she wanted something different. (damned if you do, damned if you don’t)

    Difference between me and your husband, is ive played mr mom, so I have a newfound respect for stay home mothers, its not as easy as people make out, ive also worked and handed money over and still practically been mr mom only to get no respect.

    I would say its like a competition for her, but I don’t think that’s what it is, I think it stems from her mother, her mother always complained to her that shes overweight, not popular enough, should play sports, should have more popular friends ect ect…and I think she is now like that “nothing is good enough”

    She does work very hard,,sometimes too much and neglects the family. But no matter what I do, she claims its insignificant, or not enough, or when I tell her what all I do she says “oh you just think everything is all about you, you think you do so much and I owe you something” Well,,,,,yeah you do owe me something,,,some damn respect and appreciation, and love.

    Im touchy feely/flirty kind of guy with my woman, she comes home and even if shes not complaining she just ignores us, gets in the computer or phone, eats her dinner and goes to bed, all I ever asked is that she don’t start a bunch of fights, and maybe cuddle up with me to watch TV, or have a conversation occasionally. But it seemed the only time she wanted to be close and touchy is when she wanted to have sex, sex was the only thing she never complained about, outside the bedroom, we just couldn’t get along for longer than a week.



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  6. soulsisters says:

    Hi,

    These stories all have a familiar tone to them, I guess we all have bits and pieces of each others stories.

    The comment you made about your wife “not being good enough”, perhaps is the key in my x problems.

    He never was good enough , so and so made more money, so and so did this and he did not. On and on this went on for 20 long years. The problem is that I was always trying to convince him that he was ok, trying and failing over and over again. Spinning in circles and getting dizzy . Until my world spun off its axis and there was a point of no return.

    In hindsight with some clarity these days, I can see that “I was good enough”, he just couldn’t see that. While he was busy not being good enough I began to feel not good enough because I could not fix him. Sad.

    How do we ever get people to understand what happened to us? He got everything including my two teenage sons. They won’t speak to me because of the lies told about me after I left. I can find a new community, but my sons I need. It breaks my heart in a million pieces.

    I wish there was more help out there for us.

    Bless you all



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  7. Dave says:

    soul,

    my wifes mother claimed she wasn’t good enough, when I met her though she didn’t seem to have a problem with self esteem,,i think she does deep down inside which is why she does anything to prove others wrong about her, however it was me who took the brunt of this and was told im not good enough.

    I don’t think we can get them to understand, if so it would probly be extremely rare, and with others, I understand you, as most of her friends and family have sided with her and think im a scumbag that mooches off of her, because she refuses to give me credit while taking it all for herself then telling them I do nothing.

    Its crazy,,,whats even more crazy is I still love her and just want to hold her right now, even knowing that its probly 99% chance she will never change.



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