If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you are already aware of how radically their personality and moods can change. You also know how charming they can be when they want to impress you. If you love them, it can be very difficult to leave them, and you may want to know if there is a way you can be happy despite their narcissism.
The truth is that it is very difficult to be happily married to a narcissist. It’s not impossible, but to be happy, it’s likely you will have to make the majority of the sacrifices and ignore a lot of bad behavior. Without therapy, most narcissists won’t change, so it will be all up to you.
To understand what it takes to live happily with a narcissist, there are several things you need to know about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). You also need to know what you will have to sacrifice to have a happy union. Then you need to determine if that’s something you’re willing to do. Let’s explore the possibilities of being happily married to your narcissistic spouse.
Can You Have a Happy Marriage with a Narcissist?
The problem with a narcissist is that they can’t feel empathy for anyone in their life, and because of their poorly developed identity, they must stay focused on their own needs. They have to worry so much about their own needs because they can’t prop up their own self-esteem.
They need other people to do that and to get them to do so, they use manipulation. That means they are often preoccupied with how they are going to get their much-needed narcissistic supply; too preoccupied, in fact, to be concerned about the needs of a partner.
This is the first thing that you have to accept as the partner of a narcissist. They don’t have the capacity to focus on your needs. But more than that, they are also going to expect that you will be focused on their needs, even to the exclusion of your own needs.
If you don’t focus exclusively on their needs or if you don’t do it to their satisfaction, that often triggers their rage. Additionally, they will always be trying to manipulate you to get what they need. They will gaslight you, lie to you, and use triangulation to get you to do the things they want you to do.
It’s also true that many narcissists have difficulty being faithful in a committed relationship. They have learned throughout their life that they need to cycle through people as they tire of the narcissist’s manipulation. For that reason, they will often seek out ‘backup relationships,’ or in other words, someone they can turn to if you leave them.
They can’t do without that precious narcissistic supply, and they need to feel as though that is secure even if their relationship with you is not. These behaviors are usually not compatible with a happy marriage.
Why Do Many Narcissists Appear So Happy in Their Marriage?
You might have noticed that many narcissists seem to be very happy in their marriage. You might even think that if anyone were to look at your own social media pages, the two of you would seem happy.
For the narcissist, everything is about their image. They aren’t usually concerned as much with what might be the truth as they are with how it appears to everyone around them. They need to be seen as superior, and that means they shouldn’t fail at anything, including their marriage.
As a result, they present a happy image to the world. They post pictures that show the two of you holding hands or walking on the beach or whatever else you enjoy doing together.
You might also have your own reasons for letting everyone think you’re happy. You might not be able to believe just how much your narcissistic partner has changed since you first met them. You might not be ready to tell family and friends that you’re having problems.
These motives work together to make it seem like the narcissist and their spouse are very happy. Even when things begin to fall apart, your narcissistic partner may continue to present a happy image to the rest of the world.
You’ve probably noticed that they are adept at doing this on a personal level. You might have had a terrible fight with them on the way to the party, but when they get there, they are easily able to act as though nothing has happened. It’s all about their image, and they will do almost anything to preserve it.
What Will You Have to Do to Keep the Marriage to a Narcissist Happy?
If you do decide that you can live with your narcissistic partner’s inability to be concerned about your needs, there are several other things you will need to understand about the relationship. The first thing you need to address is the manipulation a narcissist will use to try and control you.
To prevent your partner from manipulating you, you will need to identify, set, and maintain strong boundaries. You will need to make your partner aware of what is and what is not acceptable to you, and what will happen if they violate your boundaries.
You will also want to ensure you have a strong support network of loving family and friends who can help you process emotions and stay grounded in your reality. Your narcissistic partner will not be capable of doing this for you.
You will also need to make sure you have a way to get away from your partner on a regular basis so you can have a safe space where you are not being exposed to toxic behavior. This may mean spending time with your friends or family, or it may mean taking a walk by yourself in nature.
You will also need to pursue your own dreams without expecting support from your narcissistic partner. They want you to focus on their dreams, not your own, so you will have to have the strength of will to insist on focusing on your dreams.
It is important to avoid becoming codependent. This is where you just forget about your own needs and focus on your narcissistic partner. That is not a healthy relationship, and it’s unlikely to be a happy one. That’s why you have to insist that they respect your boundaries and continue to pursue your own purpose in life.
Expect the Best from Your Narcissistic Partner
With a narcissistic partner, it is easy to fall into a routine where you expect them to be self-absorbed. Life coach Laura Doyle, who is married to a narcissist, advises something different when she says, “… every woman I’ve ever seen who chose her faith that her husband is a good man over her fear that he was fatally flawed saw the NPD arrested.”
She argues that you should expect your spouse to be a loving, faithful, and good partner. If you do, they will rise to the occasion and you will experience a reduction in their narcissistic tendencies. For her, it has worked, but part of setting those expectations also involves giving your partner the loving attention you gave them in the beginning.
That is an important element of making any relationship work. You always have to look at your own behavior to ensure you’re doing your best to show them how you feel. It is complicated by a narcissistic partner, however, given that they see the world through such a distorted lens. That’s why you have to be very clear about what is your responsibility and what is their responsibility.
If there is something you need to work on, then you should take on that responsibility. But if, as is often the case with a narcissist, there is something your partner needs to work on, you will have to insist that they make a good faith attempt. When all is said and done, you’ll have to decide if the relationship is working for you.
If you feel satisfied and happy, then it is working for you, but if you’re not happy, you might need to make some difficult decisions.
What Should You Do If You Need to Leave Your Narcissistic Partner?
If you decide that your relationship is just not working, you’ll want to take certain steps to make the process go more smoothly. Breaking up with a narcissistic partner is often complicated. The first thing to do is make sure you have secured your own financial resources and that you have a good support network in place.
You’re going to need loving family and friends to support you through this process. You also want to make sure that you are clear about who will leave a shared residence and how you will ultimately divide the shared property. It’s good to have a plan in place because it is quite likely the narcissist will complicate the breakup.
If you have children, you’ll also want to think about how you will divide up custody. The best thing you can do if you decide to leave your narcissistic partner is to prepare yourself for the difficulties that lie ahead. You need a plan and some good friends to see you through.
Not many people are able to stay happily married to a narcissist. It’s not impossible, but it is difficult because of the nature of their personality disorder. Expecting them to behave better and showing your continued love and support can help, but you will have to set strong boundaries and be willing to focus on your own needs.
If you are married to a narcissist, you need to read this article about why they typically get married multiple times. There is valuable information about how narcissists behave in a relationship.
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