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How Can You Identify a Narcissistic Spouse?

Being married to a narcissist can have a severe effect on your mental and physical health. Through emotional abuse, manipulation, belittling, or even physical violence, you may begin to lose your self-worth and isolate yourself from support groups, including your family and friends.

It is difficult to identify a narcissistic spouse, particularly if they do not acknowledge their own toxic patterns. With years of narcissistic abuse and manipulation, you may also place less importance on your own needs and your own opinion. However, if you believe you are married to a narcissist and want to protect your interests, seek professional help as soon as possible.

An experienced family law attorney can help protect your best interests in any family law issues involving a narcissistic spouse. If you are seeking to divorce your spouse, want to get custody of your children, or need help with another family law matter, contact Skillern Firm today. Our team of highly experienced attorneys can help protect your interests and ensure that you do not lose out because of your spouse’s narcissistic behavior.

Our law firm has been helping the citizens of Texas for over 12 years, and we have an in-depth understanding of the family legal system. We want to get you the best result possible in your case so that you are in a favorable position moving forward. Our family lawyers care about your future and will do everything we can to protect your rights.

Protect your future and call us today at 936-213-8479 to arrange a consultation.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition and a personality disorder, characterized by grandiose behavior, feelings of superiority, lack of empathy, a need for admiration, jealousy, and manipulative behavior. Just 1% of the population actually has this disorder. However, narcissistic traits are also quite common in those who do not have the disorder.

There are several types of narcissists, including extroverted narcissists, introverted narcissists, those who base their narcissism on their intelligence or spirituality, and vindictive narcissists. At the core of most types of narcissism is fragile self-esteem and a desire to be valued by other people.

When there is a narcissist in an intimate relationship, it can be extremely toxic. Narcissistic behaviors, such as manipulation, control, verbal abuse, exploitative behavior, deception, and a lack of empathy, make it extremely difficult to have healthy relationships. When one person is narcissistic, it often creates a power imbalance in the relationship and can cause serious challenges, such as the narcissist gaining emotional, physical, and financial control.

It is possible to treat NPD with the help of a licensed therapist, a support group, support from family and friends, and medication in some cases. However, the narcissistic wife or husband must have a desire to change and commit to long-term treatment. The only way to truly identify Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is by speaking with a mental health professional who has experience working with the disorder.

NPD vs. Narcissistic Traits

It is important to note that not all narcissistic spouses have Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). In fact, less than 1% of the population has this disorder. So, before assuming that your narcissistic husband or narcissistic wife has a personality disorder, consider whether they may just have some narcissistic traits.

If they do not have NPD, it may be easier for them to change their behaviors. It can be difficult for those with NPD to recognize that they have a genuine mental health problem, as their grandiose behaviors and sense of self-importance make it challenging to acknowledge negative traits in themselves.

If a person does not have a personality disorder and instead exhibits narcissistic behavior, like an inflated self-image or manipulation tactics, it may be easier for them to change their behaviors with professional help. The person may recognize their narcissistic behavior easier if they do not have a personality disorder.

How To Identify a Narcissistic Partner

Often, narcissistic people are incredibly charming and charismatic at the beginning of a relationship, which can make it difficult to identify them as a narcissist. However, if you are married to a narcissist and spend significant time with them, you will begin to see certain traits and characteristics that can help you identify them as a narcissist. Some examples of these characteristics include:

Low Self-Esteem

Most narcissistic people suffer from low self-esteem. Although they may exhibit grandiose behavior, have feelings of superiority, and exaggerate their achievements, there is usually fragile self-esteem behind this exterior.

You can assess whether somebody has fragile self-esteem if they need other people’s constant approval, seek validation from others through attention and praise, and speak down on other people’s achievements and accomplishments to make themselves feel better.

Manipulation Tactics

Many narcissists are highly manipulative and use manipulation tactics to gain control over other people. Some types of manipulative behaviors that narcissistic people engage in include:

  • Gaslighting – Gaslighting is when a person manipulates a situation to make the other person doubt their own perception, fault, or memory. When gaslighting, a person may deny things they said or did, confuse their spouse into believing something that did not happen, or misconstrue the truth.
  • Guilt-Tripping – Guilt-tripping is when a narcissist makes another person feel guilty about their feelings or something they did to manipulate them. For example, your spouse could encourage you to not see your friends and family members because they are feeling sad, or because they did not meet up with their friends on a separate occasion to spend time with you.
  • Manipulative Charm – Because many narcissists are charismatic, they may use this charisma to charm others into doing what they want. They may use their charisma to get other people to trust them and admire them.
  • Silent treatment – A narcissistic person may also use the silent treatment to manipulate you into getting what they want. They may ignore you after an argument or if they are annoyed at you to manipulate you into getting what they want.

