About

Fierce Cork Woman is British-Irish, in her 40s, married with two children. She has a degree and PhD in a hard science and has at various times been a research scientist, writer, teacher and educational consultant.

Her mother-in-law (MIL hereafter) has narcissistic personality disorder and her husband  is in the early stages of coming to terms with his mother’s dysfunctional behaviour and its impact on the family.

FCW is in contact with a community of similar people via the web and has gleaned much useful information, many tips and insights in her years of dealing with MIL and is blogging this here to help herself make sense of it all and to help others in similar situations.

FCW is not a professional psychotherapist and cannot give individual advice to anyone.

106 responses to “About

  1. anonymous

    Dear Fierce Cork Woman,
    Do you happen to have words of wisdom regarding counseling for married couples. It appears that when a spouse is the child of a narcissistic mother they too have those tendencies of narcissism in varying degrees. The years of “stuff” over the years is hard to move past especially since narcissists don’t care to apologize or see there ways or lack of empathy. If one’s narcotic spouse does apologize it seems not from the heart, in word only, so that they can appease you. Does this make sense? How are people muddling through? I also notice that their words and actions don’t match up. For example, they say they love you, etc. etc. and yet when you ask for them to cut their shower short because you are always left with cold water every morning,they sort of laugh and never oblige the request. They sing your praises when people are looking then won’t back you up around disciplining the kids, wanting to be the children’s friend or even undermining you in front of the children. It’s all so very confusing.

  2. Male in his 40s

    FCW, I hope you don’t mind if I interject here. I am sure you will give some wise words but I would like to share my experience.

    Dear Anonymous,
    I had huge hopes that I would be able to break through this thing called Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I have know about NPD since December 2013, prior to a new round of marriage counselling with a clinical psychologist. He introduced me to the concept.

    I have no doubt that my MIL has an NPD.

    I also have no doubt that my now estranged wife has NPD. plus other Cluster B traits.

    I ignored a friend of mine who is also a psychologist who specialises in PDs when she told me to ‘Run for the Hills’.

    My experience is that my wife got worse. I bent over backwards in the counselling to be the best partner I could be and in the end it broke me. I ended up with depression, at times I hit the drink. I think if you truly suspect that your spouse has a PD or traits, then do what I did not do (or I was too scared to admit it). Go see a lawyer and start planning. Get a lawyer that understands PDs.

    I did not do this – she got in first and has employed every dirty tactic possible. Your description sounds similar to mine. This resonated: won’t back you up around disciplining the kids, wanting to be the children’s friend or even undermining you in front of the children.

    Oh yes how I have experienced that so many times. You know they do it because they are actually children themselves… Part of them never grew up.

    For me, on breakup the NMIL was there right from the start relishing in she had achieved her ultimate goal. They painted me to be a monster which is so far from the truth.

    These people are sick and very dangerous. They don’t have any remorse for their lies and duplicity.

    I have read nearly every book on the subject of Cluster B PDs, all that did was allow me to recognise the patterns and behaviours and stop taking things personally, but it didn’t help.

    I have also spent a heap of money on counselling, but at the end of the day the inevitable happened. Now I have an absolute shit fight to try to keep what is dear and precious to me in light of lies, denial and false allegations.

    Good luck. I’ll be thinking of you. Keep posting, this is a good site. No doubt Alabaster might post a response to you – she is also really clued up about NPD as well.

  3. steph

    I too am in this situation after 25 years together, my husband has metaphorically run back to mummy and is blaming me for everything. I suspect he shows some NPD, but his mum is the originator – and has already been very manipulative with the grandchildren – especially favouritism for the eldest – as your post describes. I am at my wits end, because he left us and needs to ‘find himself’ . I believe him, as I think he has got to the point in his life he really does not know who he is and what feelings he has or not. at this point ‘mother’ is still manipulating and buying him everything he needs for his new life without me and literally telling him what to do and how to deal with me – I can tell his words are not primarily coming from him. She split up his sisters marriage also, and now ours. it is so frustrating as he is in complete defence of his parents – especially mother and believes I am completely wrong about her even though we have had some crazy intrusion by her towards our eldest son in particular. I would really like some help with this as it seems you have done a lot of research around this and I am in the immediate aftermath of relationship breakdown not knowing how it will work out.

