Leaving Borderline/Narcissitic Husband

I am 38 years old, married for 14 years, 2 children ages 8 and 10. The last few years of the marriage have been very difficult. My husband has been become verbally and financially abusive. He also threatens physical violence daily, and has hit me on a few occasions. He has totally pulled back from the family in the past 4-5 years, and really sees me and the kids as an annoyance. I cannot have a conversation with him at all as he constantly belittles me and curses at me. He used to be a very involved dad but now he has very little interest in our two daughters. He refuses to get any counseling or psychological help. I suspect he has borderline personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder

Our sex life came to a halt about 2 years ago. We used to have a very active sex life, and this was a dramatic change. I recently discovered that he has an apparent sex addiction, started by online porn, and frequents transsexual prostitutes. This would explain why he is spending so much time away from the house. I am still in shock about that and trying to digest that he is actually doing this.

Our children are in our local parochial school, and we attend Mass weekly as a family. This is the only thing we do as a family anymore. It appears to me that most parents in our children’s school are married. I feel like a fish out of water who is hiding this terrible secret. I wonder what they will think of me and my kids when they hear that I filed for divorce. I am not sure why I worry so much about what others think, but the fact is that I do. I don’t want people to think that this is a frivolous divorce. There are several very serious issues.

I am going to file for divorce. I am hoping eventually to get an annulment. I cannot live like this any longer. My question is, how do you get beyond the embarrassment of divorce within the Church? I am a very private person. I take the teachings of the Church seriously, and I feel as though I would need to explain myself to my children’s friend’s parents, the principal of the school, the list goes on. Or, am I underestimating the ability for others to sympathize or even empathize with me? I am hoping I will be able to get an annulment under these circumstances.

Oh, if only I could go back to my 24 year old self and tell me not to marry this man! I am up to my eyes in a mess.

I am hoping for peace for myself and my two girls.

My son divorced a wife who was very like your husband.He was able to get an annulment and has married a woman who seems levelheaded, while doing his best to be a good dad to the children. I don’t think I would worry too much about what people think. How about talking to your priest? I’m sure he has heard worse and might be able to help you navigate this.

Please talk to your priest. A few of us on here have been through the divorce issues as well as the annulment issue. Some have even dealt with the NPD issue as well as the adultery issue. Please know you have support. I would also check out this statement from the USCCB as it may give you some comfort. Please remember that this will not bar you from the Eucharist as long as you stay chaste. Also, if others wish to talk that is on them - we can only control our own actions. Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of their beliefs. Your first responsibility at this point it sounds like is to your children. But again please talk to your priest and get some feedback from someone who is there and can help.

Also, please do not be concerned about what others think. Just stay close to the Lord in prayer.

I am so sorry, you and your children are in my prayers.

Good for you to take steps to make sure you and your girls live in a healthy, happy home.
No one should live in a situation that is verbally and physically abusive and I applaud your strength in leaving.
There is no reason any friends or fellow churchgoers should think badly of you for ending your marriage. I assume the religion does not demand that you stay in an abusive relationship (right?).

As an aside…I do get confused, tho, when I hear people talk about divorce on this site.

There is no “real” divorce in the Catholic church…just separation and/or annulment, right? (tho you can get legally divorced, as you are planning). And if you don’t get an annulment, you must stay chaste for the rest of your life and cannot get married again, right?

You say you wish you could go back 14 years and make a different choice of who you married.
But if you got married in the Catholic church…then…is it not supposed to be “God’s will” that you did, and God who put you two together?
So then…it was the right thing to do, or what you were supposed to do, as per God?
(but this leaves no room for mistakes made…or marrying “the wrong person”?)

Also…how does one know when she/he is supposed to stay in an unhappy marriage–as if it’s your “cross to bear”–or leave it?

I wish you health and happiness in your new life…you deserve a man who will treat you kindly.

When we talk about divorce on this site, it is true that this is a reference to only the civil law action, and that this action does not change the validity of any marriage (although once a civil divorce is obtained, one may pursue the question of validity, a pursuit which may end in a decree of nullity).

I do not believe God is a micromanager who actively wills every single marriage (and conception of every single child). Much of what happens in people’s daily life is permitted, and we with our less than perfect knowledge certainly can make mistakes.

How do we know if it’s just “our cross to bear” vs. time to take action? That’s the point where one should consult w/ one’s priest who can give guidance.

Now as to the OP–first of all, be very careful (physical safety). If it truly is the case that you’re dealing w/ someone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder and/or Borderline Personality Disorder, be aware that leaving will be taken as a direct affront and you must guard your physical safety (as well as that of your children).

Like others upthread, I’d say that your priest is the first one to talk to. As far as others–well, if you want to, share–it’s not necessary, though. You know the truth, no one else is owed an explanation (unless it helps you to talk w/ that person).

Advice from someone in a similar situation.

  1. Be prepared that some people, including family and friends, may not fully understand the extent of the abuse. Some may think you are not telling the truth. Please, do what’s best for yourself and your family.

  2. The state tried to give me several ideas of what I needed to do-- i.e. lawyers, etc. etc. I cannot tell you how jumbled the state is in figuring out family life. So I’ve lost trust in the legal system, unfortunately.

  3. Above all, pray. Sudden moves are not always wise and can back-lash, causing trauma on both ends.

  4. You are in my prayers.

“Oh, if only I could go back to my 24 year old self and tell me not to marry this man! I am up to my eyes in a mess.”

It is a big mess right now but really it all pans out. Honestly. Even the financial mess.

You have beautiful kids with this man—hang in there it does get a lot better. Stay close to Christ.

You will be ok.

I am not divorced but my parents are and it was ugly. I have learned a few things. You will probably encounter both: people who will assume things and judge you, and people who will be genuinely compassionate and caring and who will not judge you. You are under no obligation to explain yourself to anybody. You can say that you made a very difficult decision and that maybe you will want to talk about it one day. Or if it helps you, open up to people you trust and talk about it.

I think that we Catholics are mostly a decent group of people who will not go into an attack mode towards those who find themselves in less than perfect circumstances in life as long as people are not causing scandal and behaving as our faith is a joke.

This is a very good point. People who have not experienced abuse find it difficult to believe the victim, unless you show up with cuts and bruises to prove it. But as not all abuse is so obvious (although you did experience it as well), people see other types of abuse as not so serious, not real, even as exaggeration on the part of the victim. Be prepared for this possibility.


I understand most of what you are saying…thank you very much. It does leave me with one more question, tho: If we (Catholics) are permitted to make mistakes…and we marry someone who we end up seeing is not good for us at all and we are unhappy…is there something in the Catholic church that “allows” for this kind of error in judgment?

I assume it’s not an easy thing to get an annulment, that they are not handed out every day at a whim.
So I assume most people who come to understand, like the OP, that they “made a mistake” or they regret their free-will decision in choosing whom they married are basically stuck?
Either to stay with that person for the rest of their life and be unhappy, or separate and never again have a chance to have a happy, healthy relationship and marry the “right” person for them?

Is that correct?

This situation is beyond the scope of CAF and I suggest that the OP seek professional advice from a mental health expert.

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