21 Signs Of A Narcissistic Husband And How To Cope

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What if we told you that you fell in love with your narcissistic husband for the same qualities that you despise in him today? Things like confidence, assertiveness, and magnetism, which are extremely attractive in a potential partner, can easily amp up to egoism, self-obsession, and manipulation. This is why it’s often difficult to spot red flags in a narcissist’s behavior in the initial stages of a relationship.

But one way or the other, you have realized that you may have been dealt the complicated-husband card, to put it mildly. And you are now trying to ascertain if the challenges you are facing in your relationship can be put into words, measured — and hopefully — resolved. Recognizing signs of a narcissistic husband is often the first step in this journey, followed by strategies to deal with such people.

We have with us consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), a gender and relationship management expert, to shed light on the classic traits of a narcissist man, the tell-tale signs of his problematic behavior, and tips to survive a narcissistic husband.

Who Is A Narcissist?

“The narcissist is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom. No matter how much you put in, you can never fill it up,” says Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: How to Survive a Relationship with a Narcissist. Over the last few years, there has been a lot of focus among psychologists on narcissism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is considered a major personality disorder. The Psychologists’ Bible, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), describes narcissistic tendencies as:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance
  • High standards of success, power, beauty
  • A belief that they are “special”
  • Requiring excessive admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Ability to exploit and takes advantage of others
  • A lack of empathy
  • Envy of others, or a belief that others are envious of them
  • Arrogance, haughty behaviors, and attitudes

This description is exhausting enough to read, let alone live with. Imagine navigating how to deal with a narcissist spouse alone! A narcissistic husband may not necessarily be abusive or violent toward you, but his constant need for attention can burn you out, as you walk on eggshells around him constantly.

The side effect of being married to a narcissist is that your confidence can take a beating as you direct all your energy toward managing his insecurities. An accurate diagnosis of NPD can only be given out by a mental health therapist, but the following narcissistic husband signs will give you a pretty good idea of what you’re up against.

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Signs Of A Narcissistic Husband

Despite their façade of confidence, narcissistic men are generally unhappy on the inside, and living with a narcissistic husband has its own challenges. They struggle with others’ progress due to competitiveness, jealousy, low self-esteem, and a LOT of emotional baggage. The signs of a narcissist husband are such that they can feel like a real punishment, as their significant other sees their loving relationship fall into the trenches day by day.

Jaseena explains, “Being married to a narcissist means having to deal with their projections, gaslighting, love-bombing, etc. It becomes confusing to tackle this chaos and you might wonder, “Am I going wrong somewhere? Or is he a narcissist?” Having a narcissist for a husband requires you to go into battle fully prepared. Before you learn how to shut down a narcissist, you’re going to want to know exactly what you are facing here. Here is what being in a relationship with a narcissist feels like.

1. He needs to be in control

This is a classic narcissistic husband sign. He will insist on having the last word all the time. He won’t think twice before canceling plans or making new ones without consulting you. Things MUST go his way or he’ll sulk to no end. A husband who is a narcissist has an uncanny ability to make everything about himself. This might even lead him to micro-manage things. This obsessive need to be in control at all times is a dead giveaway and shows he’s trying to be dominating in the relationship.

Jaseena says, “A dominating personality is one of the preliminary signs. It’s “either my way or the highway”. In a healthy relationship, both partners accommodate each other’s needs and wishes. But that’s not how a narcissistic person thinks.”

Related Reading: 8 Ways To Stay Sane While Divorcing A Narcissistic Husband

2. He puts you down

How to know if you’re dealing with a narcissist? He will speak to you in a condescending manner, often with backhanded compliments/appreciation. It will be very evident that he disrespects you. In other instances, he will try and take credit for your achievements. Here’s a classic statement — “Look how well you’ve done under my guidance.”

Basically, everything you do right is because of him; everything he does wrong is because of you. Did he forget the car keys on his way out? “Why didn’t you remind me to pick them up?” is the first thing out of his mouth. Do you often complain, “My narcissist husband blames me for everything!”? Well, you are not alone! Because a narcissist will always find a way to blame you, leaving your self-confidence a shambles.

3. He is charming and overtly sexual

Yes, this might sound like a great trait but it’s actually a narcissistic tendency. That’s because a narcissistic man has a lot of confidence in himself; he exudes charm and his prowess may result in great sexual chemistry. But, it’s just an exercise to stroke his own ego. His smooth ways might get off-putting after a while. The fascination wears off and you see him for what he really is, an egotistical person.