    • Mid-life can throw anyone off balance as the energy and direction of your life moves from getting laid, married, having kids to “what the Hell is this all about?” and “Oh God I may never do that thing I really need to do”. Hence people try to find themselves, an important task I might add. This is to be expected if your mother has controlled your life because your life has never really been yours. That is where your husband is. He has broken your marriage but not actually managed to break free from the one relationship that would actually give him the freedom he so desperately wants to find. He will blame you as it is psychologically so much safer than blaming her. He is still running from facing that demon. If he is disorientated, upset, depressed then he is going to be easy for her to manipulate.

      If you are still talking to him I would firstly make sure you strongly and robustly reject any attempt he makes at labelling you the problem, “No I am NOT like that, you know who is? Your mother” he can only continue projecting onto you as long as you will let it stick. Do you want to try and repair things with him or to cleanly split? I am not a therapist or relationship counsellor so I cannot advise you on any legal or personal matters. You need to protect yourself, your assets and your children. Taking on someone’s abusive projection of you being the problem, your behaviour and character being at fault is bad for your mental health.

      It is at the point where you must be brutally clear and honest. If you want to try any repairing I would tell him, without her around, every single thing wrong with her, every example, hand him over printed out articles about narcissistic mothers, give him a copy of “When he is married to Mom” by Kenneth Adams and lay it out on the line. Have friends and other family who have witnessed her behaviour with you if possible. He has to break from the hold his mother has upon him or he will never be free or his own person ever. Maybe no one has ever told him that. Bear in mind that after 25 years living with you he is still that completely under her control. This does not bode well. Nothing short of him spending years disentangling himself in therapy is going to fix this. I am so sorry.

  4. Male in his 40s

    Two years ago a psychologist told me to get out and run for the hills. She was right… I cannot begin to describe what I am now going through. False allegations, baiting, the grandiosity, pathologically lies and selfcentredness. This is all on public record as it is going through the court. I can disprove much of it. They carry on as if they are not doing anything wrong. Their smugness is disturbing. And what is sad is that the are the mother and grandmother of my kids… To this day I never would have believed NPD…

    Steph, there is a lot of resource on the web. Melanie Tonia Evans is a surviver of NPD abuse and has lots to offer. EFT (tapping is a good release) Emotional freedom technique. I am yet to experience really good psychological help. I have a good psychologist but I think I actually have more knowledge of Cluster B. The worst think is you have lived in a lie, and that is hard to come to terms with.

    • steph

      Thx yes it is that shocking feeling that this person has turned 180 deg to try and destroy me in such a calculating way . the lies are also hard to fathom and I question the rest of the marriage too

  5. Male in his 40s

    I am sorry to say that at some point you might need to realise that this person never really loved you. Its nothing against you. They just don’t know how to love and lack the ability to love. I had an amazing sex life, but if I wanted a hug or a cuddle I was dismissed or there was an excuse… There are a few of us that regularly use this site, keep posting. you are amongst friends. My friends and my psychologist describe my ex’s lies as being enough rope, but I am kinda heartbroken because I invested so much into our lives, I slept in the same bed for years and she is the mother of my kids and has no remorse for her behavior. Thats the hardest to deal with and it brings me to tears every time…

  6. Nikki

    So glad I found this blog…. Never really had a word to describe my MIL until my SIL (her own daughter) told me that her therapist gave her literature to read about being raised by a narcissist. Then it was like a light bulb! Things have gotten much worse since my lovely, patient FIL passed in nearly 2 years ago. Time to settle down and read some more!

