HELP! I AM MARRIED TO A MAN WHO IS NARCISSISTIC

I was once married to a narcissistic man. No matter how many prayers I said, how many tears I cried, or how many times I begged, screamed, and hoped he’d change….it only got from bad to worse, to the point of almost killing me.

Understand that if you are married to, a narcissistic spouse do not expect him to change. You will be unable to have a healthy, intimate, interpersonal relationship. Because narcissistic people do not have any empathy and empathy is necessary for peace in the relationship, sensitivity to others’ feelings, and compassion. Your marriage becomes a sham; your relationship will cause unbelievable emotional turmoil, chaos, and heartbreak. Even if you believe you are a strong person and can handle it, your strength soon flies out of the window, because you become emotionally embroiled in seen and unseen battles that leave you angry, violated, and powerless. In the end, you will need to come to the realization that you have no power to change anyone.  My blood pressure soared. My body began to shut down. There were days I couldn’t speak because my voice just couldn’t go past my throat because of always being pushed down, shouted at and laughed and sneered at.

Save your life and those of your children – GET OUT.  You can do it. 

My life since leaving is better than I ever imagined. I have a life of peace, rebuilt my self-esteem, and doing work that’s appreciated and enjoying my life.

What Is A Narcissistic Husband?

Being married to someone with a narcissistic personality is a serious situation. Few people can navigate living with a person with this problem and come out in one piece. My experience tells me this is true. A narcissistic person is characterized by a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy,” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition.  My experience also showed very selfish, cold, and calculating traits.

Experiencing a narcissistic husband firsthand is extraordinarily painful on every level. When you are in the throes of this sort of emotional abuse, it is hard to know for certain whether or not your spouse actually has it; the whole experience is discombobulating and scary. In my case, my ex would be also a compulsive liar, and oh! what a charmer- as seen from the outside.

Signs & Traits Of A Narcissistic Husband

Signs of a narcissist and what to expect:

  1. He will always define the terms. 
  2. You will live by a set of double standards
  3. You will not be listened to.
  4. He will never resolve a conflict
  5. He will rarely consider your feelings; and will only do so if it serves him somehow. 
  6. He will never apologize.
  7. What will matter most to him is how he appears to others. 
  8. He will ruin all of your birthdays and holidays (probably because he needs to make everything about him). 
  9. There will be little to no mutuality, collaboration, or cooperation.
  10. Your expectations will be managed down to mere crumbs; to the point where you will be happy just because he isn’t giving you the silent treatment, yelling at you, or cheating on you. 
  11. You will never win. 
  12. Your value will be diminished to the point of nothingness in his eyes. In fact, mere strangers will hold more weight in his eyes than you will. 
  13. He will make you his scapegoat. 
  14. Simple conversations will become crazy-making endeavors. 
  15. You will find yourself walking on eggshells all the time. 
  16. You will experience silent treatment. 
  17. You will experience cognitive dissonance, confabulation, and gaslighting.
  18. Your relationship will revolve around a cycle: waiting – hoping – hurting – being angry – forgiving – forgetting – again…
  19. He will blame you for all of the problems in the relationship.
  20. He will use your weaknesses against you. 

This list is not exhaustive but gives you a sense of what many relationships with a narcissistic person are like. There is no “one size fits all” but these behaviors are general and my research tells me that narcissists are amazingly similar. To give some personal examples, I actually looked back at my journal from all those years ago and again was in shock at what I was putting up with on a daily basis. All of it was scary and abusive. 

I experienced emotional abuse and financial abuse culminating in physical violence. Everything was a fight Finally the straw that broke the camel’s (my) back, was when he beat me to a pulp almost killing me because he didn’t want me to pursue a separation or divorce.

This is just one example of a million instances of abuse I was dealing with. The list above is a small sample of what narcissists do all the time. It is as if they live to make your life a living hell. When I look back at what I have termed as  “a living nightmare” I am filled with gratitude that I made it through and out.

Needs Attention

When I was married to Peter (not his real name), he was always in need of attention. Especially when I was with my women friends. Even when he was the only male on the room. He would draw attention to what he had done (success stories etc.) and my ‘failures’ – turning those into a joke.

People who are narcissistic have a deep need for control and attention. They tend to justify their own behavior, no matter how costly or harmful it may be to others, but if you behave the same way, they will turn on you and tell you the problem is your fault. The best plan of action is not to engage. Because there is no fairness or effective negotiation, if you engage in an argument, it will only allow them to continue gaslighting you. Refuse to play the game. 

Drastic Mood Swings

While all of the narcissist’s behavior is scary, drastic mood swings are some of the more disconcerting. Even 14 years after divorcing, I still remember the feeling of walking on eggshells and never knowing what was going to happen on any given day. Something I did a day before, that caused no reaction, might throw him into an extended rage the next day. I never knew what would set him off. 

He’s Demeaning To You

A pattern many narcissists follow is to demean their significant other,  degrade you, rip apart your self-esteem, and try to erase your personality! There were times I felt I was losing it…distorting my reality became a strategy he’d use to the point I doubt myself. They use tactics such as sarcasm, belittling, cruel and constant criticizing, bullying, name-calling – I can’t remember the number of times I was called ‘you stupid cow!”, berating, excessive blaming, gas-lighting, screaming, raging, threatening, humiliation AND dehumanization.

I remember one incident when we were driving to the shop, and he began shouting at me so loudly -our young daughter was in the back of the car. I felt so tortured in the small space of the car. I opened the car door and jumped out. 

He Lacks Empathy

A narcissist lacks empathy. They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. There will be no concern for things that you care about. He will show no good faith or collaboration within the relationship. There will be no working together to solve problems. A healthy relationship with a narcissist is nothing more than a fantasy.

How To Stay Married To A Narcissistic Man

You cannot change a narcissist. Nothing you do will make any difference. Things only get worse. It is a time bomb waiting to happen. Once I made the decision not to be a victim anymore, and to address head-on the personal responsibility I had to myself and our daughter to get out from underneath this dark oppressive ugly cloud and reclaim my life, I was on my way to becoming the whole person I knew I was. Leaving has forever changed my life for the better.

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