Many women and some men speak about their traumatic and turbulent marriages to narcissists. Some of them have been married to these individuals for decades and continue to return to this abusive environment. The narcissistic spouse makes empty promises often after one of these egregious blow-ups. He might even cry and tell you what a horrible person he has been. Now he is so sorry and he desperately wants to change. He will even go into therapy to get professional guidance. ( If a narcissist goes into therapy it is for a very short time and changing himself is not the motive.)
Narcissistic spouses stray frequently and find various partners–often more than one at a time. Wives often suspect this but put it out of their minds as too painful to acknowledge. They rationalize and say—“It’s just my imagination–it couldn’t be true.” “I know he loves me.”
If you don’t go by the narcissist’s stringent rules, he/she will punish you and if you refuse to bow to his will, he will threaten to leave you and take all of the assets. This is enough to scare a lot of spouses,especially if they have been married to one of the pariah’s for a long period of time. In some cases there has been physical abuse perpetrated by the narcissist. Mostly it is a constant barrage of criticism, humiliations, barked orders, perpetual disappoint with you because you are not perfect like him. At times the narcissist goes his own way and threatens divorce, leaving you alone for weeks at a time while he is on business trips. When he returns, you are still walking on pins and needles, wondering if he is serious about a separation. Women who are financially independent often have great difficulty deciding to sever the relationship with their narcissistic spouse. They have become accustomed to the abuse. Sometimes it is a familiar reprise of their victimization as children. Beneath it all, they don’t feel worthy of someone who is empathic and kind to them.
There comes a time for many non-narcissistic spouses when they make the decision that they cannot and will not play the back and forth recycling game of the narcissistic spouse. This time they have had more than enough. They quietly make their plans without revealing them to the narcissistic spouse. They make sure that their personal finances are in order and plan their separation from this non-partner. Some of them fair well with skilled psychotherapy, the help of their friends and family and finally a focus on their own lives– professional and personal. They realize that they deserve to be respected, to live with inner peace and to utilize all of their creative gifts to the utmost. To learn about every facet of the narcissistic personality, visit my website:thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life