How to Live With a Cheating, Narcissistic Husband

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This seems to be an area of concern, so I thought I’d share my insights.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give one a general idea of how to live with this sort of arrangement.  Below, I offer the bare basics of living with a narcissistic, cheating husband:

  • Don’t speak unless spoken to.  Anything less will send the Narcissist into a rage.  Your place is simply to be there in the event the Narcissist needs to be catered to, have their sexual urges satisfied, or needs an adoring devotee to fawn over him.
  • Resign yourself to the fact that holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions will always be ruined.  Be prepared for especially cruel name-calling and vulgarities.  You have no right to be happy unless he’s the reason for it.    If, and only if, he decides you should be happy, he might attempt to be “nice” after bringing you to a nuclear melt-down in front of the children.  In fact, he might go so far as to slip you a twenty-dollar bill on your anniversary.  Isn’t he thoughtful?  But don’t count on it.  He’s spending most of his money on grooming other supply.
  • Don’t rely on being intimate with him.  He’s giving his best to the other woman/women.  He already has you, so he doesn’t see the need to expend such effort for your benefit.  Unless, of course, you mention the possibility of ending the relationship; he might throw you a bone then. On the flip-side, if he’s histrionic, he might use you for sex, but don’t expect anything more than being a booty-call. Accept that he can’t help that he must have other women.  It’s just his nature.  Don’t you feel sorry for him?  On that note, when you get an STD from his serial cheating, don’t blame him.  It probably came from his other supply, at least that will be his story.  Or, he’ll just make things easy on himself and accuse YOU of cheating.
  • Accept that everything will always be your fault.  Did he forget to call his mom on her birthday?  Your fault.  Are his siblings thinking about cutting him out of their lives?  Your fault.  His DUI?  Your fault.  The fact he got fired from his job last week? Your fault.  That he failed his first year of college before you even met?  Your fault.  His great Uncle dying of leukemia when he was fourteen?  Just  fess up already…
  • Realize that the silent treatment will be a permanent fixture in the relationship.  This happens when you dare to ask for respect, point out that something he said or did was hurtful, and sometimes, just because.  There really is no rhyme or reason.  Make sure to send him lots of pleading texts and emails while he’s gone.  He’ll love that; but don’t expect any response.  Your role here is to feel absolutely desperate and non-existent.
  • If you want to make him really happy, share the news of your promotion of work so he can trivialize the occasion and mock your accomplishments.  Tell him how right he is when he says you can’t do anything right and will be fired soon.  There’s nothing more pleasing to the Narcissist than when his victim falls prey to self-fulfilling prophecies.  Just ask all the women who’ve lost their jobs while married to or involved with a Narcissist.
  • Understand that if you fall ill or need to be admitted to the hospital for any reason, it’s still business as usual for him.  In fact, he may use the opportunity to invalidate you even further.  Your cancer diagnosis?  Well, you don’t look so bad to him, as he’ll likely share with you as you’re coming out of the effects of anesthesia after having a tumor removed.  If he’s even there.  I’ve known of Narcs to continue womanizing even as their wives lay dying in the hospital.  On the bright side, it should be comforting to know that he will be able to go on with life after you’re gone.

I could go on, but this should give you an idea of how to live with a cheating, Narcissistic husband.  I’ve put things into perspective here in hopes that I can help you overcome abuse amnesia and magical thinking.

If your spouse engages in any of the above behaviors, you should seriously consider going No Contact and severing the relationship, especially if you have children.  Otherwise, you’ll need to resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never really live again, and if you do have children that their chances of becoming co-dependent or Narcissistic are greatly elevated.

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Rebecca says August 8, 2023

I found a lump in my breast, waited a week to see if maybe it was from bumping into wooden pallets at work etc. It didn’t go away it grew bigger and when I told him with tears in my eyes all he could do was get angry at me because i didn’t tell him sooner and made it all about how i treat him like he’s nothing, how i don’t trust him or respect him. Then silence. It’s been almost a year since then and still not one word of concern or question about my health. Now he will call his best friend or brother and ask how their sprained ankle is or how their big toe is doing after minor injuries. And he asks them right in front of me to make sure i know he doesn’t care about my breast tumor.

Anonymous says November 18, 2021

This is the gospel truth every word!

Amina Rebbani says August 8, 2019

So helpfull

Sad and lonely says June 5, 2019

My husband has been having a semi secret affair with a work colleague for over 20 years since I was pregnant with my youngest – I have photographed texts between them secretly and have found he is also lying to her regarding his movements- I think I need to confront her as he tells me she is just a work friend but I have read it to be much more!!

Edward Moran says May 24, 2019

I know some people who have been cheated on, often multiple times.
Some of them move on with their lives, others find this terribly difficult.

Victim says April 4, 2019

What a brilliant article – I’ve identified all the points made, I’m sad because at the moment I feel like I don’t have a life. It’s empty and lonely – he refuse to leave but remains cheating.

