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Many a woman who is dealing with a man suffering from narcissism, addictions, and who's also abusive, keeps thinking that some day, things are going to change for the better. Why do women think this way? I suspect because these narcissists who engage in emotional abuse and verbal abuse, but who are nonetheless successful professionally, often have many redeeming qualities. They probably wouldn't have achieved what they've achieved if they didn't have some, wouldn't you imagine?

Often, for instance, they are charming to others. I know, for example, that my spouse had many patients who adored him. In fact, as matters grew worse, I often wished that he'd just treat me like I was one of them rather than his wife. I thought this might make my life more pleasant and easier. Anyway, while there was a lot to like, his abuse and the repercussions of his addictions weren't some of them.

I'm sure you find yourself in a similar spot. There is so much good about this man you've loved--and probably still love--that you don't want to believe thing are hopeless. If you do as he wants or asks, maybe he'll appreciate it and find newfound appreciation for you, isn't that right?

In other words, maybe he'll change.

It's often easy to believe in this possibility because you remember the earlier days when he was charming. In fact, maybe he even bent over backwards to please you. Thus, you think, If I just try a little harder to please him, things might be okay.

Indeed, they probably are some of the time. But there are other times when they're very painful still, isn't that so? Plus you just don't know how much more of this you can take, isn't that true as well?

I know in my own marriage, I would think that I just couldn't take it anymore; I simply had to leave. But then my husband would calm down again. I'd decide things weren't that bad; it was all right to stay after all. And of course, that's what I wanted to do. I really didn't want to go out there and start over again on my own. Besides, I did love him. Furthermore, I believed in that nicer man side of him. I also wanted to believe it would ultimately be the victor, pushing this less desirable aspect of him aside. I failed to realize he was probably happy with himself just the way he was. He wasn't bothered by his Mr. Hyde side as I was.

Thus, of course, things would swing back. I'd find myself in the same quandary again. Well, and each time I'd feel more beaten down with less energy. In fact, I feared if I kept staying, the day might come when I wouldn't have the energy to leave, even if I knew that's basically what I had to do for my own emotional survival. What we have to face is that most men suffering from narcissism, men who are often abusive and whose abuse is further exacerbated by addictions such as alcoholism, are not likely to change. Even if he goes into treatment and gets sober, relapse is a very common problem. You might say it is more the norm than the exception. My spouse did get sober. However, he still was verbally abusive. Also, I knew that if he went back to drinking, things would probably only grow worse yet. I decided I couldn't handle living this way, always watchful and waiting for that shoe to drop.

You have to make your own choices. But a therapist might be able to help you. In fact, I used one to help me decide about leaving. I also used a different one to help me remain committed to that decision. You might well find this helpful, too.

Having said what I have, let me further explain something about men exhibiting narcissism. Once, the psychiatric community thought that people suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and most of them are men, actually) were incapable of change. Now, some of the top psychiatrists who deal with personality disorders will tell you differently; these men can be helped by therapy. But the thing is, again, most of them won't go into it. Perhaps they don't have the impetus to change as many of us women do, for example, because they don't suffer from that same level of emotional pain.

Rather, these men often feel their lives are going quite well, thank you very much. And why wouldn't they? They're usually manipulating others to get exactly what they want. Meanwhile, they give back very little in return. And since most narcissistic individuals see people as objects to be used, this doesn't bother their consciences, either. In fact, Conscious levels of guilt and shame aren't a problem for the narcissistic, although they are thought to be driven by shame at an unconscious level.

If your spouse is financially successful, he might buy you and the children things to keep you appeased. But he gives you little back emotionally, and that's part of the reason you feel so drained. After all, most of us truly want this more than all those material things. We often accept them, however, as substitutes when we don't have the other. Except in time, you might find they still can't fill the need for the lack of emotional intimacy. As a result, you become angry with your partner. In turn, he becomes angry with you. He sees you as ungrateful for all the material things he has provided throughout the years. Without help--and often years of ongoing therapeutic help at that--the man exhibiting narcissism, addictions, and abuse is unlikely to change and become that warm, loving, and supportive man you desire and probably believed you married. I know this isn't necessarily what you wanted to hear, but it is also in your best interest to start facing up to the probable truth of your situation. That way, you can make better choices in your own best interest.

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