This narcissist trait can easily translate to a narcissistic husband cheating scenario, where he tries to boost himself up through sexual attention from other people. Consider this as one of the most subtle narcissistic relationship traits.

4. The support is selective

You might feel like he really stands by you. Sure, he might. But only on certain occasions — the ones that reflect well on him. He will come to your networking dinner, not because he is proud of you but so that he can make an impression on others. The word you’re looking for is “self-serving” and that trait is predominant in a narcissist. It’s awful to deal with a narcissistic husband because he is willing to make an effort as long as the outcome is in his favor.

Related Reading: What To Do If You Think Your Husband Hates You?

5. He has a sense of entitlement

Learning how to live with a narcissist husband is all about navigating the man’s constant sense of entitlement and lack of concern for you. In his “I, me, and myself” world, he expects you to adjust as per his whims and fancies. Does he plan to take you out for dinner? Chances are, it’ll be a restaurant he loves, a cuisine he enjoys, and a time that’s convenient for him. Your romantic dates are overshadowed by his self-conceit. A constant neglect of your needs, wants, and desires is the reality of being married to a narcissist.

Jaseena explains, “Wives always feel like they are on the compromising end in such a marriage. Because such husbands are so sure of their place in their relationship, it leads to a sense of entitlement, which, in turn, means the spouse’s views are hardly taken into consideration. Not feeling seen in the relationship is one of the effects of being married to a narcissist.”

6. He loves conversations… about himself

“My husband makes everything about him!” Sounds familiar? Your husband listens to your problems but makes them about himself. He likes to hold the attention of a crowd, but only so that he can brag about his own achievements without paying heed or compliments to anyone else’s. You feel unheard in the relationship because he’s not very interested or involved in your life. On the rare occasions that he does listen to you, there’s a distinct and typical “narcissistic husband lack of empathy”. He’s his favorite, and there’s not much you can do about it.

7. He does not fulfill his promises

Signs Of A Narcissistic Husband

This is one of the defining narcissistic traits: he rarely keeps his promises to you. One of the key effects of narcissism on spouse is that you feel undervalued as a result. It may not be deliberate, but he just does not think it’s a big deal. To make himself feel good, he’ll promise you the moon. But when it comes time to back it up with actions, he’d fall far behind.

This classic sign of a narcissistic husband might create trust issues in the marriage. Not following through on promises repeatedly has far-reaching consequences and can lead to an actual breakdown of relationships. You might be gaslighting yourself, if, despite being stood up several times, you still say, “Is my husband a narcissist or just selfish?”

8. Your problems are seen through his prism

Say you face a terrible situation in life — getting fired, losing a loved one, or some embarrassing situation involving a relative or friend. You need support in this vulnerable state, but what does your husband do? He wonders how it will affect his reputation or his life. This is one of the most telling signs your husband is selfish.

Even his solutions might be filtered through that prism of self-interest. Putting you first is not on his agenda. And since dealing with a passive-aggressive narcissist life partner won’t exactly be your priority when it’s you who’s in need of support, it’s going to lead to a lot of arguments. This is how narcissism and relationships become a vicious self-fulfilling cycle.

9. Others’ opinions are important to him

Since a narcissist has an overriding need for approval from others, he might not value your choice or opinion on matters. After all, you are already in the bag and he doesn’t need to impress you anymore. This behavior is part of the narcissistic abuse cycle where he has discarded you and behaves differently with you behind closed doors. On the other hand, it matters to him what neighbors, bosses, friends, or acquaintances think.

Your self-centered husband’s people-pleasing antics must have gotten on your nerves at some point or the other. Jaseena says, “He will seek validation from his social circle. This is taxing for the spouse because his efforts are seldom channeled toward the marriage. A person feels emotionally neglected when their narcissistic partner’s focus lies on winning over others.”

10. A narcissistic husband competes with you

If you are married to a narcissist husband, this will sound familiar! Staying married to a narcissistic life partner can be very difficult if both of you are in the same profession. Or worse, in the same office. To feel jealous of your partner when they do something you’ve been trying to do for the longest time could be natural.

But life with a narcissistic husband will involve him throwing a fit every time you achieve something. This desire to win the race is probably a point of contention in your marriage; if you get a promotion but he doesn’t, God help you. He might even go to the extent of using his position at work to try to sabotage your success. Still wondering, is he a narcissist?

