real life

'For 10 years, my husband was sleeping with different women. I wish I'd trusted my gut.'


This post deals with emotional abuse and might be triggering for some readers. 

I am embroiled in the fight of my life, trying to hold onto what I worked hard for over many years. He will not allow me to have anything. He tried to destroy me, isolated me from family and friends and I am in a very bad state. However, I am awakened.

I was married for 23 years when I found out that my partner was a covert narcissist.

It took me so long to trust my “gut instinct” and realise that the charming, cheerful and “helpful” person I was married to was in fact living a double life and covertly emotionally killing me.

Watch: The moment I knew our relationship was over. Post continues below. 

Video by Mamamia

I was the beard, the mother to his children (and him) to come home to when he was tired and needed to be looked after.

His extensive work travel gave him the perfect ruse to live a double life. When I found out he was a serial cheater we went to counselling to try to repair our marriage.

What was exposed was the realisation that my husband is a covert narcissistic sex addict whose hobby is to manipulate and exploit women for admiration. I was the codependent enabler.

To “punish” me for the domestic life we had in the suburbs raising two children whilst working full time and coping with sporting engagements and normal life he lived a secret life of grandiosity.


Whilst traveling for “work” he was on porn dating websites, meeting and holidaying with different women over a period of 10 years.

All the while playing a role to the outside world of devoted father and husband to an emotionally deteriorating wife.

I lost myself. If I questioned him and said I felt there was something wrong with our relationship he would twist it to make me believe that I was insecure and jealous.

If I called to find out what time he would be home, he would always abruptly end the call as he had more important people to talk to. My husband made me believe that he had the power, he had the control and he mattered more.

What these covert narcissists do to their main partner is torture.

Through gaslighting, they engage in this insidious, manipulative abuse by giving subtle hints and comments that result in the victim questioning their own behaviour and thoughts. Often resulting in the victim feeling that they have gone crazy.

Over time they carefully break down your own self-respect by belittling you in a very covert way. They turn you into nothing. Ashamed of having emotional needs. An empty shell who can only cling onto them. At this point your life either explodes or they discard you.

They exploit you without guilt or shame. The victims they seek out to manipulate are usually sensitive, empathic types who believe that things will change and have hope.

They target those with underlying low self-esteem and confidence. They enjoy making you suffer, it feeds them and boy, do you suffer.

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast The Split discusses navigating separation. Post continues after audio.


The person coming out of the other end of this abuse is me. The awakening was real.

No longer living on autopilot with a dissociative disorder and just surviving I now see clearly.

My therapist has advised that I need to accept that I can’t win against this type in a divorce settlement. Unfortunately for me this is the truth.

Devaluing his business and freezing bank accounts and assets. They are masters at deception.

Do I have to accept this? The three legal opinions I have sought out have said that women in my situation lose. I might lose. He might win financially but the therapist says prepare to lose but I get to heal my broken self and find out who I am.

Not sure this is compensation for losing everything I worked hard for over 23 years, but I guess it is what I have.

I want to raise awareness for women to listen to their gut instinct.

What looks like a sheep is a wolf disguised. If you feel there is something wrong in your relationship, there is something wrong.

These people cannot give from inside of them, they are empty. They only take. They have no soul. They wind you up, down and sideways. It is a constant game and they do not stop playing and they always win. My advice is – don’t play. Get out if you can.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.