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Narcissistic In-Laws & Exes

Since I’m working on a book about narcissistic in-laws, it’s certainly gotten me to thinking about them.  Not exactly a fun topic since I’ve been through a LOT at the hands of narcissistic in-laws, but it’s also a topic that needs to be addressed.  I’ll share a blog post when it’s published as well as add the link to my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

 

One thing that recently has come to mind about these dreadful people is how they are with exes.  I’ve heard of & read so many stories of narcissistic in-laws who keep in touch with their son’s or brother’s ex, even after he has moved on to another woman & there were no children created in the relationship.  They may even have the ex’s picture hanging up in their home or a picture of him with her when they were together.  They may invite her to family functions, whether or not the new lady is present.

 

I’ve been down this road.  A woman my husband broke up with in 1991 is still a bigger part of my in-law’s family than I ever have been.  In 1997 at an in-law family party, my two sisters in-law spoke a LOT about her (when it was just the three of us together, no witnesses, of course), talking about what a great person she was & how they should hang out with her soon.  They never wanted to hang out with me, mind you.  Not long after we were married in 1998, my mother in-law told me how disappointed she & my father in-law were that my husband married me instead of this person.  Over the years, I learned that at least one of the sisters in-law not only kept in close contact with this ex, but kept my husband abreast of what was going on in her life.  Then, when we ran into her in a store two months to the day after my husband’s father died, I saw how comfortable & friendly she was with my husband.  It was painfully obvious she’d seen him recently, so I later asked what was going on with her.  Turns out not only had she been to my father in-law’s funeral, but also my mother in-law’s & took one of her sons to visit my mother in-law in the hospital.  She also lives only a few miles from my late in-laws’ home & attends the church they attended.

 

As if all of this isn’t awful enough, I also realized when we saw this woman that she obviously is still very attracted to my husband.

 

This whole situation got me to thinking about these types of situations.  If you’re in it, you’re going to need a lot of wisdom on how to cope with it.

 

I’m not saying all friendships between people & their exes or even their family & their exes are bad.  Sometimes they work out just fine or are necessary because of children or other ties to each other such as owning a business together.  When narcissistic in-laws are involved though, it’s a whole different situation.  This relationship isn’t because these people were genuinely fond of each other.  Like everything else, there is a self-serving purpose in it.  Never ever doubt that!  Your spouse may think his family’s behavior is normal but it isn’t!

 

If you wonder, watch how this relationship is handled.  Your feelings should be considered.  Your in-laws should not flaunt this person to you.  This person shouldn’t be frequently discussed fondly in front of you or her picture shouldn’t be in a predominant space in the in-law home (especially if it also includes your spouse).

 

How do they handle this relationship regarding your spouse?  Do they keep your spouse up to date on his ex’s life?  If your spouse wants no parts of the details of that ex, do they force him to listen anyway?  Do they forward her emails to him so he not only knows but has her email address as well?

 

These behaviors are all red flags, & you are going to need a lot of wisdom on how to handle this situation.

 

As always, I recommend prayer as the best place to start.  Luke 12:12 says, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” (KJV) & James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV)  Seems to me prayer is the best place you can start!

 

Also never give your spouse an ultimatum.  People who do this almost always end up losing because no one wants to feel controlled or manipulated.

 

Stay calm when you must discuss the situation.  If you act angry or hurt, chances are your spouse will discuss the conversation with someone in his family.  From there, it would be very easy for your in-laws to convince your spouse that you’re unreasonable, paranoid, even crazy.  And, no doubt if he sees his ex, she is on good behavior.  She will look even better to him & you even worse.  So stay calm during the discussion for the sake of your marriage!

 

Do NOT tell him what you think his family is up to.  Coming from a narcissistic family does quite the number on a person’s psyche as most people know.  One thing I’ve noticed is men in these situations have a lot more trouble facing the truth about their family than women.  (No guys, I don’t hate you or think you’re stupid.  It’s just an observation.)  If you’re in this position with your spouse, I know it can be frustrating.  You see the truth so clearly but your spouse doesn’t.  Don’t work hard trying to convince him of the truth.  You telling the truth will come across to him as you criticizing his family, which in turn will make him very protective of them & angry at you.  It will drive a huge wedge between you two.

 

You can, however, gently, let your spouse know that you are very uncomfortable with this situation.  Tell him how you feel, & don’t be afraid of being vulnerable.  Better for your spouse to see that side of you than the angry side, because it won’t make him defensive.  He will be more willing to listen to you & relate to your perspective if you aren’t angry.