  7. SpeedBird

    Dear Fierce Cork Woman, thank you so much for your words of wisdom. Finding this website has been the best thing that has happened to me for a long time. I am in a similar situation, except we don’t have kids and are not married despite having been together for a long time, about 10 years. And, yes, I suspect my partner’s mother has a lot to do with us not being married and not having kids. We are currently in therapy and I hope things would get better.
    It makes me really said, the way my partner’s mom has been treating both him and his sister. He has turned out better, as he is the Golden Child, but the sister is a complete wreck and at 28 she is still unable to stand up to her mother and, what is more, she is constantly striving towards failure so as to reinforce the idea that has been put into her head – that she is good for nothing.
    What is more, my partner’s mom did nothing when her husband fell ill – he was an alcoholic for years and ultimately passed away from liver failure. A year or so before they tried to put him in hospital for treatment – all the time she whined she was left alone at home, what would the neighbours say if they found out he was alcoholic (seriously?!) and even secretly brought him a bottle of vodka to the hospital (I mean, really…). The kids – my partner and his sister, literally did nothing, because, you know, mommy said…
    Now she is playing the role of the lonely, abandoned woman and my partner feels bad and responsible, which is starting to affect our relationship big time.
    My partner is a really great guy and I love him but I am running out of patience and out of time. 😦 If therapy does not help soon… I am mentally preparing myself for the scenario where I would have to leave and let him be with mommy…

  8. Positive thinking

    Hello – thank you so much for writing this intelligent, practical and detailed blog. It’s easily the most helpful thing I’ve read re my situation and is really helping me to understand how to deal with my narcissistic MIL. It also has made me feel not so alone with my situation (I was beginning to feel like I was going mad with it all as no friends or family can really understand it and at times she has done a good job in making me question if the problems in our relationship are my fault! )

    I have a couple of simple queries re whether you have any tips for handling certain specific situations that I’d be so grateful to raise with you offline (I know SIL often looks at these websites) and just wondered if there was anyway of contacting you? Thanks again (you have saved my sanity!)

    • Hi Positive Thinking, I’m glad you’ve been able to find something useful here. There are lots of us in similar situations.

      I am unable to offer any one-to-one advice beyond what people are willing to share with me and any readers through the comments section. Comments and replies here are more of a chat with like minded people and you are free to take or leave what advice or tips get posted there. I am not a certified relationship therapist of any sort and it would be unethical to offer advice to people in that guise. I can suggest some websites and forums where this sort of family problem is discussed. Out of the Fog is a website with a moderated chat forum for anyone dealing with a family member with a personality disorder http://outofthefog.website/ another commentor said she has found the Mumsnet UK thread “But we took you to stately homes!” in the Relationships section supportive and friendly, you could try there.

  9. Lisa

    Your blog is an absolute lifesaver for me. My MIL is classic NPD (every single post of yours resonates with me) and, unfortunately, FIL is almost equally as bad.

    Yesterday was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me, when they blatantly disregarded a simple request and stormed out crying because they perceived me as being ungrateful and unfair. We have not talked to them since. My husband is still in denial, but he is much more aware and alert to it than he was even a few years ago.

    They will try their classic tactics to re-engage us (complete with plenty of tears and pleas to be a “family”), but I am standing firm. This will no doubt cause waves with my husband and me, and it will no doubt cause issues with our youngest, the only of our three children who still views them with any affection. I am doing all I know to do to minimize the damage to him. I have made the conscious choice to cut all contact with them. How this will play out with the rest of the family, I don’t know, but I myself will no longer be engaging with them in any way, shape, or form.

    20 years of damage to my mental health at the hands of their narcissistic ways, and years of witnessing them overtly favor (and groom) our youngest to the detriment of their relationships with the older two children, is enough. Thank you so much for speaking so authentically and intelligently about this issue. I have a feeling I will be a frequent visitor to your blog!

  10. Suffering in America

    I understand Unfortunately, my family is dissolving as my husband suffers from this stuff too. It’s really ugly

