A few fights that turn into a day or two of stonewalling are commonplace in every marriage. However, once you start to notice a grandiose idea of entitlement and a concerning lack of empathy in your partner, it points to a larger problem. Narcissistic marriage problems are rare, which is what makes them harder to spot.
Has your partner suddenly stopped caring about a single thing you need or desire? Nowadays, do they feel threatened every time you’re given a compliment and they’re not? Does your relationship now feel like it only exists to cater to their needs? Being married to a narcissist is not easy, and in most cases, you may see such signs.
But how do you know for sure this is exactly what you’re going through? With the help of psychologist Anita Eliza (MSc in Applied Psychology), who specializes in issues like anxiety, depression, relationships, and self-esteem, let’s take a look at all you need to know about narcissistic marriage problems.
What Is Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Before we get into the dynamics of a narcissistic marriage and the harm it entails, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the disease we’re speaking about today.
According to Mayoclinic, this personality disorder is diagnosed when a person has extravagant ideas of their self-importance, constantly requires adoration and attention, and experiences an inability to feel empathy, leaving behind a trail of unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships.
People with this illness often believe they deserve better treatment than other individuals because they’re better and more important than the rest. They often do not value the needs and wants of others too much, and their heightened sense of entitlement often manifests through a clear lack of empathy in their relationships with loved ones.
According to Healthline, the symptoms of this mental health issue include:
- Needing constant admiration and praise
- Assuming that people will treat you with special care, getting irritated when they don’t
- Arrogant behavior
- Unwilling to relate to how people feel
- Chasing power, beauty and a prestigious status because of the adoration it will bring
- Having an extravagant sense of self-worth
- Belittling people in order to make them feel inferior
- Taking advantage of individuals to pursue personal needs
- Risky/inconsiderate decision making in relationships or roles of responsibility
- Highly exaggerating achievements or talents
In effect, it’s a mental health issue that makes the patient feel rather grandiose about themselves, often leading to the people around them feeling worse. People around them, in fact, may find them rather obnoxious, snobbish or inconsiderate.
Hence, it’s no surprise that a narcissistic personality disorder has been proven to negatively affect the relationships such a person has in their life. Narcissistic personality disorder and marriage problems go hand in hand. The sooner you understand what the signs are, the better it will be for your relationship with a partner.
Related Reading: Dating A Narcissist? Here Are The Signs And How It Changes You
8 Common Narcissistic Marriage Problems
If you have a narcissistic wife or husband, marriage problems aren’t going to be too far down the road. What’s worse, a person with NPD usually needs to project a favorable image of their relationship to the outside world to fit their idea of how perfect their life should appear to everyone peering in.
As a result, it’s imperative that the non-narcissistic person involved in the marriage identify theirs as a narcissistic marriage and figure out what they can do about it. To help you do just that, let’s take a look at the most common narcissistic marriage problems.
1. Major jealousy issues are definitely a part of your relationship
“Jealousy is a very normal emotion,” says Eliza, adding, “The question is how we deal with that emotion. When a narcissistic person is concerned, things can get a bit out of control. It manifests itself in different forms, so we need to understand that, at the core of it, the narcissistic person is very insecure and that’s where the jealousy stems from.
“When confronted, they may outright deny it, or they may turn the tables on the partner and accuse them for their behavior, making them feel as if they were wrong in the first place.
“A narcissistic marriage will feature the narcissistic partner being extremely jealous of their partner’s achievements or even their positive qualities like empathy or joy. When they see their partner smiling and being happy, they are jealous unless they are the source of their partner’s happiness.”
A mild expression of jealousy in a relationship can be healthy, but with a narcissistic personality disorder, marriage problems don’t usually come in a healthy dose. As a result, they may get jealous of everything about their partner, from the attention they get to a job promotion or even an achievement of a personal goal.
2. They may try to one-up their partner
As a result of the constant jealousy they feel, a narcissist ends up wanting to turn the tables and make their partner feel jealous. They may exaggerate their achievements and talents and may try to bring their partner down in an attempt to make it seem like they’re the superior person.
Their compliments are often backhanded, and their joy is usually an effort to mask their annoyance. This petty attempt to try and establish their position as the “superior” one in the relationship often results in fights where they behave rudely and inconsiderately. We bet you didn’t think narcissistic marriage problems could be so childish.
3. A narcissistic parent may negatively affect the self-worth of a child
“Narcissistic fathers have a profound impact on the lives of their children. The damage and harm that they cause can be lifelong,” says Eliza.
“Narcissistic parents have core personality traits which include feeling entitled, having a lack of empathy and being exploitative. These behaviors can be exposed to their children. When that happens, it shapes the children’s thoughts about who they are, which often ends up with them having a lower sense of self-worth since they may have been treated unfairly since childhood,” she adds.
The relationships we have with our primary caregivers and the family dynamics we experience while growing up leave a lasting impact on the sort of people we grow up to be. When you’ve constantly been belittled and abused growing up, chances are such a person isn’t going to turn out to be the most confident person.
