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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?

Your narcissist can and will bring the tenderness when you do these 4 simple things for a month.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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?

4. 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?

Me, too.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

113 replies on “My Husband is a Narcissist”

I was really looking for an article about being married to a narcissist, but this has nothing to do with narcissism. My husband of 35 years always thinks he’s right even when the RIGHT answer is even told to him by someone else, but he’ll look at me and say “I knew that all along”, or if it’s about us.. the gaslighting starts. Eggshells or you’ll hear him say the say thing over and over for hours. It’s exhausting, but I do believe narcissistic behavior is completely different than ADD. I don’t see those two “disorders” as equal whatsoever.

Donna, that is exhausting. Sounds like the 6 Intimacy Skills may not be a fit for you. I get it because I didn’t think they would work for me either. Until I tried!

If you want to give them a try too, here’s a free roadmap to get you started. Standing for you to find what works for you!

This blog post is problematic for several reasons. Firstly, it perpetuates a harmful stereotype that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are inherently unlovable and incapable of sustaining satisfying relationships. This is not true; people with NPD can and do form healthy and fulfilling relationships, and their condition should not be used to dismiss their humanity or worth.

Secondly, the post suggests that the responsibility for fixing the relationship lies solely with the non-narcissistic partner, and that the solution is to change their behavior and expectations. This is not fair or realistic. Relationships require effort and compromise from both partners, and it is not fair to place the burden of fixing the relationship on only one of them.

Furthermore, the post oversimplifies the complex and difficult nature of being in a relationship with a narcissist. It suggests that the solution is as simple as changing one’s own behavior and expecting the best from the narcissist, which ignores the reality that narcissists often have deeply ingrained patterns of behavior that are difficult to change.

Finally, the post trivializes mental health diagnoses and suggests that they can be used as a convenient label to explain away relationship problems. This is not only disrespectful to people with mental health conditions but also unhelpful in terms of understanding and addressing the issues in the relationship. It is important to seek professional help and support to address relationship issues, rather than relying on simplistic solutions or labels.

Laura, I’ve been married 42 years. The last ten years has been a test of endurance. He blames me for every single thing that goes wrong…somehow I have a part to play in it. He switches back and forth from caring to mean in words and deeds. It has me scared to trust my own brain on matters because I’m constantly thinking, “what if it doesn’t work out??” But if I just let him be in control for all things, he won’t take charge either!! Or he makes really stupid choices and I have to live with that! I’m just trying to survive each day without a blow-up from him and waiting to get old and die.

Cheryl, I know you just want to be a happy wife, but that sounds really hard when he’s blaming you for everything. I would feel scared too. You shouldn’t have to be in survival mode after 42 years of marriage! I still remember how bad it felt when I thought my marriage was hopeless. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women. We can help you too. Get a coach so you can stop feeling blamed, sad and afraid, and start feeling desired, taken care of and special!

I’ve just realised today that I’ve been married to a narcissist 8 years. I’m sad about it because I don’t know that I’ll ever have a “normal” marriage. We have 3 beautiful children and I want them to always have their mum and dad with them. Thankfully he is not physical. I just pray something will give. Only God can intervene and make a difference. I don’t think my husband and I can. He won’t want to because ‘he is always right, and I’m making this up’ 🙁 right?

Larissa, I know you just want to be a happy wife, but first, you have to fix your relationship and it must feel like it has fallen apart. You shouldn’t have to feel hopeless after eight years of marriage. I still remember how awful it felt when I thought my marriage was hopeless. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women fix their relationships, even when there’s a diagnosis like NPD. We can help you too! You can fix your marriage without his conscious effort using the Roadmap right here:

A true narcissist wants different things than a loving wife wants. If I did what you suggested, and I actually have in the past, he doesn’t all of a sudden develop compassion or empathy. He still sees me as one who fills his need for attention at best. At worst, lie, gaslight, manipulate, generate fights because negative attention is still attention. I could go on and on. It is outrageous to suggest that the wives are the problem. In fact that’s what a narcissist would suggest. Narcissist’s attract a kind of person. I was deep in Codependence . I worked 3 years to heal. After I found healing I was able to see my husband for who he was. But I remained quiet. And I gently changed and became more loving. He did not change at all. I’m still with him because I feel like I’d be abandoning a child if I left him. His emotional maturity level is quite young. My healing has given me peace and I live on the other side of the house from him. Daily being blamed, accused and complained about. But you do a terrible disservice to suggest just by the wife changing he will too. They.Don’t.Change.

My husband, who I’ve been separated from for a year now, is a narcissist who suffered from child abuse. He has always lied about silly things but whilst being completely charming and just a downright dream. He was attentive, caring, loyal, would have done anything for me. After his grandad (his father figure) died, he became depressed, distant and started resenting me and majorly gaslighting me. I couldn’t take it and left. We remained friendly. Since our house has sold, he is now ignoring my messages completely about the next steps forward and whether to get divorced or not. How do I deal with this? Do we have a shot at saving our marriage of 6 years or am I right to give up and move on?

I’m married to a narcissistic sex addict and I just love this solution that after 17 years of giving my all to him and him slowly but surely reducing me to a shadow of my former self with his selfish and ridiculous ideals and beliefs. I love him so much and the thought of losing him is incredibly painful but this is not the answer, this will only work until you run out of puff again and then he will turn again because his love is conditional and who wants that really? That’s not real love that’s using someone to get what you want and when ypu be used and abused it and it’s run dry giving it a good kick.

I’m right there with you, Jen! Been with my husband for 29 years and married for 16 years. He is a complete narcissist which I am pretty sure comes from his upbringing. From what I’ve read, a lot of narcissists like sex, but only because they see it as a form of reassurement. I dread sex and have no desire whatsoever, so it’s a challenge!
I am going to give this approach an honest try. It can’t hurt, but if it doesn’t work then put a fork in me cuz I’m done! I can’t continue to live in this world of ‘crazy.’

Men have no trouble moving on my husband of 20 years is having a vestectomy and I can’t even have children, always working out and wants to get a face lift what is he up to

Laura, your program is amazing! My husband and I were heading toward ‘The War of the Roses’, with negative building on negative. After implementing your strategies, I now have a loving and positive relationship with him. Recently, when I was feeling reeeally PMS’y, overwhelmed, and crabby, went in our room to rest. He had to leave, but beforehand, left a post-it note on the door that said, “I love you, no matter what”.
That sentiment has been able to become truth for both of us! It reflects the fact that our behavior nearly always has a reason that’s unrelated to each other. We’ve both been able to get past the issue, and back to togetherness!
Thank you, thank you…

Great to hear, Bonnie! Congratulations! I know how much courage it takes to do that, and I admire that. Maybe someday you’ll become a coach and show other women how to do what you did.

Why are you advising women to change their behavior to keep a narcissist in their life? What horrible advice. If your husband is truly a narcissist, he’s not capable of real love or empathy toward you. Even the moments when they are being loving or kind to you aren’t authentic. Their emotions are shallow and quick to change. If it benefitted them more to do so, they would throw you under a bus in a heartbeat. Why would you want to even be in a marriage with a person like that? Maybe advise women to leave these emotionally abusive manipulators and seek out partners who can truly love them instead.