 

Also, what about the ex?  Is she obviously still attracted to your husband?  This is tough, I know.  I really feel your pain.  The best I know to do with this is to focus on your spouse.  Make sure you don’t stop doing things that he loves or finds attractive about you.  Do nice little gestures for him to show him you love him, like slipping love notes into his lunch box, sock drawer, coat pocket or even taping them to his steering wheel while he’s in the shower.   If you tell him what a terrible person his ex is instead, you’re only making him defensive of her & angry at you.  Yes, I know this one is HARD.  After seeing my husband’s ex, every fiber in me wanted to say exactly what I think of her & his family.  But, I knew that he wouldn’t believe what I said & would end up passionately defending them while simultaneously being very angry with me.

 

Lastly remember, all of this isn’t about you.  It’s about some pretty dysfunctional people doing what dysfunctional people do.  If the ex is still interested, well, she should have tried harder to keep him & is being foolish for not giving up.  He moved on & she should too.  As for your in-laws, they are getting something out of this relationship.  They probably want to split you & your spouse up or at the very least cause trouble between you two.  Maybe they think because she’s wealthy or in some sort of position in society, she makes them look good.  Who knows?  But you can be sure of one thing… whatever sick mess is happening in this relationship, it has nothing to do with you.

 

I wish you the absolute best in this situation!  xoxo

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Narcissists & The Gifts They Give

Like everything in the life of a narcissist, the gifts they give are all about them.  They give what will benefit them in some way or what they think will make you change according to what they think you should be.  This is why so often, people dread receiving gifts from narcissists.

 

If they’re trying to win you over somehow such as in the early stages of dating or after an argument, narcissists may give a good gift.  That gift is supposed to help buy your love or forgiveness.  That gift may be extravagant or something you mentioned wanting.  My ex husband gave me only 2 nice gifts in our entire relationship.  The first one was about 2 months after we met, for my birthday.

 

Narcissists also may give a gift to make you indebted to them.  Maybe you are supposed to give them a gift in return.  Maybe the gift they gave you is very expensive so you feel obligated to tolerate their abuse because they spent so much on that gift.   Maybe you showed signs of wanting to end the relationship & this gift was supposed to make you want to rethink that move.

 

Often, narcissists give terrible gifts.  They lack the desire to be a blessing, & that shows in the gifts they give in particular on days like birthdays or Christmas.  They’re only giving gifts on these days because they have to in order to look good, not because they want to.  As a result, no thought or consideration goes into the gift.

 

Other times narcissists give awful gifts is when they try to change their victim.  For example, my mother gave me clothes for my birthday or Christmas for years.  While clothes in general aren’t a bad gift, they are when the clothes aren’t in the receiver’s taste, but are the giver’s.  Our tastes are extremely different & that was a problem for her.  My mother wanted me to like what she likes, & this was one way to try to force me to dress like she thought I should dress.  My late mother in-law did the same.  A few months before Christmas one year, I mentioned in passing that I hate to cook.  Yes, I do it because I don’t want us to starve, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.  For Christmas that year, she & her daughters all gave me a LOT of cooking paraphernalia.  Cook books, utensils, food, & a big ugly pasta dish I later used in the attic when the roof was leaking.. lol

 

Sometimes bad gifts are also a way for a narcissist to let you know they hate you without saying the words.  A narcissistic mother in-law who dislikes her daughter in-law will give her terrible gifts, as one example.  My late mother in-law gave me a Christmas sweater (I’m NOT into Christmas or Christmas sweaters), polyester slacks (not a fan) & other gifts that were clearly NOT my taste.

 

Sometimes they may “forget” to give you a gift at all.  This is just one way to let you know you aren’t important to them or the gift giving day (your anniversary, Valentine’s day, your birthday, etc) isn’t important to them.

 

Or, narcissists may give away a gift you gave to them either to hurt you or out of thoughtlessness.  My sister in-law gave me this cute little knick knack many years ago.  I thanked her & said it was cute.  She said she thought so, & was sure her mom would like it.  She gave it to her.  A few months later, her mother gave it to her & said something like, “I don’t know where this ugly thing came from.  You can have it.”  She said seeing it hurt her badly so she wanted rid of it.  Since I thought it was cute, I could have it.  My heart broke for her when she told me that story.

 

When you get an awful gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know how awful you think it is.  If you do, the narcissist can play the victim & tell other people how ungrateful you are, making you look like a jerk.  Rather than ask for the receipt so you can return or exchange the gift, simply thank her for the gift, then when you can, quietly give it to someone who you know would like it or give it to a charity.

