Staying with Your Narcissistic Spouse–Running on Empty

Those who are married to or living with a narcissistic personality are psychologically compromised if not imperiled. Your life no longer belongs to you. Your private thoughts are constantly interrupted by the delusional noise, the tantrums, accusations and ill will of the narcissistic partner. If he/she is in a bad mood you will get the brunt of his cruel projections. (This post refers to male and female narcissists). He is in constant denial about reality. He insists you view everything from his distorted perspective–how you lead your life, where you live, how much psychological freedom you have, even the activities of your days and nights can be dictated by a narcissistic spouse. It is remarkable that they appear to get away with being among the cruelest, insensitive human beings on the face of the earth. Once. they walk outside wearing their highly convincing mask they are greeted like heroes–a person who can do no wrong, who is lauded by his professional colleagues, respected by the community, lionized by his adoring inner circle.

What happens in private is totally different–and appalling. Once he enters his abode, the narcissist changes his tune. He is screaming, barking out demands, making accusations, non-stop criticisms, projecting venomous unconscious material from deep inside of him on to you. You have absolutely no peace, even when you are asleep at night. You lie there and frequently awaken and wonder if you can tolerate another day of this hellish nightmare. Many spouses of narcissistic keep taking this abuse year after year, decade after decade. They become more weary, doubt themselves more, swallow the rage that is caught in their throats, stifle tears that demand to pour, question if they are good enough. This is a dizzying merry go round type of living. The spouse is caught in the narcissist’s delusion and doesn’t understand that she is entitled to break free and get out. She sees no options of escape or the promise of a different life.

There are instances when the non-narcissistic spouse has a health crisis, or an incident occurs in which the narcissist has lost his temper once too many times and become very frightening and menacing. This is a crisis point when the spouse can see the narcissist clearly for whom he really is. At this point she asks herself:”Do I want to continue living this way?” “My spouse is not going to change, in fact he is getting worse- colder, crueler, more dismissive–”

At some point the injured spouse decides that she will sever her life from the narcissist. Often these spouses make plans in advance of the actual separation so that they can get out with out major ugly scenes and engagements with this volcanic personality. Many of these spouse report the relief they feel—they can breathe and think and dream once more. The route toward final separation can be tough but with a strong support system and some professional help if needed, this renewal of their lives does happen. They are now evolving fully, using all of their potential. They are blooming and moving forward creatively at the same time that they have found peace inside for the first time in their lives.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

5 thoughts on “Staying with Your Narcissistic Spouse–Running on Empty”

  1. Comment:From Sophie
    What’s great is when your narcissistic mother attaches herself to your narcissistic fiancé, flirts and stays up late with him after you go to sleep! Then, after two years of marital abuse, then therapy, you leave him and your mother’s only comment, to your golden child sister is, “She’ll never do it again.” My childhood was truly a sick, abusive one. The testimonies in your book don’t even touch on the horrifying extent of abusive confusion that narcissistic parents can inflict. My example above is one of the tamest I experienced. My siblings are all traumatized and paranoid- we have moved to opposite ends of the world, as being together is so painful- nightmarish-like reuniting with people who went through a war with you.

  2. Comment:From Sherry
    It made me exhausted to read this blog post. I am so very familiar with what you have written. Thank God I am finally free of this monstrous man.

  3. Comment:From Daisey
    Linda, I bought your book and I have learned so much from reading your blog. Your stories really provide much insight to the
    rude and emotional abuse that “narcs” dish out. What do you do when you know that a family member is married to a narcissist and has “fused” with their spouse’s personality, but really were/can be a decent person at times? Do you wait until the time is right to address bad behavior/hurtful actions, or do you say nothing?

    I had an incident at Christmas where my narc gave my husband and I all presents that were re-gifted and “old”. One present I discovered was twenty years old and deliberately placed in a new box to make it look new. It was a piece of art from a local pottery company that is still in business (they are the ones that told me of the gift’s antiquity and that it is no longer in circulation).

    I took to social media to announce my upset/pain because I wanted the Narc’s family to know how I felt. I NEVER named any names, just the incident and my hurt. To my surprise, the Narc’s entire family dogpiled me and INSISTED that I issue an apology immediately, which I did. Afterwards, I became more angrier for apologizing, because not once did they admit/see how they hurt us.

    What would you do in this situation? We have to be with these people next month for 3 consecutive days (their daugter’s wedding).


  4. Dear Daisey,

    I am sorry that you have been through this painful ordeal. Thank you for your comment. It is very meaningful to me and to all of those who come to my blog.
    I am not sure what relationship the narcissist you mention has with you. You and your spouse were the ones given those “gifts.” With regard to the wedding I would make sure to keep my distance, be polite—I know you have fine manners but nothing more. Do not engage these people at all. You have already made your apologies and that is over.
    Stay with your husband as a buffer. Do not be alone with any of these people since this is a time when they will project their psychological toxins on to family members. I know you can do this. I have great faith in you, Daisey.

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