This is ludicrous! Find your strength women and love yourselves. Period. Move to a different frequency by realizing being a codependent is just the flip side of a narcissist. Both trying to heal childhood wounds. Life is too short

What hurts so much is that when you do listen to him and his frustration and you are really trying hard to make it better, he always finds a way to knock you down again, I believe in my marriage vows more than anything but to what expense I have hit my lowest in my self esteem, confidence…….

I’m going to be honest. This is kind of difficult to read, accept and commit to… I’ve only been married 3 months and just realizing my husband has many narcissistic traits. I’m exhausted from the crazy cycles and just having to, in the end ignore his psychotic behavior in order to move forward…. then back again a few days later… I’m bitter and don’t have much to give. I’m pissed at myself for not being able to see this beforehand.

Reading through these comments are very enlightening, yet sad. I’m just figuring out that I’m married to a man with narcissistic personality disorder. I’m wondering how do you keep him from cheating and lying. I think I could possibly live with the other traits and fight through with love but my trust is shot….any suggestions.

I have tried this suggestion several times in my 20 year marriage. When I treat him better, he gets very happy and is absolutely loving the “relationship” because he is receiving all his desires. Meanwhile, I am exhausted and get nothing in return. Then I get tired of being taken advantage of and I build up more resentment and frustration with him and then we are worse than before. I am sickened of the cycle and am losing hope. I feel the only way to stay in my marriage is to have a complete servant attitude with zero expectation of anything in return.

I have been searching the internet for advice on how to be happily married to a covert/vulnerable/introverted narcissist. My husband tells me that he is so happy with his life and his life is perfect. I have felt unfulfilled for years because he has no empathy and shows breadcrumbs of interest in me emotionally or physically. I cheerfully work very hard to praise him and take care of things for our family. Whenever I nicely bring up my needs, he is angry and dismissive that I am too needy or sensitive and I don’t appreciate all of the good things that he does (even if I list off many ways that I expressed positive things about him recently). I can’t communicate my needs and he wouldn’t consider working on anything with me because his life is perfect. Not his problem, just mine. I thought that I could live with it and focus on the good parts of my life, but I was fooling myself that I am a human being that has real needs in a Catch 22 that if I express my needs, they are rejected and if I don’t they’re unknown and unmet. Fast forward after accepting that’s who he is and being positive on the outside and still having unmet emotional and physical connection but my husband is living the dream, when another man showed me empathy and interest, it was very tempting and I scared myself how much I thought about a relationship with the other man before I told him that I was too attached and could not see him anymore. I did not think that I was the kind of person to even think about that because I am very loyal and committed to marriage for a lifetime. Sometimes people are users and people are givers because they don’t think they are worthy of being treated better. I have grown in self-esteem over the years and I see that my anxious preoccupied attachment style when I was 18 and met him overlooked that he did not put much in the relationship from the start and I was just trying to prove myself to him that he should be into me if I am enough. Well 17 years later, I know that I am enough but he’s just not that into putting in any effort or knowing me and that’s where he is happy. That’s a recipe for half of a happy marriage, but a mistake of being too young to know myself that I have to live with.

Me: “Thank you SO much for getting groceries!” (Even though I get them the other 51 weeks a year. But, praise right? Being nice, TRYING MORE!)
Him: “Well, someone has to do it.”

Another example:
Me: “Oh, there’s a new movie coming out next week! Date night? Just you and me?”
Him: “I’m not sure if I can get off work in time. We’ll see.”

Another example:
Me: “Thank you for taking (our daughter) to practice, that saved me so much time!”
Him: “The roads were bad, you probably would’ve turned around.”

Oh. My. GAH. Repeat these type of scenarios over and over again with no love, no empathy, no appreciation from him. I’m done trying, this is the definition of insanity. But hey, I’m sure it’s probably my fault right?

Dear critics, I invite you to read my posts above (maybe 3 of them?)

I think what’s missing from the last few comments above, is that the person who’s traits meet criteria for Narcissism is also a spiritual being having a human experience, just like you. If you’re meeting someone for the first time who is Narc, fine, go the other way, you’ll save yourself a lot of work.

But for the women married to men of this ilk already, who have lives and families with them, there might just be a way for them to have success. Would you deny them this opportunity because of what you believe to be impossible? What about the testimony of women who have lived to see a happy marriage to yes, a Narc! Because there are thousands. They deserve a chance to find out for themselves if this program might be life changing for them, too.

Being married to someone who meets this criteria, and having been already divorced from another one meeting criteria, I can honestly say this program works. It’s not about “truly” Narcissistic as it’s a behavior that acts as a coat of armor – and armor is donned when battle is near and is not the warrior himself – it is a shell of protection. This program allows women to learn how not to try to save him, but to save themselves through true empowerment with the skills LD and her community of wise women coaches teach. This consequently creates a natural space for him to put down his defensive armor and possibly experience some true authenticity, perhaps for the first time in his life. And that’s where the change and growth happens and the relationship finds a flourish that can keep families not only intact but *gasp* happy, too.

This is not bad advice – it is a revolutionary approach – and that’s always scary space when we change up what we believe to be “true” about anything we’ve put in concrete boots.

I have experienced this program first hand and am not only an experiential authority on being married to a Narc(s) I am also professionally permitted to diagnose the disorder. So yes I do, know what I am talking about.

I speak out here to invite the critics who have not gone through this program, to try it out, authentically, for at least 6 months. This is not a program teaching women to be rugs – in fact, until I began to really learn this skill set, I had no idea what it felt like to NOT be a rug – no matter how much education, training and personal studies I had. None of it taught me how to be truly powerful in my relationship in a way that heals instead of separates and divides. Until I learned the skills to be an Empowered Wife.

This program truly empowers women, is healing relationships and consequently, healing men like this as well. But you’d have to stand in our experience to know this truth. I invite you to learn, too!

This article was written with good intention, however I agree with others that the suggested strategies would not work with a truly narcissistic person. A spouse married to a narcissist has “been there, done that.” The early stage or courtship behavior is not indicative of a narcissistic person’s “true” demeanor. Those early behaviors are a function of the underlying narcissism. In fact, the article comes off as victim-blaming by asking the spouse to be the one to keep trying, keep giving, keep believing he/she has control or even much influence over the narcissistic spouse to return to those early stage behaviors. The Serenity Prayer is a useful guide for me to accept the things I cannot change and place my energy in areas of life where I do have control, specificly my own self. I endeavor to love myself and surround myself as much as possible with people who love, care, and respect me. I send my love to all individuals married to narcissistic spouses. It’s not easy. It can be crazy-making, so it’s all the more important to invest in people, activities, and values that are grounding and nourishing. Thanks for letting me share. ?

So much Vicky’s comment. She even admits in the comment section that her husband is NOT NPD. Do not further the abuse. This is ridiculous! It is not your fault nor is it your job for you to fix. This whole article makes me sick and reading the comment of women married to these men and being told to be subservient and sweet and flirty like they are the problem, like yeah continue pushing your self respect aside.

This is seriously dangerous advice to give to a spouse of a narcissist. All you are doing here is feeding the man’s ego, reinforcing his inflated sense of self that he is wonderful. Remember what happens when a narcissist finally conquers you? You are just a trophy and then he moves on. A narcissist is fueled by conflict; he does not feel worthy of your love. The ONLY way a narcissist can recover is through first acknowledging he even has a problem and stop blaming YOU for his outlandish behavior. And then to get professional help. The advise in this article suggests that if we “behave the way the narcissist wants us to behave” the marriage can be healed. That is hogwash and the idea that the abused spouse is somehow responsible for the abuse is horrifying advice.

