The abusive man suffering from unhealthy levels of narcissism is manipulative, controlling, and domineering. To ensure he continually gets his way, he typically relies upon intimidation and fear. Thus, for example, the financially successful and powerful narcissist will often threaten his partner with withdrawal of resources. And he may well do this when she’s most counting on them being there, too.
Let me share an example of what could transpire that we might then label as economic abuse by the narcissist.
Imagine that a woman requires surgery for a life-threatening medical problem. Because her narcissistic spouse is self-employed and has a sizeable income, he also has a sizeable deductible on the family's health insurance policy as well. In fact, imagine that it's ten thousand dollars. Also, to date, the woman’s deductible hasn’t been met; the entire ten thousand dollars must be paid.
The husband, because he is driven by an unhealthy level of narcissism, tells his wife the deductible is her problem; he isn’t going to pay it. After all, he essentially could care less if she can come up with the needed money or not.
The wife simply doesn’t have the money. But then, her narcissistic husband's name is on all the bank accounts. Furthermore, in recent years, he’s only given her an allowance to cover household expenses—and it barely has done that, to be truthful. Then, as if this is not enough for her to have to deal with, this narcissistic man has made her account for basically every dollar she has had occasion to spend--and has even required that she hand back to him any extra money she might have from being careful with the money. As a result, she hasn't had the opportunity to save ten thousand dollars.
That all said, money was never an issue in the past. While it is true that this wife sometimes had to beg her narcissistic husband for whatever she needed as well as wanted, he ultimately always paid despite being an abusive narcissist in other ways.
Needless to say, this woman's anxiety goes up exponentially. While it was already high because of the medical problem she had been facing and the uncertainty about her future, now she has that hefty deductible staring her in the face--something she had never considered as a potential problem because she knew her husband could well afford it.
The narcissist's wife tries not to worry because she suspects this will only exacerbate her poor medical condition. But she hardly knows how to stop herself since her life is possibly on the line and yet, her husband doesn't seem to recognize this.
Or, could it be he just doesn’t care?
Extremely upset about what to do, this woman lays aside feelings of embarrassment and shame. She shares her plight with a friend with whom she has never shared the realities of her life before. But she feels so desperate!
“Why don’t you put it on a credit card and present your husband with the bill later? Maybe at that time, he’ll go ahead and pay it without saying another word. In other words, if he's anything like my husband, if he’s having a down month, he wants to hold off paying any of the major bills until things turn around again."
Of course, this friend's husband is nothing like that of our woman married to an abusive narcissist.
The woman stares hard at her friend and sputters, “My husband just cut up the only credit card I could have used for this. He said I wasn’t being a good steward of his money. Can you believe that when I have hardly spend a dine on anything that doesn’t help me maintain the type of image he wants me to project—to flaunt his success to the community, that is.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” the friend replies before letting out a short and tight laugh. “Well, your taste is certainly much better than mine,” she adds.
The narcissist's wife spits out, “But my clothes represent my husband’s taste, not mine. In fact, do you know that my husband picks out essentially everything that I wear?”
“And I thought you had a perfect marriage." A head of thick brown hair moves to and fro.
"Because my narcissistic husband insists that I always project that image.” the wife shouts back. “My husband wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says, and then falls silent. Her friend appears speechless as well.
How does this story end? Well, let’s say that the woman's narcissistic husband finally agrees to pay the health insurance deductible. However, when she tries to hug her husband to hank him, he pushes her away and says, "You’re acting like you didn’t expect me to pay that deductible. How could you think such a thing about me?”
“Well, you said—”
“Don’t try and tell me what I said. I told you I wouldn’t pay it right then, but I never said that I wouldn’t pay.” His voice gets louder. “I just didn’t want you or them having my money any sooner than necessary.”
Needless to say, any feelings of relief the woman was experiencing quickly slip away--as she feels the sting of her husband’s words. But the thing is, her narcissistic husband doesn't stop there, either. He goes on to give his wife grief about not trusting him. He points a finger in her face and asks," What in the hell have I ever done to deserve this type of treatment—you acting as if I would deprive you of needed medical care? But
The wife begins to shuffle out of the room without saying anything—merely hoping that any tears will remain at bay--at least until she has reached the hallway.
"Yeah, slink away like you're always doing," he r narcissistic husband shouts after her. "Since you're one impossible bitch to satisfy, I don't want to see your face anyway.” He only pauses momentarily before he adds, “Too bad this surgery won't improve your personality. That’s what you really need—to be able to show a little gratitude now and then.”
Tears of frustration begin to flow. Wasn’t that what she was trying to show when he twisted everything—to make her wrong and the selfish one once again?
Okay now, here’s something for you to think bout. Let’s assume that you had a friend who relayed such a scenario to you. Wouldn't you imagine that any release of anxiety your friend felt, after being told by her husband that he would cover the deductible, was merely momentary? Don’t you suspect it would be destroyed by the nonverbal message that her narcissistic husband seemed to be sending her—such as that he yielded complete power over her? Furthermore, if she wanted to have her needs for things such as medical care met, don’t you suspect that she would now realize that she’d best do everything he asked of her--and do it with gratitude and respect?
Sadly, men exhibiting unhealthy levels of narcissism, through the fear they create in their partners through tactics such as economic abuse, can get their partners to meet their narcissistic hearts’ desires. Meanwhile, both the women’s needs and wants may not only be downplayed, but outright ignored. And sometimes, women even die of such neglect while their narcissistic spouses live on unconcerned about the consequences of their actions.
Don’t let yourself be one of these women. Recognize the abuse for what it is. Label it properly.