Put Yourself First–Heal from the Narcissistic Spouse

I have found that those who are married to and divorcing narcissists have always put other people in their lives first. They are highly empathic individuals who take care of others. Many of them have narcissistic mothers and/or fathers and learn early that they must obey, dance to the tune of highest expectations, demands, recriminations, threats. “Be perfect or else” was the message they received from the narcissistic mom or dad. As a result these individuals are always in a state of fight or flight. They can’t relax. They become people pleasers and serve others. They don’t learn to give to themselves even when they are feeling ill, exhausted and completely worn out psychologically and emotionally.

Some children of narcissists develop chronic illnesses due to all of the stress, parental deprivation and abuse. I have heard from many of these survivors of the narcissist family wars.

Instead of choosing a partner who will love, appreciate and cherish them, children coming from these pathological backgrounds readily take the bait of the ever so charming magnetic irresistible narcissist. We are inclined to repeat patterns of behavior learned in childhood. These are survival modes that are very powerful. Don’t blame yourself if you have married a narcissist. It is not your fault. You couldn’t have known that you were getting into this dreadful “relationship” that would cause you untold suffering.

Once you recognize and know that you are married to a narcissistic personality and understand that he or she cannot change and have made the decision to divorce, go forward with a detailed  well thought out plan.  The essential part of this process is to put yourself first. You are not going to please the narcissist ever–even if you are perfect!

Pay attention to every detail of your plan of action. Part of this process is your healing practice. This is the first time in your life that you have watched out for yourself.  Take courage in this new freedom road you are constructing. The psychological terrain is unfamiliar–putting yourself first. Know that you are creating new neuronal pathways in your mind, that your body is strengthening, that you will is deepening, that your creativity is thriving—all of your engines are moving along with a new sound–a fine music that you are now hearing. You will become more familiar with this real self that has been inside of you all of the time. Embrace it–love it, find refuge and peace here. This is the thriving original authentic creative lively true self!

3 thoughts on “Put Yourself First–Heal from the Narcissistic Spouse”

  1. Dear Dr. Martinez-Lewi,

    This is the number one post you have ever written, and I follow your posts regularly. Somehow, someway you have gotten deeper into your writing style and I absolutely love it! You’re on a roll! Talking about new neuronal-pathways, etc. What a great topic! Please continue with this style of writing! It’s fantastic!

    Kudos to you!!!

    In kindness,


  2. I am 3 years involved with my husband who I believe is a narcissist and sociopath. I have hit the moment of realization and have maneuvered my conversations to stop his deflection and running in circles. I’m a nurse and have always had an interest in mental health and I feel as though love has blinded me for too long now. I know what these criteria are, I know what it right and wrong. I suffer from depression and anxiety but I am also self aware enough to sort my own feelings out and realize that ITS NOT ME! I used to walk on eggshells but now I’m standing up to him and stopping his crafty method of deflection in its tracks. We are on vacation right now and he was on his laptop doing work so I went to read while he finished up then I entered the office to find him on social media so I said “is that what your going to do the whole trip?” WWIII! It’s outrageous that I’m not allowed a little smart comment every now and then if something bothers me. I mean he is responsible for surfing the net instead of spending time with his family – not me. That turned into curse curse curse, insult to me and that I’m mentally unstable and just utter downpour of BS as I’m just listening and thinking: all of this over my little snip of wanting to clarify vacation etiquette. Talking to my husband is agonizing. There is no fair fight – I will in neutral tone point out feelings, situation etc and his response is left fielded, will not touch on what I’ve said and he will probe any inconsistency and pounce and go off on a tangent about something else. *sigh* What I’m really hoping to get to in all this is that I’m heartbroken and grieving the fact that I love my husband and I am shattered just at the thought that he is unrepairable from what I’ve read from other people. Isn’t that why marriages to narcissists last as long as they do? The hope for change. I mean is it attainable? The thing that racks my brains is that his family is sooo normal. He is in the military and is very type A but I’m wondering what has made him this way and will he ever rehabilitate. I have to get out of this marriage very soon because I’m realizing little by little how brainwashed I’ve become. My ideas of what is acceptable behavior before meeting him to now is drastically skewed. It’s like I woke up this morning and said to myself, “Hey wait, that’s not normal. This isn’t right!” To things that yesterday I didn’t blink twice to. Moving forward I have to start separating my emotional and logical sides. I always give in and allow behavior to be swept under the rug. His signature MO is me talking about what bothers me and him either (A) blowing up or (B) giving no response to the subject but then throwing in a distraction and subject change line. I’ve stopped feeding into his small talk because that makes it easier for him to sweep things to the side and is almost a silent subtle mishap on my part that screams, “okay no need to face things I’ll just move on like it never happened.” I’m allowing him to win. I can’t do this anymore.

  3. No, it is not curable. Their brain matter is proven different than that of a normal human being. They do not have a conscience, nor can they love, have compassion or empathy. Only feelings of frustration, rage, etc (primitive responses). The best thing anyone can do who has a narcissist in their life, is run as fast and far as you can…no contact ever again. You win by not allowing them to maintain control over you. You also win by giving yourself the opportunity to find true love and happiness.

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