LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: 30 years married to a sociopath

Editor’s note: The following article was sent by the reader who posts as Opal Rose.

July 24, 2012, was my 30th wedding anniversary. I found the Lovefraud web site in August 2009 after finding a directory on my computer put there by my husband while his computer was being repaired. Unbelievable and worse than I could have ever imagined — porn, violence-against-women-porn, sex dating sites for college age women, e-mails to specific responders to ads. The dude was busy. A frantic visit to my workplace Employee Assistance Program gave me the concept of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” but subsequent searches led me to the checklist for “Sociopath.” I distinctly remember my jaw dropping when I read that checklist. Bingo!! Learning about sociopaths reframed my entire life since I had a sociopath mother. I did confront him, but he got more verbally violent than I’ve ever seen him and physically threatening and I backed off. He loves his mask.

I’ve learned so much the past 3 years and taken practical steps to take care of myself. But I’m still struggling about staying in the marriage. Not sure if there is a good answer. I like what someone posted from “The Road Less Travelled” on the Lovefraud blog: “sound mental and emotional health depends on a constant dedication to reality at all costs.” It’s hard staying focused on that important piece of advice. I’ve set up a separate bank account and filled it to capacity. I’ve started requiring him to pay half of all bills all the time (so weird that I never “noticed” I paid all the bills and made every single house payment — talk about denial). I’ve stopped trying so hard and I’m getting as much sleep as I need with no guilt about feeling exhausted – that’s really different for me. I’ve started taking days off from work when he is at work so I can have the house to myself (without him there doing his constant tirades). I’m downsizing belongings, donating extra furniture, working to get some of my cats re-homed together and sold an extra car. I suppose it’s good he has not noticed. This babe is busy.

I’ve faced that he has had self-serving affairs the entire time I’ve been with him. I found out that he would set up dates whenever I was out of town our entire marriage. A rather tough betrayal for me to face since I work in public health (environmental health) and go to underserved areas once or twice a year, not fun business trips. He married me for my stable supply of money, for the façade of decency, for a mother figure from whom he feels entitled to have constant entertainment and financial support. I would say for sex, but he never was able to be sexual without lots of porn, S&M fantasies and his version of “talking dirty.” His explanation was that every married woman knew to expect “this type of treatment” from their husbands. He once set me up with a therapist so I could get “straightened out.” I realize his definition of being “straightened out” meant that I would enjoy aberrant sex and abusive sex. Now I also know that he would have continued escalating no matter what I accepted.

So, I “get it,” I know what happened, I know how I got here. But I’m still here with him. I remember going No Contact with my mother after my father passed way when I was 32 years old. It was a bitter separation, but I counted my blessings so many times after going NC as it saved me from the ravages of her subsequent behavior. But, I’m having trouble with making that same decision now. I’m 57 years old. I would have to give him half of my substantial retirement whenever I finish my 30 years of service (7.5 years to go). I’m petrified at the smear campaign I know he would do if I have him leave. He is a respected professional — clinical psychologist — isn’t that great? I have no children, which is bitter-sweet (bitter because I wanted a family, sweet because I don’t have that added heartache of potential child abuse). He was almost giddy when on 2 separate occasions I lost children prior to birth and then he acted like it never even happened. It makes me crazy when he is so solicitous of families and children, even though I know his interest is faked.

I guess I need to work on the Trauma Bond. But it’s more than that. I have to be in this locale until I retire. It’s about fear of harassment. Fear of substantial financial loss. Fear of being caged until I can leave the area. But 32 years with a sociopathic mother and now 30 years with a sociopathic / exploitative husband, I think it’s enough. I pray for guidance and to get away from the extended nightmare.

Lately I find myself dreaming the hours away, trying to imagine a good life. I don’t know if this is a phase and somehow useful, or if this is not best for me. I’m thinking it’s an escape from the intense cognitive dissonance. How can my mother have been so pretty, so charming, so “religious” and so abusive? How can my husband be so glib, so popular, so confident and so mean? My solution for now is to continue laying the groundwork for leaving and doing all the practical things which could enable me to make a decision when I’m ready. That feels like the best I can do right now. Somehow staying busy with the process of “getting ready” helps so much, although I know it’s not the final important step.