I’m currently dealing with this exact situation. I don’t see how I can just “go back” to being the woman I was when we first started dating.
I also would love some insight into this “self care” that everyone refers to. Please provide some examples?

Aimee, I just wanted to acknowledge your comment if I may. I don’t know your story and as Laura always says, “you are the expert on your own life”. But you’re still here, so I wonder if that means you are still holding out any hope for your marriage? If you are, I want to share…

My man meets criteria for Narcissism and I know how I have deeply suffered over the years. I had made my own relational improvements with INTENSE self help efforts – but no matter how much I tried, changed myself, learned anew or loved more rightly, he was still just a Narc sucking up all my kindness without reciprocating – it was like throwing a grain of sand on the beach and hoping to build a sandcastle. He was a black hole for my love and I thought it would never get better and I was doomed to a loveless life unless I left him for good. We never even had a real honeymoon period that everyone talks about because he was so narcissistic I never got to feel like I was special to him. That was until I started really learning with Laura Doyle’s community of women and got a Laura Doyle Certified Coach to help me dig deeper. Have you done those things too?

Before getting matched with a coach I told my interviewer to please pair me with someone who understands what it’s like to be married to a Narc. And she laughed replying “75% of the women here understand what that’s like!” Now, I don’t know if that stat is accurate but she made her point that I have reason to be hopeful. *LOL* I also had a male marriage therapist tell us once (tongue in cheek) “every man is a narcissist”. I don’t think that’s true but he also was making a point about how many men are hopelessly self centered.

I am wondering if you have had the benefit of the full community of supportive women and had the advantage of a Laura Doyle Certified Coach? I don’t know what it’s like to be with a man addicted to porn or one who goes after other women, but I can relate to your comments and I have been in deep states of despair over it countless times. I’ve even left him before. However, since I started this program, I have seen changes in ME that have influenced changes in him, that I would have NOT thought possible in the past!! I have seen major miracles already in my marriage in just over 3 months of working this program. I’ve gotten romantic gifts, truly thoughtful and selfless considerations, he’s doing things for me, taking me out, I’m getting great sex, he’s a far better father, I’m getting more snuggles and a deeper connection, and most of all, there’s a lack of verbal abuse and no fighting! And all that started with ME understanding and using my true feminine powers in the right ways – and I’m just getting started!! Because after all my herculean efforts before, I was just doggone-doing it wrong. Laura had the right relational formula that is working for me and thousands of others.

I don’t know what’s right for you as you are the expert, but if you’re not walking out today, can you ask yourself if you’ve truly taken advantage of every opportunity that this program can offer you? I have and my daily improvements and weekly miracles have given me an entirely new lease on my love life and I would love to see other women seeking a solution to find what I have – real hope with something that truly works. Hindsight shows me I was a dis-empowered woman when I came to this program (and I wouldn’t have known that – I’m too tough!) and now, to my stupefied surprise, I am more genuinely powerful than ever over myself (firstly) and in my relationship. What an amazing feeling! I hope you find the best path for you and I send you a compassionate hug for your journey.

Wondering, you sound like a future certified relationship coach to me. Thanks for the inspirational posts on this blog!

Well, i am married to a porn addict + narcissist+ verbal abuser.

I’m tired of the abuse and one sided relationship — and i’m a surrendered wife.

He wants me to speak what HE wants to hear, WHEN he wants me to speak and basically, he wants a puppet.

My needs, my wants are not heard, if not secondary.


He can go find another Laura Doyle.

I was thankful someone referred me to this article. No, ADD is not like NPD as ADD doesn’t affect one’s ability to be compassionate but Laura’s point was about living with what seems like insurmountable personality flaws. I don’t see she was minimizing the effects of NPD. Other’s have a point that the Narc will just “soak it all in” when you’re being a loving wife rather than a reactive one – and not reciprocate – I’ve sure lived that one. But do you know that to be TRUE in light of you fully living Laura’s program? Because there have been tons of women married to Narcs who came out winning in love today. I did hear my story in other women’s tales here like him not wanting you to do self care because it takes away from him. I don’t know that I agree it’s a “fake” relationship if he is being loving back towards you just because he benefits from it – that is a viewpoint. We all benefit from being loved and in the spotlight – theirs IS more for survival though – but doesn’t make it less worthy – it is what it is to him – we all have our capacity.

I myself have done “everything” (counseling, marriage counseling, read every book on how to fix marriage, rising above it all with spiritual books up the ying-yang) to fix my marriage with my man who meets criteria for Narcissism. But I have to agree with Laura! I was doing the WRONG WORK!! You are not going to cure your man of his Narcissism as it is an extreme psychological defense system. But it is possible to create an accessible environment in your home for his “emotional-disability”. Let me put it like this, if a man in a wheelchair is met with a staircase he is disabled. But if he’s met with a ramp and an electric door, he is just as able as anyone else in that environment. If you are allergic to rag weed and go rolling in it, you’re going to have a reaction. It’s possible to have the skills that create a symbolic ramp and electric door in your relationship because other’s have done so with a Narc and can attest to it. it’s NOT always hopeless like conventional and even clinical knowledge would have you think.

Laura’s teachings have been helping me and many other women married to men described/Dx as Narcissists to create what “I” call an accessible environment to where the symptoms rarely rear their head – and when they do, you have the tools to take care of yourself properly – instead of living in misery and despair. I am on my second marriage to a man meeting criteria for Narcissism and this means I could leave but it also means I could just as easily end up with another one! *I* am the one who must change because I can not control him. But by changing ME, I change the reactive environment and my own cycle.

Of course, you can always leave (and if you’re being physically abused you should leave) but if you’re choosing to stay, why choose resigned misery (?) – try this program and add coaching – you’ve got nothing to lose but the suffering. You won’t know if it works for you unless you actually go for a deep dive in the intimacy skills for yourself for an extended period of time. Leaving is always a choice and so is doing this program.

Wondering, I love this comment! Thanks for all you shared here. I’m sure many will be inspired to feel hopeful. Thank you!

Ok! So, I have only recently been able to finally put a name to what I have been dealing with for the past 7years. NARCISSISM. But to be totally honest the whole house has been dealing with this problem. Boy! I felt like a weight had been lifted. Now, armed with a new found understanding of my husband, I thought I would read everything there was to read and be better prepared going forward. That fairytale ended quickly as I noticed our five year old is starting to exhibit some of the same behavior as dad. That is where my sympathy /empathy for my husband ended. I am now on a path to severing this horrible 7 years of living on an emotional roller coaster. I refuse to raise a child, a son that could potentially impact someone else’s life as negatively has his father has mine. My belief is that my role as a parent far out weighs my role as a wife. So… to add insult to injury I see the stepchild, who with her mothers help had taken the father to court for a change in custody and lost; exhibits narcissistic behavior. It’s painfully obvious that she doesn’t want to live with us but he refuses to let her go. Father treats all of us as possessions not family or loved-ones. With all of that being said, I am left with two questions I can not seem to find answers for:
1) is NPD passed on through DNA? 2) Is narcissism primarily seen in males?
Oops! Another question…does anyone know how the court system views the effects of narissim on a household?

