Wow, we had a pretty lively dialogue with Counselor Tim last week and I’m trusting he has seen and learned some things about himself from listening to all of you. But I’m also wondering if you have seen and learned some things about yourselves as a result of your interaction with him?
Tim was a total stranger to you – to me too. All we knew about him is what I told you and what he said. Yet some of you saw him as the enemy. How come?
We live in a very scary culture where differences of opinions or thoughts are vilified even when we claim to be on the same side of an issue. We’ve seen this happen politically a lot but it’s even happening in our small enclave of people who speak out about abuse and destructive relationships. We won’t all agree on everything here. Jesus knew that there would be a diversity of opinions in his Church, but he called us to unity and love so that we would not fall into attacking and accusing.
The O step of CORE means we will be open to one another and the Holy Spirit. We don't know everything. That’s why we need to listen, to ask questions, and not prejudge or jump to negative conclusions about someone’s motives, character, story, or intent. Many of us encouraged Tim to listen more carefully. But it’s important that we challenge ourselves to do that also. That’s why I appreciate people like Tim, who challenge me to think about what I believe and teach in light of God’s word.
Learning to listen and not pre-judge someone is important if you want to have decent relationships in the future. Click To Tweet
No one likes to feel attacked or judged, and it elicits defensiveness in most of us when that happens. Tim was no exception. Sometimes the responses to his challenges or questions strayed from staying in CORE.
I challenged Tim to reflect on his part – but I’m not aware that he’s read anything about my teaching on CORE. But, I’m also challenging some of you to reflect on your part. Please don't hear it as scolding. But I do want to encourage you to continue to learn to communicate in a healthier, more godly way even when you are upset, challenged or disagree with someone. This is crucial if you want a successful long-term relationship with anyone.
In today’s question, a person is challenged with how she is going to handle her side of the fence in living with a narcissist. Certainly, she faces a greater struggle then responding wisely to an online blog question. But this too is her opportunity to grow in her own CORE strength, not to attack or disparage him.
Question: How do I live with a narcissist?
Answer: This is a challenging question to answer as you have given me no details as to the particular form of narcissism the person you are living with displays or what kind of relationship you have with this person. Let me ask you a question. Has your spouse or the person you are living with been officially diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any form of narcissism?
Sometimes we see certain traits in someone, do a little searching on the internet and then “label” that person as Bi-polar, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD ). But that can be hurtful and dangerous, especially if you are the one being labeled. I have seen women who are suffering from abuse and trauma wrongly labeled as bipolar or borderline and eventually lose custody of her children .
The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5 describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the following way:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
(1) Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements).
(2) Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
(3) Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
(4) Requires excessive admiration.
(5) Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations.
(6) Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends.
(7) Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
(8) Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
(9) Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
Not everyone who has some of these identified traits has narcissistic personality disorder. When you look down the list of descriptors – you might actually find yourself or someone you love sharing a few of the identified traits, some of the time.
We all fall on a continuum somewhere between healthy and unhealthy. And in a moments snapshot, we might look unhealthy if we were in a crisis, or we might look healthy if we're giving a sermon in church.
That’s why it’s important to look at pervasive patterns because all of us have issues.
Everyone has sin patterns, and everyone has problems. In some way, all of us are touched and damaged by sin, both our own sin as well as the sin of others against us.
For example: wanting to feel special and be admired is one of the traits of NPD. But a bride might feel this way on her wedding day or you might feel extra special if your friends threw you a big birthday bash for your 40th birthday.
That’s not unhealthy narcissism or signs of NPD. Why not? Because you don't always feel extra special. It’s not a pattern in the way you think about yourself.
Entitlement is another characteristic of narcissism and healthy narcissism might show itself when you believe you are entitled or deserving of special treatment if you were going through chemotherapy or in the emergency room after an accident or even you just won the lottery.
But soon, you go back to not feeling so entitled of extra special treatment and are also willing to give other people special attention in a time of need or blessing.
However, a person diagnosed with NPD has a felt NEED for constant admiration and ego stroking. They crave people who will admire them and make them feel special a lot. He or she also can’t handle criticism or negative feedback, because that would take the narcissist off a spot of specialness.
A person diagnosed with NPD refuses to take any responsibility for wrongdoing because that would require humility and the ability to recognize his/her own foibles. However, there are those who are not diagnosed with NPD who also find it hard to admit his or her faults and are extremely defensive when criticized.
A person diagnosed with NPD believes he or she is always right, wants to win, and is better than other people. That means that in every relationship with someone who has NPD, there is a one-up characteristic often displayed by an attitude of “I am better than you. I am more important, more special, more entitled, and more right than you are.” You can imagine the problems that come up when trying to live peaceably and wisely with someone who thinks like that.
So I’m going to assume that the person you live with – whether it is a spouse or an elderly parent or even a roommate, has not been “officially” diagnosed by a mental health professional as a narcissist but he or she does demonstrate some of the traits which make him or her difficult to live with.
If you look at the traits of narcissism moving up the scale, with 5 being relatively healthy, and 6, 7, 8, being more selfish, entitled, and wanting attention and admiration, and then 9, 10, describing more of a locked in personality disorder of these traits, where does the person you live with fall? Someone may have some narcissistic traits without having a full-blown diagnosis of NPD.
But your question is, “How do I live with a Narcissist?” and my answer is “It depends.”
First, it depends on where he or she falls on the scale of narcissistic traits and which ones are more predominant. Second, it depends on the type of relationship you have with this person you are living with. You haven’t said that it is your spouse so I don’t want to presume but for our purposes here, I will assume it is a husband (or wife) versus living with a parent or adult child who displays these traits. Third, it depends on where you are in you own emotional/mental/spiritual journey and your ability to have a good combination of truth and grace.
Don't get me wrong. Living with someone who is unhealthy, whether he or she is physically unhealthy, mentally unhealthy, emotionally unhealthy or spiritually unhealthy takes its toll on someone. It has many challenges, but so does living with someone who is relatively healthy. It’s hard for some people to compromise and to honestly express feelings and thoughts in constructive ways. These are some basic ingredients required for us to live together with someone in a nourishing way.
But challenges also present us with new opportunities for our own personal growth and maturity. Therefore in order for you to discern whether or not you can live wisely and well with a narcissist, you first need to do your own work.
It’s not unusual for those who have traits of narcissism to be attracted to people who have their own traits of self-sacrifice, poor personal boundaries, and high empathy. I don't know if that describes you but if so, you will need to learn how to identify and value your own needs as well as learn how to express them to your spouse in a way that gives you the best possible chance of seeing if your narcissist can hear you and respond positively.
Second, you need to learn what are some the key indicators that will alert you to know whether or not your spouse is willing and capable of learning to care more about you and your needs (because empathy and compassion for others don't come naturally to someone with narcissistic traits).
Let me give you an example: Let’s say that your narcissistic spouse works long hours and when he comes home is absorbed in his own interests. When you’ve complained in the past, he minimizes your feelings, or mocks you or tells you that you’re being a nag. We know that when a narcissist is criticized, he immediately goes into attack mode. That’s just how they function. So the question is, can he be invited to care about how you feel and the relationship you share?
Here is where you will need to learn to be strategic with a clear mixture of truth and grace. Blowing up with criticism and judgment as well as attacking and accusing will only drive a narcissist to react negatively with more arrogance and insensitivity. However, sometimes, those lower on the scale (not NPD’s) can respond better but need a clear path on how to move toward caring rather than shut down or retaliate.
In my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage I talk about speaking up by first affirming your commitment or care for the person and the relationship. For a tough talk with a narcissist, this is especially important because they are highly sensitive to rejection and abandonment. Reassuring him of your care or love or commitment may settle his insides down enough to hear the rest of what you have to say.
I understand this first part can take a good deal of grace and work on your part. Some women have tried for a long time to gain love from a narcissist by affirming his ego. They revolve their entire lives around making him happy until they are so tired or angry they just can’t anymore. At that point, they aren’t even sure they are committed or care anymore, therefore, it’s hard to say so without feeling like a liar. If that’s where you are at, don’t lie or pretend. But if you haven’t let things go too long, and you still are committed or feel positive feelings, it’s worth a shot.
When you start by affirming your care, it creates a safe space to hear the next part. Here’s where the truth with grace comes in. Next, you are going to gently share a vulnerable feeling about what bothers you without attacking him. For example, “I love you and want our relationship to be close. I feel lonely (this needs to be a feeling that is more vulnerable, rather than an angry feeling) when you work such long hours and we don't spend time together.”
Now you wait to see how he responds. If he responds with a question, or an affirmation (“I want that too”) or any kind of comfort or validation (I’m sorry you’ve felt so lonely) or (I know I’ve been working long hours lately), that’s a good sign. Perhaps your spouse isn’t a full-blown NPD, but only someone with narcissistic traits and he can learn to be more caring of your needs and less wrapped up in his own.
However if he responds with criticism, judgment or an attack or deceit, or minimizes or mocks your feelings or tries to gaslight your perspective, understand that he is not capable of a reciprocal relationship. It is all about him and him only.
Then your problem becomes how do you live with a person who doesn’t care about your feelings or your needs? How do you live with a person with whom you are an object to use, not a person to love? The only way to live with someone like this is with very strong and clear boundaries, excellent self-care, and a good support network of healthy relationships. And even with those things in place it will still be very challenging and be draining. But for many reasons, you may not have the freedom or ability to separate right now.
If that’s true for you then use this time to do your own work instead of being angry that he refuses to do his. Learn how to speak up for yourself in a good way. Learn how to have good boundaries, which is about stewarding your own personhood rather than trying to manage him. And focus your attention on building healthy and strong friendships outside of your marriage so that you are getting some of your relationship needs to be met. As you work on these things, even the pain of living with a narcissist can bring about good growth in your own character.
Friend, how have you lived wisely with a narcissist?
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I don’t think that it’s wise or fair to encourage anyone to find ways to continue living with a narcissist or to offer any hope that it is possible. First off, there is an extremely high degree of Stockholm syndrome driving the victim to search for any shred of hope that it’s possible to make it work in this type of relationship. Second, a true narcissist is only going to use any attempt to give him an out as another pathway to abuse. What would be better for people to learn is how to figure out if they’re dealing with a true narc. But like I said, with such a high degree of Stockholm, it will very difficult to see clearly what exactly is going on in the relationship. These relationships drive you completely out of yourself, making clear thinking just about impossible.
I have to agree with Linda,
Having lived with a full blown Narccisist and dealing with him through divorce, I can’t see that there is a way to live well with a spouse that is a Narccisist in the true sense.
I agree as well. I’ve tried all I know and it seems you can ‘survive’ if you don’t lose your health from stress…but you can’t really ‘live’ while in close relationship with one. It’s just too destructive.
I see your point here and I read Leslie’s Response to the question as some important steps to take similar to what you wrote here:
“What would be better for people to learn is how to figure out if they’re dealing with a true narc.”
This is not an easy or simple task and especially not easy when someone is already so very emotionally struggling fighting for clarity.
This is why your next sentence below is important to take a double sided approach and why counseling is SO essential.
” But like I said, with such a high degree of Stockholm, it will very difficult to see clearly what exactly is going on in the relationship.”
I also agree so much with Leslie’s reply because it takes a lot of sorting through the detail and a lot of education on Narcissism to have a more objective understanding, similar to walking in CORE.
And this is why for the one who is being victimized, CORE is critical regardless if she/he stays in such a relationship dynamic.
My journey has been long and exhaustive, But the Lord has been full and complete never leaving me but equipping me for the trek.
My husband many years ago would never even be able to consider his ‘narc traits’ which were quite high on the continuum, but the continuum and education on this is what is Really important ‘especially for us trying to navigate out and through!
Narc traits, mixed with emotional immaturity mixed with environmental influences can be daunting.
So what does one do?
I think our first responsibility is for ourselves and our own ‘armour’ to put on, and God calls us to this important care!
