Even without any personality disorders, marriage is not exactly easy to maintain. If you suspect that your partner is a narcissist, you should continue reading about the common narcissistic marriage problems in this article and learn to deal with them.
So, does it mean that a narcissistic person cannot have a happy marriage? The answer will depend on the severity and the kind of narcissistic behavior. However, there is no denying that such a marriage is challenging.
A narcissist and marriage are like oil and water. With an understanding and accommodating partner, marriage is possible for narcissistic individuals. But it will be a huge strain on the partner.
Signing on the dotted line can change a lot in a relationship. You may be living together for years before getting married. However, when you make it legal with marriage, you will notice changes in your partner’s behavior. When narcissism also comes into play in a marriage, things can get quite complicated.
Being married to a narcissistic person can drain you emotionally if you want to keep up appearances. Many partners are reluctant to leave a marriage for reasons ranging from financial constraints and fear of being alone to religious beliefs and societal prejudices.
This article takes a look at the behavioral traits of a narcissist and offers you clues to figure out how to spot narcissism in your partner. You will find here some common narcissistic marriage problems and also how to deal with them.
What are the traits of a narcissist?
When a person displays an exaggerated sense of self-importance and a constant need for attention and admiration, together with a lack of understanding and empathy, the person is considered to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
Here are some more traits displayed by a narcissist. A narcissistic person may not exhibit all of these behavioral patterns. The severity of the affliction depends on how many of these are evident in the person and which ones.
- Sense of entitlement
- Exploitive behavior
- Arrogance and haughty attitude
- Consider themselves special and unique
- Believe they deserve special treatment
- Fantasizes about power, success, wealth, and brilliance
- Envy others and believe others envy them
- Inflate their talents and achievements
- Superiority complex
- Belittle others to boost their importance
- Deal only with people they consider worthy
- Expect unquestioning compliance
- Impatient and angry when they don’t get what they want
Signs of a narcissistic marriage
Getting along with a narcissistic person is a challenge. Doing it full-time is not an easy task. This can lead to all sorts of unhealthy situations.
Fights are common in narcissistic marriages whether intentional or otherwise. Some narcissistic partners derive pleasure from insulting and belittling their partners. At other times, they are controlling, intrusive, and nosy. Often, they do or say hurtful things to feel superior.
Narcissistic individuals tend to ignore their partner’s requests and needs. They conveniently forget their promises and refuse to take responsibility for their actions and words. They are ready to shift the blame and project themselves as the victim. They refuse to see beyond their current needs and desires.
On the other hand, the partner of a narcissistic person tries their best to adjust and accommodate the demands of their partner. They try to hide the abuse they suffer and present a happy front to the outside world. They try to have constructive conversations with their partner but this is rarely productive.
5 common narcissistic marriage problems
For a person with narcissistic personality disorder, maintaining healthy relationships is difficult. Though a non-narcissistic person will not intentionally choose to be in a relationship with a narcissistic person, they may find out at a later date that their partner is indeed narcissistic.
This may not be because they walked into the relationship blindfolded. People with narcissistic traits tend to be manipulative and have enough skills to make unsuspecting potential partners trust them. And, once in, they can make it difficult or impossible for them to get out of the relationship.
This situation can naturally lead to many problems that are unique to narcissistic marriages.
1. Excessive jealousy
A narcissist can never have enough attention. Attention and adulation are what they are always after. Even as they put up a big front of being stable, secure, and generous, deep down they are insecure and jealous of anyone stealing the limelight.
When the non-narcissistic partner shows love or attention to anyone else, they find it difficult to handle the “neglect”. They react the same way when anyone else other than themselves becomes the center of attention.
This extreme jealousy will come out as anger and temper tantrums. Often their partners bear the brunt of this. They will be accused of disloyalty, being unfaithful, or flirting. In extreme scenarios, they may even try to “get rid of” the person stealing the thunder from them.
2. Absolute control
Controlling behavior is the hallmark of a narcissistic person. This can take various forms depending on the type of narcissistic tendencies the person has. Manipulation, blaming, guilt-tripping, emotional blackmail, and gaslighting are some of the toxic methods of people with narcissistic personalities.
They will be constantly watching you for your weakness and pounce on it to control and exploit you. They may use any tactic to gain control such as arguments or sweet-talking.
3. Takes all the credit
A narcissist finds ways to take on the least responsibility and takes credit for all the good outcomes. This is part of their sense of entitlement. In their twisted mindset, this is how they see it. If they are challenged, it is bound to result in arguments and more displays of angry behavior.
Unfortunately for the wife of a narcissistic husband (or husband or a narcissistic wife), this is not a fair deal. They have to take on more than their share of responsibility as narcissists do not believe in equal partnerships. On top of this, they never seem to get credit for the work they do.
4. Competing with their own children
As children seem to get more attention, narcissistic parents often feel jealous and compete with them for attention and affection. They often find ways to shift the focus to themselves. They even belittle or demean their own children and deprive them of the care and support they are entitled to have.
Children of narcissistic parents suffer a lot because of the lack of care, attention, and support they receive. The partner will feel torn between the two.
A narcissistic parent can go to the other extreme and play favorites among their children. They may choose one child over others and excessively support and promote them. They become obsessed with the achievements of the child and use this to belittle other children.
They will live their dreams through their favorite child and use their glory to garner more attention for themselves.
How can you deal with narcissistic behavior in your relationship?
The easiest and simplest way to deal with a narcissistic wife is to leave them. It would be foolish to think that you can change the ways of your narcissistic husband/wife with love and care.
If this is not an option you would want to consider and make the best of the situation, you may find these suggestions useful.
1. Accept them as they are.
And learn to work your life around the constraints. Give them what they want. Do everything to satisfy their insatiable need for attention and adulation.
2. Find your strength.
Believe in yourself despite being at the receiving end of blaming and other negative behavior. Don’t allow your partner to shatter your confidence, self-belief, and self-respect.
Learn not to rise to the bait. Your partner may bring out all kinds of provocations to tempt you into fights. Avoid them by learning to ignore such comments.
3. Rehearse your arguments.
And, choose your words with care. Narcissists tend to use your own words against you. Winning arguments is hard with them because of their manipulative behavior. Prepare yourself beforehand.
Set boundaries. This is easier said than done. They tend to ignore your boundaries. Despite this, continue to remind them of the boundaries you have set.
4. Stand your ground.
Avoiding fights doesn’t mean you become a doormat. Make it clear to them that you are not under their control and you will not stand their narcissistic abuse and insults.
Confide in someone. Having a trusted friend to share your experiences is perfect. If you don’t have such a person, you can pour your heart out into a journal. This can serve as a stress-buster. It will also serve as a record of your experiences and thoughts.
Get help. If you find that things are getting out of control and you are overwhelmed by the demands on you, don’t hesitate to approach a mental health professional for help. After all, your life’s at stake. Choose what is best for you.
Often people get into a relationship with a narcissistic personality unawares. Once they realize the situation and find themselves married to a narcissist husband/wife, they may not want to end the relationship for various reasons. Before you decide to stay, you need to educate yourself on what kind of personality your narcissistic spouse has and how it will affect your relationship and personal life.
If you are married to a narcissist wife/husband, walking out of such a relationship is not easy either. It is much harder than you think. Don’t rush to a decision. Take your time. Get help, consult your well-wishers, and make the right decision. Ultimately, it is your life.