A narcissistic husband can be very difficult to live with, given his inability to empathize with his spouse’s needs. Narcissists are famous for lacking empathy, which means they don’t understand how their actions affect their loved ones.
They believe their loved ones should be doing their best to glorify the narcissist. They often feel entitled to a certain level of respect. But they are offended by the slightest disagreement or pushback on their agenda. That makes it tricky for loved ones to navigate the emotional minefield that is part of living with a narcissist.
A narcissistic husband can be extremely volatile and even dangerous, which is why you have to take proactive steps to protect yourself. You have to document everything, set strong boundaries, and be prepared to call for help if that becomes necessary. You also have to practice good self-care.
The family with a narcissistic member is full of chaos and unpredictability. My narcissistic mother always kept all of us guessing since we never knew what she would do next or how she would react to the daily challenges of family life. The spouse of a narcissistic husband lives with the same unpredictability and volatile atmosphere.
Narcissists view the world through a distorted lens, and they respond to perceived threats with an eruption of rage that is designed to intimidate and distract. It can be a very effective strategy, and it’s important to know how you can protect yourself from this kind of emotional violence. Read on to learn more about how a narcissistic husband behaves and how you can protect yourself.
Why Does a Narcissistic Husband Behave so Unpredictably?
Narcissists live in almost constant fear that someone will reveal the ugly truth about their real nature. On a deep level, they believe themselves to be hopelessly flawed, and they fear that will be revealed to the world.
They are constantly guarding against that happening. They become hypervigilant and, as a result, hypersensitive. They are fearful of any true intimacy because someone who can get that close can easily reveal the narcissist’s flawed self.
The narcissist keeps even a spouse at a distance. This is part of why they behave in such an unpredictable nature. It’s a technique they can use to confuse and distract anyone from getting too close. They obfuscate their spouse and other family members to keep them from even wanting to get closer.
“Relationship with a narcissist in a nutshell: You will go from being the perfect love of their life to nothing you do is ever good enough. You will give everything, and they will take it all and give you less and less in return. You will end up depleted, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and probably financially, and then get blamed for it.”
— Bree Bonchay, Psychotherapist and trauma expert
For the spouse of a narcissistic husband, it’s a minefield they have to navigate on a daily basis. They must walk on eggshells to keep from setting their narcissistic spouse off. It creates an atmosphere of distrust and fear, and it prevents any true growth in the relationship. You absolutely need to watch the following video for more information about how a narcissist treats his wife.
What Kind of People Do Narcissists Marry?
When we talk about how badly a narcissistic husband behaves in a relationship, you might think they marry people who are weak or submissive. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Narcissists often seek and marry successful people who are confident in themselves. They are typically successful individuals with a full life. So why do they marry a narcissist?
The answer lies in how the narcissist initially presents themselves. They seem to be supportive and loving, and they are very interested in learning everything they can about you. This is what is known as the idealization stage of a relationship with a narcissist.
They put you on a pedestal and seem to be supportive of everything you do and want in life. In reality, they are taking this time to learn everything they can about you, most notably any weaknesses you may have.
They set up unrealistic expectations for you, and when you are unable to meet those expectations (no one could), they begin to devalue you. By this point in time, you may be in love with the narcissist.
You might find yourself confused. It’s not uncommon for the spouse of a narcissist to say they initially thought they had met their soulmate, and when they began to see their true character, they had difficulty reconciling that with the person they fell in love with.
Will a Narcissistic Husband Physically Abuse You?
While not all narcissistic husbands abuse their spouses physically, it is certainly a possibility. The sudden, explosive nature of their narcissistic rage can easily lead to physical abuse.
There are a number of possible signs that a narcissistic husband might become physically abusive, including the following:
- Extreme jealousy
- Violence toward pets
- Attempts to isolate you
- Oversharing and expecting you to do the same
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality changes
While these signs might not result in physical abuse, they are red flags that someone is attempting to control you, and they can ultimately result in physical violence.
How Can You Protect Yourself from a Narcissistic Husband?
If you believe you have a narcissistic husband, and whether he is physically violent or not, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself. It’s important to realize that you don’t deserve the way you’re being treated, and you should always keep the option of leaving him on the table.
Here are several things you can do to protect yourself from your narcissistic husband.
Manage Your Expectations
The first thing you need to do to have a better relationship with a narcissistic husband is to manage your expectations for the relationship. Your husband will never be able to empathize with your needs, nor will they be able to recognize your good character traits.
