Writings from Christine

Are You Trapped with a Narcissist?

by on March 21, 2020

Shortly after their marriage, Jack became aware of the narcissism in his wife. At first, he thought it was immaturity but after their child was born, things escalated. Unable to fully attach to their child, she became more demanding and self-absorbed. There were times when life seemed to be a series of competitions over who would get more of Jack’s attention, his wife or his child.

When Jack paid attention to their child, his wife would lose it. She would rant, call him names, belittle him, demand he does more chores, limit his access to his income, and expect perfection from him. There were many times when Jack would stay longer at work just to avoid his wife.

But then the Coronavirus hit and Jack was told to work from home. She resented him being more present and would retaliate by asking him to do even more work around the house. She interrupted his work, saying that she and their child were more important than anything he was doing. He was frustrated. Without an avenue to escape, Jack felt trapped. Here is what he did.

  1. Understand narcissism. It is not enough to know the definition of the word when living with a narcissist, rather a full grasp of Narcissistic Personality Disorder must be achieved. This is the equivalent of obtaining a master’s degree in the subject. As new information comes to light, the understanding of the disorder must grow and evolve. Jack spent his old commute time reading and listening to podcasts about narcissism. The more he learned the less he felt like he was losing his mind.
  2. Don’t expect change. One of the defining characteristics of narcissism is an inability to see that they are the problem. Instead, narcissist believes they are superior and others are inferior. Expecting this to change is unrealistic and causes more issues, not for the narcissist, but rather those living with them. Jack stopped expecting her to change and rather challenged her. By saying that a friend’s wife did something, Jack got his wife to outdo her competition.
  3. Don’t lose your identity. Narcissists have a way of trying to transform the people in their lives into mini versions of themselves. Their dominant ego dictates that others’ lives would be better if they were more like the narcissist. It takes a large amount of self-awareness to keep an ego intact in the face of such pressure. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. Jack realized that he gave up parts of himself to keep the peace with his wife. He decided to systematically gain those areas back by choosing one trait at a time.
  4. Establish your own standards. Narcissists expect perfectionism and clairvoyance from those around them through constant demands and belittling remarks. To survive in such an environment, a person needs to establish their own goals, standards, and expectations independent of the narcissist. Staying true to those beliefs and guidelines helps to maintain a healthy outlook on life and self. Jack set his own standards of expectations and stuck to them.
  5. Set invisible boundaries. When a person gives a narcissist a firm boundary, they constantly go up to the line and try to push things even further. It’s a challenge for them. So, the alternative is to set boundaries that are unspoken such as “I will leave if they have an affair,” or “I have a zero-tolerance for physical abuse.” Jack set boundaries about his work time. He gave her an incentive to leave him alone during the day so he could work by agreeing to make dinner at night.
  6. Counteract the gaslighting. A typical form of mental abuse commonly utilized by narcissists is gaslighting. This is where the narcissist denies reality and instead paints a completely different picture so believable that the other person thinks they are going crazy. To counteract this tactic, it is useful to keep a journal of facts and incidents. For instance, writing down that the narcissist had a fit at Thanksgiving over an ungrateful relative. This is not to keep a record of wrongs, but rather to have some point of reference when the story is twisted into the relative losing it and verbally assaulting the narcissist. Jack would review his list periodically to make sure that he remembered things accurately. This boosted his confidence.
  7. Have a safe outlet. A valuable asset, when married to a narcissist, is to have a safe person to talk about the struggles in the marriage. This could be a close friend or counselor, but should not be a family member. Jack found a friend who also had a narcissistic wife and was able to understand the disorder while providing unconditional support. This should not be a person with localities to the narcissist in any way.

While things were tense in the beginning, Jack found that he was able to gain a rhythm that worked for him and his wife. His wife’s narcissism seemed to decrease in intensity the more he understood about it.

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Posted under: abuse Narcissism Writings from Christine

8 comment on Are You Trapped with a Narcissist?

  1.  

    My situation exactly only genders are swapped. My husband is a narcissist and his behavior increased about 2 years after our son was born. He is almost 6 now so I protect both of us from his abuse. I’m beginning the divorce after the quarantine. DOES ANYONE HAVE OR KNOW STRATEGY FOR LEAVING A NARCISSIST? He owns the cars. We live upstairs from his widowed mom. I work part time and he fulltime making $100,000. I’ve encountered every bit of the emotional, financial and physical abuse ( getting in my face sort of thing). I’m ok after educating myself on narcissism but some advice would be helpful. If I had the money, I would be out already.

  2.  

    Yes at age 70. Years old married almost 50’ years

    Totally trapped

  3.  

    If your husband has been physically and emotionally abusive to your child have your lawyer recommend supervised visitation as well as counseling to learn about abusive behaviors. Not that he will change but you knowing and telling him you know will maybe make him more reluctant to hurt your child when you are not around. I would also make sure my child had a cell phone and teach him how to record conversations that make him uncomfortable. Soon you will have the proof you need to go no contact. Narcs are not interested in children they cannot control. He will move on and you will be free of him. If this doesn’t work, do anything you can to limit his contact with you and your child as much as possible. Praying helps too.

  4.  

    I am in the same situation, but I can’t leave my husband for now. The emotional abuse is not recognized in court and my narcisstic husband will get half-time custody for my son, only to hurt me. To leave my 7 year old boy unsupervised with my narcisstic-crazy husband for half of month, it is too much. Therefore, I bear and I become a”gray rock”. It is a very sad life.

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