In the discourse around narcissism – a personality type characterised by traits like selfishness, lack of empathy and high need for admiration – the focus is often on men. However, this personality disorder isn’t gender specific. Women display such qualities too though their manifestation is often different from men. Being married to a narcissistic wife is equally challenging for a man as it is for a woman to be living with narcissistic husband.
If you recognise the signs of a narcissistic wife, it may help in defusing the inevitable tension that may arise in your marriage.
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What Is A Narcissistic Wife?
Narcissistic abuse is damaging to a relationship, and whether the cause of it is a man or woman does not matter. At the core, the behavioral patterns remain the same – the three Es as psychologists term it – Exhibiting an addiction to feeling superior, lacking in Empathy and being Exploitative.
This is not to say that narcissistic women have no good qualities. They can be charming, confident and funny. However, while these qualities may have attracted you to her initially and led to the marriage, an overdose and extreme sense of narcissism is revealed only when you start living and interacting with her at a close level.
When you see tantrums galore, passive-aggressive behaviour that could include stonewalling, disproportionate episodes of anger lasting for hours in response to insignificant triggers, know that you may be experiencing the effects of being married to a narcissistic wife.
What Are The Signs Of A Narcissistic Wife?
Understanding narcissistic wife traits might be useful simply because they might show up in unexpected circumstances. You might be angry and confused over your (not so) better half’s reactions to situations but if you often question yourself – How do I survive a narcissistic wife – then the first step towards that is noting down her attitude and behaviour.
1. She will be fiercely competitive
A healthy sense of competition is good but a narcissistic wife will be constantly in competition mode, be it with her co-workers or friends or other women.
She wants to be the centre of attraction and may have an insatiable desire to be the prettiest, most successful and the best of everything. What the narcissistic wife views as special, she wants it reserved only for her – be it the latest Birkin or Fenty Beauty makeup kit.
2. She may compete with her daughters
This can be rather subtle but as mothers, the female narcissist can be in competition with their daughters too. Especially when the daughter is coming of age, there can be a subconscious subtle jealousy.
She may of course, wish the best for her daughter but may secretly envy her youth. Incidentally, they may pass on these traits to their daughters too and the latter may turn out to be vain and superficial like their moms.
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3. She will be overly concerned with appearance
An obsession with looks and the desperate need to portray a fabulous image to the world are classic narcissistic wife signs. These women (and men) seek approval from the world though they may give off a vibe of being supremely confident.
If your wife takes an inordinately long time to dress up and likes to hoard make-up, jewellery and clothes beyond reasonable limits, it is definitely a sign of narcissism and not the stereotyped feminine interest in beauty.
4. She loves materialistic things
Designer clothes, cars, handbags, jewellery – she can never have enough of these. In popular culture, these qualities have often been glamorized (think Kim Kardashian and her fame-obsessed family), but in reality the effects of being married to a narcissistic wife can leave you with a leaner bank balance.
These materialistic things validate her insecurity and give her a false sense of being worthy. She wants to be the object of their envy.
5. She is jealous
A narcissistic wife is jealous – of other women, of your friends’ wives (especially if they are bigger achievers), of your family (if they don’t give her enough importance) and the world in general.
Did you see her having endless gossip sessions and kitty parties? Basically she loves to get together with her posse of friends and talk about people behind their backs. It’s a way of proving she is superior to others.
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6. She is incredibly defensive
One of the foremost qualities of a narcissistic wife or husband is their inability to handle criticism. As a professional, they can be a nightmare to work with.
In a marriage, they can be impossible to have a conversation with. If you are arguing with your narcissistic wife, do not expect any honesty or willingness to listen from her. She can’t tolerate criticism, even if constructive or kind. You will have to break through her defenses to make her see reason.
7. She loves drama
Since narcissists love the attention on themselves and feed off the reactions of others, drama is one of the terrible effects of being married to a narcissistic wife. The female narcissist is known to indulge in dramatic histrionics.
When she has to defend herself if called out, she will constantly hark back to the past adding more details to it than perhaps existed. Her penchant for involvement in drama will always be a feature in your marriage.
8. She loves pitting people against one another
Ever wondered why the fights between your mother and your wife may have increased? Or why friends and relatives have problems between them? One trait of a female narcissist is that they have a penchant for animosity towards friends and family members.
They may tell one thing about a person to another, often embellishing their stories with drama and gossip, knowing fully well that it will trigger a problem. They may even try and manipulate your male friends or relatives or team mates to suit their purposes.
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9. She uses her sexuality to her advantage
To be fair, male narcissists often play on their supposed charm and looks to get things done. But a female narcissist also uses her sexuality to take advantage of men. If you notice your girlfriend indulging in inappropriate flirtatious behaviour to get attention, watch out.
Also, a narcissistic wife, has an inclination to have affairs with their partner’s friends or family members. They try and seek their supply of attention from their current partner’s circle.
10. She has a disregard for boundaries
A narcissistic wife is so obsessed with her own self, her needs and her space that she does not have any respect for others’ boundaries. They have a sense of ownership towards everyone else.
They hate it when the attention is on others and do not mind disregarding personal space of their partner or close friends for their own selfish needs. Basically, you feel taken for granted.
11. She will give the silent treatment
When you have a fight with your wife, a classic way of getting back might be giving you the silent treatment. A male narcissist may blow up in anger or become verbally abusive but a woman may punish those she deems as having wronged her (including her husband) by withholding affection or attention.
A narcissistic wife may also want to ‘teach her husband a lesson’ by withholding sex.
How Do I Deal With A Narcissistic Wife?
So what should you do survive a narcissistic wife? A deeper understanding of the condition may help. Some other useful tools would be…
1. Pick your battles wisely
A narcissistic wife is forever ready to shift the blame to others. If you feel insulted over every barb or taunt designed to make you feel small and unimportant, you will be wasting a lot of energy.
Save it for the bigger battle if and when she crosses the limit.
2. Try and draw boundaries early on
While narcissists have no respect for boundaries, it is would be useful to try and recognise the signs early on and define what is acceptable to you and what’s not.
If she has a habit of putting you down over your career in an effort to praise her own, call her out. It might not always have an impact but constantly definition of boundaries may lead to some course-correction.
3. Watch your own behaviour
Are you a narcissist yourself? Often it happens that in a long-term relationship like marriage, a wife takes on or gets inspired by her husband’s traits.
If you find her being too self-obsessed or self-centred to the extent that she ignores your needs and attitudes, do some introspection and reflect on your own behaviour. Seek a counsellor’s help if needed to identify traits of narcissism.
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4. Use ‘We’ instead of’ I’
A narcissistic wife is all about I and me but when you are approaching her, try the ‘we’ route. Perhaps you want to make up after an argument. Since expecting her to make the first move or apologise is futile, you take it upon yourself to mend fences.
Involve her in the reconciliation process and remind her of the common goals of marriage and how it hurts when she makes it all about herself.
5. Do not give in to attention seeking tactics
A number of times when your wife throws a tantrum or starts complaining, it might be an exaggeration resulting out of her love for drama. Do not give in to her attention seeking tactics all the time.
Your self-worth is equally important, and it is her insecurity that is leading her to behave in an inappropriate and disrespectful way. Take time off and may be even a break from the relationship.
Dealing with a narcissistic wife needs loads of patience and a very high self-worth. This might clash with your own sense of ego and you need to preserve your own energies while surviving in such a marriage. But the narcissistic wife traits are such that even professional help may not exactly lead to a complete change. What can be done perhaps through counselling is to increase awareness and hope for an improvement in behaviour.