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By October 16, 2013 23 Comments Read More →

My Marriage To A Sociopath: Lessons Learned

by Quinn Pierce

It’s fall in the Northeast.  The long humid days of summer have been replaced by crisp autumn air, while vibrant, painted leaves cover sidewalks.

It’s usually my favorite time of year, but I have to admit that this particular change in seasons has been challenging.  Instead of enjoying the beautiful scenery and bright sunshine, I’ve spent most of my days sitting in the interchangeable waiting rooms of doctors, lawyers, counselors, principals, etc, trying to help my children heal while protecting them from their father.

Time to Reflect on Change

Sitting in these impersonal, and sometimes, over-crowded waiting rooms, I have had lots of time to reflect upon my fifteen year marriage to a sociopath while I pretend to be checking emails and phone messages that don’t exist.

It’s interesting to me that I was married in the fall and divorced in the fall.  It does seem appropriate that such changes in my life took place in the season that I consider to be all about change.  And that has led me to try and figure out when everything in between these two events started to change, as well.

And here’s where I usually get stuck.  I can’t really pin-point events or situations that were dramatic shifts in my marriage; it was more of a gradual accumulation of the same types of events over and over.

Growing Apart

I recently over-heard someone sitting next to me in one of the waiting rooms talking about divorce.  She described the event as two people growing apart.  I would not describe my marriage that way at all, mostly because it would mean my ex-husband was capable of growth of any kind.

And that, I think, is the crux of the situation.  Sociopaths, at least those I have encountered, have very basic characteristics that govern their behavior.  These traits don’t ever seem to change, evolve, or grow; they just get more intense or sharpened over time.

The rest of us meet new people, experience new things, and learn new information in order to mature and create our own values and beliefs.  People like my ex-husband use these new situations to adapt their behaviors, emotions, and responses in a way that will meet their own needs and desires.

Recently, I created a list of his fundamental character traits that dictate his every move.  The motivation behind all of his decisions falls into one of these categories: entitlement, revenge, narcissism, blame, and control.

Entitlement

My ex-husband believes that whatever he takes from another person, whether it is monetary, emotional, or otherwise, are all things that are owed to him.  He believes he is entitled to everything he has and more, and therefore, has no guilt, regret, or remorse about taking anything that doesn’t belong to him.  Whether  he believes the other person didn’t deserve it or he thinks he deserved it more, it is his right to have it.

Revenge

I call it the ”˜One-For-One rule’.  If I do anything that casts him in a bad light (or me in a good light), he has to match the action in a reverse way.  One extreme example of this is the recent event involving child services.  He harbors so much resentment toward me because our younger son was reported by a psychiatrist to have been verbally and emotionally abused by him, that he created a situation where he could have me investigated by child services for emotional and physical neglect of our other son three years later.  He had no concern for the effects this would have on our children, or the havoc he would wreak on all of our lives, he was only concerned with evening the score.

Narcissism

He has such a high opinion of himself that he is able to convince others that he is all that he says he is.  He loves attention, and rewards anyone who gives him attention in a positive way- even if that person is cruel, hurtful, or dangerous to his wife and children.  He switches his alliances according to who feeds his ego; therefore, anyone who argues or disagrees with him is an enemy.  The word ‘enemy’ may sound dramatic, but it truly does become a strategic battle where he is only concerned with destroying the other person completely.

Blame

Nothing is ever my ex-husband’s fault.  He takes no responsibility for anything, and can easily manipulate the situation so that he appears to be the victim.  Changing his account of how things occurred in the past and gaslighting are tools he will use to keep people off balance and questioning their own memory.  I’m still surprised at how easily something that I had nothing to do with can be my fault in his mind.  He preys on people’s sympathy and ability to be manipulated in order to carry out his plan.  He uses the trust and goodness of others to gain support and acceptance.  Playing the victim is his most essential role.

Control

Whenever he feels like he is losing control of a situation, he becomes desperate and starts acting unpredictably.  The more I disengage from him, the more he tries to instigate an argument or create drama to keep me engaged.  He is only happy when he is adored or hated, either seems to work equally well for him, but he cannot tolerate indifference.  When I do not play the part he has chosen for me, he realizes he no longer has control of my choices and has no influence over my life.  He will usually react to this with a tantrum, and once that subsides, he will start over trying to become ‘friends’.