This is not the armour that protects the healthy things we need for our heart and our strength.
I have witnessed many who (because of the trauma and the abuse) struggle so much with saying ‘yes’ to the right things about growth and healing. Often not saying No to the nutrients of things.
We must ask God to help us discern and give us the wisdom for the critical yes’s and the critical no’s. I believe He sends support and resources because HE is a pursuing God at the exact time HE is a patient God, and this concept of Him blows my mind as well as ‘challenges me’ to want to have the smallest glimmer of it to reflect to my husband, my children and my family of God.
Much love to you and your journey 💜
I so agree with what you wrote here, Aly. The following especially resonated: “we must ask God to help discern and give us the wisdom for the critical yes’s and ‘no’s’.”
The right yes’s and no’s is what guarding our heart is comprised of!
saying yes to the good, Life giving things ( even, and especially those things that FEEL bad, like the hard work of counselling for example)
Saying no to the bad, death – bringing things ( even and especially those things that FEEL good, like peace-faking for example)
God will give us the discernment, we need only ask Him. But it’s not fun, nor is it easy. But it IS LIFE-Giving!
I agree with you in sorting out the feelings’ to be essential.
To sort out ‘feelings’, is not to decide based upon them or give the all or nothing weight.
This is where you see the extremes sometimes play out.
And yes! Hard work and in my opinion wise work.
Any of us can ‘work hard’, but will we work wise?
The ‘guarding process’ of the healthy-healing-growing ‘yes’s and No’s are essential.
And there is a difference between ‘guarding and being guarded’!
My husband can speak clearly to this as he has dont some hard work of sort through the ‘feelings’ or seeing how important motives are to our behavior and belief structure!
To be guarded, sure might ‘feel’ safe but it was far from anything ‘rich’ in relationships and healing… as he might put it.
This is where sorting through ‘feelings’ helps us exponentially.
Some people are threatened (like my mom .. black and white responder to the slightest notion of sorting through a feeling?)
Her guarded heart is about liking the concept of a ‘feeling obsessed’ culture, like Tim expressed last week.
Neither one of them want to stop, consider and by not doing this they are in danger of ‘their’ extreme thinkings~ all of none triggers in my opinion.
Which thus lends to their inability to be empathetic and compassionate on some critical issues.
Also I see many who are threatened by the sorting through and evaluating feelings… simply because they have chosen to shut their own internal feelings down … so should ever person they ever come into contact with that remotely mirrors ‘a feeling’!
This is upside down, and yes very narc traited indeed but it is also a ‘no’ given far too soon, when maybe it would have served them better to be a ‘yes’ or even the place to consider a ‘maybe’.
Glad Nancy that you are trekking through and that your husband is a willing partner, praise God for this!
Yes, sorting out the feelings is important. “The first step into Emotionally Healthy Spirituality begins with a commitment to allow yourself to feel.” ( Peter Scazarro) . And then, once we do that, it doesn’t mean that those feelings reflect reality. They bring us INTO reality but depending on what we believe about those feelings, we may choose inappropriate ‘yes’ s and ‘no’s.
That’s why your statement resonated, ” we must ask God to help discern….” If God is not in our healing journey…oh boy…we won’t be making wise choices, (as you point out is so important,) but we may actually be doing ourselves and others damage. ( as when my h and I went for marriage counselling, years ago and we were damaged by it).
Glad to have your input into these discussions. The way out of darkness is different for everyone and you have a way of identifying underlying factors that help in navigation 🙂
WHY do you keep referring to GOD as he ????? maybe it’s a SHE !
Please sweet one, Jesus was, is, and will always be a He. Please trust in HIM, as He was, and always will be The Son of God. Even if you can’t discern whether God is a he or a she, please be assured that Jesus was a He, and He has saved you from your sins. He died on a cross of shame for your sins and my sins. He is the one you need be concerned with as he is the Open Door to learning who God is. Jesus said ‘He that has seen the Son, and seen the Father.’ Jesus does not lie, so you have to believe Him that God is the Father. God is also a spirit, and he himself says about himself ‘God is not a man that he should lie.’ So, one either accepts that God is the everlasting Spirit, And the Creator of all things. So to put your trust in God, and accept Jesus as your personal Savior, it the most important thing you can do for yourself, and let the question of whether a lot of the world has no clue if God is a He or a She, matter, as long as you know that Jesus was a He, and that he wants to find a place in your heart forever. God bless you!
That was supposed to read; “He that has seen the Son, has seen the Father.” Jesus was called ‘The Man of Sorrows’ as he took upon himself all of our own personal sins and sorrows. He is acquainted with grief, and he is The Friend who can be closer to us than any other entity in the universe, if only we ask him into our hearts.He is here to comfort and to heal our souls in this journey of Life.
Sally, the only reliable resource about God that we have is the Bible which is the oldest and most publicized book in the world. In fact, when God created man, he was created in God’s image but it INCLUDED the two personas, man and woman as ONE. God soon after physically separated them so they could complement and help one another. But in truth, God took woman out of man using the man’s rib. God states, “Therefore a man will leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and they will be one flesh”. This is a mystery but it symbolizes God and His Church Whom He fondly calls His Bride.
I’m Glad you posted this verse Teena
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 KJV)
This has been part of my wrestling moments this week.
This has been an issue in our marriage (Lord knows we have been through much.) But I never wanted my husband to feel like he had to choose so I pretty much gave him his way and his mother ate it up.
That meant poor hubby went running at every beck and call. That was even before she got sick and later passed. If we went out of town for a medical appointment and wanted to enjoy before coming back in, we better hope she did not call. If she did, our plans immediately changed. It could be just to pay a bill.
I don’t think that verse means to ignore, never visit, call, or spend time, but maybe not be so dependent. Husband was an only child, so that also made it tough on us.
I would love to hear others thoughts if post can be seen or before comments are closed.
Failure to ‘leave and cleave’ brought our marriage from difficult to destructive over time. Both mothers are controlling, and his is additionally overtly abusive ( she is also chronically physically ill since he was a child).
We have drastically reduced contact with mine and recently gone ‘no contact’ with his. The veil has come down with regards to these relationships. We see clearly. The consequences are there, though. Panic attacks, symptoms of PTSD almost immediately after making the decision to go NC ( in him).
I have mini panic attacks when I get communication from mine. One. Step.at.a.time
This is excellent, Teena. Wow, wise wisdom indeed, and the mystery hidden from the foundation of the World. This gives me the chills as it is this deep concept from God of the ‘twain’ which involves a lot more than just the physical, but the spiritual which is the eternal component in this entire structure of the marriage as related to the church being the bride of Christ, whom he sought and bought with his life’s blood.
So it should be with Christian husband’s but they are flesh and blood and Christ was the Lamb of God without spot and blemish.
I love this! Aly! This is ‘spot on’.
With all due respect, I believe Leslie had to make many, many assumptions on whether this person is a diagnosed narcissist or one with traits. She makes very valid points that if the person has traits that basically, it takes one to know one, and that puts accountability and ownership on both people.
IMO, EVERYONE has narcissistic traits. But the term narcissist should be reserved for someone who has been or could be diagnosed as a person with NPD. There are too many people now writing about people with narcissistic traits and speaking as though they are the equivalent of someone with NPD. It is watering down the absolute horror of living with someone with NPD, to the point that it’s becoming harder to explain what’s so horrible about narcissism. “Everyone is a narcissist, what’s the big deal?” I’ll tell you what the big deal is. Narcissism is what turns truth upside down. Narcissism is what perverts the gospel. Narcissism is the great deception that deludes everyone into fighting petty battles because they’re too blind to see the real problem. Narcissism is what keeps people from knowing their own sin. Narcissism has the appearance of godliness but spits in God’s face.
I agree, too. A true narcissist is only bent on destroying others. The problem is that the word “narcissist” has become so common. After living with a spouse that was actually diagnosed with NPD, that is another whole level to deal with.
I love how Leslie says that God loves us more than the marriage. When push comes to shove and survival is the issue, you must choose to live.
This is murder in the first degree in my opinion. Living with this person will slowly kill you one way or another. I don’t think it is possible to stay with a true narcissist and survive. It is the closest thing to hell we get here on earth, in my opinion.
With that said, we all sin and sometimes we are called to endure and grow in a “destructive” situation. There can be some hope there. It takes wisdom and discernment and help from God and wise counsel to know the directions to take.
Regarding Tim, I believe many on this site are dealing with varying forms of PTSD, and he triggered many if not most of us. That’s why the reaction to him seems extreme. We think of this as a safe place. We are all on various places in our CORE journey. Regarding the statement, “Has your spouse or the person you are living with been officially diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or any form of narcissism?” I think it is fair to say that most of those who would be diagnosed officially are going to refuse to participate in sessions that would diagnose them. If they go to counseling at all, they go once or twice and then refuse after that if the counselor questions them in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable. So they do not stick around long enough to get an official diagnosis.
I forgot to add that I tried living with one for twenty years (and no he wouldn’t stick around for an official diagnosis.) I almost lost my faith, my mind, and my soul. But God rescued me! I learned that God cares more about me and my relationship with Him than my sham of a marriage with this individual. A covenant that is one sided cannot stand. For my children’s sake, I pray that God intervenes in their father’s life, but that is not a part of my experience, nor will I put my life on hold waiting for it to happen. My children and I will continue to heal from the hurts and abuses we experienced, and I have full confidence that God has a big future planned for them. Perhaps even for me as well.
I think that you can live with a lower level narcissist (with lower ratings of 6-8 on a 1-10 scale), especially if they are willing to change. If they are not willing to change and cannot admit their problems to themselves or another person, they are simply dangerous. They MUST have self awareness and want to change.
HI Leslie, This is where I am stuck. Over the last 3 years I have worked endlessly to heal our marriage, that before then I thought was OK. One of the books that was the most helpful to me in the beginning was “How to act right when your spouse does wrong” It really helped me to see where I was wrong and correct those things. The part of the book that I really ignored was “the gift of consequences” mostly because I was/am scared of her. (i suppose that should have been a tip off)
The story is too long to go into here, but almost a year ago I learned she had been having an affair for the whole previous year. (and this is her second affair that I know of) During which she treated me as less than human, accusing me of the very things that she was doing. Blaming me the whole while for everything wrong in her life. I had determined long before that to love her unconditionally, as Christ loved the church. In my incorrect thoughts of love that meant let her do whatever she wants, don’t confront, take the blame for everything wrong. During that time I actually told her that if she were having an affair, that it was my fault.
Since the confrontation there has been no change. There has been no remorse, no signs of true repentance, no willingness to work on the marriage, no honesty or accountability. She even tells me that she cannot say that she will never do it again. And that our wedding vows mean nothing.
We finally started counseling about 7 months ago. But this has gone nowhere.
Awhile back I started to have little things nag at me about her but I would always dismiss them because I didn’t want to face the possibility that they might be true. I saw your book “The emotionally destructive Marriage” and I wanted to get it, but I was scared to. After putting it off for several months, I bought it. When I read the first words, “Hanging on by a thread” the bells and whistles in my head started going off. When I read the 10 descriptions on 15 and 16, I couldn’t believe it because they all applied to me and used the very same words that I had thought. I took the marriage quiz and though I was being generous I answered often to 29 of the 61 questions. The whole book was an almost perfect description of what had been happening throughout my whole marriage, and I had never realized it.
Several days later I had an alone appointment with our (christian) councillor, and I begged her to tell me that this wasn’t true. I begged her to tell me what more I can do, and how can I love her more. She sadly told me that yes, my wife is very abusive and she has known it for awhile, but she had to let me come to that realization on my own or I never would have accepted it. (she was right about that) She then added that if I was a woman she would have told me to get out a long time ago.
But then, she threw me for a loop and said that my wife has all the indicators of NPD and she explained to me what that meant and recommended some reading for me to learn about it.
