I withdrew from our marriage and communicated on autopilot. I was ‘living’ life without engaging with it. He always read our morning devotions. Most of the time he never bothered to ask my opinion on what he’d just read. He would just waffle on while I listened . . . or pretended to. If he did ask, I would gently say that there was nothing to add. After that it was easy because he often disappeared outside to wash the car, the same car he washed in the evening when we got home from work. At least this gave me space to breathe while I cooked breakfast and lunch before showering for work.
The drive to work and back home was also easy because the radio was always on. There was no need to communicate. I answered any question he had, and I spoke to him when necessary, but that was it. After a few days he started asking me if I was ok. I would look at him, frown slightly and then answer ‘Yes’. What did he care?
I was wary of non descript arguments, above all I just wanted peace. However, I don’t know which is worse, being ignored by your spouse or ignoring your own existence. Self-preservation says there should be balance, but how do you achieve this when you’re married to a narcissist? The answer? You don’t because you can’t. I put my ‘game face’ on every single morning and took it off as I fell asleep each night. There was very little feuding, and if I sensed one, I apologised profusely and rectified the wrongly perceived slight. This behaviour eventually feels like you have denied and abandoned your own self. You’ve revoked your very existence, what a traitor to you! Ironically you find yourself hurting over your treatment of yourself and how your narcissistic spouse is treating you. Self abuse?
Out of the blue one evening he suggested we sleep at his office which he had turned into a bunker. We hadn’t done it for a long time. I agreed, though silently I wished he had gone and left me to have the house to myself. On the journey there he asked a few times if I was ok. Each time I said that I was. Eventually he said that he knew me well enough to know when something was wrong. I asked if he had noticed that we had not argued for some time. He had noticed. I asked if he was happy about this, again he said that he was. I concluded the matter by saying that as long as he was happy and that his needs were being met, life couldn’t get any better. He didn’t say anything to this.
When we arrived at his office, he turned on his computer and told me to find a film we could both watch. Before he left he stooped down in front of me and asked me to tell him what was wrong. I shook my head and brushed him away. He headed to the kitchen to make a light supper for us. When he returned he tenderly swung my chair round.
“Byooti, there is something wrong and I want to know what it is.”
I stared into his face and was crushed. His handsome face was filled with concern, but I had been betrayed by that look too many times before. Without purposefully wanting to, I started to cry. I stated that he never listened to me and that he never compromised. I declared that the only reason we had experienced a period of peace was because I had done everything he wanted with no thought of myself. I wept because although he held me close in a long tender embrace and promised to do better, I knew it was never going to happen. I also knew that I wasn’t going to sacrifice myself for my marriage any longer. I prepared myself for warfare.