11. A narcissist fishes for compliments

While self-confidence might be one of the narcissistic traits, a school of thought suggests that they only “appear” to be confident. A clear example of narcissistic behavior in a relationship is if they don’t get enough attention, they demand it. And usually, they use other people — often those who are a bit meek or submissive — to supply them with the validation needed for their heightened sense of self-worth.

A narcissist guy makes everything about himself and is always looking to bring the conversation to himself so that he can enjoy the spotlight. This is why you should not feed their egos with praise. A lack of attention will make a narcissist miserable instantly.

12. He wants to have the last word in an argument

A man who thinks he can do no wrong is called… your husband? Narcissistic spouse tendencies entail them always wanting to have the last word in any argument. Fights are a part of every relationship. But arguing with a narcissistic husband is an exercise in futility. As he loves the sound of his voice, he’ll rarely let you get a word in. The fight becomes a battle of egos and conflict resolution exits the picture. It is impossible to make him understand your perspective because he is fighting to “win”, not to resolve an issue.

Jaseena explains, “Living with a narcissist is extremely difficult. He is a person who never admits they’re wrong. There’s very little scope of getting through to them. You might keep wondering what has triggered their behavior.” If your husband is obsessed with winning arguments — big and small — it is one of the glaring signs you’re dealing with a narcissist.

13. He doesn’t have many friends

If you have a narcissistic spouse, you’ll notice how they hardly ever make any decent friends. Ask yourself whether your husband has meaningful friendships. Probably not. And the effects of being married to a narcissist are that they make you lose touch with yours too.

Narcissists have casual acquaintances with whom they can hang out or those who feed their egos. This is why a narcissist struggles with sustaining connections over a period of time. Eventually, people stop gratifying them, so they get bored of the relationship. They want people to like them, but can’t love people back — such are narcissist double standards!

Related Reading: 8 Signs of Covert Narcissist Hoovering And How You Should Respond

14. Be ready to be scrutinized a lot

Initially, the way he nitpicks on you might seem like a joke. But you soon realize that it’s impossible to talk to a narcissistic husband because he pokes fun at everything you say or do. It can get harrowing to live with a person who thinks they have a wacky sense of humor but, in fact, uses humor as a tool to belittle you and is in fact a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

His jibes border on taunts, and he’s completely unaware that he’s hurting you. When someone makes fun of your looks, it invariably affects your self-esteem adversely. As a result, it gets increasingly difficult to survive with a narcissistic husband, especially when these constant taunts and name-calling come from a place of condescension.

15. He gaslights you

Since narcissists are manipulators, they may use all forms of verbal and emotional abuse to make you feel insecure, underconfident, and doubtful. Your narcissistic significant other will turn the tables on you when you voice your concerns. He’ll blame you for the problem, invalidate your emotions, and play the victim. He will give you the silent treatment if needed.

Jaseena says, “Gaslighting is a form of passive aggression. A narcissist will keep putting his wife on the spot, blaming her for his behavior. It is one of the more obvious signs you can see. He might use gaslighting phrases like, “This happened because you did XYZ” or “You have no one to blame but yourself”.”

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What triggers insecurities in a relationship?

16. He struggles with commitment

Out of the classic narcissist husband traits, this you must have certainly noticed. What did I say about narcissists getting bored of people? Marriage is the highest level of commitment where things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. The relationship will have rough patches, conflicts, and differences. Working through them requires patience and perseverance – something a narcissist lacks. There might be instances of sexual and emotional infidelity as well if you’re married to a narcissist. A narcissistic husband cheating often stems from his issue with commitment.

17. He will never apologize

Being married to a narcissist means never getting to hear him apologize for his actions. Taking accountability is not a narcissist’s strongest suit. The marriage suffers when a spouse can’t assume responsibility for their actions. Unknowingly, he is completely sabotaging the relationship. Such behaviors are what contribute to the terrible negative effects of narcissism on spouse. This can make it extremely hard to figure out how to live with a narcissist husband.

18. He won’t stand for divorce

Despite your narcissistic partner’s flaws (which he won’t admit to), he will panic if you take the step of breaking away from him. His ego, his need to project an image of an enviable life to others, and his needing someone to latch on to all contribute to him being vehemently opposed to the idea of a divorce. If you speak of parting ways, he will move heaven and earth to win you back. And you will experience the dangerous and overwhelming technique called narcissistic hoovering. This pattern is extremely common in relationships involving a narcissist, which makes it hard to break away from them.

