Tag Archives: marriage

Red Flags That Don’t Seem So Bad At First

Everyone knows some basic red flags in relationships that people can show, such as lying, cheating, stealing money or possessions.  There are other ones though that don’t seem terrible at first but they actually are bad.  Many of these relate to romantic relationships, but in some cases, even abusive friends can behave in similar ways.

When someone is jealous of time that you spend with friends or family, that is a red flag.  It really isn’t normal for someone to be jealous of time spent with the other people in your life unless you are obviously out of balance. (Such as ignoring your spouse to spend time with your family on a regular basis.)  This could be a sign of the jealous person wanting to isolate you, so they can abuse you without interference from other people.

Along those same lines is the person who does their best to discourage you from spending time with your friends & family.  Naturally if someone is toxic, anyone who loves you will want you to stay away from that toxic person.  If that is not the case though, someone who behaves this way is trying to isolate a person from people who love them.

Constantly calling &/or texting can be another red flag.  We all have people we’re especially close to.  They are the ones we call & text often possibly even a couple of times a day.  Even so, these people know when we are going to be busy & don’t call or text at that time.  Abusive people will call & text constantly even during those times.  They have no problem interrupting your time spent with that friend you haven’t seen in years or while you’re busy studying for a test.  They do this in order to keep tabs on what you are doing to be sure you aren’t doing something they disapprove of & also to annoy the person you’re with enough that they will end the time spent together early so you will return to them.

Money can be another red flag.  If someone constantly asks to borrow money from you that they never pay back, even with what sounds like good excuses, that is someone irresponsible with money who will take advantage of you.  Or, if you’re married to someone who controls all the money & won’t discuss what they do with it, that is another huge red flag.  That is a controlling person who probably also has something to hide. 

Similarly, the husband who wants you to stay home so he can “take care of you” isn’t necessarily as loving as he may sound.  Many abusive husbands start their financial abuse of their wives by gently suggesting they quit their job & let him take care of her.  Over time, he renders her unable to find or keep a job if she opts to return to the work force.  He can refuse to repair her car or give her money for the train to go to work, or if she does get a job, he may frequently call her or demand she leave early so her boss fires her.

Wanting you to look as they want to is another red flag.  People who love you may have opinions on your clothes, hair & makeup but they won’t tell you how they think you should look.  A controlling person may come across nicely by saying they think you look good when you look a certain way, but eventually that gives way to demanding you look the way they want you to.

There are some red flags where sex is concerned, too.  Violently raping someone isn’t the only way a person can abuse sexually.  Trying to coerce someone who doesn’t want to have sex by using guilt, shaming someone for not wanting to do certain activities or trying to get someone drunk or high in order to have sex with them or get them to do something they are against are also abusive behaviors.

If someone you know behaves in any of these ways, know that this is just the tip of the abusive iceberg.  It is going to get so much worse!  Please protect yourself & abandon this relationship as soon as possible!

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

When Adult Children Of Narcissists Marry Each Other

When children grow up with narcissistic parents marry, it can be incredibly challenging.  Usually, either one person is a narcissist & the other isn’t, or one is trying to heal & the other prefers staying in their dysfunction.  The last scenario seems to be the most common. There isn’t a lot of information available on the topic, which is why I opted to discuss it today.  It happens pretty often & people in this situation know how to handle it!

When you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, it can be so incredibly freeing!  That’s how it is when you learn truth, though.  Not everyone sees it that way, however.  The truth isn’t always pleasant or easy, so many folks prefer to avoid the ugly truth in favor of pretty lies.  The pretty lies are easier & preferable to some people because they’re what is familiar.  Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt.  Sometimes it breeds cognitive dissonance in the adult children of narcissistic parents. 

That cognitive dissonance can be incredibly difficult to live with for someone married to a person who prefers to avoid it whenever possible.  When you see the truth so clearly & someone you love avoids it like the plague, it is so frustrating!!  You just want them to wake up & see the truth, but they won’t.  Instead they continue to tolerate their toxic parents abusing them & even you & your children if you have them.  They also will fight you on this topic, even if they aren’t normally disagreeable.  If you complain about their parents, they will tell you things like it’s your problem & to leave them out of it.  If this kind of thing doesn’t make you want to scream, nothing will!

I prayed about this behavior recently when it came to mind & God showed me some things.

While this behavior feels intensely personal, it isn’t.  It’s about them, their dysfunction & self preservation.

When a person has a spouse that loves them & a narcissistic parent, the spouse is the safer of the two people.  In this situation, the adult child knows someone is going to be angry & they will suffer for it.  In their minds, the spouse is the safer one.  They’ve had a lifetime of knowing just how incredibly cruel their narcissistic parent can be, so they do their level best to avoid their anger & cruelty.  It’s safer to deal with the anger of a loving spouse than a narcissistic parent, so they choose (albeit unconsciously) the safer of the two people to anger.

Unfortunately for the spouse, this means that their dysfunctional mate is going to put them in some pretty awful positions.  They’ll expect their healing spouse to tolerate whatever the narcissistic parents dish out, & when the healing spouse doesn’t, arguments are going to happen.  Even if the narcissistic parent in question is the healing spouse’s parent, the dysfunctional spouse most likely will be upset if the healing spouse is setting boundaries or even severs ties with their parent.  The dysfunctional spouse is going to minimize, excuse or even deny abusive behaviors.  This can be so difficult because the healing spouse wants to heal but also wants to have a good relationship with their dysfunctional partner.  Sadly, the relationship can only be so good while one is dysfunctional & the other is trying to heal.


If you’re in this position, you will need God’s guidance on how to navigate this situation.  He knows so much more than you could possibly know so let Him help you!  And, pray for your spouse to see the truth & be able to handle it, too.  That is what someone in that position truly needs!

Also always remember that your spouse’s reactions aren’t personal.  They’re about that person’s dysfunction.  Keeping that in mind will help you to be less hurt & angered by their behavior, which will in turn help you to deal with the situation more effectively.

Don’t be afraid to set your boundaries!  Just because your spouse is fine with being abused doesn’t mean you have to tolerate it.  Protect yourself & if your spouse is angry about it, that is that person’s problem.  There is nothing wrong, bad or even un-Christian about protecting yourself!

When you must discuss your spouse’s or your narcissistic parent with your spouse, try to keep your emotions under control.  Any anger shown on your part could make your spouse become very protective of the parent in question, which will start a fight between you.  Avoid it as much as possible by remaining calm when discussing parents!

Lastly, don’t give your partner an ultimatum to choose either you or their parent if you want to stay married.  Those who do that usually lose their spouse.  The one given the ultimatum feels their spouse is being manipulative, which naturally pushes them away & towards the parent.  Don’t put your spouse or yourself in that position.  If you end up wanting to go your separate ways, find another way to discuss it. Ultimatums end in anger & make the situation worse.

I wish you the best!

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15% Off My Print Books Until May 7, 2021

If you have been interested in getting the print version of any of my books, now is a good time! My publisher is offering 15% off when using code SPRING15 at checkout until May 7, 2021.

My print books can be found at the link below…

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

What Happens After A Relationship With A Narcissist

After ending a romantic relationship with a narcissist, they are often quick to get back into dating.  They seem to think this makes them look like they weren’t the one with the problem in the relationship.  Or, maybe it is an attempt to make the one who left them believe they were the problem in the relationship.  After all, in their opinion, if the narcissist was really the problem, how could he or she find someone else so quickly? 

What most people don’t know is behind the scenes, the narcissist is acting out of a narcissistic injury.  Narcissists seem to think their victims will tolerate their abuse indefinitely without complaint.  It’s just assumed that the dysfunctional status quo will continue to be the dysfunctional status quo forever.  When a victim finally says enough is enough, & ends the relationship, they are genuinely stunned.  I have yet to know of one narcissist who wasn’t stunned when their victim ended the relationship with them, no matter the nature of the relationship. 

When a relationship is ended against their will, narcissists seem to think something along the lines of this:  “This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen!  What is wrong with this person?  I’ve been nothing but good to them!  After all, I put up with them for so long!  I just don’t understand why this person would leave me!  It makes no sense!  I financially supported them &/or put up with their trivial needs &/or listened to their whining (in other words, confrontations about the abusive behavior.  Never mind the narcissist didn’t change it).”

Ending a relationship with a narcissist creates a huge blow to their ego!  While any normal person receives a narcissistic injury to some degree when another ends a relationship with them, it is a great deal more devastating to a narcissist. 

Also, when this narcissistic injury happens, narcissists don’t respond to it as a normal person would in this situation.  A functional person would take time to mourn the loss of the relationship & figure out how to be a better significant other in their next relationship, if they want one.  Narcissists instead plot their revenge against the person who broke up with them.

Maybe the narcissist had another relationship on the side, so it looks to those who don’t know about this person that they found someone very quickly.  Only the ones closest to the narcissist know the truth in this situation.  No narcissist wants to be seen as a cheater, since many people look down on such behavior.  However, that won’t stop a narcissist from having a “back up” boyfriend or girlfriend.  Even if they don’t expect anyone to break up with them, having another (or several) romantic partner makes them feel more desirable & builds up their ego.  Either way, having someone else on the side is a win/win for narcissists.

In this situation, if the narcissist doesn’t have someone else on the side, they may want to get into another serious relationship quickly.  They seem to think that if someone falls in love with them, it proves they are good people.  They fail to realize that it’s all too easy to fall for the good person act narcissists put on, but in time, there will be times they slip up in their act & let their true colors show.

Other narcissists prefer not to get into a serious relationship, but date a lot of people.  Maybe in their mind it proves that they are desirable because they can attract many people.  Attracting one person may not be a big deal to them, but attracting many makes a good case in their minds for them being very desirable.

It can be easy for victims who see this to think maybe they really were the problem all along.  Maybe they’re not worthy of love.  After all, the narcissist has moved on quickly.  It must be them.

Nothing could be further from the truth!!  If you are or have been in this situation, please know that whatever the narcissist has tried to make you think is wrong.  Sure, you’re imperfect.  All humans are!  But that doesn’t mean you are unlovable or bad or whatever the narcissist said you were.  If that person is moving on quickly, that isn’t a good sign!  It’s a sign that the person most likely is a narcissist trying to make you look & feel badly.  That is no reflection on you!  It is, however, a reflection on them.