Arrogant and Haughty Behaviors

A common characteristic of narcissists is arrogant behavior. Narcissists often have a superiority complex and an inflated sense of importance, which can make them arrogant toward others that value less than themselves.

This type of arrogant behavior can include:

  • Constant praise of themselves.
  • Boasting about their achievements and possessions.
  • Requiring admiration and compliments from others.
  • A condescending attitude toward others, particularly those they perceive as inferior.
  • Interrupting conversations and requiring conversations to involve them.
  • Dismissing other people’s opinions and feelings.


Love-bombing is a common tactic used by narcissists at the start of a relationship. They may give you excessive admiration and attention when you first meet each other, making you feel important and that they are in love with you immediately. They may do romantic gestures, buy you expensive gifts, bring you on special dates, and make gestures of love early on.

A narcissistic person may also want the relationship to move forward quickly, through making future plans together, creating an emotional connection early on, and not giving the other person space to think about how they truly feel. For those who are vulnerable or find it difficult to say no to others, this can be quite challenging.

Attention Seeking

Narcissists are often attention seekers and need to always be the center of attention. They may fish for compliments from others, veer all conversations toward talking about themselves, ensure that their needs and opinions are heard, speak over other people, and dismiss others to get their opinions heard.

They may exaggerate their feelings or things that happened to them to make others feel sorry for them and give them more attention. If you are in a relationship with someone who does this, they may invalidate your feelings to make their own seem more important. A selfish person like this can make it difficult to open up about your emotions, achievements, and feelings.


If you are married to a narcissist, they will probably get jealous often. Narcissistic women and men often get extremely jealous of their partner’s lives, which could be directed toward both other people and their partner’s achievements.

For example, a narcissistic spouse may react negatively if you tell them you got a promotion, have taken up a new hobby, have made some new friends, or have achieved success somehow in your life. They may also react negatively if you tell them you are spending time with your friends or family members because they think you are choosing your friends over them.

This type of jealous behavior can often extend to isolation, which is when the narcissistic person isolates you from your friends and family, making it easier for them to gain control over your life. The more you isolate yourself from your family and friends, the more difficult it is to reach out to a support system about the emotional abuse you have been suffering.

Lack of Empathy

A key characteristic of narcissists is their complete lack of empathy toward others. Narcissists’ top priority is always themselves and their own needs. They will rarely understand your emotions and needs and will find it difficult to empathize with you. This can cause them to invalidate your feelings and disregard your emotional well-being.

Lack of Accountability

It can be difficult for a narcissist to accept responsibility for their actions and behavior. Because of this, they may always feel they are in the right and that it is always someone else’s fault when something goes wrong. They will rarely apologize for their behavior and when they do, they may say that you caused them to behave in a certain way.

Narcissists may also manipulate situations and gaslight you to make it seem like it is not their fault. This emotionally abusive behavior can be extremely challenging, as you may begin to doubt yourself and feel responsible for things that you did not do.

Types of Narcissists

Narcissism comes in many shapes and forms, which can often make it difficult to identify a narcissistic husband or wife. Sometimes, a person may have narcissistic tendencies without actually being a narcissist. This could be triggered by another mental health condition or because of a change in their lives, for example.

In these situations, it is much easier to change a narcissist and encourage them to get professional help. However, if they have NPD, it can be quite challenging to change their behaviors unless they find motivation in themselves to speak with a mental health professional.

Grandiose Narcissists

Grandiose narcissists are self-centered people who have a major sense of superiority, an exaggerated self-image, and a constant need for admiration from others. These types of narcissists often seem quite arrogant and invalidate the achievements and opinions of others.

A grandiose narcissist may believe they are more superior to other people, whether it is physically, intellectually, socially, or morally superior. They will often crave compliments and attention from other people and speak down to people to validate themselves further. This could extend to high expectations from others, and trying to control and manipulate others to get what they want.

Vindictive Narcissists

Vindictive narcissists are extremely toxic people. These types of people have a tendency toward harming others and seeking revenge against those who threaten their image. Often, vindictive narcissists create a lot of pain in other people’s lives and humiliate others who they feel have betrayed or criticized them.