You are so right when you say “It’s not unusual for those who have traits of narcissism to be attracted to people who have their own traits of self-sacrifice, poor personal boundaries, and high empathy.” This is so right in our case. I take responsibility for everything and she accepts responsibility for nothing.
I am dying on the inside, and most of the time she just acts like everything is fine. She will not even admit all of the destruction she has caused, let alone do anything to heal it. She really can’t even acknowledge how she has hurt me. she has only cried about things that effect her.
And through all of this I still love her. Only now I realize that I can’t do anything that will get her to love me back.
So now, I am faced impossible choices that I don’t want to make. Which isn’t helped by the fact that she has made most decisions for our family for a long time.
You shared so clearly.
May you have strength to see and take the steps in front of you.
Alene, thank you. I’m afraid that I already know what I have to do, I’m just afraid of all of the ramifications of doing it, so I keep putting it off. I keep looking for one more thing, I keep thinking that maybe she is coming around, I keep thinking that I need to give God a little more time to work.
But I know that I don’t need “one more thing”. Looking back at my journal I see that nothing is different in her actions or attitudes, and I am beginning to realize that God doesn’t need a little more time to work. I am also coming to the realization that God doesn’t need me, to work on her. He is perfectly capable of doing that without me.
I am just so afraid of what this will do to our kids. But as our councilor reminds me, they are already from a broken home. They just don’t know why and they know they can’t talk about it. (we are still in the same house and she pretends that everything is fine)
And then some people ask me “why can’t you just tough it out and soldier on? I don’t even know how to respond to that. How do you even begin to explain to someone you love, that to tough it out means that I will have to die on the inside? I’m not even sure of what that means, but that is what will happen.
What your counsellor said about your kids experience REALLY touched my heart. “They just don’t know why, and they know they can’t talk about it.”
I was that kid, sheep. Me and my siblings were those kids. And I can’t tell you the damage that it does, to know something is desperately wrong and to not have it acknowledged, or be given the space to give voice to those feelings.
Pretense brings death. The truth sets us free.
If you read my response to Sharon below, you will see that this week I had a realization about what it meant to grow up with a mother with narcissistic traits. I was never allowed to be different from what she wanted. This need of mine to ‘disappear’ in my loved ones’ presence is so deep,y conditioned and strong that it is hurting my current relationships ( husband and kids). I have been out of my family of origin for over 20 years and it is ONLY by God’s Grace that I am being healed. It is excruciating.
Sheep. This kind of mother is horrendously damaging to your children. Please, don’t use your kids welfare as a reason to stay. Believe me the Truth sets us free, and giving your children the reality of the situation ( at age appropriate levels) as well as a safe space to explore their ( likely EXTREMELY surpressed feelings) is the best gift you could give them.
My father was the healthy one. But he didn’t have the wherewithal to do what needed to be done.
My counsellor told me on Tuesday that my perception of what will happen to me if I am just myself if this :
Honouring myself or speaking up for myself is so terrifying for me that this is like a nail that is sticking out of a flat surface. I will get hammered down. That is the fear that keeps my feelings suppressed. I have suppressed them for so long that it was a battle to even KNOW my feelings.
Also, none of my sibs are close. Our relationships are so fractured because she would put us against one another – we don’t know any other way.
I could go on and on. Your counsellor’ swords are true.
My counsellor explained it like this:
You didn’t just have an elephant in the room, that no one talked about. You had the rotting corpse of an elephant, that no one talked about.
sheep, that kind of environment is crazy-making.
You have a battle ahead of you. Get help. Get support. Get with God and ask ?Him for daily guidance.
Those kids need you to fight for truth. The armour of God’s FIRST piece is the belt of truth.
May God bless you
It’s one thing to be married to such a person ( and I’m not trying to minimize your pain at all), but being raised by such a person builds lies into the very foundations of what Love ( God) is; and really screws up the psychological / emotional development of the person.
Now….God put those children into your family, at this moment in history at this place. He has a purpose in this brokenness. There is Hope, sheep, lean into Him, and lead your kids into His Love.
Thanks Nancy. I need to hear things from a child’s perspective. When talking about what I should tell them (when everything falls apart) she said that they definitely (in an age appropriate was) need to know about her affairs. Not a lot of details, but room for them to ask questions. I need to reserve the right to say I can’t answer that right now, so that I don’t bad mouth her (which I don’t want to do).
I asked her what (if anything) do I tell them about her abuse of them (which I can see in some ways, but in other ways, I still can’t believe) She said not to bring that up with them. She said that they will figure that out when they are ready to learn it and it will be different with all of them. This is in the same way that I had to learn about her abuse of me for myself because I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t already seen it for myself.
As a Child that has gone through this, what are your thoughts on what I should and shouldn’t say to them?
I’m very sorry for what you are navigating through.
Hope it’s ok that I add something here as I myself have been in similar situations with ‘allowing and comforting’ our children through some painful realities.
“I need to reserve the right to say I can’t answer that right now, so that I don’t bad mouth her (which I don’t want to do).”
When children interpret those words, children tend to take it at that level and given their developmental place ~ they should.
But is that true?
I have found that I can tell my children, i think there will be places and times when I can expand on the details, giving them some security that I could answer, rather than I can’t.
Your children depending upon their ages are probably more aware of the unhealth as it sits… unless you and your wife are the best actors eveR!
Children are more intuitive than we give them credit for.
And sometimes sitting in their vulnerable places…..even if we don’t ‘truly’ have an answer, but we will hold them, is enough for them to know trusting at least one parent is valuable.
Your individual counselor will be able to support you with important dialogs to have with each of them.
Your other suppprt comes from Others who will be there for your grief, so that the grief doesn’t get played out unhealthily ‘unintentionally’ toward your children’s developmental places.
I don’t think that I can add anything about what to say to them, sheep.
What I would emphasize ( which is what you are already doing), is to continue your own healing work. The more you get in touch with your own shame, and experience God’s extreme love for you, the more emotionally safe, and strong,you will become for your children.
They will sense that, and it will give them the safe space to begin processing what they have been through. Once they begin to process, they MAY want to talk ( this could take a LONG time because if they have experienced it the way I did, it was dangerous to even think about my own experience or feelings). As your counsellor said, don’t force it- this is their mother, their journey. You are on your own journey.
As you continue to experience God’s ‘Abba’ Love for you, you will, more and more, be able to reflect that love and acceptance to them.
They will sense transformation in you as you journey this difficult road toward freedom.
Gosh, your kids are blessed to have a parent that is willing to look in the mirror and take responsibility!
Keep growing, and leaning into God for provision and direction – He will make your path straight.
Such an important point that Aly makes, sheep.
About having others there to support you in your grief work, so that you don’t put this on your children. ( I’d add that it’s good for them to see you emotional and leaning on God for support, it’s unhealthy for you to be emotional and leaning on them.)
I would like to add my thoughts about your kids.
I grew up with two narcissistic parents. I was 18 years in their home and now I’m 57 years old. So 39 years out of prison. I am finally at the point in my life where I can heal. According to my therapist, I have not ever been in a relationship where I was not emotionally abused in some way. This is because, I don’t know what good and normal is. I went through this list of traits of someone raised by a narcissist. These are what I’ve struggled with all my life and am just now starting to get a handle on: Struggling to identify my feelings, Difficulty choosing a direction because I can’t identify what I want, A tendency to put my needs last, Extreme fear of expressing my needs, Saying that things are fine when they’re not, Deferring to others especially when under pressure, Being driven to achieve accolades but being uncomfortable about receiving them, Being taken advantage of because of inability to self advocate, Changing one’s role to become what others need. Fears: Experiencing certain emotions and having them be used as weapons, being punished for mistakes and failures, trusting the wrong person and being taken advantage of or repeating an abusive relationship. Triggers: Criticism-no matter how constructive or gently it is given, making a mistake or failing in some way, seeing normal happy family interactions in real life or on Facebook, phone calls or visits with the parent. For that last one, I used to have to take Xanax starting a week before a planned visit to my father’s house. Otherwise I would be freaking out and yelling and screaming at my family. It took me years to figure out that connection. My sister and I used to joke that when we visited Mom we had to leave ourselves at the door. I never knew my brothers and sisters before my Mom died because she kept us from communicating with each other. Whatever we would say to each other somehow always made it back to her. So I quit talking to them about anything important to me. Neither of my parents were ever interested in what I was doing with my life. My Mom was manipulative. My Dad is cruel. I always wondered why no one ever saw what my parents were doing to their kids. Instead, the state gave them foster kids. The confusion was never ending. I became invisible. I’m still invisible to a large degree. I joked the other day to someone that I have the ability to stand right in front of someone, say something to them, and they still don’t see or hear me. I call it my cloak of invisibility. As a teen I used to stand in the kitchen and cut myself with knives and no one in the room ever saw me. These are the consequences to children raised in a narcissistic home. Their foundations are screwed up, their brains are mis-wired, they have no pre-trauma identity. And here’s the thing, you can’t just talk them out of it. They have to be taught, the right things at the right time. Their whole perception of life needs to be changed. Their beliefs about themselves have to be changed. Their identity has to be changed. And those are not things to be tackled lightly. I never had anyone to help me process through the trauma and psychologists didn’t know a whole lot about it until really recently. So your kids will be way ahead of the game. I’m just being honest here, it has been hell for me. I pray things go well for you and your kids.
Oh boy, Linda. Did you ever list – very specifically, and acurately- the struggles from having grown up in a nacissistic home. The one about “‘changing one’s role to become what others need” really stuck out.
For me, it’s even deeper, “not standing firm in the core of who I am (my personhood) in the face of the slightest (perceived or real) disapproval.” This -fear of disapproval- is what has stopped me from knowing myself. I was so busy reading everyone else’s feelings that I could not ( I was TERRIFIED ) of feeling my own.
I’m so afraid and I’m so tired. Thanksgiving is here and life is spinning again. I feel like a yo-yo and that shoot the duck arcade game.
Every time I take a stand, his behavior stops for a bit then comes back with vengeance. No hitting or yelling, just crazy word spinning. I can’t think straight. I don’t want to do anything anymore and more importantly, I no longer care about people. His screw it attitude is now mine. I’ve fought it for years but I guess I finally have become dead inside. How in the world do I find a counselor who will listen to my crazy?
Diane: How in the world do I find a counselor who will listen to my crazy?
You will find a counselor. I found one in 2015. She was the best. Unfortunately, she retired the following year. Keep trying different counselors until you find one that will listen and believe you.
I feel your pain, I really do. I so identify with what you are saying. I am absolutely exhausted all the time. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have nothing left. I keep looking back in my journal and see that almost every entry has the words “I am so tired”. And I hate every moment of it, because I know that isn’t who I am. I used to be the most energetic of people. I loved being around people, I was very comfortable in crowds and was often the center of attention. I have always had a multitude of projects, hobbies and inventions that I was working on. Now I struggle to put what energy I do have into my kids.
And I am scared. I am scared of her, scared of what she will do, Scared of her saying “can you come talk to me for a minute” Scared of the “look” on her face, scared of the cutting comments given with a smile.
I never used to be scared. I thought I could do anything and if I failed, I would figure out what next. Now I can hardly make a decision out of the fear “what if I’m wrong”
If I take a stand, she just ignores it or argues me out of it. In fact, if you look at her, most of the time you wouldn’t think anything is wrong. But hold on for dear life if you cross her because she is going to take you for a ride until you either give in and say she is right, Or she has actually convinced you that you are crazy for ever thinking she was wrong in the first place. All of this with (mostly) no yelling, and she has only hit once. But I will tell you that I would rather her hit me daily than what she has done to me. At least then I wouldn’t think I’m crazy.
I am thankful that all of this has pushed me to form real relationships with friends and family rather than abandon them. I would encourage you to reach out to them instead of him. I have found a real peace and comfort in learning to be vulnerable and authentic with other believers. I think a lot of that is what it means to “bear one another burdens”. And the key is faith in knowing that even though I don’t understand it, God still loves me (even though He knows full well all the ways I have hurt Him). Faith in knowing that He is in control no matter what happens and that He works all things for my good and for His glory.