So — Happy Anniversary. Thirty years married to a disordered person. Please send sympathy cards. ;-0

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28 Comments on "LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: 30 years married to a sociopath"

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Mine was a 24 yr marriage. One yr ago, I learned of the cheating. Don’t believe it when people say you Had to know something, I knew Nothing! And — I was thorough about checking his computer history, etc. He was just smart enough to do it all at work or at his friend’s office. Mostly, his friend (a narcissist) booked prostitutes for him. He confessed it all to me, when he got caught, but he claimed he had a sex addiction, and desperately wanted to be healed. He entered 6 mons of SA therapy, and still wasn’t doing some things that I thought he should. But combine that with endless declarations of love and devotion, joy at our future, etc. And– our two young teen boys, whom Ex claimed to love with endless devotion. I would have done anything to keep our family intact, and I did. But he finally bailed after 10 months of counselling. What a blessing!! Our counselor told me the very next day, that I needed to realize he is a Spath. I had No Clue!!! Looking back, educated now, of course I see signs. But none of my family knew, either. Only this counselor, and Ex’s brother, Got It. He told me he loved me 6-10 times a day for 24 years, we had a great, normal sex life—he just molded himself to be my perfect person. I thought he was the best husband ever. So clueless is entirely possible. We even spent hours a day together, and (I thought) had a very intimate emotional bond.

He tried to reconcile at the 3 month mark, suddenly pouring out these ridiculous love professions…..and when I didn’t respond (in fact, told him it was not possible, but I would agree to pray about it)….he ran back to the placeholder girlfriend he’d put in place 9 days after leaving. So 2 hrs after a crazy love text, he wrote, “Oh, changed my mind. God has told me you should be free, you’ve done all you can. I’m going back to Lisa.” I literally LOL for 10 minutes. I had so much peace when he started the reconciliation mess, ’cause I knew then, that I had Boundaries, and could handle it, and I did. This seemed to help me turn a healing corner.

Why am I telling you all this? Just wanted you to know that long-term life with an Spath, and not knowing it, is entirely possible for a very sane woman. I asked my counselor today, H O W could I not have known? And he stressed how many lies I’ve now seen him tell—-and he was lying to me like that for 24 years. I can also feel good about how devoted I was to him…. too devoted, clearly, but at least I know my heart was in the right place. Ours was a happy, peaceful marriage. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why he suddenly started going downhill so badly. It was a sudden change. Lots of financial stress probably affected it. Any other experience with a Spath who lived a fairly steady life (there was cheating of course, that I never knew)….who then spiralled dramatically out of control?

Oh my – so many posts and wonderful feedback – thank you !!

Wow – what a revelation – feeling the pain – wrapping my mind around the abandonment and betrayal. I cannot even come close to doing that – so there is the wound that needs my attention. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it this clearly before.

And the practical suggestions – cash and legal / emotional assistance. He did get a big inheritance from his mother and I could negotiate to give him all that if I can have all my retirement. I’ll start thinking about where I want to go and live – that’s an awesome idea !!

Thanks so much for helping me think straight and for all the cyber hugs and for clarifying my next priority – me and my carried pain.

I’m recovering in so many ways – all my life I was praised when I “handled” tough things and slammed when I needed some me time and quiet time. It was all for their convenience – not for taking care of me as one of their family. I’m seeing more and more clearly. This community is priceless – bless you all – readers and posters alike.

Opal (my favorite aunt’s name) Rose (my name)

Divorced from Gaslighter

Opal Rose:

1) If he still has a big chunk of the inheritance, consider divorcing him BEFORE he runs through it and it can no longer be used as a bargaining chip to hang on to your pension.

2) ELAINE – “Early Legal Advice is Never Expensive”. Ask lots of people who the best divorce attorneys are in your town. When you start hearing the same two or three names over and over, make appointments with those two or three people.

3) Visit the local divorce court a few times when your husband is out of town. How many different judges hear divorce cases? Get a feel for their personalities, what annoys them, etc. Remember that angry, bitter, vindictive people NEVER win in a divorce or custody case in front of a judge. You want to present yourself as a person who just finally couldn’t take the cheating anymore, and wants to move on to a new life, and hopes that ex-hubby will be happier, too, eventually. Ex will try to paint you as “crazy” person who exaggerates, etc. Just stick to your script as a nice person who wants to move on in life.

4) Lots of Spaths and others enjoy the divorce process, as it makes them the center of attention. This is especially true if he can run up huge legal bills for you, while his own bills are paid by his family, or by his new girlfriend, etc.