19. A narcissistic husband has a huge ego

His delusions of grandeur and an exaggerated sense of self obviously result in a huge ego. Any attempt to burst it will be met with backlash. Your husband is convinced that he’s an expert on most subjects. He knows best and people should always heed his advice.

God forbid that you try to give him a reality check because he’ll push back with greater force. When you’re navigating life with a narcissistic husband, you’ve probably never even once heard him admit that he’s wrong or didn’t know something about something. In his mind, he is the smartest man alive, and nothing he says can ever be wrong. This is essentially the most defining of narcissist husband traits.

Related Reading: Dating A Narcissist? Here Are The Signs And How It Changes You

20. His relationships have always been troubled

The thought may not have occurred to you when you first fell for him or even married him, but take a moment to analyze why his past relationships failed. Does he always blame his ex-girlfriends for everything that went wrong in his previous relationships? Does he project himself as the victim? In retrospect, can you see that he always makes it sound like he was left heartbroken for no fault of his? If he never takes responsibility for his part in the relationship, I hope you’re seeing the pattern of blame-shifting here. One of the most common signs of a narcissist husband is his inability to acknowledge and accept his own faults.

21. A narcissist loves giving advice

Another easily predictable trait! Since they think so highly of themselves, narcissists love to dispense advice, solicited or unsolicited. Their two cents are more like two dollars. Does your husband also launch into a monologue about what he thinks of something? Interrupting him is pointless; the only way out is to let him say his piece for the sake of peace.

Call it mansplaining or incessant babbling, the result is the same. And what it stems from, again, is a grandiose idea of how important he is. When you’re trying to deal with a passive-aggressive narcissist husband, you must understand that in his mind, there’s no one more important than him.

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How Do I Deal With A Narcissistic Husband?

If your husband shows more than 10 of the narcissistic traits mentioned above, it’s entirely possible that he has NPD. It can get exasperating as the cracks show up in your marriage. Each marriage has its share of obstacles, but when you have a narcissistic partner, the obstacles can seem insurmountable and the odds stacked against you. A little work from both of you can certainly save the marriage. As John Gottman said, “We repeat what we don’t repair.” So, if you keep asking yourself, “How to deal with a narcissistic husband”, the following tips might help you take the first step toward repairing this deeply flawed relationship:

1. Make a decision and check your expectations

Introspection is the first step toward figuring out how to handle a narcissist husband. Especially if you’re dealing with a narcissistic alcoholic husband, you must figure out if your dynamic is abusive, and make a decision about leaving or getting immediate help, be it through law enforcement, mental health professionals, or friends and family. Ask yourself:

  • Where does your relationship stand: has it turned abusive? Is it harming your physical or mental health?
  • Decide whether you want to be in it for the long haul. Is it worth it?
  • Can you commit to trying to make this marriage work?

It’s important to understand that you can’t expect a miraculous recovery with a narcissistic husband. You can’t expect him to fall to his knees and beg for forgiveness once you tell him how he has been hurting you. It’ll be a long, drawn-out process, that’s going to require you to be extremely patient. NPD is a chronic mental disorder, and expecting it to disappear is only going to result in heartache and disappointment.

Related Reading: Relationship Counseling – Everything You Need To Know

2. Think objectively

Before you talk to a narcissistic husband, observe your situation objectively. Study your husband, pick up the points where he shows the aforementioned qualities, and learn to detach. Everyone is shaped by their experiences. Scrutinize what has affected your husband so intensely. Is there any unresolved trauma? Did he have toxic parents and an abusive childhood? Or is his psyche a result of a bad relationship?

Once you’re able to find the cause, you’ll be able to understand him better. This exercise can help protect your energies while simultaneously grasping his situation. You’ll need a lot of empathy for this exercise; understanding your spouse’s journey will be a harrowing task.

3. Communicate your concerns effectively and openly

Once you have done enough introspection, try to work on improving communication in your relationship. This holds true even for a happy marriage. When you’re trying to handle a narcissistic husband, it becomes all the more important to let him know everything that has been bothering you. Chances are, he’s not going to know how his behavior has been affecting you, so it’s up to you to make sure he knows. How to deal with a narcissist husband?