As far a finding a councilor, I was fortunate that the one she picked, was one that saw through her very quickly and figured out that she is root of the problem. If it wasn’t for that, I would still be blaming myself for all of our/her problems.
Sheep, thank God we can have faith. I don’t believe in the ‘soldiering it out’ part as much as I believe the Word of God says, ‘count it all joy when you fall into various trials and trouble knowing that this is a test’. A test of faith that produces endurance, and much more. We’re not doing this in our own strength because God’s Word says, ‘the joy of The Lord is our strength’. In other words, we get excitingly happy because this works based on truth and our past experiences. We’re not focusing on the temporal, because He tells us not to, we’re to focus on the eternal.
But what do all of the scriptures actually mean? Are they making light of a serious and potentially dangerous situation? Is the Bible some inspirational message to only give us hope? Or is it the actual breath of God that is telling us to get our focus on Him and that truthfully and really things WILL turn for our good? I am a witness of the latter.
I’m still in my relationship with my husband but I’ve changed in that I trust God at His Word. Knowledge is pertinent! I have to read books and find multiple counselors who are wise and have a relationship with God, to learn how to change my perceptions and behaviors to live victoriously in this ever changing world of ours. But more importantly how to live, by faith, the abundant life that God says we already have.
Sheep, you know what you have to do and you have a counsellor who knows and can most likely help. Plan. Plan. Plan. Leave well, whether for good or for separation to lead to change.Take what you need, in each sense of need. What you need. What your kids need. Finances, belongings, a home, friends, pets. Take photos of everything in your home. Take copies of all legal and financial paperwork. Know, and be prepared to compromise only what you feel is ok to compromise. Stand up for your needs and your children’s needs. Listen to your gut. God gives us bodies that react to wrong, so listen. You can do this. God is for us and with us, will never leave us. Love and prayers for your journey. .
Teena, Thanks for the reply, Lack of faith really isn’t the issue. I have lived for a long time having full faith that God was going to turn her around and heal our marriage. And that faith kept me going even though she was treating me as far less than human, and it kept me going even though I knew she was having an affair. This faith kept me going even though she has shown absolutely no signs of repentance or even remorse. And these things were only after He had dealt with me on my issues that He needed to deal with. Only after I was totally broken and humbled.
Even now it is faith that keeps me going. That faith just looks differently than it did before. I have full faith in Gods love for me, I have full faith and trust in His sovereignty. I have full faith that He will us all of this for His purposes and for my good.
I know that God can redeem her and our marriage, but I also know that that doesn’t mean He will. He is probably not going to do that against her will, God is most likely not going to give her a Damascus road experience, rarely in scripture did God choose to do that.
I have come to realize that God does not need me to “work on her”. He does not need me to continue to try to move heaven and earth to try to save a marriage that she, by her actions, words, and attitudes, has already declared dead.
Maybe, God wants me to show her tough love, the kind that says that I will not stand by while you destroy yourself, me, our marriage, family, and kids. I will not let you delude yourself into believing that you and your actions are just fine.
God lets us feel the consequences of our sins. So when I continue to shield her from the consequences of her sins, (because I am afraid of her, and I want to be nice) am I taking away the very thing she needs to come to repentance?
I found that during the year of her second affair, that I buried my head in the sand and faithfully prayed that God would reveal her sin. But in the end, I realized that He wanted me to “man up” and be the instrument that He used to reveal what she was hiding. I now feel like I am in the same place, I have been asking God for a miracle (nothing wrong with that) Asking that He would work in her heart and redeem our marriage. But what if it isn’t our marriage that He is planning on redeeming? what if He wants to use my filing for divorce to bring about the pain in her life that she needs to bring her to the end of herself. So that He can use her brokenness to redeem her. Which, is ultimately more important than our marriage.
“God lets us feel the consequences of our sins. So when I continue to shield her from the consequences of her sins, (because I am afraid of her, and I want to be nice) am I taking away the very thing she needs to come to repentance?”
This is exactly spot on. Many people think they are acting ‘on faith’, when it’s fear.
You are doing the right thing, and yes it’s painful! Awfully painful, but so is what your living and going on day by Day!
You are your children’s advocate here~ the one who will choose ‘healthy confident Love’ .,,,over twisted or fearful love.
She has been the one to break the covenant, you drawing necessary ‘natural consequences’ is the healthiest thing you can offer yourself and a model for your children.
Prayers for your journey✝️ He is always with you.
You don’t deserve to have pain inflicted upon you. You don’t deserve the negativity. And you should not have to live in fear.
So you have choices to make. If she touches you again, call the police and press charges. If she argues or wants to talk crazy, don’t respond. Walk away. Do not fear her. Show her that she has zero effect on you.
Perfect love cast out all fear. 1 John 4:18. This means that your confidence in God is so sure that it’s unshakable. She will see that. But now, she sees that she can cuss and yell, throw stuff, and blame you for everything.
Will she go for a psych evaluation? Her destructive behavior could be the result of early childhood trauma. Was she abused as a child? Did she get raped? If so, have empathy, but get her help.
Tell her you are sorry that someone hurt her, and be genuine about it, but tell her she’s not going to punish the family because of it.
You will have to take a stand against the sin. Be calm but firm. You know we do not wrestle with the person, but with the dark spirit that is driving her. Ephesians 6:12-13
When you make statements to her, tell her what she will no longer do. Tell her that if she wants to live there that she will…
These new actions that you take will literally bind what you want on earth, as it is in Heaven. Have a prayer partner agree with you. Matthew 18:18-19
I am not sure why we think God will do something when He has given us all the resources to get it done. Jesus came that we might have and enjoy life. John 10:10. He died nailing sin to the cross and rose in victory! He says we are seated with Him in Heavenly places far above the rulers of darkness. Ephesians 1:17-23
I would certainly acknowledge Him first, and ask for His direction and wisdom on when to talk to her and what to say. Proverbs 3:6
She may not have a Damascus experience but she can certainly experience The Living and Loving God Who saves people from destruction.
God Bless you! I’m praying for you. Expect good results.
I appreciate the clarification of the definition of Narcissism, description of various degrees of, and warnings about labeling. This part of the blog post is excellent.
However, I disagree with the point that living with healthy people can be a “challenge.” Challenge used in articles like this refers to a highly negative & stressful situation. Healthy people are a blessing to work and live with. Differences will arise, but they are dealt with in a mutually respectful manner. Narcissists have no respect for anyone, but themselves. It’s their way or the high way.
To anyone who is experiencing the emotional terrors of working or living with a narcissist, I highly recommend http://www.cryforjustice.org as an additional resource of help in addition to Leslie’s. Their writing enabled me to wake up and finally release the intuition I had and kept stuffing down trying to be that good submissive Christian.
Lastly, find a form of art to work through your healing. Whether it’s coloring, painting, singing, reading, performing in a community theater, or writing. May my site at http://www.hopetheparentteacher.com assist you as well. God bless.
http://www.cryforjustice.com not org
My husband will never be diagnosed with NPD or anything related. He can change himself into an entirely different person especially with counselors. I will never be able to prove what goes on in my home. The few who can see through him are those who have been close to & hurt by someone like him. It is so important not to take his hurt personally but to consider the source. It is very difficult but I am learning to focus on God’s blessings & the friends He has given me not on the one person who hates me. I will not survive otherwise. “Happily ever after” is for heaven. P.S. Thank you so much for your ministry. It has been so very encouraging.
You aren’t alone. I have been laughed at and told, “See, they believe ME.” He goes to therapy so he can convince people how hard he tries and that I am just unforgiving….he plays mind games with the therapist for bonus kicks. You get to the point where you don’t care if they believe you or not. The people who are supporting me emotionally are friends and neighbors, not my family. The mysoginist culture in which I grew up offers blame or disappointment that I didn’t put up with it like my mother and grandmother…even from my mother who is embarrassed. I am tired of carrying the shame that was never mine. It was his…all his. We haven’t had one conversation where he hasn’t been abusive and manipulative. I know he will be believed by most people, and I try not to dwell on that. And just watch the current news….more people will believe us than we think.
Survivor of a CovertNarc,
I believe your experience. And I agree with your take on the shame! This is where they do the most damaging places I believe and those who see where the ‘accurate Shame is’ can see the shame patterns play out.
I’m thankful your leaving the big pile of shame ‘that’s not yours’ to tend to. And in no way is this easy to ‘reveal’ because it isn’t all that mapped out for any person walking along observing but for the close friends and neighbors that can peer closer to your heart ~ they can see and will comfort and will hear.
Sending hugs and prayers 💜
This is my husband, too. Keep trying to find people who “get it”, because when you do it will be so validating and freeing. God will bring them to you, ask Him and don’t give up.
Thank you for your honest words, Leslie.
It is a constant battle for me to not see a different opinion as threatening. This comes, I think, from a history of enmeshed relationships where I was not allowed – and then continued the tradition of not allowing others – to have different thoughts, feelings, values or opinions.
This way of seeing others is distorted. In fact, there is no ‘other’ in this way of relating.
I have recently been asking The Lord for the clarity to see my loved ones for who they are, not who I would have them be. He is answerering my prayer and it is, frankly, alarming to see how much projecting I have done, and what a battle it is, to not continue in that destructive pattern.
Nancy, thank you for your honesty about your battle with projecting onto others. Can you give an example of how you do it and what it looks like, if you don’t mind?
This is a hard question, Content, because I am in the midst of it all crashing down, but I appreciate you asking because it gives me a chance to articulate what’s happening.
The tool that helped me begin to identify that I Was projecting was to humbly ask questions of my loved ones, instead of making assumptions about their behaviour, ” I feel as though you are angry with me, is this right?”, or ” I feel as though you are sad, is this a correct assumption?” I was amazed at how often I was wrong! ( incidentally I REALLY like being right 😉
A simple example of projection would be that I’d wake up on the wrong side of the bed, in a bad mood. Instead of owning this with my kids by saying, “I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and am in a bad mood, but don’t worry, it has nothing to do with you, but you might find me a bit short tempered.” They’ll say, “ok mom, thanks for letting us know” (this is what generally happens now)
I’d try to push my feelings down, paint a smile on, but the pain would get worse. As I wrestled with it, I’d see my eldest daughter withdraw and become very serious. So I’d become overly focused on her ( to distract from my own uncomfortable feelings) and this over-focus on her made her angry; and I’d complain about what an angry kid we had. I see now that her initial withdrawal was insecurity, and because I didn’t own my feelings from the get go, I needed a place to put these terribly uncomfortable feelings, and then over-focus on her, thereby creating anger in her.
I have also applied an inherited and thoroughly unhealthy definition of love, called enmeshment ( love means that you cannot have separate feelings, values or ideas than me). I can become extremely uncomfortable with my loved ones processing the world and their experiences differently than I do. When they do, I become fearful and try to control them in order to alleviate my uncomfortable feelings.
This is control…not love 😢
What I need to do now is to adopt a curiosity about my loved ones; to want to get to know them for who God created them to be, not who I Want them to be. In the past I would listen, but with the goal of finding similarities…” Oh, I’m like that too, ” or ” I totally get that, I feel that way all the time!” While there is nothing wrong with identifying with them in their experiences, OVER -IDENTIFYING is unhealthy and creates enmeshment and co-dependence.
Nancy, I don’t know what “all crashing down” means, but I am praying for you now.
Thank you so much for your humility in sharing and it all makes sense. I sense that this is a work God is beginning in me, as well. It is really hard to ask those gentle questions and give gentle responses when your are being hurt or someone seems unjustifiably angry with you. It is definitely an area I need to grow in. (A gentle answer turns away wrath).
Thank you again so much for sharing specifics. It helps me as I process for me.
Projection is assigning your own motives to another person. So if you are feeling sad about something and are sitting in the corner just staring, and your mother comes along and yells at you for being angry, she is projecting her own feelings onto you and assigning them as motive for you sitting in the corner. When she insists that she is correct and you are wrong, as her child who is constantly being challenged in this way, you begin to doubt your own feelings and motives. After awhile, you just numb out and refuse to feel anything.
But basically, projection is assigning your own motives to another person.
Yup, Linda. That’s exactly what it is. Thanks.
When I identified that I was a blamed and a projector, the first question my counsellor asked me, is what emotions are you most uncomfortable with. My immediate answer : anger. That’s the one that I have such little tolerance for – so I project it.
Asking the question about my loved one’s emotional state, is what is beginning to break this cycle for me.
Actually it’s not the assignment of motives to another so much as the assignment of emotions to another.
They might be very closely related but a person’s need to project has more to do with an inability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings.
Wow thank you for your honesty and willingness to share humbly about your experiences.
I agree with your last comment on the ‘Inability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings’
For me, in my family of origin and my marital dynamic it just replayed itself out.
Because I wanted to expose my feelings and ’emote them’ I was the wrong one.
For many years my FOO and my husband aligned with thinking and accusing me of how unhealthy I was for having a ‘full range of emotions’.
When my husband began counseling ~ he was educated on how turned off and shutoff his emotions were.
Projection was a coping skill that served him well in his family of origin.
For years through our journey he continued to put shirts on me that didn’t fit? And besides they were shirts for his father, mother, and past unresolved relationship he didn’t grieve.
I was an easy target for him to blame and dump his ‘inability to tolerate these feelings’.
By no means was this your behavior Nancy, just to clarify ~ this was what I experienced in my husband projecting not just the emotions but the blame &responsibility upon me … because I was ‘safe’ for him.
Praise God that counseling is a resource to help sort through these destructive patterns.
What you have described your husband doing with you, Aly, IS exactly what I have done with my loved ones.
About two years ago, as I was speaking with my individual counsellor, I was so confused, I said, “it’s as though I’m living in a co-dependant house of mirrors”. I still don’t know exactly what I meant by that – perhaps the ‘house of mirrors’ part was me beginning to sense my projection / blame coping strategy. I really don’t know. But when I said to Content, that it was “all crashing down”, I meant that my coping strategies are being torn down; and while this is excruciating, I feel as though I am seeing a bit more clearly.
I certainly learned a lot from my narcissistic mother, and brought those ways of relating into my family. I’m thankful that my counsellor ( a couple of years ago) assured me that I was not ‘from the country of personality disorder, I only have an accent from the country of personality disorder’ (similar to how a child of a foreigner carries the accent from their parents country of origin, until they start going to school in their own country).
The good news is that amidst it all, I have Christ to lean into – He is my rock and my shelter ❤️
Wow~ such honesty and freedom here! I so respect your journey and your willingness to see and discover those patterns and deal with them!
Such bravery and yes the strength of knowing who Christ is at a core identity is foundational 💜
I remember such the agony in watching my husband fight and fight and fight.
It was painful for me to witness let alone Be falsely blamed for what truly was his parents responsibility ‘to parent’!
His parents were high on the narc traits continuum but co-created together a very ‘unhealthy parental role’ (the absent parent who abandons parenting based on the uncomfortable difficulties in raising a child) ~ why wouldn’t he have these self destructive coping patterns?
As he surrendered to the hard ‘heart’work he could trace back his places of where ‘false self’and deception was created and normalized.
This work blessed by God and transformation ‘threatened’ my family of origin with their own narc traits~ clinging all the more to the false personality and yes (the inability to tolerate uncomfortable feelings)!
In our family system they knew where to throw these uncomfortable things immediately ~ the emoter 🤗 And for a long time person willing to be the one to take more than my share of the responsibility!
i mean a person as narc traited as they were and still are, had no empathy to even empathize for themselves let alone another?
When our counselor challenged my husband on his misuse of blame, misuse of placing the wrong shirts on me, misuse of making me responsible, he had to sit with those places.
Why was he so desperate to sabatoge those connections?
It became as normal for him as riding a bike, sadly.
He would of never if brought his anger rightfully and honestly so to his parents, he said it was easier to project it on me, he couldn’t even consider their response or rejection.. wow they trained him well not to challenge their own broken behaviors.
I really resonate with the analogy you used about the ‘accent’ versus the core root origins of those narc traits and common self protecting behaviors.
The traumas I went through were just as real as if my husband would have been a full blown NPD, so for me the labeling was unnecessary to my journey because the injuries were there and my husband was capable to inflict them at his level of traits.
Thanks for letting me process a little more here, I’m grateful for he journey and my prayer is that God will continue to transform me each day.
Aly, I hope it’s ok to ask.
I know Nancy was/is doing an in-house separation. My question, how were you able to get your husband to (can’t think of exact phrase) engage in this journey? Did you have to separate? Live outside of the home or did it just happen?
On several of my post, it was suggested that my husband may have narcissistic traits. I was also suggested by a poster on here to read “Should I stay or Should I go.” It had two chapters for my spouse and I only gave him the first one after he agreed to view the pages. He quickly sent a text saying he needed to see the chapters I was reading.
Saying I was requesting him to do something, but he could not request the same. I told him he could throw it in the trash. He then accused me of being angry just from saying throw it in the trash.
A few days later we went out to talk. The conversation went ok, but it was still riddled with him not accepting what he has done. He says he doesn’t remember doing such things and subtly blaming.
Fast forward to today, he was staying how much of a changed man he was. The only thing that came to my mind was, “darling, if only it were that easy.”
Leslie stated: It’s not unusual for those who have traits of narcissism to be attracted to people who have their own traits of self-sacrifice, poor personal boundaries, and high empathy. I don’t know if that describes you but if so, you will need to learn how to identify and value your own needs as well as learn how.
I state: I feel that I’m guilty of this. In fact, maybe that’s what my counselor meant in 2015 when she said I had low self-esteem. I never could understand that statement before and kind of resented her making such a statement. But now I have something to ponder on this week.
I found your post where I could reply.
I think from what you have previously posted you are indeed in a very destructive dynamic with your husband based on the examples you have given.
I think having your own individual counseling is SO vital as you navigate through.
And that counselor being able to separate seeing the different parts as well as any dynamic that is co ~created. This isn’t the same thing as ‘equally responsible’.
You wrote and asked;
“I know Nancy was/is doing an in-house separation. My question, how were you able to get your husband to (can’t think of exact phrase) engage in this journey? Did you have to separate? Live outside of the home or did it just happen?”
I’ll try to answer simply, but it’s been a long road.
I didn’t ‘get’ him to engage etc.
The catalyst I believe that came to a head was ‘my change’, my place of willing to to decide what I would tolerate or not if we were going to continue to try to work through our issues under the same house.
This was one catalyst that God did a work in me in drawing a line and giving me the strength to keep it.
So to answer;
No inhouse separation, no separation came about. But it was on the table and we needed the professional to assist us in deciding what was the best avenue to take. This area was very civil in my opinion.
I was more than willing to have ‘my husband’ out of the home if he was showing that the current counseling was not effective and him living in the home was adding to any discomfort of our situation.
My situation was that I stayed home and as the primary caregiver it was necessary our children stay in their own rooms.
Why should they have to leave their home when their father was ‘the offender’ not being reasonable nor adding to creating a peaceful healing environment for us all. (This was my argument and what I brought into our counseling)
The person who thinks throwing ‘sand’ in a sandbox at another person is acceptable w/o consequences ‘needs to know’ that those are crossing boundaries and they are not welcome in the sandbox if they can’t respect the sandbox parameters. Why should the one following the parameters be the one thrown out?
Now this is not for physical violence or many other situations (all corners of abuse) where a spouse should flee for safety and clarity.
Renee, of the examples you have given, if I remember correctly your husband is using Oxy and doesn’t think he has an issue. Nor am I saying that drugs are the main culprit but they will only exacerbate an already unhealthy problem!
Please correct me if I’m wrong or I have mixed up things?. Also you have expressed some other interactions which clearly are abusive in nature in my understanding.
I think in your post above you mention some important things ~ I’ll try to do a different post as to not add to the length here 😬
Thanks Aly for the time you have devoted!!! It just breaks my heart that we are headed for seven months later and we are still in the same spot because hubby does not want to look at his part even a little.
Four years of having the same issues.
I’m sorry.😢 I can understand your pain of watching someone continue to be complacent and yet also at times get worse when interventions get brought in.
Are you working with an individual counselor? Your individual work is important regardless of the marriage work.
Maybe you also signed up for Conquer? I know these are big steps and commitments but your worth being discovered and supported and it takes time to process let alone find safe individuals.
Counseling and a safe people;)
….helped me see where my boundaries and requirements were next to nil, and I learned much about my history and tolerance of such behavior. The Lord continued to show me how much He loved me and my children and that He was going to equip me through. I didn’t know what the future was and I got to a place I knew I could trust The Lord and especially the scriptures that kept me ‘knit together’.
I also had a few close friends that were pivotal to my journey and encouraged my path. I also had a close friend that was skeptical ~ and struggled seeing the covert abuse because of her own abusive family of origin and the abusive remnants of brain shaping she carried.
This actually could have been a ‘bad’ thing for me but The Lord used it to show more and more truth about ‘behavior’ ~ what someone says verses what they actually do.
Praying for you and your family 🌸
“On several of my post, it was suggested that my husband may have narcissistic traits. I was also suggested by a poster on here to read “Should I stay or Should I go.” It had two chapters for my spouse and I only gave him the first one after he agreed to view the pages. He quickly sent a text saying he needed to see the chapters I was reading.
Saying I was requesting him to do something, but he could not request the same. I told him he could throw it in the trash. He then accused me of being angry just from saying throw it in the trash.”
I’m curious why not give him the two chapters upfront? His response sounds typical from someone who is threatened by any power shift in the dynamic?
Not saying I’m right, but sounds something like something someone pretty insecure might say when they are threatened.
I showed often many things I was reading to my husband but this is dependent upon the situation, sometimes this isn’t the safest thing to do.
I think his comment and threat of him having to do something that maybe you don’t have to do~ sounds like the crazy and power struggle it is.. he sounds threatened by being more invested in the process than you (not saying you are not)
But your counselor should be able to highlight what that is about.
Your response to me of throwing it in the trash~ is exactly what he’s looking for any possible reason to react (not reading the chapter) that he originally didn’t want to read most likely.
If he can say that you are the angry one it justifies him greatly to begin the crazy cycle!
Now I don’t think your comment is out of line or you are responsible for his response.
Bottom line is you are both responsible for your individual responses.
“A few days later we went out to talk. The conversation went ok, but it was still riddled with him not accepting what he has done. He says he doesn’t remember doing such things and subtly blaming.”
To me the conversation didn’t seem ok.. when you are dealing yet again with a person unwilling to take full responsibility of their choices and how they are contributing to an unhealthy marriage!
Not remembering is not a reasonable answer ~ and it’s my thought that the counselor should be involved ‘at the talk’ either together or individually.
Your husband doesn’t sound healthy enough to have ‘reasonable talks’ with you where he can dialog and not change history or not remember history.
This is just my opinion ~ maybe others can offer better perspective here;) 💕
I know it’s a grueling process. Regardless is the marriage gets restored.
Praying for your strength Renee, stay safe and sane.
Aly stated: I’m curious why not give him the two chapters upfront?
My response: Because the response I got, I knew I’d get. I wrestled with providing him with the chapters for a while because I didn’t want to start my mind back on his works.
This first chapter asked him to, “commit not only to what you are going to change, but also to how you are going to do it, with a written plan that you will share with your partner.” Disclaimer; (from book Should I stay or should I go) During the talk we had last week, he said he did read the chapter and had something for me to read. A few more days went by and nothing from him for me to read. So yesterday I said, I thought you had something for me to read. He goes, he re-read the chapter again and it didn’t say for me to read what he wrote.
If you visit the website and look under bonus materials, it will show the two chapters.
I went to the website and read the first chapter.
I’m confused! I read that a plan is created by the man looking to get serious about changing his behavior and that plan is specific in detail. Also that plan goes to the partner he has caused harm to.
Without the plan how else would one know what is expected ‘change’ to measure?
So his response is ridiculous!
Yet maybe telling.. the only reason he doesn’t want to share it is that he doesn’t want to be held accountable for his lined out behavior changes that will reveal ‘actual behavior’ on paper rather than the same old dance of him reverting back to …yes again immaturity.
That self talk~ my husband can SO relate too.. long process to adjust those messages.
It’s still my concern that he is looking through ‘an oxymed colored lens’ on any interventions. And the simple fact of his conclusions ~ let’s say innocently ‘misreading’ (not to share with the partner the commitment plan is silly unless I read it too fast and didn’t see it) …could be part of his drug use and the effects of his ability to concentrate and focus or an option of continued self sabatoge… I will reread again.
Not saying at all I’m right, but I would have a hard time not seeing the effects of his emotional paranoia and high reactivity not be symptoms.
Hi Aly, you are not confused and you did not misread the chapter. I did have a peak at the chapter after he told me he re-read and had mistaken what the chapter requested. So, he is being dishonest.
So yesterday we texted and I told him he was not being honest (maybe that is not the proper wording or response). He texted me back, I’m sorry you think my being honest is a lie. If you refuse to see that then I don’t know you. You are never going to forgive me in this lifetime.
Basically, I can’t forgive him when he doesn’t remember, acknowledge, etc.?
Then it goes to the guilt trip of I can’t do or say anything right in your eyes.
Pretend the boat is not rocking or abandon ship??? If I abandon ship then I’m not following God’s spiritual law.
A lot of what you’ve written here is helpful. You said that your husband never would have brought his anger to his parents, so he projected it on to you. How painful for you to be ‘scapegoated’ like that. Is that how you see that – as being scapegoated?
That is my biggest fear-being scapegoated.
As for me with my mother, I have tried SO MANY times to speak up for myself, or to create ‘a wall’ against having her anger ‘put on me’. But she’s an expert, and she knows ALL my buttons. The straw came at Christmas, almost two years ago, when I LOST IT. That was the beginning of working very carefully, slowly and wisely with God to take steps into freedom ( creating boundaries, requirements and very recently, forgiveness – not trust!)
The success of a past inter-action with her took both my h and I coming together to stand our ground. I think this ‘United front’ was a powerful force that disarmed the narc tendency in her, for that interaction. I still need to be extremely careful with any contact with her, and especially united with my h in her presence ( when we can afford to spend that energy) in future.
I can so relate to what you said, ” they so trained him to not challenge their own behaviours.”
No wonder having very strong boundaries around our couple is purging us of some serious dysfunction!
Scapegoating is my reality ~ not tying to sound like a victim here but what does the dysfunctional system have yet to do but this!
The smear campaign began behind our backs when I thought my mom and Dad were considering repairing some things that they did to me, my husband and in ear shot of our children.
This my dad refuses to take accountability for, and his wife standing by watching his His dysfunctional coping skills as if it’s normal.
It’s a character and maturity issue on both their parts in my opinion.
It took me a long time to come to understanding of how the ‘truth teller’ becomes the scapegoat.
Aly, do you think your h was the scapegoat in his family of origin? Is his personality type, a sensitive one?
I’m trying to draw parallels because everything’s upside down right now 🙃
Because for me….I’m wondering if my fear of being scapegoated ( as well as constantly subjecting myself to being scapegoated and boundary violation, by my mother) motivated me to scapegoat my loved ones 😢
It’s very difficult at the moment to see my h’s role in all of this. I know for sure that ours was the emotionally destructive dynamic of dependence ( we both depended on my h to be the saviour, in the marriage. I needed him to save me, and he needed to be the hero.). There was certainly a sabotage of Nancy going on ( by him as well as by me)..in order to fulfill that dynamic.
But there’s another emotionally destructive dynamic that was at play, as well: scapegoating. I would scapegoat my h in response to my interactions with my mother 😢
I will pray for you. I’m sorry for what your experiencing and you are doing a lot of hard emotional work sorting though things.
I’ll try my best to answer your question.
My husband was not the scapegoat, his FOO had the dynamic of (unspoken rules& control)
No one questioned his father on anything and this went well into adulthood. I became the scapegoat because I questioned certain things that made me wonder and also challenge. A family is made up of multiple individuals, not just (one person) but in dysfunctional families the one person (usually the most insecure or immature) is calling the shots and the entire family is orbiting! 😝
My husband was by far not the sensitive one as those feelings were pushed (rejected) down because in his family, emotions were not allowed, and they were not allowed because both his parents were uncomfortable with ’emotional anything’.
BOTH is really important here. He never saw them kiss, physical affection, nor ever did he see them fight.
When I came into the picture, I saw two people (disconnected & living two separate lives under the same roof) a bit robotic to me.
My husband’s fear was them being angry at him or disapproving. His Dad was quite controlling in more OCD ways and was absent working (a lot) to provide and also because the work comforted his anxiety and he could be significant and successful at work. Relationally he struggled mainly to relate but has grown more through the years. Praise!
I understood this empathetically because they had never ‘comforted’ or gave any form of secure attachment to my husband.
I am assuming your familiar with ‘Attachment’ from our past conversations.
Mainly what he experienced was neglect and abandonment~ on a profound and confusing level because it was covert like at times.
Not always in the physical sense, but 100 percent in the emotional and spiritual sense.
The denial of this was intense.
(Narc traits for coping developed here is my belief)
It took my husband years to look at the truth about those formative years and why he could of married ‘a piece a wood’ with no feelings and been happy🤗. I’m being a bit funny here because he himself can laugh at these situations at times. I guess what I truly mean is that there isn’t an age limit where the door closes on growing emotionally and spiritually, Praise God for that!
Early on in our relationship and then marriage he had only one way of dealing with his emotions. Not dealing with them or denying them all together. I was also shut down and crazy to be having feelings about things~ he wanted me to mirror his ways of dealing and it just wasn’t going to happen!
I could see physically he was not doing well and I would ask and he would use his only coping tool~ lie, deny and stuff them down.
His go to ..belief was “it’s really not that bad” so it gets layered and layered.. but as many Of us know here, the leaks are there and they don’t just go away they are expressed and manifested almost ‘distorted like’ garbled mess. Yes they do find their way out ~ even destructively so!!
Many who have lived with or has someone close to them who does NOT regulate or process their feelings ~ tends to be more in the destructive camp. It comes in cycles like abuse.
Scapegoating.. wasn’t his place of usual abuse but as things were not right with my family of origin, he often joined in at ‘denying’ any truth I brought to them. Think of it as PEER pressure in middle school.
By joining in he didn’t have my back and didn’t want to be their enemy. He was safe in his mind and then I could be dismissed as something is terribly wrong with me… rather than looking at within. Majority was an often abuse tactic to create some form of validation. Which any of us know here on this blog.. many abuse mindsets.. try to state a ‘majority point’ and I disagree with that argument all together and it shows just how fragile their original point was.
Covert Scapegoating of sorts: This went on casual for some years between my FOO and my husband ….it was like their own way of keeping their masks on aligned.
but once my husband got into his recovery path and then witnessed the obvious scapegoating and family of origin abuse first hand, he stepped in… big time!
He could see all of their behavior as his own tactics at one time and his character choices in conflict. It was ‘real time’ powerful for his journey but his grief was to see a picture of what he used to do ‘to me’ .
Sometimes those pretty underdeveloped individuals ~ I don’t mean this to put down at all, but to be sensitive to a person who is just ignorant to their own immaturity take a long time to learn ‘the concept of other’ and especially identifying the things going on inside of them first before reacting or responding.
Goodness I didn’t not intend to write that much, I’m sorry but if anything I hope something helped.
You’ll get through this with your anchor Nancy! Prayers and hugs for you all~ 💜
Aly, I had this ah ha moment during an individual session. She asked, “how my parents were growing up?” What did I see? I told her I saw two people going to church together and caring for their ten kids. Never heard them fight or say a bad word to the other. The other side of the coin was I also never saw them hug, kiss, sit together, massage. Just love on each other.
So then I was like, oh man that is why I have been so accepting about the lack of intimacy. That is why I have been so accepting when he would get in one way or the other and decide to turn off the kisses, the hugs, the sitting together, the regular lovemaking, the caring, etc. I will not say that I was so accepting, but I just did not know what to do about any of it and honestly I still do not know how to handle this if we were to have a future.
Learning to communicate my needs. Maybe that is a skill I have to learn. And then what to do if the other person chooses not to respond to my needs.
And what is the saviour, at the deepest level?
The scapegoat – The one on whom the sins are placed.
Please pray for us both.
Thank you, Aly, for your thoughtful answer to my question.
My faith is strong and I am very resourceful so I thought I could endure my marriage to a narcissistic man forever. Each time a new secret of immorality would come to light, I would cry and tell him how deeply it was affecting me. My pain just didn’t register with him, so I’d pick myself up and keep trying. After 25 years of that pattern, his secrets became public (as a pastor), he lost his ministry and we lost everything. At that point, it finally hit me how devastated my soul had become over all that time of being deceived, disregarded, and told I was crazy. I separated, pursued counseling for myself (and Leslie’s book) and told him I would work with him after he had pursued six months of professional help. But he has been able to convince himself (and others) that he has no reason to be accountable to anyone. And has demanded that I reconcile without it. After years of waiting, I filed for divorce. I hate even the word and wish I didn’t have to do it. The hardest part is being blamed for the breakdown of our family after working tirelessly for so long. (Thankfully, our kids are grown and understand.) I would do anything in the world to have a future with our family intact. The Lord knows how many ways I’ve tried to find a path to that. But I had to come to terms with the fact that I am breakable. I am precious and of great value to God. It had become impossible for me to know that in that environment. My regret is that I didn’t confide in someone along the way and get help much earlier. I will always pray that God pushes my husband to a healthy place. And I’m thankful that He will take care of me on my own. My Redeemer is faithful and true. 🙂
I would like to speak to your regret. Be careful with that kind of thinking. It is likely that the way people responded today is the same way they would have responded ten years ago. There are so few people helpers available to trained in this field. Yes, help would have been great, but don’t be too hard on yourself, it is nearly impossible to find help. That is why so many of us are posting on this blog to strangers. There are just so few people who understand this problem.
My husband has the divorce papers in his hands. Here in North Carolina it takes12 months of seperation to be able to file. I was married 22 years and with him for 27. My entire adult life I took pride in being able to pick him up from every crisis fill his sails and push his ship back out to see and then sit on the shore exhausted catching my breath to recover. I took pride in my loyalty and my devote my life to him attitude until one day I just physically couldn’t push the ship to sea anymore. And God clearly said I will help you to leave. I am with you. I never researched what was wrong with him for fear of him finding out. But the day I read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and went to class of Leslie’s did I know that I wasn’t crazy. I had been in counseling for 10 years and was always the clean up crew. We would focus on the disaster and how we could help him again and I was a shadow. I was never seen. Until i felt like Leslie was in my house telling all about my life when i read her book. I danced the day I went into the secret class and listened to so many like me. We are not alone. It also deeply saddend me. Often times emotional abuse does not “count” and being discounted even after you have come out of the abust is another blow and takes time to grieve. The book Pleasers also showed me I have been primed for this type of abuse, as a teacher and a nurse I was perfect for a narcissist. I think for all of us who have survived it is why did we stay so long. But God’s timing is perfect and as a pleaser we will do anything to keep it together until we can not longer do it. God is faithful and true and I look forward to what he wants of me. GOD’s POWER TO US- WE ARE OVERCOMERS!!!
I agree with Linda’s comments above. I was married for 24 years to a narcissist. I longed for this to be a relationship and sought help through every avenue I could find because things just never felt right. I read every Christian marriage book I could find, I scheduled couples counseling, we went to marraige enrichment retreats, couples therapy etc….. I have years and years of prayer journals begging God for wisdom and truth, while I slowly sunk into the deepest depression,sense of hopelessness, worthlessness. I was barely surviving, enduring verbal abuse, dismissal, disrespect, gas lighting, lies all coming from a husband whose outward persona to whole world was extremely charming, giving, intelligent and successful. Behind closed doors and between just the two of us, it was not a relationship at all. It was about control and using me to make himself look perfect.
Once God revealed to me the ugly truth of what I was dealing with, my hope of ever having a relationship of love, respect and mutual caring with him continued, despite the escalating abuse and mental turmoil I suffered. My stress level was so high that it manifest itself physically, making my body sick and disfunctional in more ways than I want to elaborate here, but know that it caused permanent damage, the consequences of which I will live with the rest of my life.
He never laid a hand on me, too smart and manipulative to leave evidence that the world could see. It took fleeing the home in fear and meeting with a counselor at an abuse shelter to open my eyes and get away from his control.
I read Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marraige and I saw the truth of what I was enduring within the pages and pages of it. I will add that once I learned to establish my personal boundaries with the help of counseling, prayers and understanding faithful friends, I was able to identify the control tactics and manipulation that he was using against me and did my best to not react but respond in a Godly way.
I did all I could do to raise my children to the best of my ability and in prayer, to encourage them to have relationships with Christ. Because their father professed Christ ( but had no submission to Gods authority, no love or respect for me, even as a human being) my children learned a false front of marriage and relationships. It became obvious that we were unequally yoked and my husband quit going to church or supporting or encouraging the children to do so.
A narcissist will not admit fault with exception of making himself look good and humble to the world, but a wife learns that it’s never true repentance or desire to change.
There isn’t a safe way to live with a narcissist in an intimate relationship like a marriage. The narcissist will use you for his needs and discard you without a thought for your welfare. They can be so adept at making their false front perfect that the whole world, including your own children, will be turned against you.
After years of prayer, counseling and enduring the torment, I believed that God cared more for me than a broken covenant of marriage. When I filed for the divorce, my ex husband signed the petition immediately…. it was what he had threatened me with all along, but refused to do himself because then he would look bad to the world.
He told my children that I was leaving and abandoning the family, told them to write lists of all the ways I was a lousy mother so that he could use it in court to have custody.
My counselor warned me that a narcissist will do whatever it takes to make himself look perfect to the extent that he can turn a whole town, your church, your friends, your family…. yes, even your very own children against you. Within weeks of the divorce being final, my ex had a girlfriend and her children living in my house along with my children, like one big happy family.
I was all alone, stripped of everything I held dear…..all I had was Christ, and He is enough. This is where your faith in God is tested…. Is He enough???
I will no longer live in fear because of what I learned living with a narcissist…… my take away is a rich, deep relationship with the One who is forever faithful and true. My hope is in Him. My trust is in Him.
I pray that someday my children will believe I love them and will desire a relationship with me. I’m trusting God to touch them and call them to Himself while we are estranged.
I pray that who ever may be in a marriage ( bondage) to someone who does evil with no compassion or remorse or true repentance to FLEE….. and get out while you can with your children.
Sharon, you have pretty much told my story, too! You are very right. Though, unlike you, my faith was severely tested. Still 7 years after the divorce, I struggle with trust issues – trusting God, trusting others, trusting men.
I quote your’ writing for I too like Daisy commented see that you have told my story. I also struggle with trust issues, “After years of prayer, counseling and enduring the torment, I believed that God cared more for me than a broken covenant of marriage”. As Daisy mentioned trust issues prevail. I have found that drawing closer with Lord I can look hopefully with faith to someday being able to trust completely by letting go and letting God lead the way.
Similar to Daisy I am also seven years divorced. Being at a stage of having dated a little bit since then I have seen tremendous growth in my CORE strength. So in retrospect eventhough my marriage failed with God’s help and valuable guidance I can avoid getting into a relational position with someone exhibiting narcissism. Thank God for people and places where learning how to self-care is shared.
God Bless you all!
I understand this tactic. Often they will tell you not to put the kids in the middle. Leave a recorder around and you will hear kids being put in the middle. Lies being spilled about you. At times it will outright be told to them and then other times you will hear the spouse say they were having a moment out loud and the kids overheard.
I guess all one could do at this point is still keep a watchful eye on the kids and their welfare and pray that the truth will one day set them free as well.
I think that the reason some of us reacted as we did was because we could tell from the get-go that this person was not asking questions he wanted answered, but was a right-fighter. (Dr. Phil often says, “Do you want to be right or be happy?”)
Has anyone else here read the book, “Bold Love” by Dan Allender & Tremper Longman? Just yesterday I read in it,”Discussions that attempt to convince the fool to be better or to do something different are almost always pointless and backfire into another skirmish of shame and intimidation. and….the temptation to create conversations that are designed to get the fool “to see” is stronger than the most addictive drug known to humankind. The temptation must be resisted, fought, and fled from , however, or else the fool will trample over the pearls spread before his cloven feet. If and when a fool begins to feel some sadness over his sin, discussion should be poignant, penetrating, and visionary.”
Yes that book and other work by Dan Allender actually started me on a path of real healing.
Thank you for the reminder to read Dan Allandar’s book. I heard him speak at a conference once. He is as thoughtful and sincere in person as he is in his writings.
Wish I’d read those sentences years ago!
Sharon’s comment is the reason why I think it is highly unfair to encourage anyone to find ways of living with a narcissist. Although I was only living with my husband for 15 months, the level of his destruction of me equaled Sharon’s. I too now suffer trauma trapped in my body. I cannot describe adequately to anyone the reasons why I had to leave him. I’m seen as crazy and unstable to the whole congregation I had to leave. He even tried to steal my own children from me and I am still unsure if one of them doesn’t see me as the one who left a great man for my own selfish reasons. Like the snake in the garden, everything is twisted and the truth is hidden in ways that most normal people can’t even fathom. That’s what make it so hard to explain to people. They don’t think like a narcissist so they can’t understand what you’re saying, because it sounds twisted to them, and they question is “why would he do that?” They’re unable to comprehend that someone would think and act like that and conceal it so well as to appear wholesome, helpful, full of Christ, etc. So I appear to be the crazy one, making up stories and complaining about stupid stuff. The thing is that narcissists target you for who you are and they use your past trauma against you. My husband listened to my story, became my companion in past traumas, promised he was there to help me. Then used all my past trauma against me, shaming and humiliating me in public and telling people I was mentally unbalanced. And the confusion, cognitive dissonance, and desire to somehow keep the marriage going kept me silent. Who is going to talk badly about their husband to people they want to continue in fellowship with? There is such a taboo in churches about saying anything negative about anything, especially your husband. If you open your mouth to complain, you are ostracized at church and if your husband finds out, he hits back hard enough to make your head spin. You can’t adequately explain it, you look like a nagging complaining idiot, and you face the narcissistic rage of your husband who then doubles down on his destruction of your reputation. It’s a no win situation with a narcissist. And while you are in the thick of it, your thinking is all twisted up and stockholm syndrome makes you a fawning puppy trying to please the man who is covertly destroying you. Anyone holding out hope that you can figure out a way to keep your identity so intact that you can stay without suffering has either never gone through it themselves or is so removed from it that they have forgotten the horror of it. Living with a narcissist is a place where angels fear to tread. It is the tree of evil that God says not to even touch because it brings death. You will know true evil after you live with a narcissist.
Hi Linda and Sharon,
I want to start by saying that I’m so sorry for the damage that you sustained, living with such evil. It is horrendous and I’m so glad that you are both out of your situations – not without serious damage. How horrible!
I think it’s important to note how Leslie starts her article and how she spends quite a bit of time teasing the details apart. Is someone who displays narcissistic traits, a narcissist? No. Because we are all on a continuum.
There is a real danger in labelling someone a narcissist who has some traits. That’s why walking in CORE and confronting in love is SO important. Because it will be his response to loving confrontation, that will tell the truth, not deciding from a list of traits of wether he fits the criteria ( this is a job for professionals).
Personally, I am very glad for Leslie’s practical steps in dealing with destructive relationships, because she doesn’t start with labels. She starts with a process to walk through.
A year ago, I might have labeled my h a narcissist if I had been encouraged to do so, but Leslie’s book, and the women on this blog,encouraged me to walk through the process. I’m so glad, because today, my ‘narcissist ‘ husband is engaged in personal growth. Something a narcissist would never do.
Of course, if you’re reading this and you know you are in danger ( or your kids are) then safety comes first. You must get safe. My point is not directed to women who are in situations like yours, Linda and Sharon. Again, I’m relieved to know that you are both safe.
My point is that if you’re not sure, then do your own work; of walking in CORE, of setting boundaries of confronting in love, and of separating if necessary.
The process will reveal his heart, better than any list of criteria.
I appreciate your reply because I realize that my feelings are still absolute horror at what I went through and wishing that I could prevent this from happening to anyone else.
A true narcissist will not go to get a professional diagnosis. His main motivation is to avoid exposure. Unless he is ordered to go by the court, you can count on him never getting diagnosed. And even if he does go by court order, a true narc is often able to fool a psychiatrist. So counting on a professional diagnosis is not feasible.
I believe that everyone needs to be trained in how to discern manipulation and lies. This is something that God has spent the last 6000 years teaching humanity. And I believe that now is the fullness of time for this stuff to be fully revealed across the globe. It is time for Eve to finally understand how the snake deceived her. And for Adam to take responsibility for his passivity and blame-shifting. I believe this is why the focus is on women to rise up and become the women that God intended them to be. The veils of deception have to be removed and the Bride of Christ needs to be made ready for the Bridegroom.
This is what makes me sound so forceful when I approach the subject of narcissism. Yes, there is a continuum. We all have a degree of narcissism and we all project and blame-shift to some degree. The question is if we will take responsibility for our healing and transformation. Will we allow ourselves to be exposed to the light so that we can become lightbearers ourselves? Can we turn our vast reserves of empathy back towards ourselves and learn to wear the full armor of God? Can we close our gates so we don’t receive the poison of narcissists? Can we walk among narcissists and pick out those who are trapped and desirous of truth? Can we leave behind those we love who refuse to do the work of Christ and be transformed? Can we choose Christ above all else here?
It’s not always a matter of staying safe but it is a matter of accepting the truth that there are good and evil people in the world, something I found extremely difficult to accept. I had to realize that if it were up to God, everyone would be saved. Not even Jesus was able to save more that 120 people that He personally witnessed to of the thousands that He served and performed miracles among. Heart transformation is our own choice and it has to be done in partnership with God. Jesus on the cross is God in submission to us. We are each responsible for our own submission to Him.
I completely agree here, we “need to be trained in how to discern manipulation and lies”.
For sure lots of reading, counselling, support etc… will help with that. Where the rubber meets the road will be in his response to CORE strength. In our case, my h’s response demonstrated that he is not a narcissist, and I’m very glad to have not relied entirely on a list.
Oh and yes, I agree that true narcs often won’t get diagnosed!
Again, I’m so sorry for your trauma 🙁
I also love, Linda, how you talked about women rising up to become the women God has intended us to be, and for Eve to see how the serpent deceived her.
Yes! Walking in Truth is so essential for the veil to come down. In the last year, the veil has come down in ways and places that I never would have expected. And relying heavily on my Lord is what strengthens me throughout the ever-changing landscape!
Thank you again Linda and Nancy for sharing in more words what l would attempt to say.
I agree that it is a process of learning truth and addressing it in Godly ways that allows for the condition of the heart to become apparent. How I longed for my ex husband to see the truth and be aware of the damage our interactions were causing. How I wish his heart would have cared, even the slightest bit, to be willing to work on his own issues and acknowledge his irresponsibility with his fears and control.
