By December 18, 2013 36 Comments Read More →

Married to A Sociopath: A False Sense of Control

By Quinn Pierce


Learning Avoidance

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

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

Hollow Choices

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

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

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

False Sense of Control

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

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

Purposeful Silence

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

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

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

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

Coming To His Rescue

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

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

Choosing the Important Battles

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

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

Learning How to Heal

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

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

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

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


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

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nothing wrong with having pets 🙂

I wouldn’t so much call it “my kindness” just more of I fealt I was just doing my part to help out. I never fealt special for doing this, only angry when she would act like it was nothing.

I just called an hour ago to talk to the kids and for the first time ever, both of them did not want to talk to me,,i spoke with my son and he didn’t want to talk (claimed he was tired) then I asked for him to put his sister on the phone, he came back and said she didn’t want to talk either, so I asked him again to just put her on the phone. My ex then gets on the phone and gets loud with me saying my daughter don’t want to talk and shes not going to make her and that im pestering her (pestering my ex that is not my daughter) I then said “hey I didn’t ask for you to get on the phone” then she said something along the lines of “and you don’t need to be acting like I told them not to talk to you” I said I never said no such thing to either kid, why are you yelling at me? And she said again she wouldn’t force her to talk and she doesn’t want me pestering her (the ex) then hung up on me.

I wondered if someone else was there and she was showing out for them,,but I think shes just mad and playing the blame game, and now shes putting it off on me, cause im not acting like I normally do,,usually I would have kept calling her back after that hang up to find out what was going on, usually when we break up we have some hateful emails, then we make up in a month, but im not doing that now, plus I sent a hand written letter that was nice, and not complete finger pointing, but just saying she was right that we are not right for each other, that I wish we were, but we are not, and that I never see this getting better and wished her well, maybe she is in a rage because im not over here begging her back like usual??

Dave – she is escalating. Now that she really is losing control over you, she is upping the ante, and using the kids to do it.

She may have communicated to the kids, either overtly or subtly, that if they talk to you they will pay.

You might want to read the articles by Quinn Pierce – it sounds like your wife is beginning the campaign to alienate you from the children.

Yeah im worried bout that Donna, im worried even more that either A she will only get madder and nastier, or B she will eventually flip the tables and try to get me back instead of me doing the begging, I just hope im smart enough to not let my feelings cloud my judgment.

On a side note I seen a few mentions of sex in some of the articles, ive noticed for years now with her if we get into it, and we walk around ignoring each other for several days, instead of apologizing she will just hop in the shower with me like nothing ever happened then sleep with me as if that will make things all better. Most men wouldn’t care if that happened, it used to not bother me in my 20s, but now I feel used, and upset cause she wont even address the problem or say sorry, just flaunt her body in my face so ill shut up and not be mad anymore. Ironically the one time I tried that same routine on her I got yelled at and told “why does it have to be sex to make up”? To which I said “you do it to me all the time” and of course here came the lie of “no I don’t , I don’t know what your talking about”

Dave – everything you describe is typical sociopathic behavior. I think the more you read here on Lovefraud, the more you will understand what you are dealing with.


Just a suggestion….

Because small children are involved, it might be best that you seek professional guidance, and as soon as possible.

A good family therapist could accomplish a couple of things for you: they could provide outside accountability and a structure for you to get along in, they could be the professional eyes and ears that testify on your behalf in case of a custody or visitation battle, they could possibly mitigate her ability to manipulate your children.

It is always best to get out of a relationship with a disordered person BEFORE the kids arrive. Doing so once children are in the picture can become a terrible battle with devastating affects on them.

I’d advise you to begin your search, schedule an appointment for yourself and let her know that you feel it best to pursue this route. Right now, as a conscientious, concerned parent, addressing the kids’ needs is a major priority and this could get very ugly, very fast.

Never give up on your kids, no matter what. Even if they don’t seem interested in speaking to you, they need to understand that you are interested in them and in speaking to them. Even if the child pushes you away, stay the course. Children act out as a means of protection. They will not see their own behavior as the source of separation from you, and will feel abandoned. Childhood feelings of abandonment can cause an “at risk” child to develop a “Borderline Personality Disorder.”

Sounds like you need help getting their mother to cooperate toward the best interests of the children.



Good idea, I will never give up on my kids and she knows this, she also knows it tears me up to be away from my family like this as im a 100 miles away right now. I believe she uses this against me, as she knows usually I will do whatever it takes to get my family back.

As of now im saving any emails/text, and I have to go get the kids tomorrow for Christmas (not looking forward to this) cause I will have to go to her house.

I will start looking into a family councilor especially if things get ugly.

Dave –

Bring someone with you when you go to get the kids. It is always best to have a witness. She will behave better if someone else is there.

Also, it is a good idea to get a therapist involved. HOWEVER – make sure the therapist understands sociopaths, and make sure that your wife doesn’t manipulate the therapist. Sociopaths are very good at playing the concerned parent when it suits them.

Amen to that!

Quinn, I think it is perfectly normal to apologize to anyone that was a victim of your ex husband’s game. In fact, it helps them heal as well as you when you apologize. This is an extension of ‘loving thy neighbor.’ Since your ex is incapable of it, take the higher road and make that step. So often it is a step that alcoholics and addicts purposefully neglect (FLUNK) in their “12 step recovery program” because it is easier to just ignore it like it never happened…or they owe their victims $$$$$. I don’t believe in sweeping things under a carpet of bad memories, because eventually the dirt under there is going to wear away at the fibers and create a hole in my soul. Sweep it out, name it, talk about it, and then file it in the stuff completed on your bucket list. Believe me, I have done it and it feels good!

I have a husband that cooks and it is a great bonus but sometimes I wish he would do something more important. “Most women would kill to have a man who cooks.” Sounds pretty narcisistic to me, a man cooks so that makes him God’s gift to women and it makes his wife a psycho? I think not. Go get a job!

Delores – yes, it he cooks because he refuses to work, that is a parasite. I believe Dave said he works as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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