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Abusive Behaviors That Narcissistic Spouses Think Are Ok

Whatever narcissists do, they believe is ok.  Yet, if someone else does the same thing, that person can be wrong in the narcissist’s eyes.  Narcissists also use that behavior to shame & manipulate their victim.  Examples of this are especially clear in a marriage to a narcissist. 

When a marriage is rocky, it leaves each person very vulnerable.  It can be so easy to compare your spouse unfavorably to that handsome new coworker or that pretty cashier at the store who always smiles.  It also can go farther than that.  Sometimes a person will look at sexy pictures of other people on social media or even pornography.  If this were to happen in a healthy marriage, it would be a warning to both partners that they need to work on their marriage.  Not so with narcissists.  If they are the one looking, they justify it by insulting their partner.  They make sure their partner knows how much more attractive the person they are lusting after is or that if their partner was just better in bed, they wouldn’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction.  If the non-narcissistic partner is the one looking at others, the narcissist will use this to shame their partner so badly, that partner will do anything the narcissist wants.  They will make the partner feel as if they have to make it up to them for the pain they have caused, yet nothing will be good enough.

Your narcissistic spouse does activities without you.  Most couples don’t share all the same interests, & do things separately periodically.  Narcissistic spouses are different.  They tell their partner they are doing things & the partner is not welcome to join them.  It may even happen often.  And somehow, the partner feels guilty for not attending with their narcissistic spouse.  If the situation is reversed & the partner wants to do something without the narcissist, the partner is accused of being selfish, heartless, & more.  Often, this ruins the event for the partner who feels guilty enough not to attend the event they once looked forward to.

Having secrets is ok for narcissists, but no one else.  Narcissists are very secretive.  Their cell phones are locked & no one is allowed to touch that phone but the narcissist.  If their spouse does the same thing, the spouse is berated, accused of cheating & other things that the spouse is not doing. 

Narcissists will wait a long time to tell someone they are married.  Everyone gets flirted with sometimes, married or not.  Healthy married people may enjoy the flattery, but quickly tell the person flirting that they are married, so thanks but no thanks.  Narcissists aren’t that way.  They may not tell the person they’re married.  They may even have an affair with this person who has no idea that this person is married.  Again, narcissists will find some warped way to justify the behavior such as by telling their partner the partner is physically unattractive or boring in bed.  If the narcissist’s partner did this same thing, even if the end result wasn’t an affair, the narcissist will rage.  There will be no excuse for not telling the flirting person that the partner is married the moment the flirting person said hello, according to the narcissist.

Narcissists may stalk an ex’s social media or even keep in touch with an ex, but their partner isn’t allowed to do the same.  A lot of people are a bit curious about an ex.  They may check their social media once in a while.  Or, they maintain a friendship after the relationship ended.  If their partner has a problem with this, they alter their behavior accordingly.  Narcissists are different, as usual.  They are allowed to stalk their ex either on social media or in real life & allowed to keep in contact with that ex.  If their partner is upset by this, the partner is accused of being jealous, insecure & other things.  Yet, let that partner simply say hi in passing to an ex who just happens to be at the grocery store at the same time, & the narcissist will be livid.

If your spouse behaves in such ways, you are most likely dealing with a narcissist.  These behaviors are NOT healthy & NOT normal!  You need to recognize that these behaviors are abusive & protect yourself accordingly!  Remember they aren’t personal or true.  They are about the narcissist only.  Learn & set healthy boundaries.  Learn about the Gray Rock method.  Most of all pray & let God help you learn what you need to do.

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When You Feel The Only Way To Save Your Marriage Is To Sacrifice Yourself

Not long ago, something crossed my mind.  I thought it may help some of you who follow my work.

During my first marriage, I was so dysfunctional I wasn’t sure exactly why it wasn’t a good marriage, but I still knew something was wrong.  My ex said it was fine, but I didn’t buy it.  I took my vows very seriously so I spent a lot of time reading marriage books & trying to figure out what I could do to fix these problems that I couldn’t identify.  It was always my job to fix things in relationships, as is often the case of those who have narcissistic parents.  Plus, it seemed logical at the time that if I was the only one who had a problem, I should be the one to deal with the problem.

After my reading & contemplating things, I came up with a solution that I was certain would fix everything.  If I could just ignore any of my own identity, needs, wants, opinions & feelings in favor of his, I just knew that would fix everything. 

Obviously, this didn’t work.  Although I was successful at doing this for a while, even that wasn’t enough.  By the time we got a divorce, I felt like an utter failure & carried the guilt & shame of that for quite some time.

I mentioned this to my best friend recently who admitted she had a very similar experience when married to her ex husband.

If you are married to a narcissist, I would love to help prevent you from going through this pain.  Please, listen to the voice of experience when I tell you that although it seems like simply giving in to a narcissist in every way is an “easy” way to keep the peace, it’s not. 

Losing yourself in this way is a lifetime job, not something you do once & it’s done.  When a narcissist sees you are willing to do this, he or she will expect you to do it over & over, every single day of your relationship.  It makes you miserable & erodes you into a shell of your former self.  As the saying goes, it’s like a death from a thousand cuts. 

Narcissists also are like endless voids when it comes to things that provide them with their narcissistic supply.  Nothing is going to fill that void.  You simply can’t give a narcissist enough supply.  Even when you give everything to a narcissist, it isn’t enough.  I was basically a robot that my ex could control, & it still wasn’t enough to please him.  He still wanted more even though I had nothing left to give, & was angry when I wouldn’t give it.  This is typical! 

Also, behaving in this manner enables the narcissist to be the abusive monster that he or she is.  There are no consequences when someone tolerates abuse, so abusers naturally see no need to stop.  In fact, they often step up the abuse because they know they can do anything they like without fear of repercussions.  In the end, this will destroy you.  It may not physically destroy you, although the stress of living this way certainly has the potential to create an overabundance of health problems, but at the very least it will emotionally destroy you.  By the time my ex & I separated, I lost so much of my identity.  I had no idea who I was, what I really liked, wanted, felt, or needed.  I was well aware though that I carried a great deal of guilt & shame for being entirely at fault for our failed marriage.  If I had any doubt, his friends & family were glad to remind me that everything was my fault.

Dear Reader, if you are in this unenviable situation of being married to someone who wants everything from you while giving nothing in return, please don’t give that person everything!  It doesn’t help the marriage & only creates problems!  Learn from my mistakes & don’t give in.  Instead, take good care of yourself.  Question everything your spouse says about you & demands of you.  Surround yourself with healthy, functional, caring & supportive people.  If your spouse has isolated you from friends & family (as abusers do), there are online support forums full of amazing people who can help you.  And most of all, stay close to God.  Lean on Him, & let Him help you in this painful situation.  I wish you all the best!    

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Protecting Your Spouse From Your Narcissistic Family

If you are in a long term relationship or are married to someone & at least one of you has narcissistic parents or family members, there is something you should know.  Standing up for your partner to your narcissistic parents is one of the most important things you can do in your relationship.

When a couple makes a commitment to each other, a big part of that commitment is taking care of each other.  Part of that involves not tolerating anyone hurting your partner.  If you stand up to someone on behalf of your partner, you show your partner that this person’s well being & safety are extremely important to you.  You prove that you love that person & will do your best to keep them safe.  This is incredibly good for your relationship! 

Not tolerating someone hurting your partner also shows the abusive person that you are well aware of their actions, & there are consequences for their behavior.  Not doing so only proves to an abuser that they can do anything they want without consequences.  This means that they will continue what they have been doing & in time, their behavior will get even worse.  And, your partner will be left feeling abandoned & alone, which is potentially relationship ending.  No one in a committed relationship should feel that way!

If you struggle with defending your partner to your abusive family members, then please consider a couple of things.

If it is your family that mistreats your partner, this means they are your problem!  It is NOT your partner’s job to deal with your family.  If your partner confronts your family rather than you, your family will be highly upset.  That happens in many families, but especially in narcissistic ones.  Chances are they will tell you what a terrible person your partner is, how he or she isn’t good enough to be in your life or other nonsense as a way to deflect your attention from their terrible behavior.  If you are the one to confront them, they still may try to deflect & criticize your partner, but there is a better chance of them listening to you than your partner!

Also if anyone in your family mistreats your partner, they have absolutely no love or respect for you.  If they had any respect or love for you, they would manage to be civil to your partner no matter how much they disliked this person.  If your partner is abusive to you, any children you share or your family, that is a different scenario.  They should civilly address their concerns with you, be loyal to you & care more about your safety than civility.  However, if the reason they dislike your partner is because of simple differences in personality, your family should manage basic civility at the very least to this person out of love for you.  When you love someone, it’s not that hard to be polite to someone they care about even if you can’t stand that person.  I have done it & while it can be hard to be polite to someone you really dislike, reminding yourself of the person you care about can make this much easier.

Dear Reader, if you are in this position of having someone in your family mistreat or even abuse someone you love, then please consider what I have said.  Protect your loved one!  It will protect their mental & physical safety but also help your relationship!  In fact, protecting your loved one will increase the bond you both share.

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

When Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents Marry

Often, two people who were raised by narcissistic parents marry each other when they grow up.  Ideally, they understand each other’s past, offer support & help each other cope if their parents are still a part of their lives.  Sadly though, this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes when two adult children of narcissistic parents marry, they learn each person is on a very different page.  One is trying to be healthy while the other remains in denial of just how toxic his or her parents are.  This is hardly an easy position to be in for either person.

If you are in this painful situation, I hope this post can help you today!

To start with, you need to pray.  Ask God for any help you need to cope with the situation, whether it be patience, understanding, wisdom or anything.  Prayer is always the best place to start in any difficult situation, & situations don’t get much more difficult than this one!

Next, you need to accept that you & your partner are in a different place.  Your spouse may never see the truth about their parents.  They also may never see the truth about yours, for that matter.  You can’t change this, so you need to accept that painful truth.

You also need to accept that you can’t change your partner.  As much as you’d like to, you can’t make him or her see the truth.  We all have to face the truth as we are able.  Forcing someone to see the truth before they’re ready isn’t good for their mental health. 

You may need to stop discussing anything about your parents with each other to avoid conflict.  I know this is incredibly frustrating because you should be able to discuss any topic with your spouse.  In an ideal world, that is how things are.  Unfortunately though, when dealing with two fallible human beings, that isn’t always feasible.  If discussing anything about parents causes strife, it may be best to find someone else with which to discuss the problems.  A close friend or relative, your pastor or even a counselor may be a much better option for you. 

