How to Cope with a Narcissist Spouse

Most advice you will read about a narcissistic spouse is about why you should leave them. While many people follow this advice and you have every right to leave a marriage that is not healthy, there are situations when some decide to stay with a mentally unwell spouse and make things work with them. Leaving a partner might not be an option for some people who might have kids together, who still love their partner, or are sincere adherents to a religious faith that forbids divorce and expects people to stay married for life. In situations like these, you will benefit from knowing how people with narcissistic personality disorder think and how you can best deal with them.

What is narcissism?

Narcissism is a self-esteem regulation disorder that makes the individual insecure regarding their outlook. They tend to cover this insecurity by projecting an image that is arrogant and self-centered, while their inner world is insecure and unstable.

How to deal with a narcissistic partner?

To deal better with a narcissistic partner, keep the following guidelines in mind:

Don’t compete with them

Narcissism involves self-centered thinking that makes your partner crave control and attention at all times. Instead of trying to outdo them, let things go. Try to stay zen and have a sense of humor. Don’t compete with them- give them the attention they desperately crave whenever you feel like they want it and you can spare it. You may seek out other relationships that are more equitable so you can still get your needs met. 

Pick your battles wisely and save your energy

It is important to recognize that there is often no “grey area” for narcissistic people. They tend to favor extremes- there is an absolute yes and an absolute no for them. So whenever a situation comes up where you notice this type of behavior, acknowledge their mood. If they are in a negative space, then try to avoid trouble and don’t get into any debates in them. Narcissists are high conflict people, and getting into scuffles with them will result in messy arguments that waste your time and energy. Even when you know they are wrong, the best option is to leave it be. 

Maintain a neutral affect

Your emotions have the power to make any situation into a more or less favorable one. A common personality trait of people with narcissism is they like watching people suffer, and an overly emotive person can seem like easy prey to a narcissist. Avoid emotional displays that feed your partner’s masochism. When you maintain a neutral state even in troublesome situations and choose not to give them a reaction, the frequency of the narcissistic outbursts can lessen in some cases.

Don’t lose yourself

It is easy to lose track of your own goals when a narcissist takes the spotlight. They will make everything about themselves, which can put you into the shadows. Instead of feeling little and giving up on goals you have as an individual, take time away for things that belong to you. Find a balance between your relationship and other aspects of your life.

Final word

It’s easy to get hopeless when dealing with a narcissistic partner. At the end of the day, it is totally up to you whether to stay or go. Only you can decide what you will do, and you are allowed to leave if you decide that’s best. But if you do decide to stay, keeping a level head, staying in touch with yourself and getting your own needs met outside the relationship if necessary, and being smart enough to outwit silly and sadistic narcissistic behaviors is the best way to stay sane. 

Our Firm Specializes in Southern California Divorces Complicated by Mental Illness, Including Narcissism.

Do you have a divorce or family law question?

Call our office today at (949) 363-5551. We specialize in helping clients who have divorce and family law matters complicated by mental illness. John A. Bledsoe is Orange County’s premier divorce attorney and a certified family law specialist. Our firm offers a confidential initial case evaluation.  to learn more.

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