5) Check his assets through a private detective. Don’t take his word that he has no retirement account, etc. When he is out of town, photograph his gun collection, stamp collection, toy train collection, write down serial numbers, etc., and if possible, get the collection appraised by someone that you know for certain is NOT somebody your husband does business with.

6) Get back in touch with old friends, pick up old hobbies and interests that you left behind during your marriage, etc.

7) Get your teeth fixed, any other health issues addressed. If you always wanted a certain china pattern or a set of silverware or piece of jewelry, buy it now and store it away from your home.

8) If your car is old, buy new one and pay off quickly, and keep it well maintained. Generally, each of you will keep the car you customarily drove, and will be responsible for the associated car payments remaining.

9) Remember how fortunate you really are: most people on this board have been left with nothing but gigantic debts when their relationship ended. You actually have assets, and since you haven’t mentioned poor health, I’m assuming that your health is okay.

10) I’m not sure that he is entitled to 50% of your retirement if the pension was not fully vested at the time of the separation. It will depend on your jurisdiction. In any case, life is short, and I would not advise you to wait 7.5 years to get rid of this man.

11) Don’t tell your relatives that you plan to leave until very close to the time that you will be leaving. Lots of people can’t keep a secret, and many people can’t hide their emotions. Your husband may be able to tell by the look on your sister’s face that she knows something, etc. You don’t want him filing for divorce before you have all of your ducks in a row.

12) Avoid divorcing prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas. February is a good month to initiate a divorce.

13) Don’t buy a new house until the divorce settlement is completely finalized, as the purchase will call into question the truthfulness of the financial declarations you will have made. In other words, you don’t want to have to explain where the downpayment and closing costs came from.

14) Don’t use your home computer or cellphone to contact attorneys or to post on this website, etc. Use the public library, the church, the local school, work, etc.

15) Make sure that bank statements and charges for the safe deposit box go to a post office box somewhere, and not to your home. Keep the safe deposit box key and the post office box key in a box of “old junk” full of old keys and odds and ends. Do not put them on your key ring.

16) Make sure that you have copies of all of your old tax returns and other paperwork that your lawyer will need. Having to subpoena the records after the separation can cause your legal bills to skyrocket. Document everything now, when it is easy and free.

17) Pack up and remove anything in the house that has sentimental value to you. Do it gradually over a period of months as you tell him that you are de-cluttering to re-organize the closets. Even if he has no interest in your photo albums, home movies, Christmas ornaments, etc., he may “accidentally” destroy them or throw them away during the separation. “Sell” any heirlooms that you have and put them in a storage unit in another city.

18) If you have joint credit cards, be sure to discuss how to handle them with your attorney at the earliest opportunity.

19) 7.5 years of walking on eggshells and waiting for the storm to break is too long for anybody. I would advise you to set a goal of being away from him by February. It sounds as though you have accomplished a lot of tasks already, and you have already realized that the “relationship” is unsalvageable. Keep plugging away, and keep us posted.

Opal Rose, it’s scary, it sure is. But, you have MANY factors in your favor. The length of the marriage, being one. The fact that you can support yourself and that you have a career, is second. The rest of it…’ll start when you’re ready.

I can only say that being left with nothing and having to consider a homeless shelter is NOT the way that I would recommend going. PLEASE….don’t wait until all of that inheritance is gone. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and there is nothing more devastating that not having anything to negotiate with.

Brightest blessings of strength, fortitude, and self-worth to you

Opal Rose,
Congratulations! Now you have your own personal website to get the best of help from all of us survivors who have lived through the turmoil, suffered the oppression, tolerated the abuse, so that any time your escape gets rough or dicey ….. Support and help is just a blog away. Same with your divorce process… Lots of help and support. The freedom to get to be your true self is unbelievable.
Bless you and take good care of yourself

His profession makes my head spin.
There are people out there whos brains are seriously wrong with no fault to themselves. Give yourself a pat on the back for finally being able to see it. These people are sick…so sick.
And…don’t put put your money in a bank account.
Glad you found this sight.

Elizabethbrooks, I wonder if you still come to LF….
My ex and my 28 years of being together sound exactly like yours!!
I did not know.
He had affairs in different countries while he travelled for work.
It was only after he got caught that I saw the mask slip….Could not excuse any of that stuff away, but it amazes me how much of his behaviour I could excuse away with “he’s working”. Its almost uncanny how far he pushed my buttons…just enough that I did not feel controlled or overtly abused but enough that he ALWAYS got his way!!! After the mask slipped though it was all textbook.

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