Narcissism in Your Marriage
- Do you give your marriage your best, but your best is never enough?
- Do you often feel neglected & emotional despair?
- Do your arguments go round in circles & never get resolved?
- Are you worried you will both need years of therapy to get better?
- Do you sometimes worry, “Maybe it’s me who is causing the fights?”
Narcissism in Your Marriage Looks Like This . . .
Your Partner Treats You Different in Private than in Public
In public they act like the perfect husband or wife . . . but in private are sarcastic, haughty and insulting, criticising you and putting you down. No one is safe from their criticism . . . putting down family and friends behind their backs.
A person with signs of narcissism will often act like they are better than you, showing little regard for your feelings or well-being. They may be arrogant, aggressive and controlling; or withdrawn and unavailable. They will usually show favouritism between your children.
Their criticism and insults may cause you and/or your children to feel hurt and rejected and can even lead to mental health and psychological problems and addictions within your family.
A person with signs of narcissism will get angry when they are questioned and believe they deserve things they haven’t earned. They may also trade off other people’s reputation and hard work and tell lies and manipulate people to get attention. At the same time, they will act charming and perfect to the outside world and make other people believe they are a wonderful father or mother or an all-round great guy or gal.
You may fear that people won’t believe you if you let them know how this person talks to you in private—or if you share the terrible things they say behind other people’s backs.
Unfortunately, That’s Not All
A narcissistic partner will paint a bad picture of you to their family and friends. They will do this to try to gain sympathy and justify their bad behaviour.
You probably have no idea of all of the lies they are telling you and the lies and exaggerations they are telling other people about you. A person blaming their own problems on other people is one of the major signs of narcissism.
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Fights About Money
Creating fights when you try to discuss money is one of the most common signs of unhealthy narcissism. They will pretend these fights are your fault. You should know that the fights might be a smokescreen to hide the fact they are hiding credit cards or money transactions.
Because narcissists are skilled liars and are usually obsessed with the fantasy of a perfect relationship, you should be aware that they may have secret crushes or be having affairs, using pornography and/or conducting ‘cyber’ affairs without your knowledge . . . If you notice their mind often appears elsewhere, and they show other signs of narcissism, you should know this may be the reason.
Obsession with fantasy is part of what makes a person with narcissistic tendencies unavailable, impatient and angry. It is one of the major signs of narcissism. You may not want to consider this possibility, I know I didn’t believe it until the evidence was right in front of me . . . and then I was shattered.
Unfortunately, There’s More . . .
The physical abuse is not always perpetrated by the narcissist. It is normal to become angry with someone who manipulates you and puts you down.
Narcissists have a much higher chance than average of being murdered when their partner finally gets fed up with being exploited and abused.
After years of their insults, rudeness and blaming you for everything that is wrong in their life, it is actually quite normal—especially if you discover that throughout all of this that they have been cheating on you—for you to wish them harm or even wish them dead. While understandable, this is obviously very serious and so getting the right help and support is important, but nearly be impossible to find.
We want to see you moving past feeling resentful and wanting to punish your partner—or wanting revenge—to feeling secure and good about yourself and moving into a new time in your life where you are loved, respected and valued in your home and community.
There are people who will tell you that the only answer is to ‘leave and have no contact’, but this can be dangerous advice. This is exactly how to provoke and escalate rage and physical (and emotional) abuse and violence in couples with these problems. It can also result in stalking. Even worse—as the partner of a narcissist will often feel enraged at how callously their spouse can ‘cast them aside—the perpetrator of the violence and stalking might be you!
More people are killed or injured in domestic disputes when leaving their relationship—or in the two months after leaving—than at any other time.
If you want to leave, please first get our advice in Back From the Looking Glass on how to do this safely and get closure. You need to consider that moving somewhere else may put you on even less sure footing than you are already. Leaving is no guarantee the fighting will cease or that you will be safer. Instead, statistics show that it will often make the fighting worse and leave your children in more danger.
Your Children’s Safety
You may be able to get away, but will your children be safe visiting your partner without you there to supervise? And what about potential abuse down the line from step-parents? I am not telling you to leave or stay. What I am saying is that this is not an easy problem to solve and you need to be careful whose advice you listen to and make sure to think this through carefully.