  • Approach the conversation with the objective of arriving at a solution, not pick a fight
  • Try to establish amicably the things that have been bothering you
  • Make sure you make him feel heard
  • Instead of using “You” statements, try to use “I” or “We” statements. For example, instead of saying, ” I don’t understand why you talk like that with me”, you can say, “We’re not kind to each other, it doesn’t do any of us any favors when we speak like this”
Infographic on how to deal with a narcissistic spouse
Wondering how to survive a narcissistic husband? Follow these steps

4. Stay away from arguments with a narcissist

It is difficult, if not impossible, to shut down a narcissistic husband because of his tendency of exaggerating. Arguing with a narcissistic husband then becomes futile. But, silence is better than an argument sometimes. Jaseena says, “Don’t be reactive. Stop matching his blows with equal fervor. You both have individual differences in your temperament. You may be an empath! One of you has to be mature about the situation.”

When you’re trying to survive a narcissist husband, involving yourself in every fight he picks up is only going to cause you to burn out and feel drained. It’s okay to choose to walk away from a fight since most things won’t be worth fighting about anyway.

5. Seek professional help

The most effective way to handle a narcissist loved one is by seeking counseling for yourself. You could even try couples’ therapy with a licensed therapist, i.e. if your partner is willing. Since NPD is a chronic mental disorder, an accurate diagnosis by a mental health professional along with CBT or REBT is essential for your partner to be able to make a change in the way he lives. Again, that is, if he is open to it.

Relationship counseling has helped many couples work on their troubled relationships and live a manageable happily married life. At Bonobology, our panel of experienced counselors and therapists can guide you through this turbulent time in your marriage, and help you achieve a harmonious relationship like the one you’ve always yearned for.

6. Take out some me-time

How to deal with a narcissist spouse if not by strengthening your relationship with yourself? (Hint: That’s also a key to any loving relationship and a happy marriage!) When you are in a relationship with a narcissistic man, it can cause low self-esteem because you are constantly making him feel good. Dealing with his inconsiderate antics day in and day out is bound to get exhausting. To take care of your emotional well-being, do not forget to put yourself first.

  • Spend time with yourself
  • Create some personal space for self-care and indulgence
  • Meet your friends, loved ones
  • Pursue a hobby
  • Pamper yourself with something extravagant
  • Look after your physical and mental health
Is my husband a narcissist?

7. Stand up for yourself

If you have spotted the signs of narcissism during the dating phase but still decide to get married to him, it is essential to draw boundaries right from the beginning to escape the narcissistic abuse cycle. Be specific about what is acceptable and what is not. A narcissistic spouse will enjoy embarrassing you or doing things that will put him in the limelight.

Don’t fall for it. Keep calling him out for disrespectful behavior and make sure he knows it’s not okay to walk all over you. For your mental peace, it may seem tempting to give in a few times and assume blame — just so the fight can end. But the more you do that, the more he’ll think it’s okay to disrespect you.

Key Pointers

  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a DSM-5-recognized major personality disorder
  • An intimate relationship with a narcissistic person can end up in emotional abuse and turn into an abusive relationship
  • All narcissists have a high sense of self-importance, fragile self-esteem, a massive ego, and demand for special treatment as common narcissistic tendencies
  • Signs of a narcissist husband include name-calling, constant criticism, and making negative comments until your self-worth takes a hit
  • Being in a relationship with a narcissist feels like a punishment and requires that you check your expectations, have a support system, such as friends, family members, and other loved ones, and seek counseling
  • You also need to learn certain things, like communicating effectively with them, standing up to them, and choosing your battles with them

In its extreme form, living with narcissism in romantic relationships can lead to depression or even self-harm; narcissists set very high unachievable goals for themselves, cannot handle failure, and are way too self-centered to consider others’ feelings. Living with a narcissistic partner is a challenge, but it’s best if you take charge of the situation. Strive toward improvement!

FAQs

1. Who does a narcissist marry?

More often than not, a narcissist marries someone who is his opposite—an empath.

2. How to shut down a narcissist?

Do not feed their ego. Do not take responsibility for their inadequacies. Don’t blame them—for that can increase their rage. Don’t take the blame either. Don’t be provoked during an argument.

3. How can I divorce a narcissistic husband?

If you initiated the divorce, expect a tough one. Narcissistic people are likely to see divorce as a failure on their part. They won’t give in easily. Try and stay calm during the proceedings. Don’t defend yourself too much. It will only lead to greater conflicts as narcissists love a good argument.

4. Can a narcissist husband change?

Everyone is capable of change, but for a narcissist husband to change, he has first to accept he has issues. That is the biggest hurdle in the process. They don’t think they are wrong and need to change.

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