Hi Laura
I have an narcissistic husband and we are on going to get a divorce and he has been married twice before not knowing what was his problem. Three times he wanted a divorce me but I manage to save the marriage but I did it again so I just has enough of being so hurt and he phiscally abused me and verbally abusive.
Now at the moment I am separate from him but the problem is that I am hard of hearing and has been his housewife and depended on him!! I don’t have a home with no income to move on with my life ,at moment I am at staying on my friend’s Home and will have move out in next week. Yesterday it was my birthday and surprisingly my husband phoned me to wish me and I never ever thought he would remember birthday dates which I have to reminded him his family’s birthdays!!!
I have has few calls from him but I ignored him and once I spoke and he ask me wether I am coming back and I went silent and change the subject!!!!
I am going to speak to him very seriously about our marriage but I feel he won’t change and we are both in our sixties and I am the one don’t want the divorce but I feel for 10 years I have known him and married and I understood his depression problems!!
So I don’t know wether I want to return back to him as I feel our marriage is unhealthy too much stress and painful!!
Please Laura I need your advice thank you

I recently finished one of your books and came across this article. It seems to me your philosophy/approach is based on the premise that both spouses were emotionally healthy in the beginning and capable of a healthy relationship.
If the dating period was full of narcissistic behavior that was sugar-coated by a people pleaser like me; there is no courting period to return to. We never had a time when he was going out of his way for me. His definition of kindness is so much less than what I actually need. I don’t nag, control or criticize; he does actually (and admits/knows it).
No amount of pouring love and respect on him translates into reciprocated action towards me. He just soaks it in. When he does decide to show love it is so late and less than I need that it has little effect and I still don’t feel loved.

I did exactly what you said and it was wonderful but exhausting. I just couldn’t keep up with it. I have my own issues (endocrine disorder and PMDD which affect my moods tremendously) and having to be happy, in-love and totally focused on him and making him happy was impossible. we have two kids that need me, an aging mother that needs me, a full time job….etc etc etc. I handle all the bills/paperwork etc, all of the the house cleaning and cooking, taking the cars for oil changes, landscaping….everything. The only way this worked for us was when I only focused on him and let everything else go….as soon as I had to start paying attention to the kids or the house he would regress and I would as well as I cannot do it all…..How do you keep it up day after day after day? And what about the other things and people in life?

The idealization phase always bleeds back into devaluation. I only wish this was a solution instead of a temporary fix.

When I first met my husband I was stand offish , he said he loved me in 2 weeks we were together. I was more free when I first met him I am myself then he changed me to be something else I could have friends he would be jealous.
It’s no like this now but it was and it got a lot worse.

After I let my guard down and showed lots of love to him he pushed me away and it’s been like this for so long if ignore him then that’s when he comes running back to me.
He wants me to beg him for everything not anymore !!

I don’t even know how, and why I ended up reading blogs like this in my life. I never imagined one day I actually would. I’m 23 years old met a the “right guy” when I was 18 and he was the only person who could understand me and so many more. I’m writing this looking at my 1 year old daughter and my husband sleeping so peacefully since it’s already 10:35pm here. I don’t even know what to write, what to understand, who to talk to and what should I say? I have been suffering (right now hurtfully admitting the fact that my husband is a narcissist) dealing with the same case implemented in a different way for 4 years now and I feel so lost. I want to speak, I don’t know what to say, I want to grab my daughter and run but don’t know where to go, I want to just hug my husband and assume it’s all a dream but I can’t find a feeling to do so, I want to listen to but not really sure, I want to sleep cause I feel so tired from inside out but I can’t even find peace to sleep. I feel so lost, I feel so sad, I feel like this is just a dream, I don’t know. And again I still have to think on top of everything I go through, where will I get my daughter’s milk for the next few days, to support my family and at the same time, how can I heal ? When is this going to be over? When is it going to be normal? I dont even know how to smile and feel strong for my daugther right now, but i want to for her. I don’t know how to look at her and say everything is alright. I just don’t know.

I found and read your post and at the risk of sounding like a narcissistic husband, I don’t think your husband was a narcissist. If you are criticizing, fault finding and expecting someone to love you how you want to be loved, good luck getting a positive response. Last time I checked it was normal to not to want to be berated, criticized, to be treated with respect. That is why when you shifted your attitude, you got a different response. If your husband was a narcissist your doting and doing everything for him, would never be enough. It would only be the beginning of a hellish cycle where you can’t win because you will never be enough. No, the shift you made and the shift your husband reciprocated was because you are both selfish, but normal. Narcissists are dangerous people who can never receive enough. Killing them with kindness only gets you ‘why can’t you be nicer, why can’t you be more like…, you don’t care about what I do.’

HOPN, I’m sorry to hear that your husband is a potential narcissist. It sounds so painful and exhausting that everything you do is never enough. I admire you for having the vulnerability to share these challenges.

You are correct–my husband does not have NPD; he had a different diagnosis. Doting and doing everything for him didn’t work for me either. But in my experience working with thousands of women, even those with narcissistic husbands have transformed their marriages using the 6 Intimacy Skills. It is scary how he might respond, but these courageous women report that they have become desired, cherished and adored.

If you want to stay in your marriage and what you’ve tried isn’t working for you, I invite you to experiment with the Intimacy Skills. I’ll show you how in my upcoming Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills.

Hi, ive been married ten yrs with a npd husband and i also felt like i tried it all ..i see how confused the ladies here seem but from my experience trying and trying with such a kind husband will only suck out every bit energy u have and ul feel crushed, trust ur instincts ladies! if u feel u tried enough and ur strong enough to leave then go for it..i feel soo much better now and i cannot believe how i ignored my instincts and tried because other ppl promised me change..there is a very very slim chance that such men with become better…

Riki, I’m sorry to hear you were crushed by years of dealing with your husband’s narcissism. That sounds exhausting. I love that you listened to your instincts and have been empowered. You are the expert on your life!

I remember how depleted I was when I was struggling with my husband’s defects. Focusing on bettering him did not work for me either. But when I used the 6 Intimacy Skills to energize myself and to focus on my happiness, everything changed (including him)!

I understand your idea and it truly is the way to go for many issues. But NPD is not anything like ADD. I found this thread under the my husband is a narcissist heading . That’s why people with that issue responded. If you do not have an NPD husband, you would not know that your approach in most cases would not work. We are a hopeless bunch unless we focus on ourselves and not the Narc. if ones goal is for peace in the house and to placate the narc so you can do what you want when he’s not around? It’s perfect. You are truly a wonderful caring person, but true NPD is quite the beast and acting like you did when you got married, to me is a recipe for disaster unless yon want s fake marriage. Thank you for your efforts.

Agreed! I love your focus on yourself and not the narc. That is key to the surrendered approach that has done wonders for all the women I’ve worked with whose husbands who have NPD. Thanks for your acknowledgments, Sheila.