If you have issues with your spouse’s narcissistic parent, unfortunately, you can’t expect support from your spouse if he or she doesn’t see that parent is narcissistic.  Don’t expect it from him or her.  I realize this goes against what is natural & is very painful & hard to accept, but you need to do it anyway.  Accepting this painful truth is hard, but it is easier than to be disappointed in your spouse repeatedly.

You also will need to find ways to deal with your narcissistic in-laws on your own, & chances are slim your spouse will approve of how you deal with them.  This is tricky.  There is no way to avoid your spouse’s anger in this situation.  The best you can do is to remain calm when dealing with your awful in-laws & your spouse.  Also be logical when your spouse gets angry.  If he or she says you’re hurting the narcissistic parent, for example, you can say that parent has hurt you too.  Why was that acceptable behavior but you setting a reasonable boundary to protect yourself wasn’t? 

Never forget to take care of yourself & your mental health.  A spouse in denial can be very good at making the healthier spouse feel as if they are wrong, over sensitive or even crazy.  Don’t buy into this gaslighting!  You are doing what is right by facing the truth about your narcissistic parents & in-laws.  Don’t let anyone, including your spouse, convince you otherwise!

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Soulmates & Narcissists

Many people hear the term “soulmate” & assume it means someone romantically connected perfectly to another person.  This couple is assumed to be perfectly compatible in every way – comparable intellectually & sexually, sharing the same perspectives, feelings, likes & dislikes, & always agreeing with each other.  The perfect fairy tale love, in other words.  It also is a common belief that people have only one soulmate in their lifetime.

I don’t believe that this definition of soulmates is accurate at all.  I believe it’s actually better & more varied.

For one thing, I believe there are different types of soulmates, & they aren’t always romantic.  My best friend is my soulmate.  My husband sometimes finds it hard to believe just how much she & I have in common.  My husband is also my soulmate.  Both relationships are very different & neither relationship is perfect.

My husband & my best friend share much in common with me.  We all think remarkably similarly & share similar views on all kinds of things.  All of us are Christians.  We all grew up in similarly abusive, dysfunctional environments.  Yet at the same time, we’re all very unique individuals.  Each of us works in a very different line of work.  My husband is pretty interested in politics while my best friend & I have no interest in politics.  I love to crochet & knit while my husband & best friend have zero interest in either.  My best friend has no interest in cars while my husband & I both are pretty car obsessed, in particular with old classics.

While I consider my husband & best friend to be my soul mates, you can see obviously we aren’t perfect fits for each other.  Sometimes we even disagree with each other.  The cool part is that it’s totally fine!  We all respect each other’s differences.  We’re also willing to learn about the things that interest each other.  And, although we don’t always agree about everything, we have enough respect for each other to be perfectly fine with that.  We don’t have to agree about every single thing.

They both bring a great deal to my life, & I hope I return the favor to them.  They challenge me to be a better person.  There is no doubt that both are committed to the relationship with me.  I know if we have an argument, neither will abandon me.

The reason I’m mentioning soulmates is because many narcissists will try to convince their romantic partner that they are the partner’s perfect soulmate.  No one could be as good for them as the narcissist, or love them as the narcissist does, at least according to the narcissist.  In fact, my narcissistic ex husband once told me that no one would ever love me like he did.  To his credit, he was right – no one else has “loved” me as he did & that is a fact for which I am VERY grateful!  They also want their partner to think no one could understand them as well as the narcissist does, which is partly why they are the perfect soulmate to the partner.

If a romantic partner ever claims to be your soulmate, I want to encourage you to consider this person very well.  Does he or she show narcissistic tendencies?  Did this person mention the topic of being your soulmate early in the relationship?  When this person mentions the soulmate topic, does he or she only talk about how good they are for you, not that you’re also good for them?  Does this person use the phrase my ex used, that no one would love you like he or she loves you?  If so, these are some serious narcissistic red flags!  I would strongly encourage you to end the relationship!  Functional people don’t feel the need to convince their partner of their greatness for the partner.  My husband & best friend have never done this.  In fact, both tell me I’m good for them & that they appreciate me.

Functional people also don’t try to make a relationship very serious too early.  They realize it takes time to get to know each other enough to decide if this relationship has the potential to be serious.  Talking about being soulmates or discussing marriage early in the relationship isn’t normal!  My ex husband proposed to me only a bit under 3 months after we met.

Just remember, Dear Reader, that although it’s flattering if someone claims to be your soulmate, that also can be a red flag.  It can be the warning sign of a narcissist.

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Rarely Discussed Abusive Behaviors Of Narcissistic Spouses

Some time back, I was watching an episode of a true crime show on tv.  The show is called “Evil Lives Here” & is about people who lived with someone who did terrible things, like being serial killers.  This particular episode was about the Truck Stop Killer, Robert Rhoades.  His ex wife was interviewed.  She told the story of how they first met & about what it was like to be married to him.

Normally stories like these are disturbing yet fascinating, but I found this one especially disturbing.  So many of Mr. Rhoades’ behaviors reminded me of my ex husband.  The way he manipulated & shamed her was exactly the same as what my ex did.  Even the words he said to her were the same as my ex said to me.  Their behaviors were so similar that it really shook me up for quite some time.  I didn’t even tell anyone for a while, because I was trying to process it all.

I didn’t plan on blogging about it, but recently I thought it might be a good idea.  If these two abusive men used the same behavior, no doubt others do as well.  These behaviors are also not really discussed openly.  Most people know of the obvious abusive behaviors like hitting.

One behavior my ex & Mr. Rhoades shared was having extremely definite opinions on how they wanted their wives to look.  I would guess most married folks like to see their spouses looking a certain way more than others, but both of these men took it to an extreme.  My ex would make me feel as if what he wanted was the only thing looked good on me.  What I liked didn’t matter.  Mr. Rhoades took the behavior further.  He did that plus laid out clothing for his wife to wear.  I remember his ex wife saying he would lay out clothing on the bed & tell her to wear that specific outfit because they were going out.  He wouldn’t tell her where they were going.  While that could be a nice surprise, his wasn’t.  One evening, his “surprise” was he took her to a swinger’s club.

That brings me to the main similarity these two men shared.  Sexual preferences.  Deviant sexual behavior like they shared is a red flag in a romantic relationship, but that red flag turns into more of a giant flashing neon billboard when they demand it from their spouse even knowing she objects strongly to it.  Both my ex & Mr. Rhoades used the same tactic in order to get what they wanted – shaming.  Both said comments like, “Any other woman would be glad to do this for me.”  “Every other woman in the world does this!”   “You’re so immature/prudish/boring in bed!”  “You should be glad I want to involve you in this instead of just going behind your back to do it!”

When someone wants something so badly that they will shame someone else for not being willing to participate, that is abuse.  Someone is putting their selfish desires ahead of their spouse’s, even though they know what they want will cause the person great physical or emotional pain.  This shows a total lack of empathy, because no one who truly loves their spouse would want to hurt them or not even care that they are hurting them.

If someone you are romantically involved with behaves in these manners, they are definite warning signs of narcissism.  If at all possible, get away from this person as soon as humanly possible!  You need to protect yourself!

If you are unable to get away, start quietly planning to do so.  If people like this change, it almost never is for the better.  I’m sure Robert Rhoades’ ex wife would agree.  So take care of yourself.  Protect yourself from further abuse.  You don’t deserve to be treated this way!  xoxo

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Things A Mother In-Law Wants From Her Daughter In-Law

I came across this really interesting article about what a mother in-law wants in her daughter in-law.  My curiosity was piqued, so I read it.  It got me to thinking just how different a narcissistic mother in-law is from a functional one.  I thought I’d do a side by side comparison of the two based on the article in case anyone reading this is wondering if their mother in-law is a narcissist.

  1. A woman who will consider her a friend.  A daughter in-law is nothing more than competition to the narcissistic mother in-law.  Friendship is NOT gonna happen!
  2. A woman who makes her son’s life easier.  Seems to me, the narcissistic version of this one is “a woman who has no needs or wants of her own, who waits on her son hand & foot, expects nothing in return & is blindly obedient to the mother in-law.”
  3. A woman who shows how much she loves her husband by the way she talks about him.  Never seen or heard anything of the sort from a narcissistic mother in-law.  Seems to me it’s more about actions, like those I mentioned in the last point.  It also seems that in their eyes, their daughters in-law should be seen & not heard.
  4. A woman who will be a good listener.  A functional mother in-law & a narcissistic one both want this, I believe, but the difference is the functional mother in-law gladly will return the favor.  Narcissists only return the favor when they think they can learn something to use as ammunition against the daughter in-law at some point.
  5. A woman whose faith in Jesus is evident.  I would guess that the only narcissistic mothers in-law who have any interest in their daughter in-law’s faith is those who are concerned about looking good to their church.  And, she won’t hesitate to twist Scripture around to manipulate her daughter in-law.
  6. A woman who forgives her past mistakes.  What narcissist admits to past mistakes?  This obviously isn’t important to the narcissistic mother in-law because she doesn’t make mistakes & if by some chance she did, they were the fault of someone else.
  7. A woman who helps her navigate the technology-driven, social media-frenzied world today.  I can’t really imagine any narcissistic mother in-law who may want to learn more about technology looking for help from her daughter in-law.  Viewing her daughter in-law as beneath her, why would she ask her for help in any area?
  8. A woman who resolves not to see differences of opinions, interference, or interruptions as an intentional dig.  This one may depend on the narcissist.  Some no doubt want blind obedience from their daughters in-law, including never speaking back to them & assuming the best about them.  But there are many others that want their daughters in-law to be angry with them.  That works out very well for the narcissist in question, because she can use this in several ways.  She can use it to prove her daughter in-law is unappreciative, crazy, irrational, or over sensitive.  She also can use this to prove she is the innocent victim of her daughter in-law’s abuse.
  9. A woman who gives her credit for the incredible son she raised.  The one area that functional mothers in-law & narcissistic mothers in-law are alike to some degree.  Who wouldn’t want to hear she did a great job raising her son?  Narcissists take it to the extreme though, pretty much expecting to be worshiped for her amazing mothering skills.
  10. A woman who doesn’t compete for her children’s love.  If you know anything about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you know that narcissistic parents become narcissistic grandparents.  Unlike a nice, normal, functional grandparent, the narcissistic one will expect to be first place in their grandchild’s life.  They also may lie to the grandchild about the child’s parent(s) or tell the child there is no reason to listen to Mom & Dad.  Many even bribe the grandchild with money or gifts to gain that child’s favor.

