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Can A Narcissistic Spouse Change Their Behavior?

It is possible for a narcissistic spouse to change their behavior. However, it may be quite difficult and the change must come from the person themselves, rather than from your own behavior. Having a narcissistic spouse can cause an enormous strain on a person’s life. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you may feel threatened, manipulated, controlled, and suffer from low self-esteem.

It is possible for a narcissist to engage in domestic violence or emotional and manipulative behavior. The most important thing in these situations is to ensure your own safety and protect your best interests. People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or narcissistic traits may change their behavior. However, it is up to them to do this.

If you are in a relationship with a spouse who has NPD, and you need advice on family law issues, such as child custody or divorce, contact Skillern Firm today. Our family law firm understands how people with NPD can cause huge emotional strain on family members and how it can negatively affect your children. Our team of attorneys wants to do what we can to support you and help you find a positive solution.

Three of our attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, which is a recognition given to just 1% of family law attorneys. We care about providing top-quality legal service, and securing you the best future possible for you and your children.

Call our law firm today to schedule an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that affects just 1% of the population. People with NPD often lack empathy, have a grandiose sense of importance, a sense of entitlement, a superiority complex with a need for constant admiration from others, and are often preoccupied with fantasies of success and achievement.

As Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is recognized as a mental health condition, it can sometimes be effectively changed through professional help, such as psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, transference-focused therapy, and sometimes, medication. NPD disorder must first be diagnosed by a medical professional before any treatment can begin.

Narcissistic Tendencies or Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

To figure out whether your narcissistic spouse can change, it is first important to distinguish whether your narcissistic partner has just narcissistic traits or actually has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

It may be more difficult to change spouses that have personality disorders than a person who has narcissistic tendencies. If your spouse has not been diagnosed with a personality disorder, they should speak with a mental health professional about it.

You can usually tell whether a person has NPD if they exhibit many of the following behaviors:

  • Lacking empathy.
  • A sense of entitlement.
  • Toxic behavior and arrogant attitudes.
  • Envy toward orders.
  • Abusive behavior.
  • Inflated sense of self, believing that they are better than others and above the rules.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Using emotional, sexual, financial, or physical abuse to maintain control in romantic relationships.
  • Vindictive behavior and holding grudges toward others.

The only way to completely understand whether your spouse has a mental disorder or just narcissistic traits is by having them seek therapy and speak with a mental health professional. However, not all narcissists want to seek therapy, and it may be difficult to get your spouse to do this. If your spouse has NPD, they will likely be more resistant to therapy and have less self-awareness.

Types of Narcissists

There are several types of narcissism, with varying degrees of severity. Not everyone who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or a narcissistic personality exhibits the same behaviors. Some types of narcissists include:

Grandiose Narcissists

Grandiose narcissists usually have a strong sense of superiority and engage in pretentious behaviors. These people may be more extroverted and exploitative because of their powerful sense of importance. They may ignore the opinions of others often, including professionals, and strongly believe that their beliefs are always correct.

Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists differ greatly from grandiose narcissists, and may often appear shy and introverted. They have similar characteristics, like manipulation and a lack of empathy. However, they also have extreme envy towards others, fragile self-esteem, and a victim mentality. Covert narcissists often spend time alone and isolate themselves from others.

Vindictive Narcissists

Vindictive narcissists have a strong tendency to seek revenge and criticize others. They are usually hypersensitive to disagreements and rejection, which can make it difficult for you to be honest with them or tell them how you feel.

Often, vindictive narcissists engage in cruel behavior, blackmailing, destructive behaviors, and hold persistent grudges. Being with a vindictive narcissist can be extremely difficult, as you may feel constantly under attack or must listen to problems that your spouse has with others.

Being in a Relationship With a Narcissist

If you are in a relationship with a spouse who has narcissistic personality traits or NPD, your emotional well-being may suffer massively and you may have low self-worth. Often, being married to a narcissist can have a huge effect on your own mental health and may cause you to seek therapy to deal with your emotions.

Some common feelings of those in a relationship with narcissists include:


A common sign of a narcissistic relationship is love-bombing at the beginning of the relationship. Often, a narcissist will create a romanticized image of themselves at the start of a relationship to win you over by giving you lots of compliments, taking you on personalized dates, buying gifts, and showing you how much you care.

Then, when this behavior changes, you are often left feeling confused and unsure of how a person could change this quickly. You may stay in the marriage hoping that they will return to the person you originally fell in love with.

Attention Seeking

A major component of narcissism is the need to have constant attention and admiration from other people. Narcissists need to feel constant praise and validation from other people and may seem very self-absorbed. This often means that all conversations revolve around them, including conversations with friends and family.

If your spouse is constantly seeking attention and does not give you praise or validation for your achievements, you may begin to feel invalid and ignored. This can cause low self-worth and insecurity for the other spouse.


