4 Narcissistic Marriage Problems To Watch Out For
Updated January 28, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
When you first started seeing each other, it was pure magic. It was everything you ever imagined for yourself, and you married the partner of your dreams. No one plans on marrying a person with a narcissistic personality. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen—quite the contrary, since most people with narcissistic personalities are master manipulators. With time, the signs of narcissism can become more apparent, especially once the rose-colored glasses begin to wear off.
Whenever you get married, you start another chapter of your life with your partner. Even if you’ve been living together, you start to learn new things about them, their habits, and so forth. However, if your partner has signs of a narcissistic personality, it could mean waking up to an entirely different person from who you thought they were. Adjusting to married life is difficult as it is. Add narcissism into the mix, and it’s bound to be even more complicated, as narcissism is linked to several behaviors that interfere in romantic relationships. Being in a relationship with a person with a narcissistic personality can be emotionally draining and negatively affect your mental health. But, it’s more common than you may think, as more than 19.5 million people in the US alone are believed to have some degree of narcissistic personality disorder. If you suspect that your partner may have a narcissistic personality, it’s important to be aware of these four common narcissistic marriage problems.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The term narcissism is commonly used to describe someone vain and self-involved; but the clinical definition is more complex. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a type of personality disorder that can cause many problems in the life and mental health of those that have the disorder. The main characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder are an inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy for others, and an excessive need for attention and admiration.
Most people that suffer narcissistic personality disorder share many personality traits. Such traits include having an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, and the need for excessive admiration. Additionally, most people with NPD also exaggerate both their talents and their achievements. They tend to have complex fantasies of success, power, and brilliance. Most believe they are above others and only associate with those that they deem worthy of their presence. They tend to take advantage of others to get what they want, and expect unquestioning compliance with their expectations. The lack of empathy that is often seen with NPD means that they are either unable or unwilling to recognize the needs or feelings of others.
Other personality traits that are common in narcissistic personality disorder include getting angry or impatient when they are not given the treatment or concessions they feel they deserve. It is common for them to react with rage or to belittle others in an attempt to make themselves appear superior.
Narcissistic Marriage Problems
The personality traits that accompany narcissistic personality disorder make interpersonal relationships difficult. While no one willingly seeks out a relationship with a narcissistic person, it is easy to find yourself in one. In fact, people with narcissistic personalities are often skilled at getting others to trust them through various manipulation tactics. Because of this, many people find themselves married to a narcissistic person. If you think your spouse could have a narcissistic personality disorder and your relationship is difficult to manage, it could be the result of numerous narcissistic marriage problems. Here are some common narcissistic marriage problems that could be contributing to your marriage difficulties.
1. Complete Control
Many people with narcissistic personalities thrive off the power that comes from the feeling of being in complete control. This may lead to your spouse trying to manipulate your life. They may try to gain control over you in obvious ways, but often they will use subtle manipulative behaviors, including gaslighting. This may include arguments, blaming, using sweet gestures or words, etc. If this doesn’t work, then they will often try to control you using guilt. Being in a controlling relationship can be toxic for you and damaging to your mental health, but it appeals to a person with NPD’s desire for power and superiority.
2. Competition With the Children
Normally, once children come into the picture, both parents put their children first. However, many people that have narcissistic personality disorder don’t follow this normal pattern. Instead, they often see their children as someone they have to compete with to be the center of attention. They actively seek ways to keep your focus and attention on them rather than the children. They may try to actively control their children, or try to get them to think like a narcissistic person. Eventually, you’ll start to get drained from their incessant need to be the center of attention and never-ending competition with the children.
3. One-Sided Credit
One-sided credit is often the most common narcissistic marriage problem. No matter the effort you put in, or what you achieve, your narcissistic spouse will find a way to take the credit for it. No one else is allowed to take credit, even if you or your children are the ones who have done something. If their credit for something is called into question, you’ll often be met with aggression, harsh words, a debate, or even a heated argument, as they will likely feel as though you are trying to be better than them.
4. Extreme Jealousy
Extreme jealousy is another common narcissistic marriage problem. Again, this goes back to the need to be the center of attention that is characteristic of most narcissistic people. It is common for those with a narcissistic personality disorder to have secret feelings of insecurity. If they feel like someone else is getting your love and attention, it can trigger intense feelings of jealousy. This is also true if they feel like someone is better or smarter than them. The problem with this jealousy is that it often leads to intense arguments. If they feel jealous that someone else is getting your love or attention, they may blame you for flirting or being unfaithful, even if it is not true. Additionally, they may go to extreme lengths to get rid of any competition.
Dealing With Narcissistic Abuse
In addition to these narcissistic marriage problems, it is common for those that find themselves married to a narcissist to be victims of narcissistic abuse. The most common form of narcissistic abuse is verbal abuse. Most narcissists use verbal abuse to control and intimidate their spouse or partner. Many things fall under the umbrella of verbal abuse, including belittling and bullying you in front of others, accusing you of doing things for no reason, and blaming you for things that are out of your control. It is common for a narcissist to continue showing the world their charming self while becoming a completely different person towards you behind closed doors. This can lead to others thinking you are simply too sensitive.
People with narcissistic personalities may also try to keep you from your money, food, or even the love of your kids if you don’t comply with everything they want you to do. This is essentially emotional blackmail—another form of narcissistic abuse that aims for control, and is commonly seen in marriages with individuals with a narcissistic personality disorder. Unfortunately, narcissistic abuse may include physical abuse as well. This could include throwing things, destroying property, and even hitting or kicking
How to Move Forward
Many times, counseling is the best form of treatment for dealing with narcissistic marriage problems and narcissistic abuse. While couples counseling can be beneficial, it may prove difficult to get your narcissistic spouse on board. This is because they often feel that nothing is wrong with them. They may even become angered at the insinuation that you think there is something wrong. Even if you cannot get your spouse to agree to couple’s counseling, you can seek counseling yourself to deal with the impact of being married to a narcissistic person.
Today there are many different ways to get counseling. While you can go to a traditional therapist’s office, you can also choose to forego the traditional route and instead opt for online counseling.
There’s Hope Through BetterHelp
Research points to online therapy platforms as effective vehicles for helping those dealing with mental health issues related to a relationship with a narcissistic person. For example, one study found that internet-based therapy significantly decreased depression and anxiety symptoms in participants. The study specifically looked at cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has proven useful in helping people deal with complicated emotions associated with relationships. Online therapy is widely considered a more accessible way of receiving treatment than many traditional methods, allowing for more flexibility in scheduling and communication.
As mentioned above, online therapy platforms provide access to tools that can help you address problems in a marriage to a narcissistic person. Online counseling through BetterHelp provides you as much anonymity that you want. No one will see you going into a therapist’s office, and you can communicate with your counselor at your convenience. The counselors at BetterHelp have helped thousands of people work through their relationship issues. Read below for reviews of counselors, from those they’ve helped move forward in life.
“He is very clear in what he says, he openly calls things by its name and gives real help. He listens, he gives advice and reassurance where needed. It often is difficult to deal with a narcissistic person and to have a therapist that openly acknowledges narcissistic patterns is a great help. I appreciate his openness very much.”
“I love working w/ Nicole. She's super empathetic and insightful - she already helped me in just two weeks - I really want to continue working with her. I feel just talking to her has helped my marriage tremendously.”
Being married to a narcissist can be challenging and put stress on your mental health. You can feel alienated from family and friends, making coping with narcissistic marriage problems more difficult. Talking to a licensed counselor can help you work through how you are feeling, give you the tools you need to strengthen your mental health, and help you make the necessary boundaries in your relationships. Take the first step today.
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