Stress is one of the major factors in becoming physically ill. When a person is highly stressed their cortisol levels rise and their immune system can become compromised. Narcissistic spouses are stress machines. They scream, lie, manipulate, demean, humiliate and play every trick they have to maintain control over you and your life. It is remarkable to me and very sad that so many spouses are living under these extreme burden of psychological and emotional duress for years, even decades. I hear from women and men who feel trapped by their sharing their lives with narcissistic partners. Many of them keep thinking that this person who has a severe personality disorder is going to change—-eventually. That day will never come. In the meantime, the non-narcissistic spouse is being harmed on every level by these highly pathological individuals. The non-narcissistic spouse tries everything to make the marriage work, including couples therapy. Couples therapy in general does not work with narcissists. They may appear to cooperate to pacify their partner but they are being disingenuous. The narcissist may want to stay married and still play the field because he/she doesn’t want to split up the assets at this time.
You can turn yourself inside out, make yourself over, heed the narcissist’s demands and it will never be enough. The narcissist is a highly deluded person. It doesn’t matter if he is the most successful person you have met or has a close following of admirers, he is a selfish, venal, cruel and non-compassionate person.
It is time to turn to your own welfare: your physical health, emotional and psychological well being. We are in charge of our health. Even many doctors these days who go by the new book of throwing prescriptions at patients rather than going to the cause of symptoms can’t be trusted. One of the lessons of life is that we must take charge of ourselves on every level. We cannot expect even the best spouse to do it for us. We can research, consult with those who are very knowledgeable but ultimately it is up to us to make the right decisions for ourselves.
Being married to a narcissist and allowing the venom that he ejects to become embedded in you will raise your stress levels exponentially. You deserve to be healthy and strong. And part of this wellness is the strength of your immune system to fight off illness. I have been in communication with many spouses who have become physically ill as a result of overwhelming stress that they internalized that compromised their immune systems.
First and foremost—Think about yourself first–the narcissist should be very low on your list or not there at all. He has tried everything to make your life a living hell. You don’t need to take this anymore. Have a plan of action to keep yourself healthy. Learn to emotionally detach from the narcissistic spouse. In many cases you make the decision to sever the relationship. Narcissists don’t have relationships; they are incapable of psychological or emotional intimacy.
Take heart as you walk away from the narcissistic delusion. You have insight into your inner self and all of your creative gifts and energies. You are entitled to live without the constant stress that is emblematic of life with the narcissist. You have come to a fork in the road. Choose the pathway that works for you. You will find the right direction based on your research, thinking and your deep intuition.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.