My Husband is a Narcissist
The Unconventional Guide to Being Happily Married to The Self-Absorbed
Being married to someone who’s preoccupied with his own attributes is lonely and tiring.
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, hypersensitivity is the norm.
It’s frustrating when you make a comment and he gets defensive at the perceived attack when you didn’t intend one.
Narcissists are known for having challenges in sustaining satisfying relationships.
Of course they are—they lack empathy and are busy building up themselves to be more important than they are.
Can being married to a narcissist ever be gratifying?
Can someone so self-absorbed ever bring the tenderness, thoughtfulness and admiration that every wife craves and deserves?
Pretend he’s Not a Narcissist
Stay with me here—I’ll explain.
You have a diagnosis.
You’ve been told by a professional who conducted an assessment, or your therapist, or you filled out an online test and the results were clear.
Plus you have your own experience of reading the list of symptoms and nodding so hard your head nearly fell off.
So it seems incredibly obvious that your man has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
And that’s validating to know.
I still remember the immense validation and relief I felt from finding out the diagnosis for my husband that I felt explained all of our relationship challenges. He was diagnosed with ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.
I remember thinking, “I knew there was something wrong with him!”
His diagnosis relieved me from having to reflect on my own shortcomings for several more years.
Why should I bother thinking about how I might be contributing to our problems? He was the one with the disorder, I figured.
But that didn’t actually make me happier.
If anything, it distracted me from doing the one thing that finally made my marriage shiny and amazing again: changing how I treated my husband.
And by changing, I mean I went back to treating him the way I did when we first met and fell in love.
Then the strangest thing happened: he turned back into the man who had wooed me.
The one that I thought was so smart, funny, handsome and talented. The one who didn’t seem to have a disorder at all.
Consider Doing an Experiment
What could it hurt to try something different? Just for a month?
If it doesn’t work, you can always go back to the way things were just before you read this blog.
I know it may feel like a departure from reality to act like he’s not disordered and start expecting the best from him instead of the worst.
But the funny thing about reality is that it’s squishy, depending on how you look at it.
What you focus on increases, so if you’re focused on your husband’s narcissism, you’re going to see a lot of it. And that’s not what you want, so why focus on it?
If that sounds too woo-woo to you, think of it in more scientific terms, like research bias. Research bias is “the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities,” according to Wikipedia.
If your bias is that he’s going to be a cold, self-centered jerk, then guess what you’re going to experience more?
If your bias is that he’s a loving, thoughtful, giving husband, then guess what you’re going to experience more?
You’ve seen two versions of your husband: one that was attractive and delightful enough to want to marry and spend the rest of your life with…
…And one who is incurably haughty, self-centered and uncaring.
Which one is the real him?
In my experience, the man you fell in love with originally will come back when you go back to treating him the way you treated him then.
Have You Changed?
When you fell in love with your man, you were doing lots of smiling, flirting, showing your gratitude and admiration. Are you still showing up that way now?
Because if you’ve changed how you’re treating him, he may be responding to you differently.
It’s good news, because it means if you change how you treat him, he’ll respond to you differently.
Maybe you’ve been so hurt and frustrated by his behavior that you don’t feel you can show up the way you used to. But you can see how refusing to go first ends up in an unhappy stalemate for both of you, right?
What if you decided to be the bigger person and be the first one to treat him respectfully, even if you don’t feel like it?
What if You Expected the Best from Him, Not The Worst?
I know there are plenty of experts who will tell you that it won’t work, that narcissists are incurable, or that it takes two to make things better.
But this expert is here to tell you that every woman I’ve ever seen who chose her faith that her husband is a good man over her fear that he was fatally flawed saw the NPD arrested.
There have been thousands.
In my experience, you can expect your narcissistic husband to write you love notes, take you to musicals, and spend hours making you organic vegetarian chili even though he’s a carnivore.
You can expect him to call you to ask what his hottie is up to, to come home from work early to be with you, and hang all the curtains while you’re out because he knows you want them up.
You can expect him to reach for your hand again, even though it’s been years.
Maybe your husband is different. Maybe he won’t ever respond the way you want him to.
But if there’s a chance that you could make the relationship great again, don’t you want to take it?
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