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How to separate from a narcissistic husband.

Community Member
My story is too long to write it all down so I'll try to keep it short. Got married 28 years ago because I was pregnant. Have 3 grown children and our marriage has been up and down that whole time. He has typical narcissistic tendencies, and I didn't really realise it until I started reading some books on the subject and was blown away. I have always kept the peace in the house between everyone and he has a very awkward relationship with all three children, especially my daughter who just doesn't like to be around him. I'm almost 50 and I don't want to be married anymore, I did try to end things with him 2 years ago and he just cried and because I'm such a softie, I told him that we can give it time and that we need to communicate more and things need to change and he agreed that I was right. That lasted for a few months and things are right back where they were. I'm so done, but I need to do things the right way. I work part time, and will need to work full time to support myself. We own a home so we can split the remaining money after we pay off the mortgage, and there won't be any custody issues as our kids are all adults (although 2 still live at home) I want it to be amicable, but I don't know where to start. There is no one else, I don't want to be in another relationship, I just want to be independent.
5 Replies 5

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear helpmegetmyfeetbackontheground,

It's been a long journey for you and you've finally had enough. You've clearly thought through this from the financial and family perspective and have decided that this is what you want. I also see this is not the first time you're trying to end things with him.

The best way forward would be for you to communicate your intentions with him again. He'll probably cry again, but you have to remain firm on what you want. He may need time to process things as well, but you also have to be clear on how much time you're willing to give him or you'll end up staying again.

There's no way for you to guarantee it will be amicable because that depends on him as well. You can make it clear to him that you want this to be amicable, but he may not think the same.

An alternative I can think of for now is separation instead of a divorce. It will give both of you some space to be independent and apart from each other while you figure out your next steps.

Take care,

Community Member

Hi helpmegetmyfeetbackontheground,

I left my husband just over a year ago. Like you, I did a lot of reading and strongly believe he is a covert narcissist, with NPD. I think of him as a parasite. I knew by the time I decided to leave that he didn't care about me at all - and never had. I had seen the mask slip and let's just say I found out that he wasn't who he'd presented himself to be at all. I felt used and betrayed. I mourned the loss of the chance to have had a real marriage.

I knew that I would never get closure from him. My closure came from the betrayals I uncovered. So I simply told him I'd found somewhere to rent and I'd be moving out with the kids in a few days, which I did. Once he saw I'd made up my mind, he never showed an ounce of emotion or bothered to discuss any regrets etc, he was completely blank- I was done as supply and no longer of use. 13 years of marriage and he was on dating sites within the week. None of this bothered me because I had read up so much on the disorder and expected it.

If your husband is a narcissist, my advice would be to plan your exit in detail and make it as smooth, simple and unemotional as possible. Please take legal advice and/or advice from a separation consultant well before you leave. I thought I knew what to do, but getting the advice was crucial. Also enlist the support of a few close friends - but not too many. Lean on them a bit, you are allowed to once in a while!

Finally, please know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I'm almost 50, caring for my 2 kids, lost my job due to the pandemic, renting a crappy place full of cockroaches - and wouldn't go back for ANYTHING! I don't care if I never have another partner. I can come home and be myself - that is everything to me. The recovery process has its ups and downs and I think it will take a while. But I have HOPE!

Please know that you are not alone. Once you leave, I think you'll be surprised to discover how many people have experienced similar. I certainly was. I wish you the very best!

Cathy x

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello helpmegetmyfeetbackontheground and Cathy, and a warm welcome to the site.

From what has been said then it would an enormous effort for a narcissistic husband to change, let alone want to change for the benefit of his family or the person he's married, the effort would go against what they have already set up, and certainly when you have told him that you want to finish and end this marriage his crying can happen when someone doesn’t know any other way of getting their needs met, trying to appeal to your sensitive side, but this only lasts for a short time only, then it's back to how it was before hand.

The thought of having to deal with selling and splitting up the money, while in the meantime having to decide who gets what, seems far too difficult, so having a lawyer help you decide maybe of great benefit.

I understand you want to work full time, but let this final separation happen before you can do this, only because your mind will not fully be able to concentrate and this may disappoint you as well as your boss.

Sometimes living in a tin shed is better than living with a narcissistic husband who controls your life, you will be able to move forward once the pressure of this disappears.

You both deserve the best.

Best wishes.


Thank you so much for your reply Cathy, I really appreciate it. I know there is a lot of planning to do on my part. I think the reason why he stays is because he's comfortable because I do everything and he is living his best cushy life. I have always been guilted into having sex with him even when I didn't want to, I have since told him that I have no desire to do anything I don't want to do, and I don't care what his reaction is. I am moving to full time work starting in April and when I get an idea of what I will expect every fortnight from my salary, I'll be able to work out a budget and start planning to leave. I think both my adult children will come with me and help out with my rent. I think when I leave, all he will be thinking about it the fact that he has to do everything himself, and be a grown up finally at 49! Anyway, thank you for telling me about your experience.


Thanks for your feedback Geoff. I have already been successful at gaining full time employment, but it's within the same company so it won't be much of a transition. I know he won't change, and even though I've put in my heart and soul to make this work over the past years, I don't have any romantic feelings towards him anymore, and I just want to be free. My mum is so old fashioned and doesn't think I'm making the right decision, but I really need to do this for me, and I don't want to look back at my life decades from now, wishing I had left when I was "younger"