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Man is trapped in 10 year marriage to narcissistic/BPD wife; 'I think I need a restraining order to protect our kids.' AITA? UPDATED 4X

Man is trapped in 10 year marriage to narcissistic/BPD wife; 'I think I need a restraining order to protect our kids.' AITA? UPDATED 4X


When this man is worried about what his BPD wife might do, he asks the internet:

"I [29M] am married 10 years to a narcissistic/BPD wife [30F], affecting the family and I'm in a major dilemma. AITA?"

Sorry for the wall of text, but the details need to be said. Where do I even start? My wife of 10 years has been displaying emotional abuse towards me and our oldest daughter for 10 years now.

It use to be rare, enough where it wouldn't impact us, but the past year has been dreadful. Our daughter is becoming a teenager, and she isn't taking her shit anymore, I often have to get involved and stand up for my daughter to calm my wife down. But then I'm the bad guy.

I'm depressed as fuck. I can't stand my wife anymore, I'm to the point now where the only reason why I'm in this marriage is because of the kids. I often have to lie to her to avoid confrontation.

Whats worse, is that our fights. They're long, I am criticized if I stand up for myself, and they are frequent, 4 times a week lately. So I just don't even try with that anymore, my opinion doesn't matter.

So I lie about how I feel, etc, etc. Sometimes she'll yell at me for stuff that needs to be done that she doesn't think needs to be done. Example, today there was an kitchen electronic in the sink. She put it there.

She needed my help for something else, but I had to get the electronic out of the sink in case one of the kids turned the water on.

She didn't like that, said it was stupid for paying attention to something not her, said I don't know how to respect people. Forget about the safety of our children and possessions. That brings me to another point.

Her breaking our stuff during fights. When I did stand up to her, she will just start throwing stuff. Anything, t.v. remotes, pictures, frames, drywall, dishes. Over a year ago she broke a 42 inch T.V. She use to blame me for getting her that mad, but I retaliated and told her that I didn't throw it, it isn't my fault.

Most of the fights with her and us (me and daughter) are about us not helping out enough around the house. Forget about me having a full time job, 45 Hrs a week, being a part-time student, and studying to get promoted in the military.

What sucks is that even if I follow her lead to the 't', I get yelled at because I took too long or I don't have my priorities right. If I do stuff without her telling me to, it doesn't meet her standards, etc, etc.

Her method and timing of arguments is so flawed. Today, she made me late for work just to argue with me. If this were a civilian job, I would get fired. When I do tell her that I have to leave to avoid being late, she usually says "You're work is always more important than me!".

No, it's not, its a job that provides for this family and providing for this family is more important than your 7 am argument. I feel like I'm the only one who cares about the family as a whole, not just my wife.

My daughter always stays away from my wife as much as possible, but it is hard for her to because of all the family interaction. We are trying to teach her responsibility so she has a few chores.

When they don't get done, her mother gets abuses her, sometime worse than she does me, this is where I step in. Our daughter's emotional health is going downhill, her doctor says its ADHD, but I know better. Its her lack of motivation. She needs to see a psychiatrist and get away from he mother.

It only gets worse from here. Our youngest is starting to have daytime wetting accidents. I have concluded that they're related to the psychological stress that she is causing. Since he is a boy, I would find it hard to be a UTI.

Oh yeah, and I'm likely taking a civilian job and moving to our home state by the end of the year, wife plans to take the kids with.

As for the efforts to fix this, I've tried. I try making her happy, be romantic, never pay attention to anything but her, but it doesn't work. She knows that she has a problem, especially the throwing objects part, but she refuses to see a psychiatrist. I know she won't get fixed if she doesn't see one.

So this is where I need your help, what power do I, a man, have over my wife to get me and the kids out of her abusive household.

I do plan on divorcing her within the next year and a half, and I want to make every effort possible to get my kids out of this situation so that they can live a mentally healthy lifestyle. If you think there is no chance of me getting custody, let me know.

edit 1: TL;DR: Wife's abusive behavior is affecting kids psychologically, planning a divorce but need evidence to prove abuse.