As you can see, there are many differences between healthy, functional mothers in-law & narcissistic ones.  I hope you aren’t dealing with the narcissistic variety because they are incredibly difficult to deal with at best!

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Why Do Children Abused By Narcissistic Parents Fall For Abusers?

So many children of narcissistic parents end up in many abusive relationships over the course of their lives.  It starts out with abusive parents, then moves on to friends, later adding in co-workers & often eventually marrying a narcissist often from an equally narcissistic family.

As if the additional abuse isn’t bad enough, we also tend to verbally abuse ourselves about the situation.  We beat ourselves up for getting involved with people who are so much like our abusive parents.  We think we’re stupid, hopeless & much more.  We can’t imagine why we would do such a thing.  The aim of this post is to explain some possible reasons why we end up with these abusive people.

One reason is abuse is normal to us.  We’re so accustomed to it, if a person isn’t abusive, we simply don’t know what to think of that sort of behavior.  We choose an abuser over a safe, not abusive person simply because it’s familiar.  There is a degree of comfort in familiarity, even when it is abusive.  Thankfully, the more we heal from childhood, the more abnormal abuse becomes, & we stop attracting & being attracted to abusive people.

Children of narcissists grow up trying to find love, the love we never received as children.  In a romantic relationship, this can give an abusive person a great deal of power & control.  Until you recognize the signs of abuse, their power & control comes across as confidence, which can make you feel safe & loved, even there isn’t anything safe or loving about someone being controlling.

We also don’t really recognize what healthy love looks like.  It’s not like a narcissistic mom & dad could provide good example of that.  We think being loved means being abused, even though nothing could be further from the truth.  When someone comes along & claims to love you, even if that person treats you like dirt, you think that person actually loves you.

Children of narcissists also settle.  My mother told me no man would ever want me, so when my ex husband pursued me when we were in the eleventh grade, I felt like I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity even though he really wasn’t the type of guy I found attractive at all.  After all, no one else would ever want me, I thought.  Even dating other men after high school didn’t change that false belief I had.  Many other adult children of narcissists I’ve spoken with have had similar experiences, & like me, settled for someone they didn’t love & who was abusive.

Gaslighting is your norm.  You are so accustomed to being manipulated that you don’t recognize it as a problem.  Since you don’t recognize this problem, the abuser can manipulate you in any way he or she sees fit.  One common way narcissists keep their victim/spouse down is to make that person think that they are the problem in the relationship.  When a person has low (or no) self-esteem, believing they are the problem will make that person feel as if they have to work hard to please their partner to make up for all of the misery they put that partner through.

If you too have experienced abusive relationships, then please stop beating yourself up!  As you can see, it’s understandable!  What matters is you escaped the abuse & learned from the awful experience.  You’ll also find that the healthier you get & the more you learn, the more narcissists & other abusers will leave you alone.

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Signs Of Narcissism In Romantic Partners

I recently caught an episode of the true crime show “Evil Lives Here” on the ID channel.  The episode was an interview with Debra, the ex wife of The Truck Stop Killer, Robert Rhoades.  He is suspected of raping & murdering over 50 women from the mid 1970’s to 1990.

His ex wife mentioned how he was very particular about how she dressed & would tell her what to wear.  She told the story of how one night he told her to wear a particularly sexy outfit so they could go to dinner.  He failed to mention it was at a swinger’s club.  He continually pushed the swinging issue even though from that night at the club she told him that wasn’t an option.  He told her she was immature & “No other woman would feel this way” about it.

Her story horrified me because that is almost exactly how things were with my ex husband.  He wanted me to look & dress a certain way.  He also wanted me to participate in some sexual activities that I refused to do, then told me that “no other woman would feel that way about these things.”  I also remembered how at the time of our separation, he was becoming quite fascinated with weapons & there were signs he had a real potential for violence.  This made me thank God for getting me away from him safely!

This also made me think of the signs that a romantic partner is dangerous that he displayed.  No doubt other narcissists display those same signs, so I thought I would share some of them today.

In the beginning, things are good, then suddenly they aren’t.  In or out of the bedroom, the person you’re involved with wants to please you.  Then suddenly, they lose interest in working so hard to please you.  No explanation or evidence of why, they simply stop.

When the narcissist stops wanting to please you, & you ask what changed, they act like (or say) you’re imagining things or you’re crazy.  They claim they haven’t changed, so since you think they have, obviously something is wrong with you.  This obviously makes you very confused & willing to do what you can to please them so hopefully they’ll want to be that great person they were at first.

The narcissist wants you to look a certain way when you have sex.  Many people want their partners to wear sexy lingerie, which naturally isn’t terribly uncommon.  What is uncommon is how some narcissists pretty much demand it.

The more time progresses, the more unusual the sexual proclivities of the narcissist become.  At first, the sex is pretty normal.  Nothing really kinky.  Then little by little, they try introducing new & more deviant things.  The desire to have sex more often happens as they become more interested in these more deviant behaviors.

When you refuse to participate in the desired activities, the narcissist shames you.  As I mentioned earlier, my ex would tell me that no other woman in the world would feel about doing what he wanted to do as I did.  They also may call you immature, oversensitive, close minded & more.

If the activity causes you physical pain or risks your health, the narcissist won’t care.  Since all that matters to a narcissist is what they want, if their desire causes you physical pain or puts your health at risk, that won’t matter.

No is never an option.  If you’re sick, tired or simply not in the mood, that won’t be important to a narcissist.  They want what they want, when they want it, & nothing else matters.  I remember my ex punching walls when I was sick & told him I wasn’t in the mood.

Forcing sex isn’t too low for a narcissist.  After all, what narcissists want is all that matters to them, so they have no trouble using physical force, manipulation or guilt to get whatever they want.

If your partner exhibits such behaviors, these are big red flags!  Please protect yourself & get away from this person as soon as you possibly can!  You deserve to be treated better than this & to be safe!

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Signs Your Significant Other Is A Narcissist

Many of us who grew up with at least one narcissistic parent ended up as adults, romantically involved with another narcissist.  Unfortunately, it is very common.  I did it myself.  My mother was a very overt narcissist, my father a covert narcissist & my ex husband a very covert narcissist.  Since he acted so differently than her, I honestly believed he was ok, even good for me at first.  It took some time after our divorce when I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder before I learned about covert narcissism vs. overt.  When I did is when things finally clicked, & I realized how bad he was for me.

If you too have thought the faulty way that I have, you are not alone!  Below are some ways you can tell if your significant other is a narcissist.  I am writing this from the perspective of a woman with a narcissistic male partner simply because that is what my situation was, but the information fits no matter who is male or female in the relationship.

It’s his way or the highway.  Narcissists simply must have their way, always, period, end of story.  If your mate pouts, uses guilt or anger to make sure he gets his way, this is a red flag.

If he acts like he is the one who knows what is best for both of you, this is another big red flag.  My ex husband was convinced he knew what was best for us.  The truth is, he knew what was best for *him, not *us.

Every conversation comes back to him.  Looking back at my first marriage, it astounds me how every conversation came back to him.  When my mother abused me when we were in high school, rather than him caring how it affected me, he talked about how hard it was on him.  When he lost yet another job, it was all about his panic rather than what we could do to survive.

Manipulation is a constant.  Overt narcissists are obvious in their abuse.  They use threats of physical violence or yell & belittle to get their way.  Covert narcissists are much more subtle, using guilt, shaming & gaslighting to get their way.

Are you always to blame?  Another sign of a narcissistic mate is when you are to blame for everything.  He lost his job?  That is your fault, even though you were never there.  His car broke down?  Also your fault, in spite of the fact you have not driven the car since 2007.  Why?  His reasons will be creative & highly inaccurate.

Does he think way too highly of himself?  Regarding my ex husband, my granddad said to me, “It’s a shame he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was.”  He was right.  My ex was convinced he was much smarter than pretty much anyone else on the planet, but especially me.  He also seemed to think he was doing me a favor by being with me.

Does he lack empathy?  A hallmark of all narcissists, overt or covert is that they lack empathy.  If anything hurts another person, a narcissist cannot understand it.  They also lack the ability to see things from another person’s perspective.  Emotions & different perspectives are well beyond something they can understand.

Feeling like you can’t be good enough for him is another red flag.  No matter what I did or how hard I tried, I always knew it was never enough for my ex.  He made me feel ashamed for my shortcomings, too.  This is very typical of narcissistic partners.

Emotional abuse is the norm.  You are accustomed to him making you feel not good enough, stupid, ugly, etc.  You also make excuses for it, blame yourself & justify what he said.

He isolates you.  Ok, maybe he does not hold you hostage in the basement, but he does say negative things about your friends & family, which leads you to sever ties with people you were once close to.  My ex pressured me from very early on to sever ties with my mother, then later my grandparents, & even my best friend.  He used subtle means, too such as, “She isn’t a good friend to you since she doesn’t call more often…”

If your significant other is doing at least some of these things, then please, Dear Reader, be careful with this person.  Chances are excellent that you are dealing with a narcissist.  I urge you to pray about your situation, & ask God to help you.  Reconnect with those with whom you severed ties.  Talk to safe people.  Ask for help as needed.  You can survive this situation!

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Toxic In-Laws

I’ve been working on a book for a while now about toxic/narcissistic in-laws.  I’m struggling to write it for a few reasons.  I’ve been really distracted by things going on in my life since I started this book 2 years ago.  I also felt that I needed to put it on the back burner to write other books.  The topic is such a hard one for me to write about too, because I honestly have been through hell because of some of my husband’s family, & I’m still healing.  And, in spite of taking frequent breaks, I’m pretty burned out on all things narcissism.  These issues make this one tough book to write.  That being said, I believe the topic is an important one so I will finish it.  It just may take some time.

Since my book is delayed, here is a post to help identify whether or not your in-laws are toxic.  I will write from the perspective of a daughter in-law with a toxic mother in-law, since that is the bulk of my experience as well as the bulk of the experiences of people I’ve spoken with.  The information is good for toxic sisters in-law, fathers in-law, etc. though.

Does your mother in-law ignore you?  The purpose of this behavior is to show you that you mean nothing to her.

Does she refuse to accept responsibility for treating you badly?  Rather than say something like, “I shouldn’t have said that.. I’m sorry,” does she make excuses for her words or actions or deny them completely?  This is a big red flag.  Functional people accept responsibility for what they say & do.