Making Sense of the Past

Once I was able to identify the characteristics of my ex-husband’s personality, I could then make sense of my relationship with him, including the fast-paced courtship.  He didn’t want a long drawn-out relationship without a commitment, becaused he couldn’t keep the mask in place for too long and he didn’t want his true colors to show.  I’m sure it was exhausting for him to keep up the constant attention and adoration for someone other than himself.

The inconsistent behavior that followed was slowly introduced in a way that set the stage for what was to be ”˜normal’ in our relationship.  I had no idea that his emotions were insincere, so I trusted him and accepted his actions at face value.  He took advantage of that trust and manipulated my insecurities until I slowly lost my self-confidence and started ignoring my instincts.

It wasn’t until I began to see my children struggling with anxiety and stress that I realized the environment in our home needed to change.   We all went to counseling and worked hard to begin healing.  All of us, that is, except my husband at the time.  He insisted that he did not have any problems, nor did he cause the negative environment in any way.  For more than two years, he became more uncompromising and obstinate while the rest of us continued to grow and change.

A Healing Path 

It’s been twenty-one years since we met, and I can’t even recognize the person I was back then.  My ex-husband, however, is the same empty shell of a person he has always been.  The only thing he has changed is his home address.

I’m finished grieving the love that was a lie all those years.  I have two beautiful children and a healthy, loving relationship.  I’m not afraid of the changes ahead, because I know they will bring as much beauty as the autumn leaves blazing in the trees all around me, and in the end, I still love the fall.


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23 Comments on "My Marriage To A Sociopath: Lessons Learned"

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Wow. Of course, very similar story to mine. Except that I was married 28 years–almost to the day–when I was finally divorced.
All of the above rings true. The retaliation, especially! I just reported my ex for embezzlement to one of his clients, whom he then lost–to the tune of $21,000/year. He immediately took me to court to have child support reduced. It was reduced–a little. But he also tried to get the judge to make me PAY HIM the $28,000 he STOLE from her! (At least, that’s how much it is so far!) Because she was making him pay her back! LOL The judge was like “Um…no.” It amazes me and my friends that he took me to court–and is now on record as an embezzler, regardless of whether this client presses charges–to get even with ME for reporting HIS CRIME.

I also received an email yesterday that money I paid him for the house expenses (we still have not sold it) was incorrect: I had shorted him TEN CENTS. Yes, that is correct–ten CENTS!! I laughed so hard at the time, but in a way, later, I realized it was scary: this guy is looking at everyone else under a microscope, while his behavior has no boundaries.

Incredible. It does make my life seem surreal sometimes, when I think back to what I THOUGHT my life was. But, yes, I am moving on with my children, and have grown enormously from this situation.

LL, the TEN CENTS is both funny AND sad. I too am in the situation of trying to sell a home that I own with my ex-sociopath and I completely identify with this! I occupy the home since he bailed before he ever moved into it, and the house payment is deducted from MY checking account monthly (of course he manipulated the situation at the time, making it seem as if this was the preferred way) and I do and pay all the maintenance. He has interpreted his share of the house payment and pays much less than he is responsible for and made a big deal out of needing to review and approve any quotes for work that needs to be done, and even when he has “authorized” the work and agreed to pay his share, later he decides he doesn’t “feel like it”, yet my life is full of things I don’t “feel like” doing. I’ve stopped even passing things on. We split the mortgage tax deduction and he calculates his share to a hundredth of a percent. When we were together, our cell phones were on the same plan and he paid the bill (his idea..now I realize he just wanted to monitor my usage), and early into the split he was continuing to pay the bill. One month I went over on minutes (evidently, since I’ve never seen a bill) and he unilaterally deducted that amount from his (arbitrary) share of the house payment. He also advised me that he was aware of who I was wasting minutes talking to. I turned that phone off that day and got myself a new one. I’m so glad something inside me always put off marriage to him and that we have no kids since once the house is sold, there will never be a reason to have anything to do with him again. Although all the communication is through an attorney, it’s still too close for comfort.

