During Divorce, My Husband Couldn’t Look Me In The Eyes

Photo: Ostanina Anna / Shutterstock
sad couple going through divorce

My boys and I grab a table at our favorite restaurant. It’s my son’s birthday, and I’ve asked my husband to meet us for dinner.

He arrives and the mood becomes uncomfortable. I try to overcompensate by engaging him.

He answers curtly, but there’s something more curious about his behavior.

RELATED: The Devastating Reality Of Falling In Love With A Narcissist

My husband can’t look me in the eyes.

He either looks down or away while answering my questions.

I have no choice, but to make conversation. He will not speak to me otherwise.

I’m trying to make the situation more palatable. Despite my attempts, I am continually shut down. He will answer, but not converse.

We finish our meal and head toward the car.

"Mom," says my teenage son. "I know what you’re trying to do and I get it, but don’t include him anymore. It’s awkward."

Even my boys can see he is positively uncomfortable around me.

It aggravates me that my husband can’t rally a few times a year.

If anything, I should be the one who makes it unpleasant. We are now several years into what will ultimately be a five-year divorce. It’s been an extremely abusive process.

He’s willing to hurt our children to hurt me and leave me with nothing.

Yet I can muster the energy to tolerate him and be pleasant.

As my mother would say, "Isn’t that a bite in the a**?"

I include my husband on birthdays and a few other occasions for my children’s sake.

Divorce isn’t easy and no child should go through an overly long abusive divorce.

These are the celebratory days I feel like they deserve to be surrounded by as much love as possible.

My initial aggravation turns to fascination.

Why can’t he look me in the eyes?

My guess is that it’s one of two reasons although I finally settle on a third.

RELATED: How To Instantly Spot A Sociopath Or Narcissist

My first theory is guilt.

My husband is feeling guilty about lying, cheating, and stealing every single dime we have from our business and investments. And leaving me with nothing. The long-term agenda he’s had since we first started having marital problems.

Maybe he’s even feeling bad about the extreme financial abuse he’s inflicting.

My conclusion?

This is highly unlikely.

Any man who can lay next to a woman for six years and lie, cheat, and steal doesn’t have a conscience. That’s the number of years I gave myself away trying to resuscitate our marriage.

You can’t feel anything if you can methodically and systematically rob your wife blind. And hide all of the money while she sacrifices herself to save your marriage.

My second theory is he still has feelings for me.

I left my husband. To say I shocked him is an understatement.

He never really believed I would leave. He would say things like, "Why would you leave The Golden Goose?" A nod to his self-proclaimed success.

Maybe it’s hard for him to see me. Maybe he hasn’t gotten over me.

It’s not that far a stretch. It takes time for people to heal in divorce, especially the person who was left. We were college sweethearts, and I was his only long-term girlfriend.

My conclusion?

This is also highly unlikely.

I left a man who was diagnosed as lacking empathy. A narcissist on the severe end of the spectrum. It took our second marriage counselor to identify this.

A narcissist isn’t capable of true love. They love as much as they are capable of loving anything and nothing comes before their love of self. Thus, I was easily replaceable.

This abusive personality doesn’t attach itself to anyone. They simply need a person, anyone who will make their world go round.

My first two theories were shot.

Not to mention, my husband’s lack of empathy made my number one theory even more unlikely. A narcissist doesn’t have the ability to possess a guilty conscience.

I came to a third and entirely different conclusion.

It’s based on something my marriage counselor once told me.

"When does a narcissist truly expose themselves?" I asked him one day. "What drives a narcissist out of hiding?"

My marriage counselor thought for a moment and said, "I think the most telling signs are when a narcissist gets angry and their defenses are down and their meanness comes out."

RELATED: How To Deal With A Narcissist — 8 Smart & Simple Steps

My third theory is the angry narcissist.

My husband couldn’t look at me because he was angry.

A narcissist doesn’t get over their fury. It festers. It fumes. It fuels.

He was as enraged as the day I left him. He wouldn’t give me the satisfaction of a glance or a word. Because engaging and conversing with me after I had left him would be a win for me. At least in a narcissist’s eyes. And a narcissist never loses.

My conclusion?

It’s highly likely.

When a narcissist believes they are wronged, they are unrelenting. It’s not a wound that will heal. They are a victim. They will punish you either overtly or covertly.

I married a passive-aggressive narcissist. It’s what is known as covert narcissism. My husband wouldn’t look me in the eye or talk to me because I had crossed him.

I’m not gonna lie…Initially, I was happy I made him uncomfortable.

He did terrible things at the end of our marriage and during the divorce.

And he never cared how much he hurt our children or me.

It was about time he felt something. Of course, that was fleeting. It was momentary. It was when I pondered theory one and theory two. It was when I still mused that I left a man who had the ability to have an inkling of depth.

It was before I embraced theory three.

I didn’t make my husband uncomfortable.

He couldn’t care less about me.

My presence didn’t impact him emotionally in any capacity known to otherwise healthier human beings. He didn’t want to be around me because I angered him.

During the divorce, my husband couldn’t look me in the eyes.

He couldn’t muster the energy to be pleasant and tolerate me.

As my mother would say, "Isn’t that a bite in the a**?"

RELATED: 6 Signs You're In Love With A Serious Narcissist

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes bout love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.