When you said your vows, what were you expecting? I suspect if you were like most women, you thought you were entering a partnership. You would enjoy shared power, right?
I bet you’ve discovered something quite different, though. I bet he likes to have power over you, isn’t that so? And to ensure he achieves and maintains this, he might well use emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, and even sexual abuse, too.
The thing is, you might not even realize that your relationship with your narcissistic spouse is filled with these forms of abuse. You might feel badly or experience emotional pain much of the time, but still not understand why. You might well believe your narcissistic spouse when he tells you how you are the problem, and if you just changed and did these things he wanted, well, life would be grand.
For him, that is.
He keeps emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, and sexual abuse in his marital toolbox because they work for him. Meanwhile, you believe that the two of you have a partnership.
Sorry, but a relationship with a narcissist is not about partnership. Those suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism don’t know what that means. They are self centered. They lack empathy. And more than anything else, they are grandiose. Whether successful or not, they feel entitled to have what they want when they want it.
Rather like the two-year-old.
The narcissistic throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want, too. The difference is, they scream more than how they hate you; those suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism are inclined to scream obscenities and other hurtful things. All of them help your self esteem to plunge, plus make the anxiety butterflies swirl, wouldn’t you agree?
Let me back up a minute here, though. Perhaps you might want to argue that your spouse has never been diagnosed with any mental health problems, and especially not Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD. Please realize, however, that narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic symptoms can occur in varying degrees. So, someone need not be diagnosable as having full-fledged Narcissistic Personality Disorder to display what you’ll see referred to in various internet articles as unhealthy, pathological, or malignant narcissism. However, even lesser degrees of narcissism can be problematic in your relationship.
I might not have to tell you that. Then again, have you ever suspected your spouse’s emotional abuse and sexual abuse, for example, were associated with pathological levels of narcissism?
So, how many of the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder must your narcissistic spouse meet in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for you to be the victim of his narcissism—which could be fueling his abuse plus perhaps alcoholism or drug addiction?
Sadly, too often, these all come together in one neatly wrapped package.
But back to the question I originally posed; I really can’t answer it.
What I will say, though, is don’t keep you eyes shut because in the beginning, things were so good between the two of you. You might have believed you had finally met your white knight. You might have been so enamored with him because of the whirlwind romance that included flowers, candlelight dinners, outrageously expensive gifts considering the time you’d been together, and romantic getaways that also included great sex.
No, don’t keep thinking if you can only get it right, or do all the things he asks, those days will probably return.
I rather hate to tell you this, but you’re probably wrong. Oh, he might act that way now and then to keep you hooked in and believing you’re about to rediscover Camelot, but he is only seducing you—again.
A narcissist is like a leopard; he can not change his spots. Okay, he might be able to change if he really wanted to do so. But if you are in love with a narcissist, you need to understand that you’ll likely be seeking counseling on how to leave a narcissist long before he’s inclined to seek help on how to alleviate himself of his narcissistic tendencies.
If you have a narcissistic husband, listen very carefully: Narcissists seduce you with their charm, the romance, and the great sex. Once they have you hooked, things change—and not for the good.
In fact, is the great sex still so great? Or instead, is it about him and his needs and wants? Also, you might feel he has to give a great performance, and you’re always expected to commend him for a job well done, too. And rather than feeling closer to him, instead, have you felt you’ve become more and more merely an object to him?
There is even a chance the great sex has switched over into sexual abuse. Perhaps the transition has been so gradual, however, that you haven’t actually seen the truth about what was happening—or where you have ended up as a result. But if you stop and think about your sexual relationship with your narcissistic spouse, you might realize you’ve been doing things that don’t appeal to you sexually, but only to him. In fact, they might make you feel degraded.
He not only doesn’t bring flowers anymore, but it is probably worse than that. You’d realize that if you got real about your marriage.
Yes, it is probably hardly a relationship in the sense that you define the word. Are you always worrying about what might please or displease him? And to ensure you do neither, do you do things against your personal values?
You probably want to avoid his narcissistic rage. And again, you hope if you’ll only do as he wants, things will be like they were in the early days—when you held hands and made love in a romantic haze.
Again, it is time to get real. That was an act to suck you in. Now, though, if he is walking around being his self centered and grandiose self, engaging in emotional abuse and verbal abuse that causes your self worth to slip away daily, he is nonetheless likely being the man he will continue to be.
If you are codependent, you might well be able to somehow survive the emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and sexual abuse. You might keep telling yourself that the sexual abuse is not sexual abuse because you actually are okay with what he asks of you—as kinky as it perhaps has become.
I suspect you might be shut down and out of touch with your feelings, however. You also might be taking pride in your ability to cope with things you shouldn’t have to cope with anyway. And if that is the case, realize you are not the first and last woman to make this discovery. Frankly, I myself have been there; I took pride in my martyrdom. But really, what’s the sense in that?
I decided I didn’t like being in a relationship with a narcissist. I also knew I never wanted to be in a relationship with one again, though I suspect I met one or two along the path on my way to recovery from codependency.
Your life is yours to live as you please; you have to make your own choices. I suspect, though, that you give your life—and your narcissistic spouse—a good hard look. You might realize you’ve been bonded to a fantasy that was probably never more than that. Meanwhile, you stay stuck loving a narcissist while he serves up a mixture of emotional abuse, verbal abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse—and some great times, too—to keep you hooked in and doing exactly what he pleases.
Why should you expect differently? Remember, he is self centered, he is self absorbed, and he lacks empathy. And because of his grandiosity, he feels entitled to do as he pleases. In turn, everyone else is here to serve him and meet his needs.
They must be kept in line and under his thumb.
Yes, these are the spots of the narcissist. And no, they probably will not change. So really, is spending your life loving a narcissist the best use of both your love and your time?
I hope your moving your head back and forth.
Dr. Diane England writes for the woman married to a narcissist who is awakening to his narcissism, addictions, and perhaps not only emotional abuse and verbal abuse, but sexual abuse, too. If this is you, and you want to read more article on these topics and codependency, plus how to move beyond your codependency via self development and spirituality or spiritual growth, visit her website at: www.NarcissismAddictionsAbuse.com