Hanalei,

OMG–I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy! LOL I have had the same problem with my bills. While we are now divorced, it was a complicated divorce–as ALL spath divorces are. So finances are crazy, and of course there are some complicated rules that I ended up agreeing to, just to get the divorce over with. (I believe one of his tactics was trying to run my legal fees up, too!) I also have my cell phone–and my children’s–on his bill ( his suggestion “to save us money” but it benefits him, too–of course!). But I realize he can see who I call. I have to admit I forgot about that initially. I don’t really care, though. Right now it saves me money, though when the plan is up I will get my own, and just pay more. I kept my land line–which bothered him. He tried to get his lawyer to tell me I didn’t need it. I’m sure that’s because he can’t monitor it, and some of his clients, etc. still call here. He doesn’t want me talking to them–HA!

One thing that strikes me in so many of these posts–all of our stories involve all of these crazy financial or legal complications. These spaths are adept at creating chaos. I can’t tell you how many convoluted emails I got during the divorce from my ex and his lawyer, with these insane plans for settlements. I just stayed the course by saying “No. period.” But they kept trying! Sort of hilarious–I did save the emails. Maybe I’ll publish them some day! 🙂

Take care!

Quinn – thank you so much for your insight. You are doing your best and your family is healing – in spite of your ex’s efforts to torpedo your growth. Good for you.

Quinn…

As always, beautifully written and expressed. While reading your article, I believe my eyes grew larger as so much of what you wrote is exactly how I saw my spath. Thanks for the clarity!

Stay strong my friend….

carolann

This is very well written. My soon to be ex husband fits right in this story. It is so true they always have to blame. He is angry because my son and I are enforcing the no contact since almost 4 months now. So my son received a letter in the mail from him. He states how unhappy he was in the marriage, how he always had to argue with me and one sentence”remember 11 years ago when your mother and I had a big argument ?” He had the nerve to ask this. My son was 7 years old then. No mention of the numerous affairs and nude picture exchanging of last year. It’s unbelievable how he justifies him abandoning his family, changing all bank accounts, having us in court for an injunction he placed against me. I admire you Quinn, you seem like you moved on and you are in a healthy relationship. Sorry he is throwing so many obstacles in your way. I don’t know what is coming my way in the upcoming divorce, it will probably be ugly. I am prepared though. I still feel sad at times, not for his departure but for the 20 years I lost while being married to him. I know now that he never loved me, cherished me and cared about me or his son. We were just an image or a convenience for him. I hope one day this sadness will go away because he is not worth any thoughts.

This sounds like a psycho I dated.

This sounds like my ex too. When I realized what he was, I gave him 150k to buy a condo and move away. It didn’t stop him from showing up at my house every day crying that he missed me even though he was involved with a new lover (male) that he had met a few month earlier. We were already divorced but had gotten back together and I planned to remarry him in order to get my house and my company back which I gave him the first time I left because I just wanted out, at all costs. I got my company back, but he dragged his feet on the house, then when I refiled for divorce he actually tried to have the judge throw me out of my house saying that I was crazy and letting the house fall apart. Here’s a guy that lived off of me for over 15 yrs, had dropped out of every schooling opportunity I paid for and walked around with a baggie in each pocket of every imaginable drug, which he dispensed to anyone and everyone for free. People thought he was drug dealer but he wasn’t, he spent 30k/month in drugs which he GAVE AWAY. WHY? Because once you took something, he had you, and if you dared tried to stand up to him, he threatened to tell your wife, your boss, the cops, he would tell people he had kept evidence that they used drugs. Mind, some of these people were doctors, lawyers and even cops. He hooked them by the balls and then he owned them. I ran a successful business and was an internist PA with a steady job – yet I was crazy and couldn’t maintain my home. The judge told him, usually there is one house and two parties and he has to decide who gets to stay. The ex had already moved into his new beautiful condo yet he couldn’t stand to watch me continue to live in in what was one the nicest homes in the town. It simply burned him. Victory came when I insisted that the house be sold and the judge said we would share the profits. I sold the nearly 10,000 sq ft house for a profit of $2000! Why? No it wasn’t under water – it had nearly 500k in equity, but I listed it so low that I was able to get 3 offers in as many weeks and happily handed over the $1000 profit to his lawyer. I knew that I could always make my money back. I had a business, and a great career. 6 months after our (second) divorce was finalized, I purchased a new home in a beautiful New England town. He sold his condo to pay bills, hasn’t worked in 3 yrs because he owes his attorney and the IRS tons of money. Last I heard he was living in a trailer park in NH then moved to PA with another man.

