What Are The Risks of Staying In A Relationship With A Narcissistic Spouse?
Abusive relationships can have serious long-term effects. Unfortunately, many of these relationships are with narcissistic people who lack empathy and use manipulative behavior to gain control. Although you may stay in a relationship with a narcissist because you love them, you hold on to visions of the past, for financial reasons, or want to maintain the family unit, it is important to be aware of how this may affect your mental and emotional well-being.
If you are in a marriage with a narcissist and are worried about how this may affect your life, seek professional help. For help with family law issues, such as divorce, property division, child custody, domestic violence, or support payments, contact the family law attorneys at Skillern Firm today.
At Skillern Firm, we have a team of highly accomplished family law attorneys that have significant experience helping people in situations like yours. We understand the risks of staying in an abusive relationship and want to help you in any way we can. Our Texas family attorneys can offer you legal advice, guide you toward support services, and help protect your best interests.
We have a strong attorney-client relationship and understand the unique complexities of the family law system in Texas.
Call our law firm today to arrange an initial consultation at 936-213-8479.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism can be a personality trait, a type of behavior, or a mental disorder, known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). A narcissistic person usually has a strong sense of importance and superiority toward others, with little or no empathy. It can be difficult for narcissistic people to maintain healthy relationships, and they may often engage in narcissistic abuse.
Often, a person may exhibit narcissistic behaviors without actually being a narcissist. For example, a person who is insecure and lacking in self-worth may seek approval from others, become envious of their partner’s friends and family, and engage in exploitative behavior for a short time.
However, if this type of behavior continues over a long period, the person is unwilling to recognize their behaviors or change, and there are clear signs that they are a narcissist, it can have long-lasting effects on the people in their lives.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition that affects just 1% of the population. This disorder is characterized by low self-esteem, a superiority complex, lacking empathy towards others, a constant need for admiration and praise from other people, abusive behavior, and manipulation.
Due to the nature of this mental health condition, those who suffer from it often cannot recognize it. If a person believes they are better than everyone and they have few faults, it is difficult to recognize that they have mental health problems and should speak with a therapist. Because of this, the disorder often goes undiagnosed and untreated in many people.
However, if a person who suffers from this disorder reaches out to get help, whether through in-person therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, online therapy, or going to a health professional, they may overcome their problems. By not recognizing the problem that exists and not seeking help, it is difficult to work through this disorder.
When involved in romantic relationships, those with NPD often assert their dominance over their spouse and engage in manipulative behaviors to gain emotional, physical, and financial control.
Types of Narcissistic People
There are several types of narcissism, and a person may exhibit a variation of these traits. For example, a cerebral narcissist, which is someone who feels superior because of their intelligence, may also have traits of a vulnerable narcissist amongst their peers, and have a fragile self-esteem. These traits may vary depending on the situation they are in, the people they are around, and their overall mental state.
Some different categories of narcissistic people include:
Grandiose narcissists are people who have an extreme sense of superiority. Often, narcissists have a mix of behaviors, which may be both grandiose and covert, depending on the situation. These people often have a superiority complex and believe their importance is above anyone else’s.
Often, grandiose narcissists engage in exploitative behavior, lack empathy, try to dominate others through their behaviors and words, and manipulate those they love. If you remain in a relationship with a grandiose narcissist, you may begin to feel inferior to them and place less value on your own views, progress, and achievements.
A vindictive narcissist is someone who wants to seek revenge and often inflicts harm upon others to boost their self-esteem. These types of people often get pleasure from humiliating others, particularly those who they are envious of or who have damaged their ego. Vindictive narcissists are often the most manipulative type of narcissists and can cause the most harm by staying in a relationship with them.
Some key characteristics of a vindictive narcissist include cruel behavior, revenge-seeking behavior, manipulation tactics, holding constant grudges towards those who they think have wronged them, a lack of boundaries, and a lack of remorse.
In comparison, covert narcissists are known as introverted or shy people. These types of people may hide their narcissism through vulnerability and modesty. You may be unaware of their narcissism at the beginning of your relationship. However, the longer you remain in the marriage, the more their characteristics will begin to show.
Some characteristics of covert narcissists include a victim mentality, engaging in self-pity, downplaying their achievements, fragile self-worth, extreme jealousy and envy toward others and their achievements, manipulative self-sacrifice, and a lack of empathy. These types of narcissists may also exclude themselves from society and isolate themselves from others.
What Are The Risks of Staying in a Relationship With a Narcissistic Spouse?
By staying with a narcissistic spouse that does not want to get help for their problems, you could put your own life and well-being at risk. The longer you stay married to a narcissistic person, the more difficult it may be to leave the relationship, particularly if there are children involved.
However, your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being should be your number one priority. Some major risks of staying in a relationship with a narcissistic spouse include:
Many narcissistic relationships involve abuse, including physical abuse, psychological abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Narcissistic abuse can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and physical well-being. Suffering constant manipulation, control, belittlement, and other forms of abuse can be extremely difficult.
Narcissistic abuse can often go in cycles, meaning that the victim may go through cycles of abuse and reconciliation. Often, victims feel trapped in these relationships because they hope their spouse will change and stay in the relationship with this hope. However, they are then subjected to abuse yet again.
Mental and Physical Health
Being with a narcissistic spouse can have a serious effect on your mental and physical health. Dealing with the highs and lows of their emotions, cycles of abuse and love-bombing, constant criticism and invalidation, and isolation from friends and family can cause serious emotional and psychological trauma.
