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Is My Husband a Narcissist?

From the U.S.: First, I’m a survivor of a narcissistic parent. I’ve since recognized it, found a way to deal and stopped blaming myself. After over 10 years of marriage and 3 children, I’m now wondering if my husband is also a narcissist and emotionally abusing me because many things he does are just like what my parent did.

On a regular basis:

He blames me for things I had no control or even he did – the way I looked at him made him anxious so he yelled at me; he was rear-ended by another car because he had to take the kids to an activity he disliked.

He sulks for no reason. Silence treatment was the worst experience for me as a child, so I react emotionally. When the reason finally comes out, it’s usually because I don’t have enough sex with him and I’m projecting my past experience on him.

He makes everything I don’t do according to him as contemptuous – I don’t listen as oppose to I didn’t hear, even when he is speaking softly away from me.

He gets unreasonably angry toward the kids when they make very minor accidental mistakes by yelling, spanking, swearing, name-calling. He is otherwise good to them.

He gets very sarcastic when I point out how he treats me by saying “I should stab myself in the heart” or alike.

He thinks the impact of my childhood experience should not burden him in any way.

He doesn’t change his ways and would get angry at me and the kids for causing delay, and then says he is only mad at the situation and don’t take it personally.

He doesn’t respond when I consult him with ideas repeatedly, and when I eventually make the decision, he is very upset that I did it without him, and blame me for any unfavorable outcomes.

More concerning less frequent occurrence:

Gave me an ultimatum – he would not do something unless I have sex with him.

Consistently disapprove of me and the kids going to visit a very important friend who lives out of state. I still have gone on those trips but he makes me feel guilty.

He chased me down aggressively when I wanted to leave an argument, but no violence.

He watched me as I cried and mocked me.

He called me an narcissist!

Much more to list but no room. Thanks!

I don’t know if he is a narcissist. I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of only a letter. But I can share your concern that you have put up with these behaviors because you were so well trained to do so by your narcissistic father. If so, don’t be hard on yourself. We are all drawn to what is most familiar, even when the familiar isn’t what is good for us.

Only you can decide if your husband’s positive qualities outweigh the many hurtful things he does and says. The behaviors you describe are not the behaviors of someone who loves and cherishes his wife. But it may be that he is highly anxious himself and tries to manage that anxiety by being as in control of a situation as he can be.

It may be helpful for the two of you to go to couples counseling for a few sessions to sort that out and to address some of the patterns in your relationship that are so difficult for you.

If he won’t go, please go yourself. I think you would find it helpful to talk through any confusions you have about whether he is hurtful or if you are over-reactive due to your history with your parents.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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