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

mindobsessive writes:

First... wow... a cyber hug. I read and own a book called "Walking on Eggshells" it is about people with BPD. I agree with getting your kids in counseling! Being the child of a woman with BPD and narcissistic tendencies is so hard.

When you met this woman, did you feel like you had just met the most perfect woman in the world? Slowly, over time, did she start to complain that you weren't living up to her expectations and that you needed to change things in order to make her, "the perfect woman" happy again?

It was now becoming your fault that she was no longer the perfect woman because of the "neglect" or for whatever else you were doing wrong? I can tell you right now, that your girls have been made unwilling partners in a parent/codependent relationship.

You are going to need to get those girls into counseling and have the therapist be your witness as to what these girls are being put through. Now, one other thing, broken attracts broken.

This means that there is some part of you that is unhealthy and needs attention. You can not focus on changing her, as much as she needs the help and as much as you would love to have a normal life, your focus needs to be on you and your girls. Plus keeping up the journals of her behavior is a big deal, keep doing it!!

someonesomeby writes:

Please, for the sake of the kids, start documenting things so you can have proof of her abuse. Get a camcorder and record her interacting with the kids, but don't conceal the fact that you are recording (if she is in the throws of anger, she likely won't notice).

Do triple backups to make sure she isn't destroying evidence. You are the only thing those kids have to protect them, so be the bad guy if it means they know you are there to back them up. They need someone in their corner!! As the father, you will have to work harder to get sole custody but she is harming your children psychologically and they need to get out. Is her family aware of her mental health issues?

As someone who was raised by a depressed mother, the effects are surprisingly lasting. While she didn't really abuse us, the consequences of her mental health problems were a significant part of my childhood and have surfaced in adulthood.

One example is that my mom used to clean furiously when she was mad and on a rampage, all the while getting angry and yelling at my siblings and I for being messy etc.

To this day when my fiancé gets in a cleaning mood and starts tidying/organizing I get nervous and worried that I have done something wrong and need to apologize, even if he is cleaning his own stuff up.

vomicaliente writes:

I think you need to take the kids out of that environment. If you are staying with her because of them then is about time to reevaluate the situation.

Your wife is probably in denial of her mental problems, she will unlikely seek the counsel you advise because she acts as she thinks she knows best so in order to save the children from her you must leave.

I don't know how, but you should take the kids too. perhaps since the oldest one is more aware of the damage being done onto her and yourself will be willing to come with you, I really hope you can bring the young along as well.

I grew up in an abusive household (my father displayed the same behavior as your wife and my mom was afraid of leaving her, so it got worse to the point of physical abuse towards her and us..) and I thin that the best think my mother could have done for us to finally leave my dad after 10 years of abuse. I love and am thankful to her for that. Good luck :)

Forget about me having a full time job, 45 Hrs a week, being a part-time student, and studying to get promoted in the military.

finerstuff writes:

With all that it's a wonder you have any time to do anything but all that. You are not to blame for your problems, but if you were with a normal woman and a normal wife who complained that you are not focusing on her enough, I'd say you need to actually lay off that other stuff and focus on your wife.

Your goals and ambitions are admirable, but not when they interfere with your family life.

My husband uses his work as an excuse when I am dissatisfied with our relationship, and he always makes it like I have no right to complain because he's "doing it for us." Yes, it's nice that he works so hard and has a nice job--but I didn't marry him for money, so I can't be satisfied with that alone.

But anyway--your wife is clearly not "normal" and you obviously need to divorce her pronto. What's this "year and a half" business for a divorce? Just do it. Please--I have no idea why you're putting it on this timetable if you really think she is doing harm to your children.

Just fg do it, it's the VERY OBVIOUS thing you need to do with the information you have provided and I can't fathom why you'd put something like that off for "a year and a half."

You made a mistake by even joining your life with this woman, then reproducing with her--stop making mistakes and start being smart. Leave this woman and take care of your kids as well as you can.