Life is peaceful and fulfilling. I’ve been dating a wonderful, sober and sane guy for these same 3 yrs (in fact I bough a house in his town when we decided to get serious) and life is amazing. My daughter- whom I learned had been brutally raped, sodomized and effectively tortured by him for 14 yrs just weeks before I was supposed to file for the divorce, and I have rebuilt our relationship and she is functioning, living on her own and seems to be thriving. The boys he molested (one was his and one was mine) I have no contact with. His son continues to live in the town, conning one young girl after another out of money and leaving destruction in his wake. My son who at 15 started to display spath tendencies, and who I took to therapist after therapist only to be told he was a normal kid (he was adorable and charming and very very smart)hasn’t talked to me or his sister in 3 yrs. He too is heavy into drugs and conning women. I pray for his sanity and his future.

My user name refers to a gaslighting incident that happened late in our marriage that was sort of the beginning of my awakening. But more on that some other time.

God bless and keep all of the women (and men) that have come to this site for some answers and some solace. All I can say is, it does get better. One day at a time, one step at a time. The best advice I can offer is throw out the garbage in your life- all of it. I don’t care if they are family or friends. Know where they stand and if it’s not at your side, let them go. Grieve for them, then move on. Don’t be afraid to feel afraid, fear is our internal warning system. Trust your gut – if it feels wrong, there is a reason. Learn why he picked YOU, and heal that hole that he was able to crawl into.

thetenthchair – what a story. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad that you were able to get him out of your life and move forward.

thetenthchair,
Wow,what a story!Sadly I can believe every last word of it;the tone is too familiar.I look forward to further posts from you!

This is exhausting being back on this site. It’s been over three years, since I was done with Him. My neighbor lady had her annual wood splitting party and did say Him might be there. I didn’t want to go. By 5:00 in afternoon a party guest came over to drag me over. So I reluctantly went to neighbor lady’s party. Him came to party with his new girlfriend. I didn’t look at Him. I had a good time and kept my focus on new neighbors and it was actually a very nice party!

But, Him wanted to put his new girlfriend up in my face. He started off across the way, and then dragged her by the hand to bring her within 3-feet of me so he could kiss and cuddle with her.

He really can’t believe I don’t want him. He kept on trying to lay it on thicker and thicker. It was sickening! I ignored it, but it sits hard with me. Why did I subject myself to that? I already knew he would not behave. And, now I’m angry with with myself for putting myself through that.

Oh, and it’s not done yet. Him mentioned something about taking it across the street. I wasn’t paying attention even though I heard it. I live across the street! I assumed he was bashing me as the b*tch across the street. He and this girl took off and were gone for awhile.

At the end of the party a party-goer came up to me and tried to tell me something. Kept saying Jeannie! Jeannie (something about across the street) I couldn’t hear because the party was wrapping up and people were getting loud as they were leaving. I asked this party-goer to speak-up, and he finally said Nevermind, and he walked away.

Did Him bring this girl over to my house? I wouldn’t put it past him cause he tried to have sex with me in homes that he was being paid to oversee. I would not have it. But, he tried!

The most hurtful thing about it is I brought it up again to my neighbor lady to ask if she heard anything more about it. She angrily stared me down and said “They were smoking pot!”

Yeah, she told me! She told me that she would have been very angry if I didn’t attend her party. Yet, when I bring up that Him may have been on my property, or perhaps in my house… she gets angry with me about that..

I feel that your anger is still very fresh and raw. Shame on your neighbor. Missing her party is insignificant to the emotional distress that being there caused you. My advice, let go of these “friendships”. She clearly still thinks enough about HIM to invite him to her home, or else she one of those sad people that needs to be surrounded by as many people as possible (regardless of their worth) to feel important and loved. You don’t need this kind of relationship. Next time, tell her you have plans, plant a web capable camera (They are very cheap) in your front window to catch any intruders (ie HIM) and then be somewhere else that day. Plan something special for yourself, a facial, a massage, something. Treat your self better. You deserve it.

I need some advice in dealing with my sociopath husband in this divorce. I found out that my attorney is the ex husband if his attorney. I have the ex husband attorney. They have been divorced about 3 years. My attorney was waiting for a case where the opposing attorney is his ex wife. I know he will fight extra hard for me, but is this a good situation? I have invested thousands of dollars in him and have to keep him. Please help with some information. ? Thanks.

kaya48 – I suggest you ask your attorney directly how it will affect the case. And also contact someone at the local bar association – find out if the situation is considered a conflict of interest.