Vindictive narcissistic partners may spread vicious rumors about others, go to extremes to get revenge against other people, lie about other people to make themselves seem better, try to turn groups of people against their perceived enemies, and engage in destructive behaviors.

Being in an abusive relationship with a vindictive narcissist can be extremely challenging, and they may isolate you completely from family, friends, colleagues, and your social circle. They may hold grudges against people in your life for no reason, and it can be extremely difficult for them to move on from an argument. You may constantly apologize for something you did at the beginning of the relationship, even if it was something minor.

Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists are often shy, introverted, and have a huge fear of rejection. These people have narcissistic behavior, but they may exhibit it more subtly than extroverted narcissists. A covert narcissist may have a victim mentality and constantly feel mistreated or misunderstood. They may make it seem like the world is against them and seek constant emotional support from their partners.

Often, covert narcissists isolate themselves from people and withdraw from groups where they do not receive the validation they require. They may feel extreme jealousy toward others, which can make it difficult to talk about achievements or progress around them.

Cerebral Narcissists

Cerebral narcissists are people who feel superior to others because of their intellectual abilities and accomplishments. These types of people believe that because they are intelligent, have many accomplishments, and are known for being intelligent, they are much more valuable than other people.

Being married to a cerebral narcissist can be particularly difficult, as they may constantly make you feel inferior, regardless of whether you also have professional achievements. These people may expect admiration from others, constantly talk about their intelligence and achievements, not listen to other people in conversations, and struggle to empathize with other people’s emotions.

Because these types of narcissists struggle with emotional intelligence, you may find it difficult to discuss your feelings, get emotional support from them, and understand how they truly feel in the relationship.

Can a Narcissistic Person Change?

Like many personality disorders, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is often a chronic condition that must be treated through long-term professional help. Narcissistic people can change, but they must be dedicated to making a change and acknowledge that they have a problem.

Because the primary characteristics of this condition are grandiose self-importance and superiority, it can be difficult for narcissists to recognize their own behavior. This can make it challenging for those around them who want them to change and they may get defensive if you suggest they get help with their problems.

If you recognize your spouse’s narcissistic behavior but they do not, it might be more difficult for them to change. It is not possible for a narcissist to change if they do not want to, and trying to make them change may only further harm your mental health.

However, if they do recognize they have a personality disorder, or recognize that they have narcissistic traits, they may change through a combination of therapy, support, and medication, if necessary. It is first important to speak with a therapist to identify whether they have NPD or just some narcissistic traits.

Mental Health Professional

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is best treated through professional help, like a clinical psychologist or online therapy. A licensed therapist can work with a narcissistic partner to help them manage their narcissism and change their behavior patterns.

Therapists may use evidence-based approaches, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to help a person recognize their behavior, redirect their thoughts, identify manipulative and narcissistic patterns, and create coping strategies to deal with it.

It may also be a good idea to go to couples’ therapy to help you and your spouse work on the marriage, understand each other’s feelings, establish boundaries, and each develop coping mechanisms within the relationship.

Support Groups

A support group may be helpful to people with NPD, as it provides them with a community where they can meet people who understand them. Through these support groups, a person may learn some coping strategies, learn about other people’s shared experiences, and discover self-help books through their peers.

Meeting other people who suffer from NPD can be helpful for narcissists as they may begin to recognize their toxic behaviors more, learn about the consequences of narcissistic behavior through other people’s stories, and get validation from those with similar experiences.


Sometimes, a therapist or doctor may treat other symptoms of a personality disorder with medication. There is no medication that can change narcissistic behavior. However, there are medications to help with anxiety, compulsive behavior, and depression that may all stem from narcissism.

It is important that your narcissistic partner treats their condition in a way that is appropriate to them. They must decide to change themselves and it is not enough for you or a family member to force them into therapy. If your spouse is unwilling to change and does not recognize their behavior, think about whether it is in your best interest to continue with the relationship.

Risks of Staying Married to a Narcissist

Staying married to a narcissist can have serious effects on your physical and mental health and can cause your emotional well-being to suffer. If there are children involved in the relationship, it can also cause them significant harm, as they may have a warped view of what healthy relationships look like.

The primary risk of staying married to a narcissist is your mental health. If you have suffered from narcissistic abuse for a long time, you could develop anxiety, depression, and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The constant invalidation, belittlement, cycles of abuse and reconciliation, and arguing can cause severe trauma, which could affect you for the rest of your life.