I can't advise you about custody or legal stuff, but if you really think she is harming your children, you're being a flaming idiot to be sticking around for "a year and a half."

Your wife needs to see a therapist first, THEN a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists will just give her medication, and they cannot be counted on to be responsible in how they do it (speaking from experience.)

When I used to see a psychiatrist--they never counseled me, except on my medication dosage--never, they never helped me or talked to me really, it was all about the meds.

Your wife is messed up enough as it is, just throwing some drugs into the mix could actually make things worse. While she may have a chemical imbalance that is contributing to her problem, she still has to get control over her actions--we are all responsible for our actions no matter what chemical brain soup we are working from.

She needs to learn to be a good person even when she doesn't feel like it--that's what we all must do, even though we fail sometimes, we have to try. A psychiatrist would just give her a diagnosis and then try pumping her with medication. A pill won't make you magically change your actions.

She needs help, but it doesn't matter because she is her own person and she needs to help herself. You guys are way too far gone if you really think she is harming your children emotionally.

And now, OP's updates:


Last night my wife threatened me with a butcher knife to make me leave the house. To cut to the chase, our son started running in fear and hit his head. I called the cops. I also had a partial video of her chasing me with the knife.

The cops came and saw the video. Along with all of the family members agreeing that my wife had a butcher knife in her hand and threatened to use it, she was booked for domestic violence.

Today I feel like shit. I, along with my son, have a protective order against her. My family and her family is calling us from several states away to mediate the situation. No one on her side wants to admit it's her fault, they're blaming me for it. On top of that, my daughter is mad at me and blames me for all of this. My son and daughter want me to drop the charges.

My wife has also communicated that she wants to work on this together, that there is still a chance to save this relationship. On one hand I believe this is just a bait and run plan on her part - hoping that I fall for it, let the protective order expire and then she takes the kids and run.

On the other hand she does sound sincere since she is admitting that she needs to see a shrink and she hasn't screwed our finances yet. What do you guys think?

Edit 2- For those of you wondering, I have talked to a lawyer. I do like him so far but finances are tight. I will likely be getting a debt consolidation loan or file for bankruptcy. Right now I am getting into contact with free legal assistance programs, but I don't know what I qualify for.

Also, the kid's reaction is the exact oposite of what I expected. I expected my daughter to support me since she has taken most of the abuse from her mother, but instead she wants me to lift the order to make things go back to normal.

My son, who is the golden child, has told me that he doesn't want to see his mom again because he is scared of her. I know he is young and doesn't know what he is saying, but that took me by surprise. Other than that, they are taking it well and I will be getting their insurance to extend their therapy visits.

Got a restraining order put up against my narcissistic wife, now what?


So I had a permanent protective order hearing this week. I show up with my lawyer, my (stb-ex) wife shows up with no representation. We show some of the videos I took, showing abuse from her on myself and both kids.

Her only defense was about how she has been attending therapy sessions, anger management classes, etc. It did look like she had better control with her self discipline.

The judge ruled in my favor, gave me custody of the children, sole access to residence, extended the protective order to the max (2 years) and only gives her visitation with supervision.

Contact can only be made regarding visitation and finances - reason for finances is because we have co-signed on multiple credit lines. Before anyone asks, I can cover all of our co-credit lines but one.

Since then, she has called me everyday, begging me to drop the protective order, which is a violation of the order itself. I mention this everytime, and she responds with every Scumbag Stacy line that you could think of, like "You're so cold, any reasonable person would fight for their wife!" etc.

I am not going to report any of the violations until the final check clears in our joint checking account, and thats a rent payment.

I had a heart to heart conversation with her, told her that I need therapy for possible PTSD, caused by her actions. I even mention that I'm in the military, I'm suppose to get PTSD from being in the desert, not at home from my wife!

She cries, admits that it is her fault, that she can never forgive herself for doing this to her kids and her husband. Shockingly, no threats of suicide.

I guess this is a good sign, she understands that her actions have a negative impact on others. That is the first time that she admits to it, before she would just say "deal with it and man up!"