I admire you for trying, but if your husband truly is a narcissist, this method will not produce a REAL marriage. As you should know, a narcissistic is can be Great… AS LONG AS you constantly give attention, praise and make him the center of your world… As you did during the dating stage. But narcs want nothing other than that from you. The minute he messes up and blames you? Get ready to accept. The minute his head is turned by a younger version of yourself? Get ready to accept. The minute you tend to yourself and not him? Get ready for his immature self. If you want a fake relationship you can surely get that with the narc. That’s all you are advocating, I’ve done it. But know you are not his first priority just because he’s helping you hang curtains or calls you hottie. His first priority of himself . As long as you aren’t standing in his way of showing off, flirting with others, seeking praise and admiration, and as long as you are fine standing in his shadow as he glows in the sunlight, then that’s your choice. He will make you feel good when it’s convenient for him and only then. He will check that box. He’s shallow and that’s all he’s capable of. He knows how to play you and yes allowing him to play you Is all you are doing.

Sheila, thank you for sharing your experience. That is so painful. To be clear, I’m not condoning that women endure playing second fiddle or being played, or having a fake relationship. What I am promoting is getting back the man you married. In my experience, there is plenty of cause for hope for that, even for women with husbands with NPD. And tending to yourself is a big part of that!

I’m so calloused and changed from who I used to be that I can’t even remember how it was way back when. Feeling rejected and unlovable has destroyed me. I just exist.

Susan, I still remember how painful it was to feel rejected and unlovable. It was awful and exhausting! Then I discovered the Intimacy Skills and got a much better response from my husband. I admire that you’re looking for a solution and I’m glad you found your way here. I invite you to my free webinar on How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register here:

What if your fiancé is blunt and business-like when dealing with others? Sometimes my fiancé doesn’t realize (or doesn’t care) how he is coming across. When I say things like, “Hey you may have hurt their feelings…” he gets defensive and says, “You only think about how others feel and not my feelings”. (Which isn’t true, because I often listen to his issues and try and show him the positive side.) It should be noted that these instances usually occur in situations where no one has actually wronged him, but he’s assuming they have (i.e.: they forgot to call him back).

On the opposite side, he gets upset when I remind him if he hasn’t followed through on a commitment made to others. It comes across to me as childish. I try not to be a nag, but I often take his behavior to heart as I’m his fiancé and I feel his behavior is a reflection on me as well. (I often worry about how my own words/actions effect others, so his lack of worry about his actions puts my mind into over-analyzing mode.) Should I just let it go?

Ashlee, I can relate to you feeling embarrassed by the way your fiance interacts with people and wanting to help him do better. I felt the same way. I thought he was so clueless and that I could help him improve, but all I did was crush the intimacy and his self-esteem in the process. I didn’t feel very good about my tone of voice either, or the emotional hangover I had after I spent an hour trying to make him see. Here’s what I wish I knew when I was first married to get me through the situations you describe: the Six Intimacy Skills. I describe them step-by-step in my book/audiobook The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

Thanks again for another great article Laura! It’s so refreshing to see something written that doesn’t blame the narcissist and thus create more victim thinking. . . (Also there is something unnerving about labeling people narcissists. But that might be another topic.). 🙂

The narcissist only has as much power as we allow. Maybe I am wrong, but it seems like there is also a narcicissist hiding behind the veil of the narcissist “victim.” It takes a narcissist to know a narcissist.

As someone married to a narcicist, it was easy to blame HIM for all the misery in my life. But my efforts to control or COMBAT his narcissism was just another form of narcissism. (I would put down his controlling ways to protect my own controlling ways. Narcissist vs. narcissist.). It
Made a vicious cycle. The control of one narcicist is more obvious than the other,but they exist on the same narcistic coin. Your books and wisdom have helped me see through this tangled mirror a bit clearer. Guilting and blaming a narcissist doesn’t accomplish anything. Underneath the narcissist is a human dieing for love. Love melts it all away.

Karli, Beautifully written! That’s my experience too–that my own control was a bigger issue than any thing that was “wrong” with my husband. Congratulations on choosing love!

I have been married a year, but kicked my husband out 1 month ago when he decided to stay out all night and not come home. He wants to do whatever he wants without any complaint from me. He has NPD and sounds just like all these other women’s husband. I have a hard time trusting anything he says to me. He seems to lie about lots of stuff, but will never admit that. I will even see something with my own eyes and he will deny knowing anything about, or having anything to do with it. He has made me believe I was actually crazy at times, and I even considered hospitalizing myself several times because of it. I am the “crazy bitch.” He doesn’t know how to set boundaries with friends, and other women. He has manipulated and husseled his way thru life, and I have felt he has done that with me. He has not done anything at all while we have been apart to show me that he is dedicated or responsible for any part in this marriage. It all comes back to me. I am very independent with a strong personality that doesn’t even need marriage, I wanted it though, but now think he manipulated me all the way to “I do.” I don’t know what in the world to believe or if I can believe anything his says. How do I push thru that if I even commit to trying to work things out?

EB, Wow, that sounds very painful to not be able to trust your husband. I’m sorry to hear. I’m also a strong personality and I know my husband lied to me when he felt the truth was not going to get a good reaction from me. Doesn’t make it okay, but once I became safe he went back to being the honest man he is. I don’t know if that applies to your situation, but I think it deserves a longer conversation. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and figure out the best move for your marriage. You can do that here:

I had been trying the intimacy skills for about 6 weeks and i did notice a change in my household. Not much change in my intimacy with my husband, or in his interest in being intimate with me. I have strong feelings of defectiveness and my ADhD gets in the way of my patience, my short term memory and the ability to believe things can change. I don’t trust, that is one of my biggest obstacles. we have 3 kids, we live in brooklyn and both work. I am a morning person, and my husband is a night owl, and i can’t remember the last time we made an effort to be in the same room without kids. Its been a long time since we have had sex, and I am measuring the status of my marriage by whether he wants to touch me or not. I have an inner switch that sabotages things just as I am making progress. For example, someone compliments me, and then I loose it all feeling pressured. I want to be secure about this, but I am constantly forgetting the right words to say. Recently he noticed I was using the ques of “whatever you thing” “ouch” or “i hear you” and he asked me if i had a list of words i can say now. I have listened to the audio books 2x (both of them). And done an exploratory call – I could truly benefit from some support but I can not afford the cost for a coach. I believe in this and I believe in changing responses, and above all self care but without some guidance or a network of women, its becoming really confusing.

Sammy, I hear that your marriage feels distant right now and that’s very painful. I still remember that feeling. I also hear that you believe in the power of The Intimacy Skills and you could use some more support with applying them, but a private coach is out of reach right now. I would love to see you get more support too. I have a free webinar called How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life which you can register for here:

First, I’m a little confused by your statement here that your husband has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, when another blog entry says he was diagnosed with ADD. What is the true case?

“So it seems incredibly obvious that your man has Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
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.”

When they meet, she is smiling, flirting, showing your gratitude and admiration. He is a great guy.
She changes her behavior, he responds with poor behavior, and is considered a narcissist.
She resumes the initial behavior and he becomes a great guy again.

Perhaps he is a narcissist and everything is fine when she is a codependent enabler. Or, maybe he’s not actually a narcissist but only responded typically (poorly) when she began nagging, and behaved well when she stopped. So, which is it really? I vote for the second case.

Rick, My husband’s diagnosis was ADD, not NPD. I think if you re-read it I never say that he was diagnosed with NPD, although the wording may be confusing.

And yes, I agree it’s the second case that rings true.

This articles title is clearly Npd? And Npd is referred to several times. Why are you saying ADD ? What is the source of this confusion?