  11. AQ

    Your blog has really been a lifesaver! I also have a PhD in a hard science and so does my husband. But these 3 letters are useless when it comes to dealing with my MIL. I wish I had realized her toxicity when i first met her 9 years ago, but naive me, I thought her behavior would get better. Even after we got married, she kept telling me and my husband that these days people decide to “live separately after marriage”, “you don’t want to live on top of each other” etc. Still I convinced myself that she just didn’t like me because of [reasons I would make up] and that things would get better. And my husband agreed. Well, it didn’t get any better and in the meantime we had our first baby! Having this child has been an eye-opener for me. She went downright insane! Shortly after birth, she wanted to just TAKE and KEEP the baby. She started calling me “just a food source” for the baby, wanted to let the baby cry to that she could hold him, wouldn’t even let me change his diaper if he was crying because she wanted him to “sleep on her”. She wanted him to sleep on her and how could she not have it! I brought it up with my husband and after a series of unpleasant conversations with him, he agrees that she has a problem. We visit his parents once a month now for a few hours even though they live 20 mins away whereas we used to visit them twice a week in the baby’s first year. What horror that was! She tried to use her aging husband as an excuse to get us to visit them. He is a nice man except that he can’t stand up to his wife and is non-confrontational. I didn’t mind it before but now that it’s hurting the well-being of my baby, I find this avoidant behavior unacceptable. I have resolved that my baby will never be alone with her and end up becoming an emotionally damaged adult like she has done to my husband even though he will not accept it. He doesn’t believe that her behavior towards him is abusive at all. According to him, her main problem is that she can’t let go of her son.

    Her new strategy to hurt us is to badmouth me to other family members. Recently, she kept mentioning in front of our uncle and aunt how I have all the say in our family. In front of them, she asked me if she could offer chocolate to my husband, and when I said that she could if she wanted to, she turned to the aunt and said “I have to ask”. During the same visit, she complained to these people that my husband “doesn’t tell her anything” as if she is his high school girl friend. Honestly, that was exactly the look and tone of her voice. No one said anything to that. When my husband called her on mothers day, she said that she thought he might not phone because her friend told her that after men get married they don’t think with their own brains.

    Now another set of relatives that she visited recently have written to us to advise us that we should get our baby X citizenship (MIL is X) because it would be good for him and that MIL “casually mentioned” that we don’t want the baby to be an X citizen. What a load of BS! We have told our MIL several times that he is an X citizen, it’s just a matter of applying for a passport. She just wants to get us to do it asap for some reason I don’t understand.

    Anyone got any suggestions about what to do in situations where (a) MIL makes snide remarks in your presence in front of other relatives in order to make you look bad, or (b) MIL visits other family members and lies about you? any directions or tips here would be very helpful.

    Also, while discussing MIL’s pathology with my husband, I mentioned this blog and read a few paragraphs, his response in the end was “what do you want from me! I admit that she has a problem. we don’t visit them often, now what.” I think since I am still recovering from this revelation, all the past incidents come to mind where her craziness was clear and my husband didn’t do anything about it so I keep bringing it up. may be i shouldn’t.

    • Hey 🙂

      Just putting in some of my thoughts, hope it will be helpful, even a little. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with something like this, can be very difficult and it’s understandable that you’re bothered by your MIL’s actions. I am also still in the early stages of coming to terms with having to go no-contact with the MIL, and as weird as it is… I backslide sometimes and feel like I should afford her more empathy. It does my head in.

      a) About her making snide remarks and trying to frame you up to be someone you are not, you need to have more faith that people will know you for you, and if they don’t… do you really want to care? I am curious though, does she do this to just you, or other people as well? because if you are not the only one, it’s fair to assume others will see through her actions too 🙂

      b) if she lies about you, the same applies. is this to her relatives or yours? you have to believe that people know you better than that and hope that they have the wisdom to judge things as they are. It’s really hard, but you have to pick your battles. If my experience is any indication, the MIL will put up many landmines and battles, need to pick em right.

      Hope you feel better soon 🙂

      • arbitqubit

        My in laws have a very small family and She has managed to keep my husband away from the direct reach of everyone. She acts as a mediator for most conversations. Unfortunately she meets these relatives for several weeks every year when she visits her home country whereas we see them much less often. Basically, everyone in the family has spent very little time with me, maybe 0.1% of the amount they spend with her. And I think this is likely to continue because the family is scattered across the globe and it’s hard for us to visit everyone. So I don’t know how they’ll get to know me to verify the veracity of what she’s saying.

      • Hi I have done as much as I can to anonymise you, I don’t have control over your avatar, I’m sorry

  12. Thanks for writing the blog. Inspired me to finally start one of my own. Been thinking about it for some time and did not know where to go to vent… worried that not only it’s going to not solve the problem it might cause more. But here we are. Looking fwd to reading more.

    Thanks again 🙂

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