She also claims that she has no memory of some of her episodes, like one of the videos shown in court. I believe that she is just in denial, but thats just my speculation.

What sucks even more is that I've been watching some documentaries on YouTube and Netflix. A couple on scientology, another one was 'Dear Zachary'. Yikes. Talk about some depressing documentaries that I can sadly relate to.

The woman in Dear Zachary, Shirley Turner, is a raging psycho, and says so many things that remind me of my stb-ex wife, although I don't think my wife would kill. The manipulation techniques pointed out in the Scientology documentaries are similiar to what my wife did.

There is no chance of us getting back together and I have told her that divorce papers will be getting served on her soon. I'd like to thank reddit for the support.

I have a close co-worker who has been through something similiar that I have been talking too as well. But every now and then, I have to validate my sanity, and I re-read the posts that you all have put up.

tl;dr: Won custody of children, psycho wife can only have supervised contact, but she is getting better. Still no chance in hell of us getting back together.


The past 2 weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for me. My stb ex-wife, who I have a protective (restraining) order against is not in good condition. Initially, after I won the 2 year hearing, she was slowly getting onto her feet.

Her father came down and talked some sense into her. She still had her job and managed to get a place to stay. Her finances were in perfect order, which is a good thing. She had a roof, a job, transportation and enough money for food and child support. All seemed to be going well.

And then her dad left. She hasn't made a single rational choice since. She pissed off her roomates, expecially after she was arrested, again (more on that later). They kicked her out. As of right now, I think she is living in a motel.

Whats worse, is what happened last week. She had court at around noon, for the assualt charges and protective order violations. I was called to witness. So that day, she calls me up at 8:30 am, tells me that she is going to swallow a bottle of pills. She is very persistant and sounded quite convincing.

I tell her not to, email her the suicide help hotline, called it myself and they recommended that I call 911. I did, and the police show up to her door to make sure she is okay.

She answers, claims that she has done no such thing and that I was calling the cops in an attempt to make her late for court. WTF??? So basically she used the suicide threat as bait to get me to call the cops on her before her court time. Luckily, there are no charges for contempt.

After the trial, they told her that she is on probation. Then, of all things, she shows up at my house, that night, pounding on the door so that she can say goodbye to the kids before she kills herself.

Yeah, not happening. I call the cops again, then she flees before they show up. She got picked up the day after and sent to jail, thats why her roomates kicked her out. That was twice in 2 days that the cops showed up.

She has since threatened suicide many more times. I don't take her threats seriously anymore, since it might be bait like last time.

I am seeing a therapist now and he reassures me that I need to stand my ground, that I cannot under any circumstance let her back in. I have no intentions of letting her back in, ever for that matter. I've since blocked her number and blocked her on facebook.

Another thing that I found interesting is that my therapist said that in his 30 years of experience this case takes the cake. I don't know what my plan is from here, but I plan on only having recorded conversations with her and will likely move to another house/appt when my lease expires this summer.

tl;dr: Wife is out of control, lost her room and is now homeless, used suicide as bait to try to get me in contempt.


First, read my previous posts, theres a lot to take in. I'll try to do a quick summary. Last year, around November/ December, I uncovered the truth about my wife.

I knew that she had a temper that would get into some uncontrollable rages, but the full extent was never known to me. She also claimed she was suicidal, which I now know was a method of hers to control me.

I started to notice that the children would come out of their rooms or come back inside when I got home from work.

I asked my daughter for more details and she explained that her mothers rages were terrible, very emotionally and physically violent. Both children were having psychological problems such as ADD in my daughter and daytime wetting in my son.

I finally got a few recordings of her abusing our children. In one argument, she came after me with a knife, I got this recorded and called the cops. She was arrested, I got a restraining order against her and the rest is history.

She’s plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and several counts of restraining order violations since. All jail time is suspended sentences. I’ve been granted custody.

Looking back at it, wow. How much I have changed in the past year! And I can’t believe how stupid my stb-ex-wife really is. I always saw her as intelligent and thoughtful.

