Why Would My Husband Have Created Such a False Persona to Be With Me?

Reader’s Question

I am struggling through a divorce from a man whom I thought was the love of my life when I married him. To marry me, my husband essentially created a whole image and persona, espousing personal values that were my values, and lived a complete lie of a life that finally fell apart once I stopped making and accepting excuses for his behaviors. Why do these guys do this? Why marry someone they do not like or respect, and then waste all these years when he could have lived the life he wanted? He also has to pay a divorce settlement that may possibly bankrupt him in the long run (because certain facts will come out and investors will probably withdraw from his projects).

I know he didn’t care about my feelings, but why do this to himself? If he had been honest with himself about who he was and what he wanted, he would never have even dated me — he could have been living the way he did want (as he is now…), and I would have been spared this gut wrenching nightmare.

Am I repeating myself? Probably. My thinking sometimes is circular. He is so punishing in his hatred for me, yet I never hid who I was or what I believed or what my life was about. So why pick me, pursue me, and then hate me?

Psychologist’s Reply

Your husband may have features associated with a Personality Disorder (see my introduction to personality disorders). While you are trying to understand what happened from a normal/healthy perspective, Personality Disorders think very differently. A Personality Disorder is highly manipulative and as you describe, can be a social chameleon — quickly changing their behavior, beliefs, and appearance to match their environment or their personal goals. In business, they are the classic con-artists. In romance, they may also be con-artists and typically have a goal or agenda that is unknown to their spouse/partner.

Why would he live a lie? Many reasons are possible. When you mention investors and projects, his marriage to you may have been good for his career, his projects, his finances, etc. The marriage may have allowed him to appear more credible or stable while he continued to operate in an unethical manner. Overall, individuals with personality problems pick partners for their benefit, not always for the benefit of the relationship or their partner.

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So why is he now so hateful? Personality Disorders (Narcissistic Personality may be possible in this case) feel they are more intelligent, shrewd, and clever than those around them. Even when they are doing well, however, their selfishness creates behaviors that eventually destroy their schemes. In your situation, you’ve called attention to his bad behavior, his scheme, and placed the light of reality on his life and projects. He may be angry at you for revealing him to the public. For example, criminals are never upset over their crimes — they’re upset because they’re caught. In short, he’s upset because his plans didn’t work out and he’s now facing the consequences. He’s probably not upset that the marriage didn’t work out.

As you go through this difficult process, remain alert for possible manipulations. Consult with your attorney to protect yourself. Also remember that Personality Disorders often place ex-partners on “back burner” and despite his anger and hostility at this time, he will likely contact you in the future with a sad or apologetic story, hoping to start the scheme over again. A great con-artist in France actually sold the Eiffel Tower — twice! They’re always thinking…

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