Narcissists also fear intimacy, so they won’t be able to get close to you in the way you might expect a spouse to be. These are needs you will have to get met through other relationships.
Moreover, your narcissistic husband will need you to compliment them in just about every way possible. If you aren’t able to tell them how great they are almost constantly, they will perceive it as offensive.
To continue in the marriage, you have to know that your narcissistic husband will not change, and you will have to manage your expectations. It’s not fair, for sure, but it is the reality of the situation.
Your narcissistic husband can never take responsibility for anything that goes wrong because it threatens his already fragile self-esteem. He can’t focus on what you need because he is too busy managing his own needs related to propping up his self-esteem.
When you need someone to prop up your self-esteem or help you with a problem, you’ll have to turn to someone else in your life. Your narcissistic husband won’t be able to help with that kind of thing.
Be a Grey Rock
If you give the narcissist what they want, they will keep pushing those buttons. When you stop reacting, they lose interest and move on to someone else.
According to psychologist Marney White, the grey rock method “involves becoming as uninteresting and unengaged as possible so that the abusive person loses interest.”
That’s the grey rock method. It can be difficult because you have to control your own normal reactions, but if you can do it, it can be remarkably effective.
It also prevents the narcissist from accumulating more ammunition they can use against you. They have already learned too much about what bothers you, and each time you react emotionally, you give them more ammunition to be used against you as a manipulation tool.
When you get your own reactions under control, you deny them that advantage. That doesn’t mean they won’t keep trying, but as long as you don’t react, they will have no choice but to change tactics or move on to someone else.
Revise Your Communication Strategy
It’s important to understand how to talk to your narcissistic husband. You need to keep your tone neutral and try not to waffle on your position. You should also avoid debating or defending yourself.
Your narcissistic husband will see any debate, justification, or attempts to defend yourself as a weakness. They will perceive it as you realizing that there is a weakness in your argument. If you waffle at all on your position, they will see that as you admitting the fallacy of your argument.
You also need to be extremely clear in what you’re saying. If you leave any room for interpretation, your narcissistic husband will exploit that. He will always interpret it through his distorted lens, and it won’t be even close to what you intended to say.
It’s also important to stand your ground. Once you’ve decided on a course of action, don’t back down. Narcissists only respect strength. While you might think you’re being reasonable and open to changing your mind if he can persuade you to do so, he sees that as you being indecisive because your argument is weak.
It’s not a satisfying answer, but the reality is that once your narcissistic husband sees you backing off of your position, he will push even harder for his side of the debate. He won’t be listening in a reasonable way, and he won’t be open to compromise just because you are.
Encourage Your Children to Speak Openly with You
Narcissistic husbands will often try to use your own children against you. Narcissists of all kinds love to use triangulation to undermine relationships. They will tell you one thing and someone else a different story altogether.
They will do this with their own children as well. Rather than wasting your breath by trying to convince your narcissistic husband of the virtues of responsible co-parenting, it’s better to let your children know that you are willing to talk about any concerns they have.
You should encourage them to speak openly to you about anything they hear about you that disturbs them. That way, you can address any claims your narcissistic husband makes about you before they start to interfere with your relationship.
Let them know that you understand they might hear things that make them uncomfortable, even from their own father, but you are willing to be open and honest with them about anything they hear. You also want to let them know that they can come to you with anything their father does that makes them feel uncomfortable or frightened.
The children of a narcissistic father often experience a sense of isolation and unworthiness that can undermine their self-esteem and damage their sense of identity. Knowing that they can come to you with any concerns can help them overcome that kind of emotional abuse before it causes long-term damage.
Trust Your Gut
When something doesn’t feel right, listen to that intuition. Narcissists love to use gaslighting to make you doubt your own interpretations and sense of reality. They can make you feel as though you’re going crazy, but it’s not you; it’s them.
Learn how to trust your gut when you sense that something is not right. Believe in yourself and listen to that inner voice that’s warning you. If you let the narcissist make you doubt yourself, you are at risk of falling into a pattern of codependency.
Codependent people put their own needs on hold to appease an abusive person in their life. They become people pleasers who are just trying to keep the peace. Unfortunately, with a narcissist, there is no keeping the peace.
No matter what you do, it won’t ever be enough. Even if you devoted every waking minute to trying to please your narcissistic husband, he wouldn’t be satisfied. The sooner you realize that the better off you will be.