Hi Kaya48,
I don’t want to be the one to give you the advice since I don’t have experience;just a thought though….won’t your divorce just be providing the scenario for more drama for these divorced attorneys?!Can you really withstand such drama?!You have enough drama of your own.

Hi Kaya,

I’m concerned that your attorney “was waiting for a case against his ex-wife.” This divorce is about you–not him. This concerns me. And why have you just found this out? Was he not forthcoming earlier? You need to do what is best for you, but if it were me I would opt out. Too many red flags.

Whatever your decision, I will be sending good energy your way!

Kaya,I totally agree with the above post!I really believe this attorney would use you to hurt his ex-wife.That was my first thought when I read one of your earlier posts and you told us how he complimented you as being “an awesome woman that your ex threw out like trash.”To me that’s a form of lovebombing;not professionalism.He knows you’re vulnerable right now.And he’ll use that to win this battle against his ex-wife!That’s not what your divorce is about!This is YOUR BATTLE—NOT YOUR ATTYS!It is their job to present the case and to win as much as possible for the person they are representing.THAT’S ALL.

Thanks to all of you for this great advise. I talked to my attorney today who I very much respect because he had “put my soon to be ex” in his place during the injunction court hearing. Just to aggravate me and of course waste money he had claimed he was “afraid ” of me. The judge found that rather interesting considering he is a law enforcement officer. My attorney made him look like a total idiot in court and the injunction was dismissed. So yes I guess my attorney impressed me because it felt good to see my husband defeated. I did retain him for my divorce 2 days after the court hearing. I was not aware that my husband would pick his ex wife as opposing attorney. Well when we found out he did my attorney assured me that he will fight for my rights and look out for me. Now almost 4 months into divorce proceedings it does seem like a little “power game” that’s being played out. There is no conflict of interest since they are divorced. The do know very well how each of them practices law as they were partners for many years besides being husband and wife. I am thinking it would be to my advantage but I am not so sure anymore. I appreciate all your comments and will keep posting as this is getting a little “ugly” now. Not because of the lawyers but did to the fact that my husband is vicious, manipulative and if course hiding and lying about assets. They claim he is very “poor”. He only spent over 5000$ In one month on his girlfriend for cruises, jewelry, dinners and lavish gifts. I guess he is living it up now . It kind of hurts because he stopped paying my sons college tuition but eventually I know she willbe discarded. Why did he never take me out for dinner and on cruises? I don’t understand. I was his wife and I was not good enough. I know its not me but at times it does hurt a little. Thanks everyone. Still no contact. Going on 5 months and counting.

Kaya,

My ex also stopped paying my son’s tuition–unbelievable, right? I managed to work it out, so far…but of course my son was hurt, and now doesn’t see his father. For my ex, I guess it was worth it for the money. Sad.

As to why he didn’t take you in cruises, etc.: this is just the con he has to play to reel the new one in. He just played a different game with you, I’m guessing–maybe “young family man building a life.” Now he’s playing “high living hotshot.” HA! You know it’s an act, either way. Believe me, this woman will pay for the cruises, dinner, etc. BTW, where is he getting all this money? You might want to look into that….take it from someone who found out her husband was an embezzler and tax fraud–and exposed him! 🙂

I still get a bad vibe on the attorney. Your ex complicated a messy divorce even further by signing on with his wife. Typical of sociopaths, but you need to take charge of what you can. Your attorney needs to be 109% professional and 100% about you. I would really look into this.

Please take care!

Thanks LL,
Yes indeed it hurts me that he stopped paying the tuition. Like yours the “fun times” with that girl are more important to him. My son also stopped any contact with him almost 8 months ago. He was callng me “psycho bitch” to my son and that was the end of their “relationship”. I understand now why he is spending all this money (by the way he makes about 8k a months after taxes) on this woman. What you said makes a lot of sense. Back then he needed to build his family life with houses and stuff. Now he had to impress her.
Also my lawyer said he might do this to get a reaction out of me since he knew he had to disclose financials. He really is pure evil. There will be no reaction from me other than my attorney filing motions for my husband to pay my attorney fees since he had plenty income.
I have so much money invested now with my attorney but I will be keeping an eye on this. Thanks for all your support. I will stay strong. He has to live with the guilt that he abandoned his son. But I truly believe now that this does not bother him one bit. He has new “supply” who is feeding his ego .

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