The longer you stay in a manipulative relationship with a narcissist, the more difficult it is to leave. When they have more control over your life and begin isolating you from your family and friends, it can be extremely difficult to reach out and get help. You could end up trapped in a toxic relationship long-term, lose your self-worth, and struggle to leave.

The consequences of staying married to a narcissist may follow you for the rest of your life and you could face difficulties with future relationships and healthy communication. If your spouse used financial manipulation during the marriage, you could be left with little or no assets after the marriage.

Family Law Issues With a Narcissistic Husband

If you are facing family law issues with a narcissistic husband or wife, it is vital that you get legal counsel. Being married to a narcissist may mean that you have been controlled, manipulated, and spoken down to for many years. You may be less confident in your ability to stick up for yourself and more willing to agree with them to avoid an argument.

However, legal decisions on divorce, property division, child custody, and other family law matters are final. These decisions will affect you for the rest of your life and you only have one chance to stick up for yourself. If you accept a divorce settlement that is not in your best interests because your spouse manipulated you into accepting it, you must deal with the consequences for the rest of your life.

Hiring an experienced family law attorney in Texas will help ensure that your interests are protected, that your narcissistic spouse does not control the negotiations, that your voice is heard, and that you get the best outcome possible.


Going through a divorce with a narcissistic wife or husband can be particularly difficult. Because of their personality traits and behavior, they will probably try to gain control of the situation and have little empathy toward you. Some challenges you may encounter during a divorce with a narcissist include:

  • Manipulation – A narcissistic spouse may try to manipulate you to accept a settlement that is not in your best interests. They could do this by hiding assets, trying to control your access to funds, gaslighting you into thinking you are not entitled to shared property, or exaggerating debts.
  • False Accusations – Often, divorce with narcissists can get quite nasty. They may make false accusations about you and your family to gain leverage during the divorce. These allegations could include allegations of misconduct, alcohol or drug abuse, or bad parenting. They may also try to turn mutual friends against you and make up lies for their own benefit.
  • Conflict – Most people want to resolve their divorce through negotiation and mediation, which is what we prioritize at Skillern Firm. However, narcissists often try to create as much conflict as possible to gain control over the divorce. They may create conflict over minor issues just to gain control, which can cause significant delays.

The Texas family law lawyers at Skillern Firm have handled many divorce cases involving narcissistic spouses. We know the tactics they usually use to gain an upper hand and we have significant experience fighting against these tactics. Our lawyers are prepared to litigate on your behalf in court and fight for your best interests.

Child Custody

Child custody battles with a narcissist are usually emotionally charged and challenging for all parties involved. Like divorce, parents usually want to resolve custody issues outside of court, and not drag their children through the legal system. However, if your spouse wants to gain control over the children, they may use manipulation tactics to do so, which can make it extremely difficult.

Some of these manipulation tactics can include gaslighting, false allegations, causing deliberate delays, and refusal to cooperate. Narcissistic spouses may also try to manipulate the children, making up lies about the other parent and trying to exclude them from their lives. If your spouse is abusive, you may need to seek a protective order to keep them away from you and the children, which can be extremely tough.

The top priority in child custody cases is always the best interests of the children involved. If your spouse is not prioritizing their best interests and creating conflict to gain control over the situation, you will need to take measures to protect your children. An experienced Texas family lawyer can help ensure that your children get the best outcome possible and try to avoid a lengthy custody battle.

How Can You Identify a Narcissistic Spouse? – Contact Skillern Firm Today!

Identifying a narcissistic spouse can be difficult, particularly if they lack empathy, have no emotional awareness, and are manipulative. If you are married to a narcissist, it is vital that you look out for yourself and protect your interests at all costs.

Staying in a marriage that does not serve you can have long-lasting effects on your mental and physical health. If there are children involved in the marriage, you need to think about their best interests also and do everything you can to protect them from the toxic behavior of your spouse.

The best way to ensure your legal rights and interests are protected is to hire an experienced family law attorney. The legal team at Skillern Firm has the skills and tactics you need to ensure that your narcissistic spouse does not take away the things that are important to you. We want to help you move to a new stage of your life, feeling confident and secure.

Our Texas family law attorneys can help advise you on the divorce process, represent you in legal battles, ensure you do not lose out in settlements, and protect the best interests of you and your children. With three of our divorce attorneys being Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, you can count on us to provide top-quality legal service.

Call our family law firm today to arrange a consultation at 936-213-8479.