Does your mother in-law have a different personality depending on whether or not you are alone with her or others are around?  Another big red flag!  Any abuser will behave differently to their victim depending on whether or not there are witnesses.  They want to hide their abuse from other people.

Does she expect you to be blindly devoted to her family, even to the point of rejecting your own family & friends?  Many toxic mothers in-law remind me of the Borg from the tv show “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”   They expect their son’s or daughter’s new spouse to become completely enmeshed in their new in-law family.

Like the Borg, toxic mothers in-law expect their new sons or daughters in-law to adapt to their opinions, religion, way of life, etc.  Individuality is highly discouraged by toxic mothers in-law.  I once told my late mother in-law I hate to cook.  I do it, but hate it.  For Christmas a few months later, she & her 2 daughters gave me nothing but cookbooks, utensils, food & other cooking paraphernalia.

Toxic in-laws show no respect.  Toxic in-laws show no respect for personal space, choices, likes/dislikes, parenting, & even boundaries.

And speaking of a lack of respect, your mother in-law makes it clear to you that she doesn’t like you.  Unless you abuse your mother in-law’s adult child or your children, if your mother in-law had any respect whatsoever for her child, she would be civil to you no matter how much she disliked you.  The inability to be civil even only for the sake of her adult child proves she is toxic.

Is she manipulative & controlling?  Toxic people, in particular narcissists, must be in charge.  Chances are, your mother in-law controls her spouse & children.  Since you married one of her children, she expects you to be as control-able & easily manipulated as everyone else.  When you say no, she is NOT happy.

If your toxic mother in-law is nice to you, it’s short lived & in front of others only.  Very few people are cruel 100% of the time.  Toxic people bring out their nice side when it can be advantageous to them.  Being nice sometimes will make their victim want to see it more, so they work harder to please the toxic person.  Also, being nice to a victim in front of others helps the toxic person prove to others that if you complain about the relationship, you are obviously the problem.

Mothers in-law like this care nothing of their adult child beyond what he can do for her.  They clearly have no respect for him either, since they treat the person he chose to spend his life with so badly.  His marriage is nothing more to this kind of mother than an embarrassment, & she would like it simply to go away.  Since she can’t file for divorce on his behalf, she becomes extremely destructive to the adult child’s marriage with her abusive ways.

Your spouse no doubt suffers greatly from his mother’s abusive behavior, yet tolerates it anyway.  This is because he is accustomed to how his mother behaves.  This is his norm & many adults in this situation have accepted this as their permanent reality.  By complaining about his mother’s behavior or even confronting her, this threatens his norm.  Facing the truth can be incredibly painful for many in this position, which is why many refuse to face the truth.  This feeling is known as cognitive dissonance.  Rather than face this miserable feeling, many people in this situation will do their best to shut down their spouse.  They don’t want to hear about the bad things their mother is doing, so they will tell their wife they don’t believe her, she is over sensitive, she just doesn’t understand Mom, that’s her problem so she needs to leave him out of it & more.  They refuse to confront their mother on behalf of their wife.

Naturally, the wife in this position feels rejected, unloved & hurt.  She wants to fight for her marriage, but it seems whatever she does is wrong, & whatever his mother does is right.  Her trying to save her marriage only causes more problems.  The reason for this is she doesn’t know that when you’re dealing with a narcissist, normal ways to cope don’t work.

For anyone in this position, you need to think of this situation more like a game of strategy than a relationship.

As always pray.  Ask God to help you to know what to do & to give you whatever you need to enable you to do it.  Pray for your husband to see the truth & for God to enable him to be able to cope with it, too.

Cope with your emotions as best you can by journaling, talking to a safe friend, pray.. whatever works for you.  Whatever you do, don’t hold in your emotions!

Don’t focus on your mother in-law’s bad behavior when it can be avoided.  Instead, focus on being the loving wife that you are.  Don’t neglect to remind your husband how much you love him.  If he complains about his mother to you for any reason, don’t join in.  Listen quietly to him & give him objective advice if he asks for it.  The reason being, the mindset of many people in this situation is they can complain about Mom, but if anyone else does, they jump to her defense.  This would only cause more problems in your marriage.

Along those lines, if you discuss his mother’s behavior with him, stay calm.  State your issues in a matter of fact way, lacking emotion.  If you rant & rave, that too will make him feel he must defend his mother, which only will hurt you & possibly your marriage.

Limit your exposure to your mother in-law as much as possible, but especially alone.  No narcissist wants to abuse their victim in front of the person they want to think well of them, so stay glued to your husband’s side as much as possible.

Keep your emotions in check around your mother in-law.  Narcissists love to twist a victim’s normal reaction around to prove how mentally unstable or even abusive the victim is to other people.  In her presence, stay calm.  Vent later when you’re away from her as needed though, so you don’t hold in all the bad emotions.

Having to deal with toxic, narcissistic in-laws is tough.  I know, I’ve been there.  But, with prayer, love, patience & wisdom, you can survive it with your marriage in tact.

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

After The Divorce

Today would have been my ex husband’s & my 28th wedding anniversary.  Naturally, realizing that made me think about our relationship.  I thought I’d share my random ponderings with you, since many of you who read my blog have been divorced as well.

When I decided to end my first marriage, although I wasn’t yet a Christian, I still felt terrible for breaking my vows.  I took them very seriously.  I also felt like a total failure for not being able to make that marriage work.  No matter what I did, that marriage was still not good & he was never happy with me.  I was never good enough for him.  I also felt incredibly guilty.  Guilty for not being able to fix the marriage, for never being able to please my ex, for doing everything wrong, for wanting the divorce & more.  I felt that intense guilt for a long time, for at the very least, a couple of years after we separated.

Looking back now, I realize how wrong I was.

While marriage vows should be taken seriously, they should be taken seriously by both partners, not only one.  If one doesn’t take them seriously & mistreats or even abuses you, there is nothing wrong with breaking the vows to protect yourself & your children if you have them.  There is nothing good or holy about tolerating abuse from anyone, period!

One person also can’t save a relationship.  It takes two to make any relationship work.  It’s impossible for a relationship to work when only one person is trying to make that happen, especially if the other person is a narcissist.  They will do their best to sabotage your efforts & refuse to give you what you want or need.  So, if you couldn’t fix your marriage, welcome to the club!

Although I still don’t like that I hurt my ex, there really was no other choice.  He hurt me plenty as well, which is why I wanted a divorce in the first place.  I certainly didn’t decide to divorce him because things were going well!

Does any of this sound familiar to you, Dear Reader?  If so, I want to encourage you to change your thinking like I did.

Remind yourself that did the best you knew to do at that time.  How can you be mad at yourself for not knowing then what you know now?  It doesn’t even make sense.  That would be like being angry at a year old baby for not knowing multiplication.  We all learn as we go, even as adults.

Narcissists are also fantastic actors, so even if you knew about narcissism & married this person anyway, you still can’t beat yourself up because of what fantastic actors they are.  We all can get fooled sometimes, no matter how much we know about narcissism.  It doesn’t mean you’re stupid – it just means they are ridiculously good actors!

Don’t forget – if you grew up with narcissistic parents, you also were wounded because of your upbringing, which means you didn’t have the ability to make the best decisions. Unfortunately, this happens!  You’re learning, growing & getting healthier now & that is what matters most.

Also, never hesitate to go to God.  Ask Him to tell you the truth.  Were you stupid to marry that person?  Are you a failure for your divorce?  He really will answer you & you know what He says is the absolute truth.  Let Him help you!  He will do so & gladly!

And never, ever forget – while you may not have been the perfect spouse, that doesn’t mean the divorce is absolutely, completely your fault.  Narcissists would have their victims believe that, but it’s not true.  Wanting to escape the torture & abuse isn’t a bad thing!  In fact, quite the opposite.  It shows you love yourself enough to know you don’t deserve this kind of treatment.

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Doubts After No Contact

I think it’s a very safe assumption that almost everyone who has gone no contact with a narcissist, in particular a narcissistic parent or other family member, has had more than their share of doubts.  Ending relationships is tough, but especially when the relationship is a close one such as in the case of family.

 

What makes the doubts worse is when after not speaking for some time, you learn through the grapevine that the narcissist is sick, lost their job, or going through some very difficult situation.  Considering this is someone you were once very close to, it’s only natural to want to help them & to feel bad they are in this situation.  Those desires may make start to override the terrible things that made you sever ties in the first place.

 

Today, I want to tell you.. DON’T DO IT!!

 

No, I don’t know you or the narcissist personally, but I do know a lot about narcissists & have more than a little experience with them.  I have learned that once you end a relationship with a narcissist, resuming it will only cause you heartache as it did me.

 

At first, the narcissist will behave, & probably even be respectful & caring.  This lulls you into thinking this person has changed.  All is right in the world now.  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth!

 

In time, little things will change.  Maybe a comment here or there about how you shouldn’t have left in the first place.  Or, instead of 10 complements a day, it’s dropped to 9 & a nasty criticism.  Everyone has a bad day sometimes, so you rationalize the comments as nothing more & let it go.  After all, things have been going so well.

 

Gradually more things change.  Things get worse.  There are more criticisms.  Now there are also some manipulation attempts too.  “I never did that.”  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  There are also guilt trips about you “abandoning” the narcissist in the first place.  They may even have their friends or family mention how hard it was for them when you weren’t in their life.  You begin to feel guilty for hurting the narcissist, so you go along with what they do.

 

Before you know it, the relationship is as bad, if not worse as it was before you went no contact in the first place.

 

Maybe you’re thinking this won’t happen to you but I can tell you, the chances of it happening to you are excellent.  I was fooled into thinking that myself in three very different relationships.

 

One was a friendship.  Upon meeting, she told me we were going to be best friends.  I was young, naive & knew nothing of narcissistic personality disorder, so I blindly obeyed, & became her good friend.  The friendship ended a couple of years later, then a couple of years after that, resumed.  At first, things were good.  We had a lot of laughs together.  Then things changed.  She constantly demanded my attention.  I spent a lot of time with her, no matter what I had going on.  She expected me to watch her small kids while with her too, which is something I’m not good at doing.  I ended that friendship again after about a year & a half.

