Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

When You’re Trying to CoParent with a Narcissist

off-childrunningThe truth is, for a divorce to happen, you both had to do something wrong. While at first you might feel like the splitting of your marriage is a failure, I’m here to testify that it can also be seen, eventually, as the best thing that ever happened to you.

In my marriage, to the mother of my children, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was married to someone who has a pretty miserable view of the world. THEIR time was always more compromised, more valuable, and more stressful than anyone else around them. Now, divorced from this woman, I can gain some perspective of what I was dealing with while trying to keep our marriage together.

While married there always seemed to be some problem.

  • Not enough money
  • House not clean enough
  • Too busy and too tired for sex
  • Parenting routines were considered chores, to be taken care of rather than enjoyed

I wasn’t this way. I was raised with money as a given. I was always confident in my earning ability, even after being let go from a job. I cleaned house when things bugged me, but often they did not bug me. Sex was important to me, and felt like one of the spiritual and emotional ways two people can bond. And the kids were always a gift, a blessing, and the routines, always cherished. I wasn’t one for complaining about how tired I was, or making excuses for any of it because I was soooooo busy. So much busier than you, in fact.

Needless to say, my then-wife and I came from different universes emotionally. I was mostly happy. I woke up each morning with a clean slate, and eager anticipation of what the day might bring. She woke up with a chip on her shoulder, and usually it had something to do with me. I was the cause for her unhappiness.

Today, six years later, she’s remarried to a man with “plenty of money.” And she’s still not happy. She’s got new shoes, new gadgets for her house, and new handbags, but she still has the resting bitch face all the time. All. The. Time. She’s expressing how she’s not happy about life in general, and me specifically.

Take the back to school night at my kid’s 10th grade year of high school. Sitting in the classes listening to my son’s teachers talk about their program and their expectations for our kids, my ex-wife was opening her bills on the desk in front of her. Opening her mail, in my son’s back to school night? What could be more self-centered. I’m sure she had good reason to be so rude to everyone in the class including the teachers. I’m sure she’d just been too busy to do it at any other time. But why was she even at the back to school night, I wondered, as I shook my head in disbelief.

I’m certain I didn’t understand why she would do such a thing. I’m sure I wondered about her boundaries, and what she felt was appropriate vs. necessary to get HER schedule moved a few squares ahead. I was livid and cordial. And somewhere I was also noting my superior social skills and her lack of a clue or care for all the people surrounding her.

And just this week, she also started the kids on a very expensive regime of Invisilign braces. Now, under the “joint custody” rules she can not make these kind of decisions without talking to me. If I’m going to be responsible for 50% of extraneous expenses, I need to be consulted BEFORE the expense is incurred. I found out about them because one of my kids was complaining about the braces. He apparently did not know why he was enrolled, and how he might get unenrolled if he objected. She didn’t share the important details with him either. Typical narcissist: doing what matters to them without much attention given to those around them who will be affected by their actions.

Okay, so my wife is still unhappy, though “happily married,” as she claims. She’s got plenty of money (both from my child support payments, but more so from her new wealthy husband) and she’s not happy. And she’s still acting out of spite towards me, and that spite sometimes includes the kids in her range of fire. She’s a piece of work.

Most of all, though, she’s still not happy. Not about anything, that I can tell. All of her correspondence with me about the braces were filled with “I can’t fucking believe you are reacting like this” to “I didn’t think you were interested in things like the kid’s health, or their dental appointments.” See, shes’ still mad that 70% custody means she has 70% of the doctor’s appointments too.

She’s just not happy.

I am happy.

Most of all, I am happy to have the perspective that now shows me it was not my actions or failures that made her unhappy and destroyed our marriage. She’s just this way. Somehow life is just a little more difficult for her. Somehow her chores, and her time, are more burdensome than the rest of us. And for that, she’s not happy. Not ever. Sure, she can smile on demand, but generally her expression and outlook, at least while we were married, was ANGRY. Doesn’t she work with this in therapy?

Glad to be in my own skin, my own environment, and a new relationship with someone who sees life from the “half full” side of life, every single morning that we wake up together. My ex-wife’s continuous displays of contempt for me, and her repeated aggressions in emails and texts, just expose just how self-centered she is. It’s too back for my kids that she is this way. My son is a bit more cynical than I would like. But he’s doing fine in spite of it. And god knows I haven’t been the 100% rockin father that I wanted to be. But they do know and acknowledge that I have always done my best and stayed available and close to them. I can’t say the same for their mom. But maybe that’s just how she is.

Peace and CoParenting,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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8 Responses

  1. Living in a marriage where one of you is unhappy must be so difficult. I cannot imagine the tension that must’ve existed, but I am happy to hear that you’ve found someone that sees things “half-full.” Looking on the brighter side of life really is so beneficial, and it makes me smile to know that you have found happiness <3

    September 17, 2016 at 6:01 am

  2. Don McCombs

    Good post today, I’ve lived with one of these as well, it never gets better– Glad you are back. I was worried about that ” black dog “

    September 18, 2016 at 2:52 pm

  3. DW

    Of course she doesn’t work on this in therapy. The anger is something she is incapable of taking responsibility for. If she directs anger AT you, imagine what she’s saying when you’re not around to her husband and friends. You’re probably the devil incarnate. And it’s no longer your circus and not your monkey. It only has power over you if you give it power. Not that it’s easy mind you. You happen to be someone that actually cares about things and for better or worse this woman is the mother of your children. Your ex reminds me of that angry character played by Janine Garafolo in Girlfriends Guide to Divorce. She doesn’t do things to “get” you in a playful way, she does things to hurt you, and there’s a big difference. Your ex is a hungry ghost trying to fill the void with materialism when her character is bankrupt. Count your blessings that you’re out!

    September 19, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    • The Author

      Wow, an amazing comment. Thank you. Spot on.

      September 19, 2016 at 1:18 pm

  4. zandd

    The timing of this post for me was incredible. I have an ex-wife very similar to yours and just today she informed me that I would be expected to pay for half of a car she purchased for my high school son, including the purchase price, repair and insurance. Exactly like your ex-wife, she made this purchase unilaterally, counter to my specific desire to defer any such decision.

    My agreement is like yours: supposedly under “joint custody” major financial decisions have to signed off on by both parties BEFORE a purchase is made.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that my ex-wife is so wrapped in solipsism that she’s unable to see how any of this is wrong in any way. Accordingly, I’ve really given up on trying to “convince” her of anything. It’s like trying to tell a 4 year old why it’s wrong to take a second ice cream cone without paying for it. I write e-mails solely with the purpose of having something to substantiate the events chain should I find myself in court.

    September 19, 2016 at 7:36 pm

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