Related Reading: 11 Tips To Deal With A Narcissist Boyfriend Smartly
4. Being married to a narcissist will result in major self-esteem issues
“When one of the partners is narcissistic, there’s a lot of dismissiveness, entitlement and uncontrollable rage, minimizing the other person’s value or achievements. And if the other person is not aware that their partner is exhibiting narcissistic behaviors, they may tend to blame themselves over time.
This can eventually lead to them having low self-esteem and being confused about their own reality. When they are not aware that this is in fact a narcissistic marriage problem, they may try to do what their partner wants them to do,” says Eliza.
When you’re constantly made to feel like you’re not enough, it’s bound to get the better of you sooner or later. You may start doubting yourself, and instead of focusing on the real problem, (your partner), you may develop further insecurity and self-esteem issues.
5. A common narcissistic marriage problem: Gaslighting
“Gaslighting, simply put, means that your feelings and your reality are denied by the narcissistic person. Some of the typical statements they use are, ‘Stop being sensitive, you are making an issue out of nothing,’ or, ‘You are exaggerating it, it didn’t happen that way,’ ‘You are overreacting, you need help.’
“Though you may not feel confident about the relationship, they may try to make you believe that it’s the best you can get by saying, ‘No one is going to love you the way I do.’ By gaslighting a partner in this way, the person feels confused and is full of self-doubt,” says Eliza.
Gaslighting in relationships often leads to a distorted sense of reality and major mental health issues in the future. The gaslit person may constantly feel anxious or suffer from severe insecurity.
With a narcissistic wife or husband, marriage problems don’t often stem from the superficial health of your relationship. They may often creep up and affect your psyche in ways you didn’t even know were possible.
6. Narcissistic parents can lead to unhealthy family dynamics
The problems that arise when two narcissists marry each other may not just manifest in the marriage, but in the personalities of the children who grow up in this scenario as well.
“One of the many narcissistic marriage problems is in the way they treat their children. They may have one child whom they look upon as the “golden child” and another child as a “scapegoat.” The golden child is viewed as having amazing qualities, and these children enjoy all the liberties provided to them.
“The narcissist usually views that child as a complete extension of themselves and therefore projects this delusion of perfection and superiority onto this child. On the other hand, a scapegoat child is the one who takes the blame for everything upon themselves. They are criticized, humiliated and at times demeaned. In some cases, they may display the classic signs of a toxic parent,” says Eliza.
As a result, they may grow up to develop certain psychological issues that may make it extremely hard for them to be in a romantic relationship in the future. Studies have shown that family dynamics don’t only end up affecting the interpersonal relationships of a person, but also their physical and mental health.
7. They may try to control your behavior
As Eliza points out, at the root of this person’s jealousy lies insecurity. And where there’s insecurity, there’s often a heavy dose of possessiveness that comes attached.
As a result, they may try to control your behavior in an attempt to gain total control of their relationship. To be able to maintain a favorable – albeit fake – happy image of your dynamic to the people around you, they’ll try to micromanage every aspect of your life.
8. Narcissistic marriage problems may lead to a toxic relationship
As you have seen by now, a person dealing with NPD may gaslight their partner or even try to control their behavior. This manipulative spree of actions can very quickly lead to the partner experiencing psychological harm as a result.
A toxic relationship is one that causes mental or physical harm in any shape or form. One of the most common problems when two narcissists marry each other is that the relationship may quickly turn very damaging, and in some cases, even violent.
The extreme lack of empathy can lead these people to act in erratic and inconsiderate ways, often without paying heed to how damaging it’ll be for their partner. As a result, the mental peace of the other is always on edge.
Related Reading: 21 Ways To Tell You Have A Narcissistic Husband
How To Deal with Narcissistic Marriage Problems
Dealing with narcissistic marriage problems isn’t really the easiest puzzle to solve. As is the case in most other cases of marital conflict, effective communication between partners is often the go-to preferred method of reconciliation.
But since in this case there’s a personality disorder involved, couples and individual therapy become a necessity. With the help of medication, talk therapy and other lifestyle changes, there may be various benefits to reap.
With the help of a psychologist, a person with NPD will be able to get to the root cause of their illness and better understand how it affects the people around them and learn how to treat these issues too. If it’s help you’re looking for, Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors are just a click away.
Hopefully, with the help of the common narcissistic marriage problems we listed out, you now have a better idea of all the issues that may come your way if you find yourself involved in such a dynamic. With the help of therapy and unwavering effort, it’s not impossible to turn yours into a fruitful union.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t necessarily the most uplifting. For a marriage to survive a narcissist, it’s going to take superhuman patience from the non-narcissistic partner and a lot of effort. Theoretically, it’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy. The best thing such a couple can do is go to individual and couples therapy for help.
Being married to a narcissist may lower your self-esteem, may lead you to develop a distorted version of reality due to gaslighting or it may lead to long-lasting mental harm.
On paper, it’s possible to be happily married to a narcissist. But the process is, by no means, going to be a simple one. To be happily married, the narcissist must actively seek treatment so as to be able to treat the people around them better.