Set and Maintain Clear Limits
Narcissists don’t even know what boundaries are, and they certainly don’t respect them. Most narcissists weren’t allowed to have any boundaries as a child, so they never learned about respecting other people’s limits.
They see most people as mere extensions of their own identity, so they don’t think they should have boundaries. They believe they should be able to intrude on any part of your life, and they will do just that unless you put a stop to it.
Only you can decide what your limits are, but when you do, determine the consequences you will enforce for any boundary violations. Then you can give the narcissist a written copy of the boundary and the consequences for violations.
Examples of Boundaries and Consequences for Violations…
|Boundary||Consequence for Violations|
|Yelling||We will take a break until you can speak in a normal tone of voice.|
|Calling me names||I will end the conversation.|
|Lying||We will separate until you can be honest.|
|Jealousy||I will not be controlled by your unreasonable jealousy. I will have my own friends, and if you cannot handle that, you are putting our relationship in jeopardy.|
|Cheating||I will end our relationship.|
|Physical abuse||I will call the police and press charges.|
Keep your boundaries and the consequences clear. Don’t leave your narcissistic husband any wriggle room to interpret what you’re communicating. If you do, he will exploit that as a weakness.
Take Time Away
When you have a narcissistic husband in your life, you’re going to need some time away from him to recharge your batteries and refresh yourself. It’s important that you take the time you need.
It can be exhausting to be around a narcissist for any length of time. Their distorted view of the world can be confusing and draining. That’s why you need to get away from time to time.
Take a weekend to spend with friends or even just take a walk out in nature without him by your side. You will need that precious time to yourself to recharge your batteries.
You also want to engage in other self-care practices, such as getting regular exercise or meditation. These are vital for your emotional and physical well-being.
If you plan on staying in the relationship, you will have to take good care of yourself, and that means taking the time to do the things that matter to you. Your narcissistic husband will not be able to focus on your needs or your desires, so you have to do that for yourself.
Leave Leaving on the Table
No matter what happens, you always have to leave the possibility of ending the relationship on the table. Most relationships with narcissists don’t work out because of the constant criticism they heap on their partners and their emotional abuse.
The only way the relationship can work in a healthy way is if you stand firm by your principles and clearly communicate your needs. You have to take responsibility for ensuring your needs are met.
You can’t assume your narcissistic husband will ever change, so you have to decide if you can live with him the way he is for the rest of your life. You simply must leave the option of ending the relationship on the table for your own good.
As part of that, you may need to go no contact with him. Narcissists have a way of coming back into your life, time and again, even years after a breakup. If you do elect to leave him, you’ll want to take the following steps to make it as easy as possible:
- Get your finances separated before you leave
- Document everything
- Arrange for legal representation
- Make any necessary living arrangements
- Prepare your children
- Only talk to him through a third party
- Block him on social media
Be Ready to Take Legal Measures
While not all narcissists are physically violent, it is a possibility. You want to make sure that you are prepared to take the appropriate legal measures to protect yourself and your children.
This may mean getting a restraining order against your narcissistic husband or even taking up refuge in a shelter for battered partners. You may also have to call the police and be prepared to press charges against your husband.
No one should ever have to live with a violent spouse, and you certainly don’t want to expose your children to such violence. Remember that by taking this kind of action, you are not just protecting yourself but other members of your family and any women who might be in your toxic husband’s future.
It is an act of heroism to take the necessary steps to prevent any further physical violence against you and your family. It is never acceptable for anyone to abuse you physically. You never deserve that, and it is never your fault.
Your narcissistic husband will not want to take responsibility for his abusive actions, and he may try to blame you, but don’t fall for it. Physical abuse is never the victim’s fault, and you need to do everything you can to hold him accountable so that he will think twice before doing something like that again.
Don’t be afraid to call the police, press charges, get a restraining order, and get yourself and your children out of that dangerous situation. This video has some great advice for divorcing a narcissistic husband.
Life with a narcissistic husband is full of abusive manipulation and attempts to control you. You must take the appropriate steps to protect yourself and other family members from his toxicity.
Controlling your reactions is a key way to prevent his abuse, but that can be difficult to do. Many people suffer from the consequences of emotional wounds they suffered early in life. These can be used to manipulate and control them.
I’ve created a 5-Step Roadmap to Heal Emotional Triggers that can help you identify your emotional triggers and defuse them so that others can’t use them to control you. This handy guide will help you identify, defuse, and heal emotional wounds, and it’s free! Just click here, and I’ll send a copy directly to your inbox.
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