Narcissistic spouses often engage in manipulative and controlling behaviors in relationships. These behaviors include gas-lighting, playing the victim role in the relationship, downplaying your achievements, labeling, intimidating, and never backing down from an argument. They often use this behavior to assert control in the relationship.

They may also isolate you from your family and friends to gain further control over the relationship. This can make it difficult to reach out to family members and have close relationships with other people outside of the relationship.

Low Self-Esteem

Being married to a narcissist can have a long-term effect on your mental health. If you are constantly being controlled, spoken down to, criticized, and invalidated, you may begin to question your own worth.

If you are not aware that your spouse is a narcissist from the beginning of your marriage, you may not notice your self-esteem being damaged. As a result, you may need to seek professional help after being married to a narcissist for some time.

Can a Narcissist Change?

It is possible for a narcissistic spouse to change. However, it must come from a willingness to change their own narcissism and not solely from another person’s encouragement. Although you may persuade your spouse to engage in therapy and get professional help for their narcissistic behavior, they must want to make the change themselves.


First, your spouse must be self-aware and know that they have a problem. If your spouse does not recognize their narcissistic behavior and refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, it will be extremely tough for them to change.

Narcissism, as a personality trait, often makes people believe they are superior to others. Because of this, people with NPD or narcissistic traits may find it difficult to recognize that they have a problem and may instead blame their issues on other people. They may be condescending toward those who suggest they try to change, which can make it even more difficult.

Willing to Change

Perhaps the most important factor in determining whether a narcissistic spouse can change their behavior is the person’s desire to change their behavior. If your spouse is unaware of their narcissistic traits, does not speak with you about their behavior, and shuts down whenever you speak about getting professional help, they may be unwilling to change.

However, if your spouse talks about their problems, recognizes that their behavior is negatively affecting you and the family, sees that it could be a mental health issue, and wants to get professional help, they may be more likely to change.

Divorcing a Narcissistic Spouse

Often, it is extremely difficult for narcissistic people to change their behaviors. If you have been in a marriage to a narcissistic person for a long time, there have been no signs of their intentions to change, and it is taking a toll on your mental health, you may consider getting a divorce.

Divorcing a narcissistic spouse has its own complications, and it is important to protect your best interests during the divorce process. If you are considering divorcing your narcissistic spouse, we strongly advise seeking legal help from an experienced family law attorney in Texas. There are many issues that could arise during the divorce process, such as child custody and property division.

If your relationship has traditionally involved a lot of manipulation and control, your spouse could easily convince you to agree to a divorce settlement that is not in your best interests. You could lose the marital home, other communal assets, time with your children, and any support payments due to you.

The best way to protect yourself during a divorce with a narcissistic spouse is to hire an experienced attorney that has handled cases similar to yours and can protect your best interests at all costs.

Can a Narcissistic Spouse Change Their Behavior? FAQs

What makes a narcissist change?

Every narcissist is difficult, and it may take a lot for them to intentionally change their behavior. Most narcissists do not realize the extent of their behaviors until something happens, like someone important leaving their lives because of their behavior, an important relationship ending, or another person making them aware of their behavior.

It is important for a narcissist to connect with a person before they open up about their problems and are willing to change. Very few people with NPD recognize their disorder, which makes it extremely difficult to change. A therapist or a spouse they feel connected to could encourage them to self-reflect and begin making a change.

However, the only way they can completely change is if they recognize their problem and want to make a change themselves.

How do I support my narcissistic spouse?

You can support your narcissistic spouse by encouraging them to get therapy, offering reassurance, and helping them to talk about their problems. However, it is important to set boundaries in your relationship and prioritize your own life and well-being. If you place your partner’s needs above your own, you could face your own mental health problems, like depression, isolation, and anxiety.

Can our children make my narcissistic spouse change?

Unfortunately, the only way to make a narcissist change is by them wanting to make a change themselves. If there are children involved in the marriage, their mental health and well-being may also suffer because of your spouse’s narcissism. It is important that you prioritize your children in the relationship and do not use them to make your spouse change their behavior.

A narcissist’s love for their children may encourage them to seek therapy and speak about their problems. However, this is not guaranteed, and getting your children involved in your spouse’s problems could make the situation worse.

Contact Skillern Firm Today!

A narcissistic spouse may change their behavior through therapy and reflective work, however, ultimately it is on the narcissistic person to be willing to change. It is not possible for you to change your spouse’s narcissism alone and your own well-being may suffer from trying to change their behavior.

If you are in a marriage with a narcissistic spouse and need help with family law issues, such as divorce, property division, child custody, or domestic violence, contact Skillern Firm today. Our law firm has a team of highly skilled attorneys that have helped hundreds of clients in cases similar to yours.

We understand that relationships with narcissists are extremely tough, and you may lose sight of what is important in your life. Our lawyers care about your best interests and we want you to have a bright future. We will do everything we can to help you with your case, including offering legal advice, representing your best interests, and guiding you toward support services.

Call our law firm today to arrange an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.