Sheila, my husband’s diagnosis was ADD, not NPD. I think if you reread it I never say that he was diagnosed with NPD, although the wording may be confusing. I hope that clears it up.

Please do a post on verbal abuse. My husband still calls me names he’s quick to anger. It’s so hard to walk away without lashing back. Millions of women suffer from verbally abusive relationships. Saying ouch after a hurtful word doesn’t change anything and my self esteem suffers.

I’ve done this before, but will try it again. My husband is not only a narcissist but also feels the need to completely tear me down to nothing through insults and name calling. He doesn’t want me to have any hobbies or anything that takes time away from me ogling him. Even if he’s busy doing things around the house or yard, I’m not to read or color or write letters. I’m to sit and watch him buzz around. I’m 53 years old and we’ve been married for 5 years. I’m just a bump on a boring log at this point.

Janette, That sounds very oppressive! I wouldn’t like that either. I admire your willingness to try again. Have you read The Empowered Wife? You’d find it very valuable, and you can read a free chapter here:

I haven’t read it. He has me on a strict budget and books aren’t included in it. 🙁 Thank you for the free chapter though. I’ll read it for sure.

What if your husband doesn’t want you to do the things that you would like to do for self-care? My husband does not want me to spend money on clothes, my hair, makeup, or the hobbies that I would like to pursue. He finds a good reason when it comes to spending money for the things he needs and wants. I am a stay at home mom so it feels strange doing things for me without permission. Our relationship didn’t start out this way but it has become this way over the years.

Jennifer, Sounds very oppressive! I wouldn’t like that at all. Sometimes stingy husbands are husbands who feel unappreciated, so consider heaping on the appreciation and gratitude. Have you read, The Surrendered Wife? I talk about how to create a spending plan and that seems like it might really be helpful for you. You can read a free chapter here:

Hi Laura. I definitely changed after we got married and had our first child. I was such an ambitious and lively person with so much goals and dreams in life. I was studing my postgrad when we met and soon after we got married. I never finished my studies. We’ve been married for 2 years now and we have 1 baby together. Anyway i am happy to be a stay at home mum and my husband supports us financially and he is happy to do so. The problem he has with me though is that he wants me to go back to studying and working towards something in life (not earning a living cos he is happy to be our sole bread winner) instead of just being a mom. I told him ok I’ll go back to study next semester. Then when the time comes i would give him a reason why i can’t start usually cos of the baby and then I’d say next few months and honestly i wanted to but the timing wasn’t right. When i tried to tell him that he would shake his head and say that’s just an excuse. He would tell me do it before we get busy with our future children and other commitments. Anyway we had this conversation like atleast 5 times over the last 1 and half years! The more he pushes me the more i feel like i m not ready and don’t want to do anything. He told me one day that when he married me i was an ambitious girl who had goals in her life. He said that is what he loved abt me the most. The fact that i was a productive person and now i am not the same person. Now i am one of those people who hate to be told when and what to do. And i like to take my time to decide what and when i am going to do something in my life. I am a laid back and indivisive person so i like to take my time. He is completely opposite. He is extremely divisive and driven and likes to keep busy all the time with work and studies. He doesn’t like to have down times and doesn’t spend time with me at all. Anyway how do i convince him that i am happy to be stay at home mum which i truly am! And that i will go back to studying or working whenever I decide and im ready. He doesn’t seem to respect that fact and i suspect that he doesn’t see me the same woman as he married. That im not as interesting and productive as i was.

Hi laura! When i married my husband only 2 years ago i felt that i truly married the most selfless, considerate and loving guy ever. He did everything he could do to make me happy and i was i think even though i still used to cry and complain that he is not loving me the way i want to be loved ouch!! He took all the horrible rejections and complaints and everything from me because i was pregnant with our first child and we were still kind of newly weds. Then after the baby was born he was busy with work and studies and i so desperately needed him to give me emotional support and connection but the more i demanded and cried and became sad and needy the more he withdrew from me and our baby which really confused me. I didn’t realise the impact of my actions on him. Anyway to cut a long story short, i came across your blog and books so now i now abt the 6 intimacy skills and the behaviors that drive me away like complaining and controlling and i try not to do these things. After implementing some of the skills my marriage did get a bit better.
But he is so rude to me lately, he came home from work later than usual the other day and i asked him did you eat or something to do with food and out of nowhere he told me “don’t talk to me!!”. I was shocked and hurt i didn’t want to respond back with something rude so i stared at him and said nothing. It really hurt me and he didn’t even apologize later. I chose to forgive him cos i figured he was tired and hungry and had a cold so i left it at that. Now the last few days he barely says a word to me and when i speak to him he doesn’t say anything back. He seems upset with me don’t know what is his problem. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks heaps.

JS, Sorry to hear about the painful cold war at your house. I still remember what that was like. It was no fun. Good for you for recognizing your part in the challenges in your relationship. Sounds like you could use more support! There’s such a great marriage waiting for you as you become more proficient with The Six Intimacy Skills. You might consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and uncover the best move for your relationship. You can do that here:

I think it depends what stage you are at. If you still truly love your man or feel committed because of religious convictions or whatever, then it’s worth it. If he has hurt you and worn you down to the point where you too are crazy bitch, it may be time to leave, but possibly useful to remember in any new relationship you form.

Liz, It’s definitely crazy-making to be hurt and worn down in a relationship, but in my experience, that was because of my lack of skills. Nobody ever taught me The Six Intimacy Skills. My parents were divorced so I had a failed recipe. But once I had the right information things got fun and easy around here. Nobody can make me a crazy bitch now because I have the skills that made me into my best self, which is who my husband is crazy about. I put all the skills in my book, The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

Hmmmm it seems all these women and many I talk to are married to the same type of man….. I’d call it passive aggressive. But I’m curious that so many men are being described in the same terms. And I’m curious as to whether this is an underlying psychological inability….or the reaction Laura says…… I too tried everything outlined by all the women in comments above. Same lack of results. And “going back to who I was when we met” – it was basically the same, with the same issues.
So ….. Is this men?
Do we need to learn a new set of skills? Or is this yet one more hook for women who keep trying, keep hoping even when all hope is gone…..
It must at least be worth the experiment……

After 26 years of marriage I have just come to the conclusion that my narcissistic husband has no desire to recognize or accept his inexcusable behavior. It is so baffling to me that he has a phobia of being alone but continues to push his interpersonal relationships to the brink of causing his very own demise and is shocked when his mother, brother, son, sister, etc want nothing more to do with him. It was brought to my attention about 5 years ago that I was married to a narcissist and I must tell you I became physically sick from that revelation. But I was determined to make it work. I switched my way of thinking and just kept reminding myself that he truly does not understand the pain he is causing so many people and it was such a relief knowing that his issues were internal and really had nothing to do with me. I have been practicing self care for about three years now and it has saved my psyche however it has done nothing to improve my relationship with my husband. I have made a conscious decision to be a Biblical woman that too did nothing to improve the relationship however it does help me find the peace I so desperately desire in my life. I definitely understand how exhausting this lifestyle is. Everything I do is marginalized to stupid, dumb, and a waste of time if it is not benefiting him in some way or if it takes me away from him. So I am DONE. There are just some people in this world that are broken and want to stay that way. I can honestly say I have done all I can do and it is gut retching having come this far in a relationship only to HAVE to leave to save myself from this walking death of a life that I lead.