 

Likewise when you get a great gift, it’s best not to let the narcissist know you really like it.  If you do, the narcissist is going to get a ton of narcissistic supply from that, & feel that you owe her for giving you this awesome gift.  Simply thank her for the gift.

 

It’s always best to implement the Gray Rock method as much as possible when dealing with narcissists, including when they give gifts.

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About Passive/Aggressive Behavior

No doubt you have heard about passive/aggressive behavior, but do you know what it is?  You need to know, because many narcissists behave in this way.

 

Passive/aggressive behavior is very sneaky.  It makes you wonder if the person acting that way is  mad at you or not.  The worst part may be that when you confront the passive/aggressive person, they have a plausible sounding explanation for their behavior.  This makes you doubt your perception of the situation.  Plausible deniability is always a part of passive/aggression, as is the desire to punish another person.

 

Passive/aggressive behavior is deliberately inefficient, quiet in that the person refuses to discuss their needs & avoids responsibility.  Some examples of it are….

 

Not doing things well.   A passive/aggressive spouse may put the laundry in the washer but fail to put them in the dryer for hours claiming he thought you would do that.  Or, she may leave your car with virtually no gas in it after using it after you argue.  Usually whatever is done poorly is something that has happened countless times before, & rather than argue about it, you just fix the problem quietly.

 

Running late.  Some people are always running behind due to poor time management skills, being forgetful or another reasonable excuse.  Passive/aggressive people, however, are not that way.  If they have a punctual partner, you can guarantee that they will run late periodically solely for the purpose of irritating that partner.  They may say they forgot that special event was in an hour, so they will take their time getting ready & you end up leaving two minutes before the event is due to start.

 

The silent treatment.  Passive/aggressive people love the silent treatment.  Rather than saying,, “I was upset when you did something.. can we work it out?” they simply stop talking to you.  If you try to ask what is wrong, they refuse to admit anything is wrong or get angry at you for not knowing what is wrong.  The silent treatment is designed to make you come crawling to the person & work hard to gain their forgiveness.  Don’t fall for it!

 

Backhanded complements.  We’ve all heard these at some point.  Passive/aggressive people use them often.  Comments like, “Nice hair cut.  It really helps hide all that gray hair.”  or, “I used to have an outfit just like that!  I stopped wearing it after high school though.” are just two examples of backhanded complements.  If a passive/aggressive person says such a comment to you, chances are he or she feels threatened by you in some way.  Maybe that person thinks you look more attractive than they do, you’re smarter or more talented.  Sometimes backhanded complements can be hard to spot, so just notice how you feel when someone gives you a complement.  Genuine complements leave you wanting to thank the person & feeling good.  Backhanded complements leave you feeling offended & even confused wondering what the person who said it meant by their words.

 

Fake concern.  Closely related to the backhanded complements are the fake concern comments.  When a passive/aggressive persons says, “I don’t mean to sound judgmental/insensitive, but…” you can guarantee the next words out of that person’s mouth will be judgmental &/or insensitive.  This is their way of saying nasty things to you while appearing to be helpful.  If you say anything about how judgmental or insensitive the person is at this point, you are going to look like a jerk to anyone who doesn’t realize what is happening.  That is a bonus for a passive/aggressive person- making you look bad on top of insulting you.

 

Destruction & sabotage.  Sometimes passive/aggressive people will “accidentally” destroy something important to you when they’re upset with you.  That could be something like “accidentally” spilling red wine on your favorite white shirt or a coworker “forgetting” to tell you that the project you’ve been working hard on is no longer due next week, but in two days.

 

So, how can a person deal with the obnoxious passive/aggressive behavior?  First, be aware of it.  Learn what you can about recognizing the signs.

 

Second, set & enforce good boundaries.  If your friend is always late, stop waiting on her.  Meet her at the restaurant & order without her.  Or, stop hanging out with her at all.

 

Third, never forget to stay calm at all times.  Pretend not to be flustered by their actions.  If you show that you are upset, they will do it again & again.

 

Forth, never forget to pray.  God will help you to identify & deal with this awful behavior in the most effective ways possible.  All you have to do is ask Him to.

 

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Filed under Mental Health, Narcissism

My Newest Book About Covert Narcissists Is Now Available

Hello, Dear Readers!

 

I just wanted to let you know that my newest book, “In Sheep’s Clothing:  All About Covert Narcissists” has been published in both ebook & print formats.

 

If you want to check them out, you can click on the links in the last paragraph, or go to my website at:  http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Scapegoats In The Narcissistic Family

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism