My wife and I were married for 18 years.
She owned her own business when we got married and I had my own company as well.
We ended up working together on many projects and to be honest – her business really took off while mine stayed stable. I began to take a more active role in her business and paid less attention to my own. My brothers kept telling me that I was making a mistake… I remember thinking they were crazy. She was my wife, we were a family. I never looked at her business as hers – it was simply what made us the most money and so I worked hard to see it succeed.
My brothers obviously saw something in her that I was too blind to see. For years they kept pushing me to maintain my own identity and not get lost in her big personality. They would take me out alone and question me about my happiness and my marriage. I have to be honest – it caused a strain in our relationship.
We had three children together and as her business grew it placed bigger time demands on her. I became the primary caregiver for our kids because I could be around after school and evenings.
I never felt intimidated that she earned more.
I never felt less than because she was thriving professionally.
I was happy – I loved her, my children and our life.
But then it happened… and it’s so cliché.
She hired someone new at the office and that’s all she talked about. “Steven” is great. “Steven” is so smart and funny. “Steven” is a game changer.
I liked Steven and he was doing great things for the company. I saw his value and was happy we had a great new addition to the team.
Until one morning I felt something between them. They had just returned from a 3-day conference together and it was clear something had happened. Their energy was different and it just felt weird.
I didn’t say anything to her because I thought maybe I was imagining it.
What transpired over the next 6 months was horrifying. She grew distant from me and was never around. When she was around she was miserable and always on her phone. When I would question her she would say it was “work”. She criticized me constantly and our fighting was non-stop.
I finally confronted her and accused her of having an affair. She denied it and denied it but I knew….
Two months later she told me that she was unhappy in our marriage and wanted a divorce. No marriage counselling, no discussions – she just wanted out.
I remember laughing at her – did she really think I was stupid? All of the sudden we weren’t happy? We weren’t happy because there were 3 of us in our marriage. She denied it and denied it but it was so blatant it was insulting.
Needless to say I was devastated. My entire life was crumbling and she just didn’t care. She wanted me out of the house and would stop at nothing until she got me out. She didn’t care that the house was half mine and that I didn’t have to leave. In her eyes she paid for it and it was hers. She refused to listen to her lawyer and accept the law – she knew better.
Who was this woman? I finally saw what my brothers saw all those years. I couldn’t believe how blind I had been.
I fought to stay and I fought for my kids but in the end I just couldn’t live in such a horrible situation. Her narcissism was killing us. She would stop at nothing for the all mighty dollar and I knew I had to be the one to protect the kids.
I got my own place and was deeply depressed. My family rallied around me and my brothers took charge. It was like they had been waiting for this day to come and were prepared.
This woman tried to manipulate and screw me out of my share of our family assets. If I were a woman the outrage would have been massive. Instead, she tied to gain sympathy from our friends and family as though she was the victim.
She hired (and fired) 3 different lawyers in her attempt to deny me what was legally mine. My lawyer said that she had never seen such a narcissist in all of her years of practice. My ex wife thought the rules and laws were written for everyone BUT her.
It has been three years since she asked me to leave. Three years of negative energy, fighting, and stress. She has tried every tactic possible to wear me down and have me capitulate. I just wanted it over and her out of my life and thoughts. Being stuck in her web was killing me.
I decided to stop the fight. I would take her last offer even though my lawyer strongly disagreed.
I went home to think about it and my eldest daughter came over that night. She sat me down and said she knew what was going on between her mother and I. She knew her mother was trying to screw me and she knew that I had given up. I remember being shocked – I had never discussed this with any of our kids. I always took the high road when it came to their mother. When I asked her how she knew she told me she heard her mother laughing on the phone telling someone she had finally worn me down and was about to get the settlement she wanted. My daughter looked at me and said “Daddy – don’t do it. Don’t give up the fight – it’s what she expects you to do.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The kids actually got it. They knew their mother was a bully and they wanted me to stand up to her. My daughter gave me the strength to push on and we finally reached a fair settlement.
For those of you that think that your kids don’t know what is going on – they do. They may not talk about it with you but they get it. They know exactly who their parents are. Bad mouthing the other parent to your children doesn’t serve you well – in fact it has just the opposite effect. I didn’t give up the fight thanks to my kids.
They reminded me that you really do need to stand up to a bully!
(obviously not my real name)