RAS That sounds incredibly painful. Sorry to hear of all you’ve had to endure in your marriage. I see you’re a very persistent woman, and I hate to see you give up five minutes before the miracle in your marriage. I can’t truly know what you’re going through, so perhaps it really is time to leave–you know what’s best for you. If that’s the case I honor your decision. If you are not ready to leave yet, consider having a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and uncover the best move for making your relationship tender, fun and playful again. It will be so valuable for you. You can do that here:

hi ..I have a question…

I was wondering….
what if the man has some truly underlying psychological issues
which affect his “ABILITY” to be close, to connect.. to maintain loving relationships?
What if he simply isn’t capable of sustaining and giving what it takes..
and in so doing…he creates strife, conflict and issues to create DISTANCE.?
In my particular situation, it felt like this was the true underlying problem..
and it only surfaced completely when he knew he “had” me and my heart and love.
and the more he “knew ” this…. the more he created roadblocks limitations,
I think nothing I would have worked..
as I tried being patient.
I tried being direct..
I tried being assertive.
I tried being passive..
I was loving..
I was aloof..
the list is long! lol
there was just so much one can do…
and im a very independent happy person with lots of
interests and am busy …not needy of someone 24/7 at all.
I just wonder…are maybe some of these men just
“incapable” of being emotionally present?
And my final thoughts on narcissistic personality disorder.
I think its a fancy terminology for someone who is simply put..
” a spoiled brat!”
just my thoughts!

Thanks for this! My husband is a narcissist and I find that the best we get–right now–is cycles of loving behavior alternating with times of unpredictable cruel and dismissive behavior … and the blowups are truly not related to what I do or don’t do, my attitude or anything having to do with me. No, I’m not saying I’m perfect and I’m certainly not saying that I have no power here: just that his moods change apart from me. One day, “ouch,” gets silence and the next it gets mocking. I didn’t change.
Sound familiar, ladies?
Now, having said that, if I remember to focus on the positive AND keep up my self-care, the loving cycles last longer and the negative–painful though it is–is significantly shorter lived (and less painful, especially if I choose that time to up the self care instead of getting into a battle that has no winners). If I do one or the other instead of both, well that’s a bad recipe.
Will he ever integrate into just one man instead of two drastically different ones who don’t seem to recognize each other? I don’t know. But, hey! When it’s good it’s really good and practicing positivity and healthy self care are things I need to do anyway, so I’m not losing. And I do see progress: for a while it was two steps forward/one step back. Now it’s mostly three steps forward/one step back. I’ve only been doing this for a few months. Put that against the backdrop of how long we’ve been married and how quickly couples counseling made things worse and I think this is worthwhile!
Question: since his loving side doesn’t seem to recognize or remember his selfish side I’m thinking the phrase, “It’s not like you to be…” might be particularly effective when dealing with a narcissistic man? I mean, what’s he going to do? Go against narcissistic nature and argue that it really IS like him to yell, mock or whatever? I’m thinking that the worst that can happen is that he’ll just insist that he’s not doing whatever it is that I’m saying it’s not like him to do and that’s no change from present behavior … except that we’ll both have heard the phrase, “It’s not like you…” and I’m thinking that even if he totally rejects it (and how can he, really? He’s heard it: it’s in his brain. Even if he acts like he’s rejected it, it’s still there.) it’s going to make ME feel better.
Does this sound right?

Laura, Congratulations on having the courage to look at what you can do differently to make your relationship harmonious and loving, and for getting great results. I’m so happy to hear about your progress! The longer you practice the Intimacy Skills, the better things get, so it’s going to improve even more as you keep going. Of course you’re not responsible for his moods, and all husbands get grumpy and say hurtful things sometimes–even mine! I think your Spouse Fulfilling Prophecy sounds good, but if possible, put it in the positive. As in, “you’re always so thoughtful.”

What do u recommend then
Being respectful part of it is being nice not engaging in fights humbling yourself and making yourself see what u did wrong
That is what u advocate
So how come u say being more loving more nice and accommodating is not

When I do that everything is well but being human I get fed up and the monster in me blows up
My husband has a harsh tongue and a quick anger
I have had it been on a program for years

When I’m not being surrendered my fury is unleashed and he’s hurt bad and he includes my children in our fights

After 10 years I think I’m done
I’ve done everything by the book but hey I’m only human and when I veer from the program my terrible self comes out and he will just chomp on it and divorce and angry words and let’s include the children when I’m being essentially a bitch
Maybe it’s not really my nature to be surrendered maybe it’s the culture everywhere I mean I tried but it’s like can’t I make a mistake and not be hanged for it and at least don’t fight me and include my children

Tried it All, You’re describing me with the rage episodes and totally losing it and becoming a shrew. Losing it every so often didn’t help my marriage at all. I talk about it here.

When I started using The Six Intimacy Skills I was honoring myself so that I wasn’t just holding my breath until I exploded. I was taking care of Laura–not being nice to him and accommodating to him. I was accommodating me like never before. And when I did that, there was nothing to be upset about anymore because I was getting taken care of. And then because I was happier, he piled on and did more to make me happy because I became pleasable. It’s a virtuous cycle and I want that for you too!

Sounds like you could use some support. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call, which you can do here:

Thanks Laura…
it is quite confusing and hurtful when someone does a complete switch…from mr wonderful to mr withholding / punitive and punishing.
he wanted to continue to have me around but on his terms..which were totally
unacceptable to me at this point..
so I ended it.
its difficult when we trust and then that trust is broken .
when we think we know someone and then that is not quite the case!
live and learn I guess.
at least I set a boundary at the end which was for ME which suited me……NOT HIM..
I finally took my power back and took control ..
I think the only mistake I made was I accomodated his “terms and conditions” for most of the relationship
because I didn’t want to be demanding but by doing so…
I sacrificed my own needs and feelings for his.
never again!
again thanks Laura.

Although we are not married…it seems the more loving,reassuring, understanding, patient, accommodating I am…the more contentious , withholding, withdrawn he has become.
the more I am “there” ..the less he is..
classic push pull.
and of course…according to him. all the issues are mine and im to blame if I ever
say “ouch” to things he has said or done..or NOT done.
this is very hurtful to me and frustrating and feels like no win..
and now I have withdrawn to protect myself and my heart
for he seems totally emotionally unavailable.
sad…how the pendulum can swing from him being so involved and loving and pursuing and now its reversed.
I have left the relationship as I see this as emotionally abusive to me and not
what I deserve.
I certainly tried the being nice method…to no avail.
it was all his way..his terms..his comfort level… and I was supposed to
put up and not say ouch..or have needs or complain.
I was patient but now am done…but still hurt.

Heidi, Sorry to hear about your painful relationship. Sounds like you really got beat up emotionally, which no one deserves.

Just to clarify, I don’t recommend being nice, more loving or accommodating as the solution. Sounds crazy, I know, but that only made things worse at my house.