 

One was my first marriage.  I broke my engagement to my ex husband because I realized I wasn’t happy with him.  While we were apart, he insisted we remain “friends.”  We spoke often & he told me how miserable he was.  Our mutual friends told me the same.  We got back together, & married a few months later.  I knew that although he was acting better, I shouldn’t marry him but I did.  He made me feel like I owed it to him.  In fact, when he proposed again, he said, “I’m not letting you go this time.”  We separated a bit over 4 years later.

 

The other one was my mother.  In 2001, I had enough, & finally cut ties with my mother.  In 2007, my father told me that she needed heart surgery.  I said I’d pray for her.  Once she got home, she called me to thank me for praying for her.  I honestly believed at that the change in her personality was from facing a near death experience.  The more time passed, the more she regressed into the abusive person she’d always been, which is why when I went no contact in 2016, I determined this time, it’s forever.

 

My stories are very typical, Dear Reader.  I told them because you need to know that if you have doubts about being no contact, they need to be ignored.  Take care of yourself.  Your mental health is very important!  Resuming a toxic relationship does no good to you or the toxic person in question.  It simply enables their awful behavior while you sacrifice yourself.  There is NOTHING good about that!

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Schedule Time To Talk

At the end of July, my husband & I had a disagreement.  Not even really a fight, just a disagreement.  During the course of working things out, we began talking about our relationship in general.  We realized that when stressed, we both tend to withdraw into ourselves.  Both being major introverts (he’s INTJ, I’m INFJ), it’s hardly a surprise.  It’s also not good for our marriage, because when he withdraws it triggers me to withdraw from him & when I withdraw, it triggers him to withdraw from me also.  We tried to figure out ways to cope with this when we came up with a good solution, & I believe it’s beneficial for any marriage.

We now have daily time to talk with each other, minus tv & computer.  Maybe music but that is iffy.  In fact, we have the Amazon Echo Dot, & I have a daily reminder on there for her to tell us to talk so we are sure not to forget this time.

Every evening at 9, our Dot tells us “This is your daily reminder.  It’s talk time.”  At that time, we turn off the tv & computers, ignore the phone & talk.  The topics vary daily.  Sometimes he talks more than me, sometimes I talk more than him.  We also don’t have a set time we must talk, so sometimes it’s only 10 minutes, sometimes an hour or more.  There are also times we do it earlier in the day because maybe there’s a tv show we want to watch coming on at 9 or we’re really tired & want to get some extra sleep.  We also had an evening where one of our cats got sick & had to go to the emergency vet about 9pm, so talk time obviously was postponed that day & rescheduled for the next few days while he was in there to adapt to our spending time at the hospital.  There are no rules & there is absolutely NO pressure about talk time other than spend time together.

This ritual has been super beneficial for our marriage!  I’ve noticed we are withdrawing much less & being a lot more open about everything.  My husband used to hold a lot in about his difficulties at work but now he is talking about them.  Even when it isn’t “talk time,” he’s opening up about work more often.  He used to hold his frustrations in so this is a very good thing!  So much healthier!

We also are closer than we once were.  Focusing on each other daily has increased the intimacy in our marriage.  We are more open with each other & know we can talk to each other about anything.  I’ve felt safer to bring up topics that could start arguments because both of us are more patient, considerate & understand with each other since we started with our daily talk time.  It seems like we slow down & really think about things more during talk time.

I think we also have begun to have even more in common than we once did.  By focusing so much on each other during our talk time, it seems to have enabled us to see things from each other’s perspectives more than we once did.  We used to butt heads about how money should be spent, as one example, but now we agree on it.  Granted that area improved the longer we’ve been together, but  since we started this ritual, we’ve gotten to be a lot more on the same page.  We rarely disagree on financial things anymore.

I wanted to share this discovery with you, Dear Reader, because I think this talk time ritual can help any marriage.  I know, life can be so busy, but like I said, it doesn’t have to take long.  Even just a few minutes each day where you & your spouse focus on each other can be a good thing.  If you opt to try this in your marriage, then please do as we have done & keep it as low key as possible.  I really think pressure would make it into a burden rather than something to look forward to each day.  Schedule a time that works for you but be flexible enough to change it if circumstances dictate.  Don’t worry about having a time limit either or specific topics.  Just hang out with your spouse & talk about whatever topics come up.  The point is to have fun, relax or work through a problem.  Just go with the flow & see if your marriage doesn’t improve like mine did.

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A Bit About Marriage

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”  (KJV)

 

Most people have at least heard of Genesis 2:24, but I wonder how many people truly understand it.  Since tomorrow is my 20th wedding anniversary, this Scripture has popped into my mind & I figured the timing to discuss it was good.

Being close is one thing, but being enmeshed is very bad.  No doubt many of my readers know about enmeshed families.  Narcissistic families often have enmeshment down to an art form, since their families are very cult-like.  When one member gets married, this often means trouble for the new in-law.

When my husband & I first met, it didn’t take me long to learn he was very involved with his family.  Enmeshed, really, although I didn’t know the term at the time.  Coming from my own dysfunctional past, I thought at first that it was good they were so “close.”

My mother in-law hated me from the day we met, which was before my husband & I started dating.  Once we started dating, it got a lot worse & it was worse after our marriage.  Because she felt this way, her two daughters did as well, although one hid it for a few years.  Over the years, they subjected me to many cruel comments & actions letting me know I was not good enough to be a part of their family.  Yet, at the same time, I was told that I would be there on special days like Christmas & there was no acceptable excuse not to be in attendance.  They also had ideas of the type of person I should be & look like, which became incredibly annoying to me since I’m not anything like they wanted me to be.  This all created a tremendous amount of stress in my marriage which lead to me considering divorce many times.

And sadly, I felt  completely alone.  I honestly thought no other woman went through what I was going through.  How wrong I was!  As I began to write about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I learned a LOT of other people had almost identical experiences with their in-laws.  It seems this must be common with narcissistic families, to treat the in-law more like an outlaw,  make demands of them & have unrealistic expectations of them & causing problems in the marriage.

I firmly believe situations like this are why God wrote Genesis 2:24.  When a couple is married, whether they’ve been married 2 weeks or 40 years, they need to be a COUPLE, not have others involved in their marriage.  Even if the people in question are good people, it’s just inappropriate & causes problems in a marriage to have the intrusion of other people.  Feelings will get hurt, someone will feel put upon or left out, arguments will happen.. it’s just not good!  Couples needs to keep their marriage their top priority after God, & not pay attention to what other people’s opinions are.

It’s also very inappropriate for a married person to discuss the intimate details of their marriage with their parent or child.  They don’t need to be privy to that information.  All it will do is cause tension between the partner being discussed & the other person, plus if a child knows such information about their parent, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the child.  Children often take things personally, even things that shouldn’t be taken personally.  The child may feel to blame for the parent’s bad behavior or the marital problems.  The child may even feel it’s his or her duty to fix the problem when clearly nothing could be further from the truth!

If you’re in the situation of someone else being involved in your marriage, please talk to your partner!  Remind him or her of Genesis 2:24.  Ask God to give you the right words to say so your partner will understand the importance of this issue.  Suggest marriage counseling, perhaps.  It’ll be very challenging but you can get through this!

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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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My Newest Book Is Now Available!

I have published my most recent book!  It’s called, “When Love Hurts: Loving A Narcissist”.  This one is about being romantically involved with a narcissist.  It teaches the reader how to determine if his or her partner is a narcissist, about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the best ways to cope with a narcissistic partner, how to help your children & more.  I pray it will bless everyone who reads it.

 

Want to know something interesting?  This book came to be because of a dream I had last spring.  Strange, huh?  Three ideas came to me in that one dream- a book about covert narcissists (which I wrote last year), another about narcissistic in-laws (I got a start on it & I think it will be my next book to publish) & this one about being romantically involved with narcissists.  It was one more confirmation to me that dreams are important- we need to pay attention to them!  You never know what God may show you in your dreams!

 

If you’re interested in this book, it is available in both print & ebook versions on my website at: www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

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For Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse & Their Spouses

After years of being in all kinds of relationships with narcissists (family, friendship & romantic), I realize I’m different than your average woman.  This happens to victims of narcissists.  Even once we realize what has happened to us, we’re different because of the experience.  Trauma has a way of changing a person.

Those changes can be for the better, such as when we are able to recognize abusive people quickly & set boundaries with them.  The changes also can be for the worse.  Sometimes dealing with those closest to us, especially our spouses, can be difficult even when it shouldn’t be simply because of our past experiences.  I am hoping this post will help victims & their partners to understand what is happening so they can work through the problems together.

Victims are taught not to have needs & feelings & if they express any, narcissists shame them for having them.  This can make it incredibly difficult to open up to anyone, even someone we love who isn’t a narcissist.  First, a victim feels wrong & ashamed for feeling or needing whatever they do.  Then that person is terrified of being shamed or invalidated for having them.  Even if someone has been nothing but kind to a victim, the victim still can fear that person’s disapproval or rejection.  If your partner is that way, please don’t take it personally.  It isn’t your fault!  It’s a side effect of narcissistic abuse.  Please just be patient.  Listen without offering advice unless you are asked for it.  If you don’t understand something, ask questions without sounding judgmental.

Being overly negative happens sometimes too.  Partner, it’s not your fault!  Healing from narcissistic abuse is a long, arduous, painful journey.  Sometimes it gets to be too much.  It feels like everything is bad, even when it truly isn’t.  It can be very easy for a victim to get mired down in negativity.  Please do NOT tell this person to cheer up, others have it worse or get mad.  That will only add to the negative mindset.  Maybe suggest going out to dinner or to the park- some small gesture to distract the victim could be helpful.  Make your loved one feel loved & safe.  Let her know she can talk to you if she wants to, but doesn’t need to if she doesn’t want to.

Along the lines of being very negative is making small things a big deal.  When you feel overwhelmed in trying to heal, or if you have C-PTSD or PTSD like so many victims of narcissistic abuse, sometimes you feel you can’t handle one more thing.  Then when that one more thing comes along, it’s too much & you blow up.  Even something as simple as misplacing a pen can push you over the edge & you snap at your spouse who had nothing to do with the missing pen.  If this is happening, try suggesting some down time to your spouse.  Suggest lunch out with a good friend, or you both go somewhere you enjoy like the movies.  Even a brief reprieve can be helpful in regaining a better perspective.

Many victims project the image of not needing their partner.  People who grew up with narcissistic parents had to be very self reliant.  It became a way of life.  Even if a victim has shed that behavior, if there is any issue in the victim’s marriage, self preservation kicks in & this behavior comes to the surface.  As the person who sees this behavior, let it be a sign to you that something is wrong in your marriage.  Try to figure it out.  Ask your spouse if everything is OK & be reassuring of your love.