But now I know that she is very stupid and incapable of seeing other people’s perspectives. She constantly sends me emails that are “court gold” as my attorney says. Although we have been doing quite well settling many things outside of court.

She acts like a true narcissist. She is so good at creating that false image. But I’m always one step ahead of the game and have the evidence to exploit her faults. Most of the issues is how she communicates with me and talking to the kids.

She claims that I’m holding her back from her visitation rights by… wait for it… asking what times she wants to visit them. She says that this is annoying and that she shouldn’t have to repeat herself.

She will then say, “well back on August 6th I sent an email, so just go back and check that.

If you’re not there at the time that I requested then I’m telling the judge that you’re not compliant!” and I just respond by telling her that if she really cares about the children then she would have no problem repeating the times she wants to see them at.

Funny thing is, when I go back to check my emails on that day, then there are 6 lengthy emails, all criticism and her venting. Then, 3rd email, 2nd paragraph she mentions the time for her next request.

I have since put forth some guidelines, one of them telling her to be short and to the point for emails regarding visitation. Again, she didn’t like that.

My kids are doing great. My daughter wants nothing to do with her and doesn’t participate in the visitation. My son has to go, being younger and all. When he does go, she tries to alienate him from me.

This has caused some problems with him at home, but I’m working with his therapist to get these fixed. He has improved a lot over the past month.

I've been doing great. I have a lot more self confidence. My finances aren't in the best of shape but I'll be fine.

I could go on all day. Heck, I’m even thinking of starting a subreddit titled “my narcissistic ex-wife’s emails”. But I'll wait until the divorce is final for that one.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's story:

kitchenad7 writes:

Don't blame abuse on a mental disorder. I have BPD and have never hurt anyone other than myself. The stigma surrounding it is already horrible, and blaming it for abuse is never right.

She decided to not get help, she decided that she just wanted to be like that. Not everyone with BPD is like that, most of us are just extremely sensitive and overly emotional. Please don't make it harder for people like us by saying it's the BPD that made her abusive.

Because it's not. She decided, as a person, to be abusive. Sure, I get urges to destroy things. But I never do, because I know it's wrong. Everyone makes their own choices, despite what their mental state may be.

Saying shit like this only makes it harder for people with bpd to want to get help and want to improve. She is abusive because she's abusive, not because she has BPD.

takashi7 writes:

This story resonated with me so much. I've only had healthy relationships until my previous one. Funny that you dont realize that you're a victim of abuse (I'm a male) and you're stuck in this cycle of abuse until you're at your absolute mental and emotional breaking point.

I've read about abusive relationships but until you're truly in one, it's difficult to rationalize. "Why didn't you just leave?" "Why would you put up with that kind of behavior?"

It's so obvious when you're not in it and removed from the situation... but abusers generally are good at reeling you back in. They are good at convincing you that they can change and that it'll never happen again, etc.

Everything this guy said he went through, I personally experienced. From mind-numbing fighting over the most trivial things multiple times a day that last for hours on end to swallowing a bottle of pills and threatening to frame me for her death. We didn't have kids, which made my escape "easier".

She was objectively beautiful and could've been a model and she could turn on her charm to convince people to see things her way. But behind closed doors, the sheer uncontrolled anger and complete disregard for others will break you if you dont get out.

My advise to anyone who might be in an abusive relationship... Recognize and accept that you are in a toxic, and abusive cycle. Yes it can happen to men and women.

They won't change and they will happily destroy you in every facet of life if you dont get out. Don't listen to their excuses or promises of change. Don't make excuses for their behavior. Lastly, get out.

Do what you need to and get out. You are brave enough and I promise you, life WILL get better when you don't have a partner actively trying to hurt you. No matter what the circumstances, get out.

If you're not in an abusive relationship, congratulations. My only advice is to never get in one. I dont care how beautiful, smart, or rich someone is... it is not worth dating them if they are crazy and abusive. You can be the most successful person yourself but an abusive partner will eventually drag you down and ruin your life.

What do YOU make of this story? Any advice for OP?

Sources: Reddit
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