Wow this sounds like my husband he is always right not matter what and i am wrong about everything. He sees no wrong in his actions with other women and even blames me for him doing it. If i was this he wouldnt be that scenerio. And the lying, omg, he lies so much he believes them and then deniesvthjngs he has saud and done.. *it didnt happen* im to the point i want out..but i have seen the loving caring side and i love him so much it hurts to stay or leave….any advice

Kim, That’s no fun at all to feel like you can’t trust what he says and have him blame you. Painful. I think there’s every reason to be hopeful that you can enjoy the loving, caring side of him much more by practicing the Six Intimacy Skills. They’re all laid out in my new book, The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

Hi Laura.
I’ve just discovered you and have read your The Empowered Wife book which has given me a positive route forward.
All this time I have been believing my ex partner has been showing his true colours of being a narcissist, but last week he told me one of his main problems with me has been I’m too controlling. I was emotional at the time and his comment hit me square in the face. I suddenly realised that he is right. My mother is very controlling and I controlled my first husband and I’ve always lived that way, believing I know best
So I’ve decided to overhaul my issues. So far I’m working on looking after myself.. and when I see my ex I’m going to give him a sincere apology for my part in our warped history. I’m desperate to get him back and this is the second time we have split..until now I have blamed him and thought if only he could change..I gave him lots of advice on what he needs to do to be a better man!!
I also even read a book on narcissm and it could have been describing him. I now think his narcissm traits came out in response to my controlling ways.
So next time I see him as well as starting to implement the six intimacy skills I will also treat him like when I first met him. Thank you so much for giving me hope.. I’ve been searching for a long time…

Karen, So happy to hear your hope! I relate to struggling and suffering from thinking I knew best. That was me too. It was so lonely!

The narcissism books are insidious and terribly misleading. They make my furious.

I love your idea for the sincere apology. I think it will be magical. It may take him a while to trust the new you, but once he does I predict he’ll be drawn back to you. Keep me posted. I look forward to celebrating your great relationship with you!

Hi Laura,
You’re right, my apology was magical. I gave an unreserved apology last night and explained how I have now seen I was controlling and showed little respect to him. He accepted the apology and bounced off it talking about key examples in our relationship over the last seven years, he even said he had wanted me to be vulnerable to him!! I gave the apology with no expectations and I told him I recognise I haven’t been looking after myself properly, which he agreed with. Like you said I think it will take him a while to trust the new me..and even then we have a bigger issue in that we have two teenage children each who all have their own issues. We have problems with our step parent/ step child relationship in each direction and my ex partner has a particular dislike for my son and vice versa. I don’t yet know how to address this but at least this is a good start. I felt it was a positive experience and I made a point of talking to him like I did when I first met him. I even said ‘Ouch’ when he threw an insult and it diffused the situation!! I feel more happy and positive than I have done for months and I’d like to say thank you again!!! 🙂

Karen, Congrats! You’re doing just great and I know it takes courage to apologize and say, “Ouch!” Well done!

Thank you for this! I can absolutely relate to this and yes, I have changed. I am going to try this. We encouraged!

Nice article. I was reading in a book this morning and a quote in it speaks to this as well. It said “until someone can show you the connection between the outer experiences and the inner thoughts you remain a victim in life.”

Awesome read! Inspiring. I just came to realize my husband has this marriage debilitating disease/syndrome.
I’m up for the challenge! Thank you!

What a great take and good food for thought. Focus on what you want! The very best advice is to focus on what makes you happy. Thanks Laura!

Thank you for this post. This just hurts so much. We’re separated and it’s just so hard. Phone calls are all about him. Or the bank account. I’m so frustrated. honestly I dont even know how to do what you’re suggesting.

Shari, I’m so sorry to hear you’re separated. Sounds hard and lonely to have those phone calls. I remember I had no idea what to do at first either. There’s every reason to be hopeful about your marriage being fun and connected again. I’d love to see you get support. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches and determine the best move you can make for your relationship. You can do that here:

I’ve tried this, in fact all I feel like I do is walk on eggshells and try to please him by making him attracted to me again but it doesn’t stop the cold cruel dismissive behavior on his part. What does that mean?

Jules, Cruel dismissive behavior sounds very painful! That would wear me down too. But the good news is that this doesn’t have to be so hard. Walking on eggshells and trying to please him is not the remedy–that’s making things worse, not better, in my experience. Do you have the Six Intimacy Skills yet? You’ll find them very valuable. They’re all laid out in my latest book, The Empowered Wife, and you can read a free chapter here:

Why can’t men take responsibility for marital success first?

I have no more passion for him.

Debbie, I can sure relate to feeling like I had no more passion for him, and wanting him to please do something to make things better since I was trying so hard I was exhausted. But turns out I was doing the wrong work. When I got the right information, it changed everything for the better and made it easy and fun again. I would love to see you get your hands on The Six Intimacy Skills. They’re laid out step-by-step in my new book, The Empowered Wife, and they’ve worked for thousands of women. And they’re fun. They’ll work for you too. Read a free chapter here:

I agree its very hard when the woman takes on most of the responsibility of the relationship and how it is . I wish men took more responsibility in their actions. I am always self analyzing and trying to improve myself and my outlook and what I can do better, how I can talk to him differently or treat him differently . This is exhausting when your partner is not putting in any effort back. I know I deserve better from a partner. I deserve better for myself.

Toni, that is exhausting! I was exhausted too, until I discovered I was putting in the wrong kind of effort and I learned how to be more honoring of myself and my desires, and that in turn improved the relationship, including him taking a lot more responsibility and initiative to do the things I always wanted him to do. I explain everything in this book: The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:

I lost my son over 6 months ago to a drug overdose. I vented to my husband almost 3 months ago about how he supplied him with the 100. dollars for the drugs. After this he got angry and moved into the basement and id dimissive towards me and treat me like his enemy. he never takes my side if anyone talks about me it would appear he is trying to stay there permantly.

Oh Peggy, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how painful this must have been. And, on top of that, how heartbreaking that your husband moved to the basement, especially at a time when you most need support. I’m sad to hear what you’re going through.

I remember when things looked hopeless in my marriage and it hurt. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women. We can help you too. You can fix your relationship. Here’s a free Roadmap of 6 simple steps that have helped thousands of women turn things around. If we can do it, I know that you can too.

xxx you are the best. I love how you grasp the nettles firmly and don’t let go until you’re giving them a bear hug

Interesting perspective. I’m sure in some cases, this may work.
I have been trying harder the last two years doing all of the things I did in the beginning.
His behavior remained the same no matter how thoughtful, flirty, and caring.
But I still hope, and try. Marriage is a commitment, and I believe love is an action we commit to put all of our efforts into, regardless of the response we receive.
There are no guarantees, but the outcome to choose joy, and love is always the best choice.

Barbara, I admire your commitment and dedication. Wow! You’ve got it just right that we can always choose joy and love. I worry a little when I hear you say you’re trying harder though–for me, I was doing too much, and doing less ended up being more, if that makes sense.

Have you seen this yet? I think you’ll find it very valuable:

I am married to a narcest l have gone back to treating him tthe way l was in the beginning, all never stop trying l love him.
It’s been a vary tough road to go down.

I am separated still married going to divorce with my husband a narcissist. I love him bern doing everything for him to come back home I have 2 girls one 4 years old. One 11month old.. I love him out of the house cause he chocked me infront of my daughter he say I did this he having done nothing wrong. I apologize for anything I did wrong but he doesnt want to talk to me..

I will love for him to come back home. But I dont know how to say anything cause he doesnt even reply to my message. I am so hurt.

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