Emotional withdraw is common too.  Suddenly, those little nice things your mate did for you stop or seem to be a burden to do.  Maybe your mate is too tired for sex when that was never an issue before.  This is a sign something is wrong.  Try doing nice gestures like bringing home your partner’s favorite coffee or a new book, CD or DVD.  Little gestures like that can be reassuring & may make your spouse feel more willing to open up to you.

Being married to someone who has survived narcissistic abuse can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.  A little love, compassion & understanding can go a long way.

 

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Withholding Intimacy In Marriage

Kinda along the lines of my last post about marital rape…

 

Another way narcissists can abuse their partners is by withholding intimacy.  Although this is commonly thought to be something only women do, men do it as well.

 

Withholding sex can be as emotionally damaging as forcing it, but in different ways.  Withholding can make a person question & doubt herself.  She thinks things like she isn’t attractive or desirable or even thinks she is disgusting in some way, which is why her partner refuses to make love to her.  This particularly cruel type of rejection is devastating to the self-esteem, & a person with low self-esteem is easy for an abuser to control.  Low self-esteem means a person will tolerate a lot of abuse from her partner, & for a long time.  She does not think anyone else would have her, so why leave?

 

Sex also can be used as manipulation.  An abuser may promise sex if his partner does something else he wants, & the partner, wanting sex, will do whatever the abuser asks.

 

It also can be used as a punishment.  For example, if you do something your partner didn’t want you to do, he may refuse to have sex with you for weeks or even months

 

If you are experiencing these things with your spouse, they are abusive!  Don’t doubt that for a moment!

 

Also don’t doubt yourself.  I know it’s hard, but the way you feel is wrong!  You aren’t unworthy of your partner’s love- your partner is being abusive, & that is no reflection on you whatsoever.  Talk to God about how you feel, & ask Him to tell you the truth about who you are.  I also have some affirmations on my website that may help you.  They are available at the following link:  http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php

 

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Rape In Marriage

**Obviously this post is about a sensitive topic.  If you have been sexually assaulted, this may be triggering for you.**

A topic rarely discussed yet is a huge problem is marital rape.  It’s certainly an ugly topic, & it definitely makes people uncomfortable.  Many people don’t even believe it’s a real thing, because they wrongly think if you’re married, your spouse can’t rape you.  Unfortunately marital rape also is a common phenomenon, especially among those married to narcissists.

Narcissists are the ultimate in selfishness, as anyone with any experience with one knows.  They expect everything to be their way, including sex.  Some narcissists use physical threats & violence to take what they want, others use guilt or shaming.

When a narcissistic spouse uses guilt or shaming to fulfill his sexual desires, this often goes unrecognized as abusive by the victim.  The problem is, it’s still as abusive as if he’d held a gun to your head.  It doesn’t matter if he’s your husband- no one should force you to have sex through either physical force or by using mind games!

The legal definition of rape means forced sexual contact against someone’s will.  It doesn’t say it only happens between strangers or only when a lethal weapon is used.  Rape can happen between married people, & does every day.  Rape often happens because the weapon of choice was a husband telling his wife, “If you loved me you would do this for me” even knowing it will cause her physical &/or emotional pain, yet not caring about that.  I have been in that position as well as having certain activities forced on me & both are incredibly difficult to cope with.

Some folks may even quote the Bible regarding this topic, but often it is taken completely out of context.  The first part of 1 Corinthians 7:4 says, ” The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband…”  (NIV)  The verse actually doesn’t end there, however.  And, the first 7 verses of this chapter in the Amplified translation clearly explain the point the apostle Paul was making: Now as to the matters of which you wrote: It is good (beneficial, advantageous) for a man not to touch a woman [outside marriage]. But because of [the temptation to participate in] sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his [marital] duty to his wife [with good will and kindness], and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have [exclusive] authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise the husband does not have [exclusive] authority over his body, but the wife shares with him. Do not deprive each other [of marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves [unhindered] to prayer, but come together again so that Satan will not tempt you [to sin] because of your lack of self-control. But I am saying this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all the people were as I am; but each person has his own gift from God, one of this kind and one of that.” (AMP)  Obviously, rape is NOT God’s will.  These verses prove sex is God’s will to be a part in a loving marriage.

Sex isn’t supposed to hurt either physically or emotionally.  It isn’t supposed to be one sided or forced or something that forces someone to compromise one’s values.  It’s supposed to be two people who love each other giving & receiving pleasure & joy.  If only one person is enjoying it while the other person is miserable, that is wrong & abusive!

If you’re married to a narcissist, & this is happening to you, I’m sorry.  Rape is a horrible, horrible thing.  When done to you by someone who is supposed to love, cherish & protect you, it may be even worse than when done by a stranger because now you also have to deal with the feelings of betrayal.

If at all possible, please, PLEASE get away from your abusive spouse!  (If you’ve read my writing for any length of time, you know I don’t like to tell people “just go no contact” since I believe it’s an individual’s choice.  So, if I’m recommending getting away from a narcissist, it’s because I firmly believe it’s the wisest thing to do for your own safety!)  Look into marital rape laws in your area & press charges.

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Having Fun In Your Marriage

Tomorrow is hubby’s & my 19th anniversary.  It’s been quite the adventure, being married for this amount of time.   It’s taught me a lot too.

 

One very important thing I’ve learned is the importance of having fun together.

 

My husband has a very good sense of humor, but he’s also very logic driven & hard working.  (If you know anything about the Myers Briggs personality test, he’s a very typical INTJ.)  Although I’m pretty hard working, I like to have fun.  Yet, when my C-PTSD flares up, depression sets in or symptoms from the carbon monoxide poisoning I survived in 2015 kick in, I lose the desire to have fun.  Also, sometimes things happen that distract us from having fun- bills pile up, someone gets sick, etc.  As a result, we sometimes do like many married couples- slip into a routine & not really do anything fun together.

 

Don’t do that, Dear Reader!  If you want to be each other’s best friend, you need to have fun with your spouse & do it often.  There is something about playing together that keeps that spark alive in your marriage.  Not sure why it works that way but it really does.

 

Do fun stuff with your spouse.  Play silly pranks on each other (nothing mean or hurtful of course).  A while back, I crocheted a clown that resembles Pennywise from Stephen King’s “IT”- a super scary movie & book, & one of my favorites.  We hide Pennywise around the house to scare each other.  I’ve put him in my husband’s lunch cooler, hanging out on the steering wheel of his truck & even taped him to the underside of the toilet lid (I can’t take credit for that- a friend of mine came up with that stroke of evil genius…lol).  He’s put Pennywise under the covers on my side of the bed, by my shampoo & on this little decoration in my bedroom.   I also crocheted a little Freddie Mercury (remember the late singer from Queen?) & sometimes Pennywise & Freddie have adventures together.  Silly?  Sure, but it makes us laugh when we find Pennywise &/or Freddie unexpectedly.

 

Play games together- video games, card games, board games- whatever you like.  My husband & I love the old video games we grew up with in the 70s & 80s.  Locally, there’s an arcade full of them that we frequent.  For $5, we can enjoy a couple of hours of fun together.  We also have a Wii & some board games we play at home.

 

There are plenty of things you & your spouse can do together that are lots of fun & that don’t cost a lot of money, if that’s an issue.  You can even find things on Craigslist or other sales sites, like ping pong or pool tables for cheap or even free.  All you really need is some creativity!

 

I hope you & your spouse start having fun together, if you aren’t already.  It really can help bring some fun into your marriage.  During the hard times, don’t forget to have some fun.  Those are the times you need that joy the most.

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Some Thoughts On Marriage

Since tomorrow is my 18th wedding anniversary, I thought I would share something I have learned about marriage.

 

Over the years, I have been criticized pretty harshly by a few people because I do not share a couple of my husband’s interests.  He likes football, fishing (catch & release) & camping in a tent.  Personally I  would rather have a root canal than participate in or watch any of those.  I really tried to like fishing.  I’ve gone fishing a couple of times & found it boring, although being in nature was nice.  After badly injuring the only fish I ever caught, I quickly decided I absolutely hate fishing.  As for football?  Nope.  Never could stand any sport involving a ball.  And tent camping?!  Hahahahaha.  No.

 

This left me feeling quite guilty for a long time.  I felt like I was being a lousy wife for not finding some way to like these things or sucking it & up & participating no matter how miserable it would’ve made me.  Then one day, some thoughts popped into my mind that set me free from that faulty thinking, & I’d like to share them with you.

 

I firmly believe successful couples share interests.  My husband & I enjoy classic cars, drag racing, demo derbies, late model dirt track racing, antiques, Oktoberfests, pow wows, movies & much of the same music.  These things are all fun for us to do together.  We have plenty of interests to share, but we also have a few interests that don’t involve each other.  I believe that is also important.  A couple needs to be close of course, but they do not need to be so close that they lose themselves in the relationship!  You should still maintain your individuality when you’re married.  I enjoy crocheting, writing & photography but my husband couldn’t care less about them if he tried.  This doesn’t offend me at all!  If he’d like to try them, I’d be glad to help him get started of course, but I doubt that day will happen.  There is nothing wrong with that.

 

I also think if your significant other has an interest that you never tried, you should at least give it a whirl unless you are 110% certain you won’t like it.  My husband was deep into Nascar when we first got together.  I wasn’t.  I started watching races with him & quickly developed an interest in it.  As it has changed after one of our favorite drivers died, we both lost interest in it, but there were many Sundays we spent watching races together & having fun.

 

If you would like to share a common interest but one of you is not thrilled with the interest, see if you can find a compromise.  Since I refuse to sleep in a tent, I have suggested we get a camper or RV one day when we can afford it.  Hubby can sleep in a tent if he likes, but I’ll be inside a nice, clean camper with plumbing & electric, the way I believe God intended me to live.  lol   Or, if he wants me to go fishing with him, don’t expect me to fish.  Let me take a crochet project along & just enjoy being outside & talking with him while he fishes.  There are plenty of ways to compromise things if you think about it.

 

 

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Your Ministry

I was just listening to T.D Jakes’ “Sacred Love Songs” cd.  In case you don’t know it, it’s songs based on his wonderful book, “The Lady, Her Lover & Her Lord.”  One of the songs on the cd is called, “You Are My Ministry.”  You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuJq1Uuvyj8  It’s a beautiful song, as you can hear.

