My Husband's NPD Makes Me Feel Trapped

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated October 11, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While every marriage has its ups and downs, people who find themselves married to a narcissist often face a unique set of challenges that can leave them feeling stressed, depressed, and trapped in the marriage.

Are You Considering Leaving A Toxic Marriage?
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is often characterized by a pattern of exaggerated feelings of self-importance, a lack of empathy toward others, and an excessive need for admiration.

While it’s common to have self-confidence and want to be acknowledged by others, people with narcissistic personality disorder often take things to extremes.

According to the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), when a person displays five or more of the following characteristics, they may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder:

  • Grandiosity and a strong sense of self-importance
  • A belief that they are special 
  • A sense of entitlement 
  • A tendency to have fantasies of success, beauty, or power
  • A need for excessive admiration
  • Arrogant attitudes and behaviors
  • A tendency to exploit others
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy or a belief that others envy them

Common Behaviors And Traits Of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Conversations Are One-Sided

Conversations with a person with NPD can make you feel like nothing you say is important. At first, they may change the subject back to themselves in such a covert way that you may not realize it. However, with time, the repeated behavior will likely become more brazen, and it may become evident that they have little to no regard for your thoughts or feelings.

Addicted To Attention

Many people with narcissistic personality disorder have a persistent need for attention. They typically expect constant, often excessive admiration and attention.

No Boundaries

A person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) usually shows little to no concern for other people’s boundaries, and they may even show deliberate disregard for their spouse’s feelings and desires. They often feel no guilt about breaking promises or canceling plans that don’t serve their own purpose. They may borrow money from friends or family with promises to repay the loan, with no intention of following through. These behaviors may result in them having few real friends and fragmented relationships with family.

Easily Angered Or Frustrated

When things don’t go their way, individuals with NPD may become easily frustrated. Behavioral and emotional outbursts are often their response to criticism, even if it’s meant to be constructive. They are often impatient and can become angry easily if they do not get the attention they think they deserve.

Overly Envious

Individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) tend to obsess over beauty, status, success, and power. If someone else has what they can’t seem to obtain, they might exhibit extreme envy or jealousy. Despite their envy, they may accuse the other person of being envious of them. This behavior may be directed to acquaintances and family alike.

No Middle Ground

A person with narcissistic personality disorder often views things in black and white or positives and negatives without a middle ground. In their eyes, every person may be a winner or a loser.


People with narcissistic personality disorder can be skilled when it comes to manipulation. They may use fear tactics, “play the victim,” and frequently belittle others, veiling it as a joke when the person protests.

Delusions Of Grandeur

People with narcissistic personality disorder often believe that they are superior to everyone else. They don’t often view others as their equals and usually believe that others will never measure up, no matter how hard they try. This delusion can make it very difficult for them to experience real, unconditional love. 

People with NPD tend to believe they are unique and that people who are not their equal cannot understand them. Narcissists generally surround themselves with people who are professional and well-educated as it feeds their egos to be surrounded by such people.

Gaslighting, An Emotionally Damaging Narcissistic Trait

While any form of narcissistic abuse can harm a victim, gaslighting can be especially damaging. It can be a highly effective form of emotional abuse that leaves those affected questioning their own instincts, feelings, and even their sanity. This doubt can give a narcissistic partner a great deal of power. A person who is gaslighting someone often uses words to spin facts in their own favor.

Gaslighting behavior usually begins very subtly. With time, though, a narcissistic partner who is gaslighting may say things like, “You must be losing your mind. That never happened.” 

Gaslighting is a form of narcissistic abuse that can take on several forms. Examples of gaslighting behavior include:

  • Trivializing: A narcissistic husband who is gaslighting their spouse may make their spouse’s feelings seem unimportant. For example, they may say something dismissive, such as, “Here we go with another one of your crazy ideas.”
  • Withholding: This is when the abusive partner pretends that they do not understand what is being said or refuses to listen. They might say, “I don’t want to hear this again. It’s the same thing over and over.”
  • Countering: Countering occurs when a narcissistic person questions their spouse’s memory of events. Even if their spouse remembers accurately, a narcissistic person might say they don’t. For example, they might say, “You’re wrong. Why can’t you ever get the facts right?”
  • Denial: No matter how much evidence supports the obvious, a person with narcissistic personality disorder may pretend to have forgotten details of something that happened or deny saying things that they said or promised their partner. They might say, “You’re always making stuff up,” or, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

If you aren’t sure whether your narcissistic husband is gaslighting you, consider these questions:

Are You Considering Leaving A Toxic Marriage?

  • Do you constantly second-guess yourself?
  • Do you feel the need to lie to avoid twists of reality and put-downs from your husband?
  • Do you perceive that you can never do anything right?
  • Do you feel confused or like you’re going crazy, especially with situations that involve your husband?
  • Do you always feel the need to apologize to your husband, even if you aren’t sure why?

Most communities have a local mental health clinic where services are available without a referral.  But for some, the thought of meeting someone face-to-face can feel frightening or even unsafe.  If you need to talk to someone but aren’t comfortable meeting with a counselor or therapist in-person, online counseling is an effective alternative

BetterHelp matches people with licensed, trained, and experienced mental health care professionals who will work with you to develop a plan of care that is tailored to your needs.  You can connect with a therapist from home or anywhere else that you feel safe and comfortable via phone, text, video chat, and online messaging, and your therapist will get back to you as soon as they can.


If you are feeling trapped in a relationship with a narcissistic husband, you don’t have to face this on your own. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist with training and experience in narcissistic personality disorder and its effects on others. Take the first step to feeling freedom from the effects of a narcissistic relationship and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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