Because of the abusive behavior of narcissists and their tendency to get irritated at you over small things, you may feel like you are constantly walking on eggshells around them. If you are constantly worried about triggering your spouse, you may develop anxiety and be more prone to panic attacks. You may also begin questioning your self-worth, which can make it more difficult to seek help.
Your mental health could suffer greatly if you cannot freely speak with your spouse about things and be honest about your feelings. People involved in narcissistic relationships have higher risks of developing depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and similar mental health problems.
Narcissists often use abusive and manipulative behavior to gain physical, emotional, and financial control over their partners. This manipulative behavior could include gaslighting, intimidation, placing labels on you, stonewalling you during arguments, exaggerating, and displacing.
If you are constantly being manipulated, belittled, and made to feel like you are in the wrong, it can seriously affect your mental well-being and self-esteem.
Risk to Future Relationships
By staying in a relationship with a narcissist, your view on what a healthy relationship is will likely change. It can be extremely difficult to recover from a relationship with a narcissist, particularly if you suffered psychological abuse, attacks on your self-esteem, and mental health problems because of the abuse.
Many victims feel trapped in abusive relationships because their self-esteem is completely damaged. With the help of a mental health professional and a strong support system, you should be able to recover from a marriage with a narcissist.
Effect on Children Involved
Being in an intimate relationship with a narcissist can affect not just you, but also any children involved in the relationship. If you have children together, and you live together, they may be exposed to your spouse’s abuse, which could include emotional abuse, physical violence, manipulation, a lack of empathy, and toxic behavior.
If your children are exposed to the emotional pain that you are feeling, this can have a huge effect on their emotional well-being. Your children may have a false view of healthy relationships and self-worth. If your spouse speaks down to your children, does not recognize their achievements, or is manipulative toward them, this can have a major effect on their well-being.
Isolation From Friends and Family Members
A key feature of narcissistic relationships is isolation from friends and family members. Often, narcissistic people try to isolate their partners from other people involved in their life, such as family members and close friends. This way, it is easier to take control of them and more difficult for them to reach out for help.
How to Know if I Am In a Narcissistic Relationship
It is often difficult to know if you are in a relationship with a narcissist. This is because many people do not want to believe that their partner is a narcissist, even if they have narcissistic traits and engage in emotional abuse. Also, narcissistic abusers will rarely admit they are narcissists, so you may need to figure it out yourself or try to discuss the subject with them.
Some things that are common in narcissistic relationships, however, include:
Love-bombing is very common in narcissistic relationships. This is when a person showers you with affection, gifts, and attention at the beginning of a relationship, giving an impression that they are the perfect partner. They may go over the top to show they care about you, such as buying you expensive gifts, spending lots of time with you, and creating a romanticized image of themselves.
However, once the initial period of a relationship passes, this behavior begins to change. People often hold on to this initial image of their partners and spend time hoping they will change back to this version of themselves, even when they display narcissistic traits.
A common symptom of NPD is constant attention-seeking. Often, narcissistic partners seek validation from other people and crave compliments, attention, and admiration regularly. They spend a lot of time talking about themselves and their achievements and expect their partners and friends to react positively and give them compliments.
Often, they will regard their achievements as better than yours and invalidate your progress and achievements. They may constantly feel the need to belittle things that their partners do to make themselves feel better. This can cause the other person in the relationship to feel hurt and invalid.
A narcissistic relationship often involves a lot of jealousy and envy. This could be jealousy of your relationship with other people, such as your interactions with co-workers, friends, and family members. Or your narcissistic spouse could be jealous of your achievements and success.
If your partner is reluctant to offer encouragement or support your achievements and criticizes your success, or if they are constantly jealous of your relationships and interactions with other people, they may have narcissistic traits.
Most narcissists suffer from low self-esteem, even if it may not seem like it through their grandiose behavior. However, if your partner seeks constant validation and admiration, and does not offer the same in return, it may be a sign they are a narcissist.
It is important to note that these behaviors do not always mean that a person has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). If there is a constant pattern of narcissistic behaviors that you have noticed for a long time in the marriage, and your partner displays many narcissistic traits, they may be a narcissist.
Our law firm recommends speaking with a professional about your relationship and the risks of staying in a relationship with your current partner.
Can a Narcissistic Partner Change?
A narcissistic partner can change. However, the change must come from themselves and it may not be possible for another person to change them. For narcissistic partners to change, they must first recognize that they have a problem and be willing to change it. This could mean speaking to you about their problem, seeking professional help, or talking with friends and family members.
If they do not recognize that they have a problem and do not want to speak with a therapist or another person about their narcissism, they may not change. It is not enough for their spouse to encourage them to change as they must put in the work themselves. Because of this, it may be extremely harmful to stay in a relationship with your spouse if they are not willing to change.
Contact Skillern Firm Today!
Staying in a relationship with a narcissistic spouse can have enormous risks to your well-being. If you are the victim of narcissistic abuse, suffer from isolation from your friends and family, have diminished self-worth, and are suffering mental health issues because of the marriage, consider leaving the relationship and seeking professional help.
Your own life should be your number one priority, which means that prioritizing your emotional well-being and mental health should be a top consideration. If there are children involved in the marriage, it may also be in their best interests to spend less time with the narcissistic spouse.
If you are married to a narcissist and considering divorce, contact Skillern Firm today. Our law firm can help you understand your legal rights, assess your options for leaving the marriage, and help you through the divorce process. We have a team of family attorneys that have experience with all areas of family law, including divorce, property division, child custody, and domestic violence.
We understand how emotionally damaging it is to remain in a relationship with a narcissistic person, and we want to do what we can to help.