When it comes to you and your children’s safety, statistics show the main issue is NOT whether you leave or stay. The main issue is that you resolve the conflict.
Statistically, the best result for your children is that you resolve the conflict and stay together, so of course, that is a great thing to aim for if possible. The worst outcome—statistically—is if you divorce and don’t resolve the conflict. So really this should be the option of last resort and only embarked upon with extreme caution.
If you understand this, you will see that people who tell you to just leave—without trying anything else to resolve the conflict—are telling you to settle for the worst possible option for you and your children’s safety and well being. Leaving without resolving the conflict may end up the only option left after trying everything else, but if this ends up the case—more than anyone—you will need our help and advice!
Don’t Use Leaving as a Threat
You should also know that leaving or threatening to leave is NOT a sure way of making your partner want to change and feel sorry about their behaviour. Don’t find out the hard way that threatening to leave is more likely to make the conflict worse and increase the potential for serious consequences. As this will leave your partner in a position where they feel they have nothing left to lose it can even lead to homicide/suicide.
NPD is not ASPD
Other dangerous advice you will read on the internet is that people showing signs of narcissism are in fact sociopaths (a type of psychopath or what is now known as antisocial personality disorder or ASPD). This disinformation was spread by a man who was later actually diagnosed ASPD—live on TV—and is not the truth about NPD. Narcissism is a very difficult thing to deal with in a partner—and you certainly shouldn’t try and handle this without help and advice—but despite a lot of confusion in the past, the latest DSM (official manual on mental illness) no longer classifies NPD as incurable.
For your interest here is a book review from our best selling title Back From the Looking Glass from a Clinical Psychotherapist who is a real expert in treating people with NPD.
Kim’s advice matches my 25 years of clinical experience as a psychotherapist. In contrast to much of the misleading information on the internet that confuses the narcissist with a sociopath, Kim gives clear advice that offers realistic help and hope for people who struggle with narcissism in their relationships. Kim is right in her assertion that narcissism is created from attachment wounds and can be healed within the context of a healing relationship that allows healthy dependency and good boundaries. I am so grateful to have found Kim and I constantly refer my clients to her resources!
and author of “You Might Be a Narcissist If . . .”
Narcissism is Blind to Itself
Despite the hope we offer, you need to understand that narcissism is blind to itself and so you mustn’t expect your partner is ever going to want to fix this. Instead, we offer you training and skills that will help make you emotionally and physically safer and will eventually help bring you love and respect in your community and home. To achieve this you will first need to find the resolve and courage to end the conflict. This won’t happen from you complaining to your partner, playing counsellor or trying to please them. Instead, you are going to need to learn some new skills. I share a lot more about this—including a free short video—in our free introductory tutorial.
Do you sometimes worry that yourself or your partner will need years of therapy to get better? I once believed this was the only thing that would help us, but it was very different steps that turned our marriage around.
I struggled with this problem for years on my own and it was one of the hardest times of my life.
There is a lot of evidence that therapy is not successful in treating narcissistic personality disorder—so please don’t worry—you won’t need to try and coerce your partner into therapy.
A Reparative Relationship
Personality disorders are best helped with a reparative relationship. This is why we sometimes call our approach ‘parenting the adult’; Just as learning new parenting skills can help a child feel safe and learn better behaviour, I want to help you learn new ways of responding and relating to your partner that will help de-escalate the fights and also help you become a better parent.
I will share exactly what to do and give you each step in detail with all the common mistakes you should avoid.
I hope sharing our experience will protect you from some of the mistakes we made and the bitter and nasty people I ran into when I first discovered Steve’s narcissism. We have the information you need that you can put to use immediately and advice on how to find the best professionals to help.
I look forward to sharing the steps I took to fix our marriage even when everyone said it was hopeless.
It took us a long time to go public with our story, but after things had been better for a few years with us we decided we just couldn’t stay quiet any longer.
We saw so many people suffering we decided we just had to speak up. It was embarrassing at first, but receiving thank you emails every day has more than made up for how difficult it was to speak out.