You might be wondering if there is any way you can help your narcissistic husband heal so that you can have a successful relationship with him. It won’t be an easy path, but there are some things you can do that can help as he seeks to heal from this condition. Read on to learn about five steps that you can take to support him through this process.
Types of Narcissism
In general, there are two kinds of narcissism: vulnerable narcissists and grandiose narcissists. Vulnerable narcissists are more subtle and introverted, and they will often criticize themselves in an effort to get you to disagree. They are, in effect, fishing for compliments.
Grandiose or exhibitionist narcissists, on the other hand, are what you typically think of when you think of a narcissist. They are the ones that are very outgoing and are frequently bragging about their accomplishments. They are also very overt in their efforts to demonstrate their superiority.
In general, grandiose narcissists tend to rate themselves as happier and they are more emotionally stable. Vulnerable narcissists are less emotionally stable and score higher with regard to traits of manipulation and psychopathy.
This matters because whether or not you can successfully help your narcissistic husband depends on whether you can handle the different manifestations of the condition. It also affects your ability to recognize manipulation tactics employed by the different types. The manipulation tactics of both types are distinctly different, and you must educate yourself to be of effective assistance.
Five Ways to Help
The first thing you have to realize about helping your narcissistic husband is that for anyone to change, they have to want to change themselves. Most narcissists require professional help to really change, but no matter how he is looking to heal, it will take patience and effort. You won’t be changing him, but you can support him as he is trying to heal from this difficult mental condition. Here are five ways to do that.
1. Determine His Kind of Narcissism
Whereas it’s easy to see a grandiose narcissist coming, a vulnerable narcissist is more subtle. You might have more difficulty understanding their emotions and that can affect your ability to be supportive as they try to heal. Knowing exactly what you’re dealing with is always the first step to helping.
2. Offer Encouragement and Validation
Your narcissistic husband is going to respond well to praise. As he is trying to heal, it will be important to recognize those efforts and encourage him to keep going. Given that it is this kind of validation he is seeking, this is a great way to help him feel motivated. That will increase the likelihood of his success.
3. Learn to Recognize Progress
It will take a great deal of patience to support your narcissistic husband as he is going through the healing process. There will still be many times when he will continue to employ narcissistic tactics to control or manipulate you.
You will begin to notice changes as he progresses through the healing process. You might see him attempting to control his outbursts or avoid manipulative behaviors. It’s important to recognize those improvements both so you can praise him for them and appreciate how they are affecting you as his partner.
This will help you to monitor progress in your relationship as well. You’ll be able to appreciate positive changes as well as understand what still has to happen in order for you to stay in the relationship.
4. Learn What it Looks Like when He Apologizes
As he is healing, there will be times he will need to make amends for past behavior. Narcissists typically have great difficulty in admitting wrongdoing and apologizing for that behavior.
Instead of coming right out and talking about it, your narcissistic husband might opt for a gesture of apology like a fancy dinner or some other treat. Learn to recognize when he’s doing that as a way to make up for past wrongs so that you can appreciate his effort.
It’s also important so that you can let him know if what he has done is enough or do you need to hear the words? Remember that while he might be trying to make up for past wrongs, you have to get your needs met in the relationship, too.
5. Maintain Your Boundaries
While you might be seeing some great improvements in the relationship, it’s important to keep those boundaries strong. It can be tempting to let things go especially when he’s been doing so much better for a while.
That’s a slippery slope though since even one boundary violation that goes unanswered can lead to more bad behavior on his part. It’s better to stick to your boundaries and enforce those consequences every time. That will also motivate him to keep up the good work in making positive changes.
Helping your narcissistic husband heal is a tall order; helping any narcissist to heal is a difficult task. If you’re committed to helping him through the healing process, you have to know it will take time and patience.
You’ll also have to take extra care of yourself as you both move through the changes this will cause in your relationship. You’ll need to remain aware of any attempts to revert to manipulative or controlling behaviors, you’ll need to be aware of any dishonesty and you’ll have to maintain strong boundaries to protect yourself from narcissistic abuse.
It is possible to heal from narcissism when the person involved is genuinely motivated to change in a positive way. It’s understandable that you want to help someone you love recover from this debilitating mental illness.
It’s important to remember that your husband likely developed this condition as a result of childhood trauma. Having compassion for that can help you go through the various stages of healing. No matter what, however, you’ll need to always take care of your own needs and be true to what you need to do to take care of yourself.
While you might be working on healing, there may come a time when you have to accept it just isn’t going to work. It’s helpful to know how to get out of a relationship in that case. You can learn about it in the article, “How To Get Out Of A Relationship With A Narcissist.”
If you want more tips for dealing with narcissists, setting boundaries, and managing emotional triggers, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel