Dealing with a narcissist spouse

Narcissists can be male or female. When your spouse is narcissist, the relationship gets somewhat daunting. PHOTO/internet

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Experts describe narcissism as a personality disorder where one has a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for excessive admiration and the belief that they are unique and deserving of special treatment. Most of us have at one point or another displayed at least one narcissistic trait.  Although they are considered narcissistic behaviours, the difference from someone with narcissism personality disorder (NDP) is in severity, frequency and duration. So how do you know your partner is suffering from NDP? 


Your partner wants to run your life. They want to tell when you can visit friends or family. What clothes to wear and which places to go to. In most cases it is not for your own welfare but rather how these activities will affect them. “It is understandable when your partner wants to spend more time with you but when they dictate on whom you can or cannot interact with, this is a cause for concern.  A narcissistic spouse will do their best to isolate you so that they are the centre of your world,” Nancy Kakembo, a relationship counsellor says.

Conversation monopoly

Because narcissists believe their perspective is superior to everyone else’s, they will always want to take over every conversation. They will often talk over or interrupt other people to ensure their point of view is heard, irrespective of what others have to say. “In some cases, the interruption is simply to talk about themselves. While this may also happen when someone is trying to validate themselves or make a correction, for narcissists it is akin to compulsion; trying whatever they can to cower others. They are also only driven to draw attention to themselves because they lack empathy and regard for others,” Susan Nabbosa, a counsellor says.

Rules do not apply to me

Every society is governed by laws and there are repercussions for going against them. However, in the case of a narcissist, they believe rules apply to others but them. “For example, they can violate traffic rules, be late for work or do sloppy work and believe they will get away with it. In short, a narcissist believes they are special and above the law,” Kakembo explains.

You pay for going against their thought plan

While they continuously go against the rule, they do not expect you to do the same. In fact, should you defy their rules, you need to prepare for an attack against you. “For instance, they quickly notice narcissistic tendencies towards them and will quickly point them out. And as is with trying to live amicably, someone will try to make peace with them. Unfortunately, these individuals will always hit back so hard and each rebuttal will be harder than the first. Say, if you broke up with them and are willing to make amends, you will be certain to face another uproar, worse than the first,” she says.

Catalysts for bitter relationships

A narcissist is always seeking pity from others at their expense. Unfortunately, in their quest for sympathy, they have no problem damaging other people’s reputations.  “For example, one may say, you treat me so badly and everyone has noticed it. That is why Jane told me to let you be. Unfortunately, most times the Jane in question has no idea about this conversation,” Nabbosa says.

Fixated about appearances

Always desirous of being the centre of attraction and attention, a narcissist partner is obsessed with their looks. Apart from spending hours in the mirror, they are constantly adjusting and fixing their appearance. “Therefore, they will try to talk about their new hair cut or hairstyle and their body types among others. It gets so bad when the narcissist is a parent because apart from bullying their spouse should even a strand of hair go out of order, they will bully their children when they do not measure up to their standards,” she says. Nabbosa adds that in all this, the narcissist will not expect or ever agree that anyone else can look better than they do.


It might be tempting to evaluate your partner based on this information, but in reality, narcissism goes far beyond a few behaviors or attitudes. If you think your spouse has NDP encourage them to visit a psychiatrist, psychologist or another mental health professional typically for a diagnosis. People can manage NPD symptoms by staying in therapy long term. Treatment can help regulate emotions and change hurtful behaviors to healthy ones.