Confessions of being a spouse of an ACoN

Up til now I've said a lot about living with an ACoN- living with narcissists in my family myself- and everything in between. But I've never really confessed what it's really like to be a spouse to a person wrestling with a past completely controlled by their family. It's not always pretty- but it's true and needs to be mentioned.

We were warned. Chances are, if you attended premarital counseling of any kind you were told stories of how you'd likely argue about the major things most couples struggle with: sex, money and bad habits. Um- as someone marrying an ACoN- not so much. Honestly- no one prepares you for THAT. If I were to sit down with a prospective bride or groom and let them know what they're in for with this marriage- here's what I would tell them.

- Be sure you're not in the marriage for the WIN factor. Realistically, I've been there. The feeling that if you mess up the marriage and end up as an ex, that you're letting the N-in laws win- that's a huge amount of undue pressure! Are you in this because you love this person enough to be committed to them- or are you simply pressured into not giving into their ridiculous parents' desire to break up?

-Is the ACoN an N themselves? Really think about this one. In my mind there are two kinds of ACoN- those who escape and those that do not. Is this person on the outside of the unhealthy cycle? Or do they stick around and become a flying monkey?

-Are you both able to argue effectively? I mean- aside from all the 'normal' argument triggers in a marriage- the N family will probably bring you the most stress. Do your fights go around in circles or do they end with both of you realizing you're a team and coming up with a way to move forward from square one?

My deepest, darkest confession is that I'm not a great wife. I question my marriage every day. Maybe that makes me a great wife- I'm not sure yet. Sometimes I wonder if I'm in it to WIN or in it because I want to be. Sometimes I wonder if my husband is a little TOO much like his family for our relationship to survive. I love him- but I don't always like him. Let's face it- it's hard to continue on with a relationship build on shaky foundations of turmoil.

It's not easy. To those who are ACoNs themselves or are married to one- you know what I'm talking about. No one (okay, very few people) will ever really KNOW what you're talking about when you say your family or in laws are awful. There will be 'me too's to deal with and pats on the back as others go off to their marriages and families untouched by the horrors of growing up and living with continued emotional and mental abuse that N's so often leave behind. You will feel lonely- but you're not alone.


  1. Wow. I understand the entirety of this post and I see myself in it. Thank you for writing it.

  2. Brings up bad memories after reading this. Ex-inlaws were a nightmare and continue to be so with my daughter. Told her she was going to hell because she got pregnant while still in high school, and told her that her boyfriends family were all horrible people. When she was younger they used to stalk her when we were not on speaking terms. She is stronger that I thought and gave them a piece of her mind after that. Nobody is ever good enough to be a part of their world, or so it seems.

  3. I have been married to an acon for over 8 years. I felt loved and cherished while we were dating and engaged, but the second we said "I do" it's like a switch flipped in his head and he needed to distance himself from me emotionally. I have not felt loved since. We seperated and he finally got serious about counseling and I gave him another shot because I was fearful about the effects of divorce on the kids. He isn't a narcissist himself, but he doesn't know how to love a wife. Counseling has helped a little, but it's not enough. I feel very lonely and for years I have felt hopeless. I am afraid to divorce him because of the effects on the kids and we are able to parent well together. We haven't had sex in years and I have considered having an affair, but that would just destroy all of us. I feel stuck- afraid to leave him and harm my kids, but he will never become someone who loves me.

    1. Oh anonymous! I am so so sorry to read this. :( Breaks my heart. Email me anytime!
      Without going into too much depth ( I can via email) I have been there lately as well. You're not alone, I promise. Big hugs! I'm here if you ever need to talk.


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