Everything about the narcissist is image. For him or her image is reality, a reality based on grandiose delusions and visions of perfection. Observing the wedding plans and how they are impeccably created and executed can tell the tale to follow. It is understandable that couples want their wedding day to be very special and memorable. Here I am talking over the top perfectionism. Nothing is more important than the actual event where the narcissist plays the starring role, standing at the center of his universe, the emperor of his domain.
After the soft focus glow of the honeymoon the gorgeous masks of the narcissistic groom or bride slip and we begin to feel and see who this person we married truly is. There are pricks of criticisms that become more frequent and wounding. The other spouse waves them off, thinking: “Oh, he’s just having a tough time today–no point in making a case out of this” or “I am overreacting to him/her because I know how sensitive I am. He has told me so many times.” or “He is making a big adjustment to our being a married couple now. Give him a break.” These thoughts run through the head of the non-narcissistic spouse–always making excuses for the narcissistic spouse even when his vituperative comments are tearing you apart day after day. Next, the always sharp fangs appear when the narcissist lets go with full throated screaming fits that last long enough to cause your nervous system to go into fight or flight mode. Your adrenaline is pumping so fast that you are shivering, have a thundering headache, roiling intestines, feelings of doom.
Eventually the non-narcissistic spouse is worn down, beaten up emotionally, exhausted, spent and constantly on edge. The narcissist’s tricks and ruses become more frequent; the lies overflow and cannot be counted; the betrayals are ongoing; his hatred of you has congealed; his pathological projections are legion. Each attack has your name on it.
Finally, you are fed up. You do the research, go to therapy, check your intuitions that have been pounding at you for months and years and Yes—You are married to a narcissistic personality, a person without empathy, emotional intimacy, truth, conscience, a scintilla of compassion for another human being. You make your move to sever the non-relationship from this highly pathological individual. You will rescue yourself from this disastrous marriage. As you make the effort and do the hard work, the original self in you is celebrating—Freedom!
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.