Sometimes the charm of a narcissist inhibits your client from seeing the narcissism. When your client first met their spouse, there was something about them that was enticing. It seemed like an irresistible pull to someone who so perfectly matched their needs and wants. However, the fairy tale engagement and marriage came to an abrupt halt the day they walked down the aisle.
The narcissistic spouse said your client changed and they believed. So desperate to return back to the fairy tale, they became whatever the narcissist demanded. But it was not enough. The more your client acquiesce, the more ultimatums surface.
Desperate to find another solution, your client finally begin to look at their spouse’s behavior. Could they be narcissistic? What does a narcissistic spouse even look like? Here are some signals to discuss with your clients. Does the narcissist…
- Expects you to meet their needs at all times? You are required to anticipate what, how, and when they need admiration and adoration. This is a one-way street where you give, they take but they don’t give in return.
- Projects their negative characteristics onto you? They say you are needy, never satisfied, ungrateful for all they do, and have unreasonable expectations. Yet your friends and family have not verbalized any such complaints about you.
- Get jealous of anyone or thing that has your attention over them? This includes children, pets, friends, family and occupation. Their jealousy triggers intense rage and sometimes violence for which you are subsequently blamed.
- Provoke you to leave by being cruel during an argument? This accomplishes two things: it verifies that you will in fact one day abandon them and it sets the narcissist up to be the victim. Either way, the narcissist has gained more ammunition to use against you.
- Punish you with abuse or neglect? The abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or psychological. Or they will withhold love, attention, support, and communication. There is nothing unconditional about their love, it is very performance driven.
- Threaten abandonment if you don’t comply with their wishes? Most likely, you have abandonment issues, which is why the narcissist targeted you for marriage in the first place. Your fear of abandonment will keep you in the relationship longer.
- Uses remorse as a manipulation tool? Real remorse takes time to implement in order for trust to be regained. The narcissist will expect an immediate return to the same level of trust as before.
Once the spouse is identified as a narcissist, help your client to understand the disorder. This is not a situation where they can go at it alone. They will need your perspective as a third party to assist in handling their spouse.