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I’ve been caretaker of my husband for 5 years. He has narcissistic characteristics. Whenever I discuss getting a nurse to stay with him while I work or go visit my dad it turns into an all out argument. He thinks I want him to be in the hospital or a home because he is a burden and I hate him. He cannot empathize at all. He says he would be happy to take care of me if the shoe was on the other foot. He would never feel stressed because he loves me. I must not love him since I need to get away every once in a while. I go on a 4 day girl trip once a year. He thinks he can go, stay in a hotel and be fine instead of staying home. I cannot convince him that would be worse cause I’d be pulled in two directions. He doesn’t want a stranger in the house but he also doesn’t want anyone he knows, including family. He only wants me to take care of him even when others are around and offer. I am overly stressed and cannot get away without him throwing a fit for weeks...even brings it back up years later. I wish I was exaggerating.

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You know what? There are no answers that you are going to like.

I will tell you anyway, just as others told me about my mom.

My husband and daughters always told me, “Your mom will complain no matter what, so do what YOU want to do. Everyone needs a break!”

Arrange care for him. Take your trip! Don’t answer your phone! Have a great time!!!

When you return, wear earplugs or headphones.
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Myownlife Mar 13, 2021
Oh yes.... I do the earplugs thing also!!! Thought I was the only one :)
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So many people come on this board trying to make the person they care for HAPPY all the time. Not possible. In fact, some people just don't want to be happy.

Think of it this way....no one goes to a job 24/7. Most people work 5 days a week and have two days off...to get a break. Or they take a vacation....to get a break. How is this any different? You can't do the same thing day after day and not get a little break here and there.

He will be unhappy no matter what so you might as well do what makes you happy. Why is his happiness more important than yours? If he pouts, get up and leave the room. Make it clear you will no longer listen to his tirades about how you 'left him'. He probably won't change so you have to change how you react.
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WritrChick Mar 13, 2021
You are so right about some people not wanting to be happy. My elderly mother can find the dark cloud in any sunny sky. And if she complains about something, and I suggest an easy solution, she says 'Oh, no, I don't want to do that because...'
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Manipulation = hubby.
Nothing can be done to change his behaviors because his behaviors have worked for him for his entire life and throughout your marriage.
The only thing you CAN DO is change your behaviors. STOP "reassuring" him. And arrange for outside help to ease your workload. Changing your responses and reactions, collectively will help you to break free from his guilt-tripping influences/capabilities.
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WritrChick Mar 13, 2021
Yes. This.
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You mention your Husband is a stroke survivor, among his other health issues in your profile.

It could be anxiety/fear, lack of insight of his level of care, lack of empathy to understand your side of things, all of this & more.

Ater a stroke, my Mother is similar. Apparently it happens quite a bit with brain injuries( of which stroke is considered to be). She cannot understand why Dad wants to go the shops for 30 mins on his own without taking her in her wheelchair, let alone he recover from an operation in peace or take a trip. Sadly, empathy & insight are now quite diminished. Dad was told to book carers (ie non-him) so he could get a break. To do what was NEEDED, not just what she wants.

I always ask if it passes the *reasonable* test. Is it reasonable a fulltime caregiver gets regular breaks, a weekend away now & then? Absolutely yes indeed.

Tell him it's Doctor's orders that you get a break. Do it.
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Harpcat Mar 13, 2021
I love the reasonable test! Good one
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I'd suggest that you don't "discuss" the idea with him - obviously, it's not working. I'd hire someone and simply let in your substitute when he/she gets there. Then introduce him in glowing terms, i.e. 'this is so-n-so; he's a wonderful story-teller, singer, gardener, or whatever would be most flattering to him. Make this very quick and stay cheerful. Don't linger, just tell your husband that you'll be back soon and then leave.
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Jim is only 55?

I would be blunt and put my foot down hard.

Jim, you say your would look after me, but you refuse to all me any time off, how is that caring for me?

Jim, when you argue that I must not love you because of my annual woman's weekend, it makes me believe that you do not care at all about my well being and makes me wonder why I put up with you the rest of the year.

Jim, you are acting childlike when you insist that I get up from my rest at the fire to serve you, when our son is right there and willing to help you.

Jim, if you continue to throw a fit about home care coming in to give me a break, I will look into assisted living for you. I cannot provide everything you need. Perhaps if you are in a care facility, we can go back to being husband and wife, not care giver and complainer.

Jim, You know you are right. I really wonder why I am staying when all you do is demand more and more of me. Perhaps it is time to talk to a divorce lawyer.
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NYDaughterInLaw Mar 13, 2021
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! This 55 year old manipulative brat needs a dose of reality.
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Thank ALL of you. My kids and friends tell me the same things. I’ve just got to toughen up. All of you are so correct. My son is here so I’m having some quiet time out by a fire. My husband calls me in cause he wants me inside as well, also wants some medicine. I told him that his son is right there and can get him what he wants(which my son didn’t know why he called me or he would have intercepted). I’m back outside
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Harpcat Mar 13, 2021
Good for you! Often very insecure marriage partners are also often manipulative which he is. To want you by his side all the time says a lot about his personality. My dad was similar with my mom. He was also insecure and needed constant affirmation. You can’t fix a personality disorder at the expense of your own mental health. Establishing boundaries of what you need is essential and healthy. As others said, he's not going to be happy regardless. Also, I suggest talking with a therapist...which most are now doing over Zoom
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Let him complain. Just agree and keep conversation short, then go anyway - and preferably, more often! You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

And no, he can't empathise. So don't ask him to be happy you're going, just don't let it stop you.
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Myownlife Mar 13, 2021
Right on the money, Countrymouse. I used to explain in detail many times everything to my mom. You are right; now I just think it, and then limitedly say what's happening. And then do it. So so much easier now I have this figured out. I hope all of this will help the OP as well.
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Been there. Survived. I learned that discussing things was futile. Walk away. I admitted my husband to an ACF on Thursday. There’s no one here yelling at me. Do you have a POA? If not, get one NOW.
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"I am caring for my husband Jim, who is 55 years old, living at home with anxiety, depression, diabetes, incontinence, mobility problems, and stroke."

You married a narcissist. The sooner you accept that you cannot change a narcissist and that a narcissist's only goal is to manipulate people in doing his bidding, the longer you will feel "overly stressed".

You cannot change your husband. You can only change your own behavior and attitude. You need to learn to establish healthy boundaries and stand up for yourself and your own needs and desires.

Hire in-home help for your husband on a regular basis. Use that time to get away and do your own thing. Do not ask your husband for permission to accept help from family who offer to help him and give you respite. And when your son wants to help just enlist him and let him help his father.

Perhaps both you and your son need to establish a unified front with Jim. If Jim declines help, that's his *choice* and it doesn't mean that you then have to jump to his rescue.

Establishing new ways of doing things is never easy. Your husband is used to my-way-or-the-highway. That never works and it's not a partnership. When he starts with the manipulative you want "him to be in the hospital or a home because he is a burden and I hate him...he would be happy to take care of me if the shoe was on the other foot. He would never feel stressed because he loves me. I must not love him..." NONSENSE, learn to say something like "Jim, you will not speak to me like that" and walk away. He has trained you to give up all your power and independence and now it's time you trained him to treat you with the respect and courtesy that you deserve.

Only you can change the dynamic of your marriage. You have choices. You matter.
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Myownlife Mar 13, 2021
Wow, I hadn't read anyone else's posts before I wrote my own about my mom and me. Yours sounds so similar with my situation. It took a lot of time and several books about narcissism a couple of years ago for me to figure all this out.
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