Having done the leg work and been in a marriage with a narcissistic husband, understand that if you are married to, or are planning to marry a narcissist, your narcissistic spouse is or will be unable to have a healthy, intimate, interpersonal relationship. You will be united to someone who does not have any empathy and empathy is necessary for sensitivity to others’ feelings and compassion. Your marriage will be 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 will be turned against you. In the end, you will need to come to the realization that you have no power to change anyone. In the name of all that is holy, GET OUT. Life on the other side is better than I ever imagined.
What Is A Narcissistic Husband?
Being married to someone with narcissistic personality disorder 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. Narcissistic Personality Disorder tends to exist along a spectrum of severity, but NPD 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.
Professional definitions aside, 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 never be truthful in counseling and therapy, so coming to a diagnosis can be difficult.
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Is My Husband A Narcissist Or A Sociopath?
If you’re in an abusive relationship, whether your partner is a narcissist or a sociopath is irrelevant. There are many shared traits between a narcissist and a sociopath, but in the end, both disorders are destructive. They both can be charismatic, intelligent, charming, and successful, as well as unreliable, controlling, selfish, disingenuous, and dishonest. They share exaggerated positive self-images and a sense of entitlement. For example, when they’re abusive, they believe they’re justified and deny responsibility for their behavior. They lack insight. Although they might feign appropriate emotional reactions, this is usually insincere, as they lack empathy and emotional responsiveness. There is ample research out there with detailed differences between the two disorders. Again, in the end the diagnosis is not as important as understanding that if you are married to either, your marriage is a sham.
Signs & Traits Of A Narcissistic Husband
Signs of a narcissist and what to expect:
- He will always define the terms.
- You will live by a set of double standards
- You will not be listened to.
- He will never resolve a conflict
- He will rarely consider your feelings; and will only do so if it serves him somehow.
- He will never apologize.
- What will matter most to him is how he appears to others.
- He will ruin all of your birthdays and holidays (probably because he needs to make everything about him).
- There will be little to no mutuality, collaboration, or cooperation.
- 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.
- You will never win.
- 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.
- He will make you his scapegoat.
- Simple conversations will become crazy-making endeavors.
- You will find yourself walking on eggshells all the time.
- You will experience the silent treatment.
- You will experience cognitive dissonance, confabulation, and gaslighting.
- Your relationship will revolve on a cycle: waiting – hoping – hurting – being angry – forgiving – forgetting – again…
- He will blame you for all of the problems in the relationship.
- He will use your weaknesses against you.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives you a sense of what you are in for. 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. Something that sticks out in my mind started happening near the end of our marriage while we were seeing our last counselor. Every time I would get in the shower, he would turn on the water in the kitchen and it would make the shower scalding hot. When I would tell him about it and ask him not to do it, he would say he didn’t know I was in the shower. After it happened about ten times or so, after making sure to tell him I was going to get in the shower, I brought it up with the counselor. My ex said I had never brought it up before and had no idea it was a problem. He never stopped turning on the water and I started only taking showers when he was not at home. He never apologized about any of it. 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 miserable.
When I look back at what I have termed “my dark years,” I am filled with gratitude that I made it through and out. Every single day without him in the house is a blessing.
People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder 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 15 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. The realization that he was intentionally creating a sense of unpredictability to control and scare me, helped me to eventually leave him.
He’s Demeaning To You
A pattern many narcissists follow is to demean their significant other. Narcissists degrade their victims, rip apart their self-esteem, and try to erase their personalities! In turn this will basically blind you and make resistance to their control strategies difficult to impossible to detect– this is what psychological abuse does – distorts your reality. They use tactics such as sarcasm, belittling, cruel and constant criticizing, bullying, name calling, berating, excessive blaming, gas-lighting, screaming, raging, threatening, humiliation AND dehumanization.
Over time, the constant verbal and emotional attacks will erode your sense of self confidence, self-worth, and self-esteem while it enables the narcissist to feel more powerful and, hence, more and more in control over your reality and life. It is the constant managing down that breaks your spirit completely. You are not experiencing a relationship you are experiencing a reactionary connection with them where you are STUCK constantly explaining and defending yourself in an attempt to return to those days that you were affirmed and loved by them. There was no love because that was just another manipulation to gain your trust to make you vulnerable to the Narcissist’s abuse!
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
How to stay married to a narcissistic man? Don’t. Find yourself a divorce attorney, and carefully construct a safe plan of action to GET OUT. Narcissistic abuse is profoundly traumatic. You cannot change a narcissist. Nothing you do will make any difference. Ever. Getting to the other side of a narcissistic relationship has been the greatest liberation of my life. Once I made the decision not to be a victim anymore, and to address head on the personal responsibility I had to myself to get out from underneath it 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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