 

The song also made a good point- your ministry isn’t only in the pulpit or serving others somehow.  Your spouse is also your ministry!

 

When you’re serving others, it can be easy to get caught up in that ministry.  It feels good to help others.  It’s very rewarding!  But, don’t neglect that wonderful man or woman you married!  That person should be your top priority, after God of course.

 

Listening to that song convicted me.  I haven’t been praying for my husband as much as I should.  I’ve been too focused on praying for my readers, my facebook group & writing blog posts.  Not that these things are bad, of course, but my world needs to expand a bit, & I need to pray more for my husband.  His job is pretty stressful, his elderly father can be very demanding & we need a lot done around our home.  He definitely needs covered in prayer on a regular basis.

 

What about you?  Are you praying for your spouse enough?  If not, maybe it’s time to ask God to burden your heart to remember to pray for him more often & show you how to pray for him.  I am doing that myself, once this post is finished.  I also may listen to that song more frequently- it’s not only a beautiful song but a great reminder, too.

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Abuse Doesn’t Always Leave Bruises

Since writing my newest book, I have been feeling more of a pull to help those who don’t know why certain people in their lives treat them so badly.

I used to wonder why my mother treated me so poorly.  I felt as if I was a bother & huge disappointment to her, & like I should stay invisible until she needed me for something.  My ex husband said she treated me badly, but once we were married he treated me the same way.  Both wanted to control me- how I looked, what work I did, who I spent time with, even what kind of car I owned.

I never thought of this as abusive.  Not right, sure, but abuse left bruises.  If they didn’t leave bruises or broken bones, it couldn’t be abuse, right?  Wrong.

Abuse comes in many forms.  Most everyone knows about physical abuse- when someone causes physical harm to another person.  But, did you know physical abuse doesn’t have to cause injuries?  It is also physical abuse to be threatening (such as punching walls), refusing to allow someone to leave, or driving recklessly.

There is also sexual abuse.  Forcing intercourse while threatening with a weapon isn’t the only way a person can be raped or sexually abused.  Saying things like, “If you loved me, you would do this for me” is sexual abuse.  Disregard for a partner’s physical or emotional pain & forcing want you want on them through physical means or guilt is sexual abuse.  These are very common examples of sexual abuse that most people do not consider abusive, yet they are.  Behaviors like these leave victims very anxious or depressed, feeling ashamed, guilty & often thinking things like they are being silly since this request isn’t so bad, they should just do what their partner wants & ignore their own needs/feelings/wants or even that there is something deeply wrong with them for not wanting to go along with their partner’s request.  Others who have not experienced this type of abuse don’t understand the damage it can do.  Many people don’t think a husband can rape his wife, so when she tells people that he did, she is treated as if she is crazy.  Sexual abuse is extremely damaging in so many ways.

If you have read much of my work, you know I discuss narcissistic abuse a great deal.  That is because it is extremely common.  Many psychologically abusive people are narcissists.  (psychological abuse includes mental/verbal/emotional abuse).  People who manipulate others, put their needs/wants/feelings/etc. above those of others, who are extremely critical either overtly or more subtly, tell others how to feel, or invalidate you are often narcissistic.  You can read more about narcissistic abuse on my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

Because these kinds of abuse leave no bruises, many victims are told get over it, that it’s no big deal or even doubt that what the victim claims is true.  This leaves victims alone, depressed, & often feeling as if they’re going crazy.  Abuse also can cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

If you are in one of these situations, please know you’re not alone!  You also aren’t crazy!  If you feel something is wrong, then it is wrong.  Trust your instincts!  Also, pray.  God will show you the truth.  He will show you what is wrong in the situation as well as what you need to do to escape it & to heal.

If you are looking for safe people to talk to,  I have a Facebook group.  The members are kind, caring, supportive & wise.  You’re very welcome to join us if you like.  🙂

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

Do People Think You Need To Do All Of The Work In Relationships?

I’ve noticed a common thread among those who have been through narcissistic abuse.  We’re the ones people seem to think need to put all of the work & make all of the concessions in relationships.

 

So many others I’ve spoken to who have been raised by at least one narcissistic parent have heard the same things by at least a few people: “You need to fix things with your mother (or father or both)!”  “She (or he or they) won’t be around forever!  You need to make things right with your mother (or father or parents)!”  “You should see a counselor.  Maybe he could help you figure out what you’re doing wrong”

 

I’ve heard those things & more myself:

  • When my first marriage was falling apart, I was told I needed to make it work or I needed to change to fix things.
  • When having problems with my in-laws, some people said I needed to make changes so we got along better.  Be the bigger person & forgive & forget, etc., don’t take the constant insults personally, & (this may be my personal least favorite one) if I didn’t have anything to hide, it shouldn’t bother me my mother in-law snooped through my purse at every opportunity.
  • I mentioned to someone that my husband watches some sports, & when he does, I go into another room, find something else to do or go out.  Her response was to scold me, telling me I needed to start watching sports with him in spite of my lifelong intense hatred of sports other than Nascar, drag racing & demolition derbies.  Interestingly, she never told my husband he needs to learn to do things I enjoy, like crocheting.  I was the one who was supposed to change, according to this person.  (Just FYI- although I hate sports, I did start watching Nascar races because my husband was into it, & it turns out I enjoyed it.  I’m all for trying something new for the sake of your spouse.)
  • When in marriage counseling, we were having money problems.  The counselor told me what I needed to do to earn extra money.  No suggestions were given to my husband, even though at the time, he was the one in charge of our finances.

 

Do these scenarios sound familiar to you?  If so, doesn’t this get under your skin?!  It sure does me!

 

I’ve wondered why this happens to so many of us.  So many people behave exactly the same way!  So what’s behind it?  I have some theories…

 

Relating to our narcissistic parents only, some people are truly blessed with great parents.  In fact, they can’t even fathom a parent who would mistreat, let alone abuse a child.  Narcissistic abuse can be hard to wrap your mind around- I still have trouble with it sometimes & I lived it!  Maybe these people have an even harder time doing so because they came from such a loving home.

 

People who know our narcissistic parents probably believe the lies they are told about us.  After all, narcissists are notoriously good actors & liars- it’s hard not to believe their stories, sometimes even after you’ve seen the truth.  Chances are, these people are told we’re the problem.  If they believe the lies, then naturally they’ll think we need to do all of the work with our relationship with our parents.  If we’ve been so bad to them, we need to make it up to them.  It’s only fair, right??

 

They also most likely have seen us serving or catering to our narcissistic parents, & blindly go along with our parents’ attitude that it’s up to us to do for them.  This could include fixing any problems in the relationship.

 

For those who don’t necessarily know our narcissistic parents, they probably pick up on us as the damaged people we are.  The people who believe that we’re always wrong & we need to fix things because that is what our narcissistic parents instilled in us when we were very young.  Even as we heal, that “vibe” can still be there for a long time, & people pick up on it.  In fact, when people treat us as if it’s our job to fix something, we may automatically do so just because it’s such a deeply ingrained habit.  This reinforces the belief that fixing things is our responsibility.

 

Or, if people don’t pick up on that “fixing vibe”, they may see you as a very responsible, mature person & the other person in the relationship as immature or irresponsible.  They figure since the immature, irresponsible person won’t do what is necessary to fix things, the mature & responsible one will, so they push that person to do all of the work.  The mature one should be the “bigger person” since the other person is incapable (or so they believe) of behaving properly.

 

I don’t know if these things are completely accurate, as I’ve never read anything on this topic before.  They’re just some random thoughts that popped into my mind, & I thought I’d share them since other people have mentioned this being an issue in their lives as well.

 

Remember though, Dear Reader, it’s not always your job to fix problems!  Sure, fix what you can.  If you’ve made mistakes or hurt others, do what you can to make things right.  But, you do NOT need to do all of the work in relationships, & don’t let anyone pressure you into believing that nonsense!  One person cannot make a relationship work- it’s impossible!  It takes two people to make a relationship work, no matter the nature of the relationship.

 

 

 

 

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

Avoiding Infidelity

I read recently that 30-60% of all married couples are affected by infidelity at some point in their marriage.  That is a staggering statistic!  Infidelity is possibly the most painful thing a couple can go through, so why are so many people cheating?

 

I firmly believe one reason, possibly the main reason, is because when a couple is going through difficulties, it is easy to look at someone else & think they are so much better than that man or woman you’re married to.  Temptation can easily become too much at that point.  I admit, I fell into that trap myself before I was a Christian.  Before I married my ex husband, I broke our engagement & told him I wanted to see other people.  I did just that, but for a few months later we were married,  I continued seeing one other man for several months until the guilt of what I was doing was too much for me to handle.  I did this because I was unhappy with my ex husband from very early in our relationship.  I had married my ex out of guilt (he was very manipulative & I was easily manipulated back then), not love, & was unhappy.  The man I was seeing was much different than my ex.  He was fun, kind & smart.  He made me feel desirable, witty, smart & more.  I had a hard time letting that go, especially when I compared him to my ex.

 

Another reason for infidelity is selfishness, often to the point of narcissism.  So many people are only concerned with themselves, that they don’t even care that what they do may hurt other people, even to the point they will cheat on their spouse.  You can identify these people easily- they are the ones that don’t want to quit their porn addiction because they claim that isn’t cheating.  They fail to realize that Matthew 5:27-8 say otherwise (27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (NLT)).  They also ignore the fact that their addiction is destroying their spouse.

 

How do you avoid this awful pitfall?  By treating your spouse like the most important person in your world.  Remind him constantly how proud you are of him, & mean it.  Tell her often how beautiful she is, & mean that.  Say please & thank you on a regular basis.  Never take that wonderful person you married for granted, because there are no guarantees in life- your situation can change in an instant.  Play together- whether it is video games, board games, ping pong or sports, have fun together & do it often.  Arrange dates often, & spend  time talking, without the TV, without your cell phones.  Refuse to talk about the fact you don’t have the money to make the car payment or your son is failing algebra, & just talk about each other- your hopes & dreams, what you want from each other (& pledge to do it!).  Most importantly, don’t forget to pray together.  It is truly a bonding experience!

 

Marriage isn’t always easy.  It’ll never be perfect either, but it can be a happy, comfortable safe haven with your best friend & lover.  If you & your spouse decide to make it that way, & both of you work on it, then chances of infidelity destroying your marriage can virtually disappear.

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Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Miscellaneous