Delia Menching says April 6, 2018

Everything stated on this page describes my husband exactly. It’s very eerie to see but I’m so thankful to know I’m not crazy. There were signs that he was cheating for many years and I finally found out two weeks ago that he is. I’m physically sick because of what he’s done and what he’s doing now that I threw him out. He’s psychotic. I was a confident, happy, fun person when we met. He systematically tore me down to almost nothing. If I stand up to him, he comes on exponentially stronger. His father abandoned him and his mother was not loving and is a narcissist herself. He had a horrible childhood. I tried to give him a happy, stable life but I just can’t do it anymore. He had me on the brink of suicide. I’m a very strong person against this building of weight he’s laid on me and I’m going to go super man (or woman) on him and push him far, far away, emotionally. We have a son together so I’ll always have to deal with him. I just need to build a bullet proof wall around me. Hugs to all those that have ever been in this situation. It’s phenomenally difficult, I feel you.

    Anonymous says October 30, 2019

    True it feels like a hell to stuck in marriage like this

    Sarah says April 7, 2022

    I can feel this shit every single day .I have 3 kids with him my kids have no future without him ,so I have to live with him .there is no hope for me at the moment ?.

Brian stephan says April 29, 2017

Last year I broke up with my girlfriend due to many misunderstandings and I remember very well how hard I had been fighting to get her back. She changed her number, changed her job so that I don’t visit her office and none of her friends would give me any information about her. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get her back then a friend recommended me to contact dr.mac@yahoo. com that he will help me and as my friend said, Dr.Mack helped me to bring back my girlfriend just in 3 days, I now have her back and this is the biggest joy of my life…

John says August 11, 2015

And if it’s a wife doing the above mentioned?
– miserable

    Kim Saeed says August 11, 2015


HB says April 19, 2015

Dear Kim, I would like to ask if some ladies married to narcissistic men do not actually realising that they are flirting online with other women, or do they maybe know about it, but tolerate it because they want to keep their husband? Also do you think that maybe some a marriage could consist of both a narcissistic man and woman in which they then both act like this? I’m asking due to a recent friendship which I talked about in another post. I knew that the guy I was friends with had a lot of flirty relationships online, not just with me. Now it has ended I wonder whether he will continue this behaviour with other ladies, or do you think he could change?

tripperben says April 8, 2015

My four kids and I went to my mother’s house for christmas dinner and came home to find our Christmas tree in the garbage just because he felt like it. It was the worst Christmas.

    Kim Saeed says April 8, 2015

    Gosh, how terrible. Are the two of you still together?

beautifullybrokendisiaster says July 15, 2014

I think I am married to this man! 🙁

afterthepsychopath says June 28, 2014

Resign yourself to the fact that holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions will always be ruined. Be prepared for especially cruel name-calling and vulgarities. You have no right to be happy unless he’s the reason for it. If, and only if, he decides you should be happy, he might attempt to be “nice” after bringing you to a nuclear melt-down in front of the children. In fact, he might go so far as to slip you a twenty-dollar bill on your anniversary. Isn’t he thoughtful? But don’t count on it. He’s spending most of his money on grooming other supply.

I don’t think my ex cheated (but he probably would have if he had had the chance, he just didn’t, I think). But he definitely ruined EVERY holiday, birthday or vacation by creating drama and hell.


armyofangels2013 says June 27, 2014

Kim, you are a master, narcissist profiler:-) I tried to make a life in all but number 3, and he probably was cheating, I just didn’t know the signs…I was working most of the time while he was home (“watching tv”). All the best with your “no-contact” endeavor! It is a great thing you are doing….continuing to reach out to survivors…

Kymythy says June 27, 2014

Eaves dropping on my life again, were you?! So painfully dead on. After more than 30 years of marriage, he was caught and horribly painful facts were discovered. I was foolish to try to “rebuild” our marriage. After a year and a half…and a recommitment ceremony, he left with the OW blaming me for “traumatizing” him by “beating him up” with letting him know how he had hurt me. A few days earlier I had said I was done if he continued to lie. He sneaked out of the house while I was in another room. He had had a secret phone and had been in contact w/OW all along, even during our “recommitment” ceremony and the day he exclaimed in the therapist’s office “I do NOT have a secret phone! I am being 100% honest!”. After he left, I reminded him that we had agreed that it would be more honest, respectful, and a less damaging to ask for a divorce than to commit adultery. He told me he didn’t want a divorce. WTF?! That said to me “I’d rather hurt you as much as possible.” He’s still in another state and emails me, signing off with “I love you.” NO, he doesn’t. Life sucks.

    Allie says June 23, 2016

    You have power over this POS!!! I’ve been married to one for 30 years as well… You’ve got to kick him out or leave, ASAP. I am a very spiritual woman( actually became closer to The Lord about 5 years ago), and am pretty sure that cheating( emotional or physical) does not sit pretty with him… You’ve given your all… You have attempted counseling as well. Life doesn’t suck, it just sucks with him, and will always. They are robots, incapable of empathy or real love. I know it’s really hard to wrap your head around that because you know love.. They just like the idea of love. They feel nothing! Retain an attorney on the down low and get finances together as well! ❤️

kimberlyharding says June 27, 2014

Great reality check. Magical thinking is so costly.

    Kim Saeed says June 27, 2014

    Thanks, Kimberly. I know exactly how costly it can be…

    Great to see you here.

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