I am writing this after just reading an article written by a man who’s a marriage coach. I always like the articles he writes. He has some great things to say, and he puts them in a way that people can readily absorb. Yes, he has some sound advice for improving one's marriage.
Well, most marriages, that is.
Narcissism, Addictions & Abuse will Shape Your Marriage
When you’re married to someone exhibiting unhealthy narcissism who also has problems with addictions and is abusive toward you, you're not in a normal or average marriage. And while you might want to read articles such as this marital coach's, and then try the techniques he recommends, you’ll likely discover they don’t work. I know,
marital therapists and coaches are typically saying that it takes two to tango. Sure, this certainly suggests that both parties have some responsibility for the quality of the marriage. But while that’s generally true, when your spouse has problems with narcissism, addictions, and abuse, it’s simply a different story. Trust me, you're living the exception to the rule.
Do you ever watch Dr. Phil? If so, you know that Dr. Phil labels alcoholism, addictions, and abusive behaviors as deal breakers. He may not talk about the personality disorders that often coexist with these problems and, for that matter, might be the reason the person developed these deal-breaking problems in the first place. He just wants you to realize you can't expect to have a healthy relationship when your partner exhibits these problems. Thus, while you might have stood before others and expressed vows that indicated you’d see this man through better and worse, or remain with him until his dying day, you might want to think twice about choosing to spend the rest of your life with someone who will likely continue to behave in the same ways indefinitely.
Okay, I understand that you might take such vows very seriously. In fact, perhaps you've been with your narcissistic spouse for years now for this very reason. But what have you been enduring as a result? Have you been suffering verbal or emotional or psychological or economic or sexual abuse, for exanple? Also, while you've remained true to your word—proving yourself to be a trustworthy person—has your husband been honoring his vows as well?
If he hasn't been doing so, please don't expect that he's going to do so in the future. Truly, his mental health issues make this a near impossibility. After all, when one suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (or even just a pathological level of narcissism, without being diagnosable as having the actual personality disorder), it isn’t as if the person can just keep taking a medication daily and, as a result, perform in a fairly normal manner. It would be wonderful if that was the case, But since it isn't, you should expect to continue to suffer his abuse. Furthermore, your children will grow up in a toxic environment.
While it is honorable to follow through on commitments you've made—and I'd typically encourage people to do so--do you truly believe that in this case, you absolutely must do so? I'd suggest to you that under these circumstances, it isn't necessary. But I recognize there are some people who might feel that to do anything other than to honor their vows is something they simply can not fathom doing for religious or other reasons. In such a case, you might be able to tolerate all you face knowing that by doing so, you are living as what you likely perceive to be your highest and best self. Sadly, though, your husband will probably not shower you with his respect for doing so. Hence, you may need to keep reminding yourself that this is what you've consciously chosen to make you and your life about henceforth.
With the Narcissist, You Won't have a Foundation of Trust
Referring back to the marriage coach I referenced at the start of this article, let me say that I was reminded by something he wrote about the importance of trust with regard to a solid and healthy relationship. However, in a marriage where narcissism, addictions, and abuse are present, trust simply will never be there. Again, mental health issues will cause your partner to behave in ways that ensure you can’t trust him. Furthermore, it's in your own best interest not to do so, either.
Of course, it's both emotionally painful and crazy-making to cope with a relationship devoid of trust. Certainly, you lose the predictability and stability that trust provides. This is detrimental enough in itself. But there 's even more that's disturbing. After all, most of us want to be trusting people. As a result, we often don’t feel good about ourselves when we don’t trust. But again, when you have a partner exhibiting narcissism, addictions, and abuse, you're put into a position where you shouldn't trust. Such a partner is not trustworthy, and to believe otherwise sets you up for further problems and hurt.
There's something else that happens in these relationships, too. When the man isn't trustworthy because basically his narcissism and addictions propel him into untrustworthy behaviors, he often will assume his partner is behaving similarly. He projects something he disowns about himself onto her. Realize, then, that no matter how consistent you are in your own behaviors, or no matter how hard you try to prove that you can be trusted, your husband will probably act like you aren’t trustworthy. In fact, he might even angrily accuse you of letting him down regularly—when you know you've done no such thing.
So I pose the question to you again: Why should you be condemned to live out your life in a marriage with no foundation—a marriage that can crash and crush you at any time? Well, what Dr. Phil has said, and what I'll tell you as well, is that you shouldn't feel compelled to do this. It is okay, under these circumstances, not to continue to honor your wedding vow. It does not make you a bad person. It does not make you untrustworthy. It doesn't make you unworthy of love.
The narcissist know how to get his needs met. Perhaps it's time you learned how to get yours met, too?