Narcissists are pathologically self entitled. There spouses are under-entitled. Some of them are treated like servants and accept these roles for decades, even at the expense of their physical, emotional and psychological health. The non-narcissistic spouse often doesn't know that he/she is married to such a seriously disturbed human being. They make excuses and blame themselves. After all, the narcissist is always finding fault with them rather than where it belongs---on them. Narcissists pick away at their husbands and wives, causing tremendous stress. Many of these victims suffer from extreme anxiety and depression. They are jumping out of their skins with worry, wondering when the next metal shoe will drop. "When will he start screaming at me again?" Will he wake me up again tonight and go into one of his tirades?" "Deep down I hate myself because I can't fulfill his wishes and demands." Over and over again are the self accusations that are propelled by the narcissist's constant verbal attacks. In some instances there is physical abuse as well. This is all kept very secret due to the narcissist's obsession with his golden image.
Once you have recognized that you are married to a narcissist you have a couple of options. You can try to stay in the marriage and learn how to remain psychologically distanced and detached from this person. That is very difficult. You can carve out a life of your own if that works with the marriage dynamics. Some couples do this. They are married in name only. The narcissistic spouse has a separate personal life. For most spouses it becomes impossible for them to stay married to the narcissist. They are becoming too depressed, stressed, terrified about the next foul display of rage. They decide to obtain a divorce. This is very scary but they learn that they are entitled to a life that belongs to them. Along the way some of them obtain quality psychotherapy and have the support of close friends to help them learn to self nurture and to recognize that they have value as unique individuals. After the divorce there is a healing process that takes place. This is not easy or automatic but so many ex-spouses of narcissists are so relieved that now they can take a deep breath, use their creative gifts, sleep through the night peacefully, voice their opinions openly and freely and celebrate their newly retrieved lives. Visit my website: thenarcissistinyourlife.com
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultation: United States and International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life