The ugly truth, which was so hard for me to swallow, was that he was totally incapable of ever seeing me for who I was as my own person. Any time I restated my personhood or core, it was negated, dismissed or violently ” shushed” with verbal threats and rage. I came to learn that as long as I cooperated with his own version/vision of me, I could avoid pushing his fear buttons, and thereby avoid abuse. But I wasn’t a mind reader…. I never knew who he thought I was. Being myself was a continual disappointment and threat to him. something as simple as preferring pecan pie over apple pie would result in shaming and criticizing because he expected me to have the exact same likes/dislikes as his world view/experience was for himself. Everything of myself and my core was a threat to him.
He loved to be a hero, and would consider my gifts and talents, and ” help” me, his way, by setting me up to fail so that he could come in, take over, do it his way and save the day.
Any success I had on my own however big or small, he was so jealous of it. He would twist my good intentions or pursuit of excellence in anything, claiming they were selfish, to the point that I dare not share anything good with him for fear of him squashing my joy, shaming me or piling guilt upon me, that was unjustified. There is nothing you can explain to a narcissist to gain their understanding unless it aligns with their experience of life.
My ex, never once, in 24 years of marriage asked me ” How are you?”
It’s not something a narcissist would ever ask because he knows you, only as he projects you to exist, and refuses to see you or acknowledge you any other way. A narcissist cannot see core strength in his target because it is a threat to him. Yes, I said target, because that is what you are reduced to if you have them in your life. You become their target for all the things they don’t know how to deal with or they blame you for their own lack, and lash out in anger and rage at you.
I commend those who have learned what they are dealing with, confronted in Godly ways and have seen a heart change in their spouse. I’m all for marriage and Gods plan for families, and know that it’s work and commitment, hammered out between God and the couple.
I heard from so many well meaning people that ” it takes two to make a marriage work”. That may apply to most worldly marriages, but I firmly believe it takes three. God, husband and wife. And to those who repeatedly told me it took two to make a marriage work, I now reply it only takes one to make it fail.
I beat myself up for a couple of years for wanting out of the marriage after learning my husband had no desire or willingness to address his fear, his rage, his abuse and control tactics. For my own health and mental well being, and also spiritual growth, I had to learn to let go of the ideal marriage relationship with him because the covenant of my own marriage was not upheld by my ex. I hate divorce. God hates divorce. I was freed from my guilt over filing for divorce when I read that God Himself had divorced Israel for unfaithfulness.
Each of us will be accountable to our Heavenly Father for what we have done in this life, and I’ve learned that I cannot expect the world to understand my reasons for filing for divorce, but I know God sees and I’m at peace with that.
It’s a daily wrestle with my thoughts and emotions as words and abuses my ex used against me, come into my consciousness from years ago, even though I have not seen him or spoken to him in years. Seeing these things from a healthier perspective now, still causes a great deal of pain and suffering, but I learned from the Savior as He hung from the cross to say ” Father, forgive him, because he knows not what he is doing.”
I agree with Leslie as she is very careful about labeling a person simply because of instances where personality traits may emerge within individuals occasionally. Yes, we are all sinners and we all have committed items on the list of narcissistic traits.
Years of seeking wisdom, Godly counseling, journaling my prayers, seeing the patterns of abuse, learning about the fears that push buttons and learning how to see them in truth and respond in Godly ways etc…. leads me to answer that there is no way to live safely with a narcissist. They are accountable to no one and subject to no one but themselves…… they don’t have the capability to reason nor understand the pain they inflict upon others because they lack empathy and compassion. The false front they project of themselves to the world may display and mimic such, but it’s just not there for real. Once you discover that is who they are, it’s like loving a shadow that’s always just out of reach, or physically reaching out to hug a ghost….and discovering that you are standing there by yourself. It’s not a relationship at all and never was one. It is a power and control trip that they win and you lose. It’s a very, very dark place. Only way out is to flee and run to Christ. The light will expose the truth.
Your description of your interaction with your h has helped me so much. The way you described that each time you stated your personhood, you were negated. And that you came to learn that as long as you cooperated with his version of you, you could avoid abuse.
This is exactly whatvI grew up with my mother. She is borderline and therefor has strong narcissistic traits. There are times when she can respect me, but times when she cannot. This created in me significant trust issues as well as an inability ( up until recently) to even begin to know who I am.
Just this Tuesday in counselling, this button was exposed as the issue of ‘me disappearing’ ( as I call it) has had a major impact on so many aspects of my life. I have never cried so hard in my life as I have in the past two days.
I can identify so strongly with many posts here regarding difficulty trusting, and looking back at how far back this goes, I cannot see a way through to healing. I have no foundation in the area of even knowing who I am because I learned very early that if a loved one is upset or angry with something I do, then I change who I am. This has led to a dynamic where I am terrified of any negative emotion directed at me,mwhich means that my loved ones do not feel they can be honest with me. It’s crippling, really.
Anyways, .Sharon, your post comes at an opportune time for me because in the counselling office this week, I was so defensive and angry – because the counsellor had hit this problem exactly on the head- that I could not process what he was saying. Your words of how you had to ‘disappear’ ( my interpretation of what you said) brought home exactly what my counsellor was trying to tell me.
This is about developing my CORE especially in the face of disapproval ( or even what I perceive to be disapproval, because my radar for ‘being disapproved of’ is so very sensitive).
The depth of this is overwhelming, but my Lord will see me through.
Sharon…you speak with such wisdom and I agree with your conclusions…thank you for taking the time to share in such a meaningful way
Thanks Nancy. I’m glad this is happening in your home. Not everyone is so fortunate but you’re right, as you do your work and change your own dance, you will see much more clearly what his steps are or are not. Also, I went into this much detail because I do know women who have chosen to stay with their husband who did display traits of narcissism but the more they got stronger and stood up for themselves in a good way, the more they could live in the marriage in a good way – without losing themselves. Plus this woman gave me absolutely no other information on what her “narcissistic” husband was doing that made it difficult for her, nor did she claim he was abusive so I felt I had to answer with a broader answer than I might if I had more details.
Hi Linda, Thank you for saying…
That’s what make it so hard to explain to people. They don’t think like a narcissist so they can’t understand what you’re saying, because it sounds twisted to them, and they question is “why would he do that?” They’re unable to comprehend that someone would think and act like that and conceal it so well as to appear wholesome, helpful, full of Christ, etc.”
That is so true. I’m fairly new to the realization that I have been abused by a narcissist for most if not all of our marriage. Even now, knowing all that I do, it is just so hard for me to get past the realization of “but normal people just don’t think that way” And I have seen it lived day in, day out for decades.
Now, bring into the picture happy, committed christians that are quite Godly and just really nice people. Even though they see the destruction and pain that she has inflicted on everyone around her (including them), it seems next to impossible for them to understand that she just doesn’t look at people and life the same way they do. It is difficult for them to understand that she views everyone through the lens of how she can benefit from them, either by being built up by them or by tearing them down. And all with a smile.
And that is what makes it a character or personality disorder. It is in the core of their being and they themselves are unable to see it, let alone all the people who have never come to understand that there are people out there who are essentially predators in their nature. Can you change the predatory nature of a tiger? People who have certain dogs, for example a German Shepherd, know that the evaluation of the temperament of one of these dogs includes an evaluation of their predatory drive. A Border Collie is driven to herd. It is impossible and cruel to try to eradicate this drive because you can’t change the nature of the animal. But you can train it and contain it. And that is exactly what the covert narcissist has learned to do. He (or she) has learned to “behave themselves” in public. But at home, they have no incentive to behave, because the person they have chosen as their meal ticket is there for one reason, to feed their ego. And this is what the poodles and lap dogs of the world can’t understand, because they exist to live in relationship, to be loved and cuddled. But the predator exists to steal, kill, and destroy. And it just so happens that they live in bodies that look just like our poodle and shih tzu bodies. We are all clay vessels that look alike. And we all project ourselves into the vessels we meet up with, whether we project goodness into a vessel filled with evil, or we are an evil vessel who projects evil into a vessel filled with goodness. We all try to change the vessels we meet to fit our idea of what they should be.
Great simple explanation of why trying to make my life work like a Disney movie doesn’t work. I’ve watched so many movies over the decades that show that we could turn a jerk into a loving responsible man by being persistently nice that I believed it. (i.e. Music Man) Only God can change a character. Not my Job!!
Linda, your dog analogy is one of the best explanations of narcissism I have ever heard. Well done.
Thank you, Leslie, for that clear definition of a narcissist, as well as of all of us in the human condition as fallen people. I appreciate your clear instructions for how to act with grace and truth, to a spouse who is possibly uninterested in my feelings, and tends to most often react to any attempt to discuss our relationship’s problems/my feelings with negative and belittling comments. It is important to work on our own problems so that we can attempt to improve broken marriages and relationships. They may be broken, in part, from the ways we have behaved, as we did not know another way to act in unfamiliar circumstances, or this is what we learned in our dysfunctional family of origin. Thank you!
Thank you again, dear Leslie. As I’ve noted here previously, I lived with my narcissist h for over 50 years, finally divorced, and foolishly began living with him again last January. Neither of us has changed, however, and I at least have learned not to respond to his verbal abuse or control. He’s recently been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, and in and out of the hospital twice for treatment. He’s very weak and uses a walker, so I’ve become his care-taker and take him to doctor appointments, monitoring his food and medications, etc. He seems to take me for granted, so I try to do it in a spirit of Christian love, although I must admit, I need lots of prayer to do so.
Thank God, that our two daughters live nearby and are lovingly supportive, as well as my church and my Lord.
Thank you, Leslie, for posting this question. I am in agreement with both Linda and Sharon regarding the Narcissist relationship. Until my now ex-husband’s sister asked me to research gaslighting, I had no idea what was going on with my him or our marriage. Sharon’s story is a whole like mine, except my sons have experienced the discarding by their father, and our divorce was final two weeks before our 32 wedding anniversary.
One of the issues about NPD is that it is rarely identified or diagnosed because a Narcissist will never go to be tested. Once a survivor of narcissistic abuse has an “aha” moment, and it comes when one starts researching about how one is treated or for me, someone gave me a hint, then there is something to sink your teeth in. Upon discovering that gaslighting led to Narcissist Personality Disorder (or what could be since rarely are they diagnosed (see above), I felt two things: a punch in the gut and peace.
Once the information is gathered, and the truth is acknowledged, then a path begins to unfold. The words came out of my mouth, “I choose me.” And that decision was made 13 months ago from the date of this posting. I continued to research websites, books, and prayed. The journey involved many hard things, but with a very wise Christian therapist with experience helping victims/survivors of narcissist abuse came up with a plan to go forward, along with a savvy “high-road” attorney experienced with people divorcing a narcissist, I was able to step forward into a very unknown future.
A Survivor of this kind of emotional abuse has undergone tremendous conditioning, and your answer in this blog is accurate. The Stockholm Syndrome, the cognitive dissonance, and all the manipulative techniques (who knew there were names for all these things) can do real harm to those in a relationship with a narc. Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a book called “Necessary Endings” about relationships primarily in a corporate/work environment, but there was plenty of personal marital relationship applications in it as well. The chapter that was especially eye-opening was “The Wise, The Foolish, and The Evil.” A foolish person will not work on changing when confronted with conversations and anything that points out areas of concern or faults. A foolish person only responds to consequences. As I read through the checklist of a foolish person, my ex had every single quality. Healthy conversations about resolving conflict would never happen to a foolish person.
This is not a journey I would have ever chosen for myself. I never thought I would be divorced; however, I am walking in unknown territory, but God is way ahead of me. He knows where I’m going and He will be with me every step of the way.
Thank you for bringing this named topic to people’s attention. As always, you are able to describe an incredibly difficult and complex subject into something that can be understood whether a person is reading for interest or reading for more information. There are many more of us out there, and the key is to be able to identify the issue, then steps can be made to work out whatever is needed for a healthy life.
“Friend, how have you lived wisely with a narcissist?”
. . . .I just don’t know that anyone can live wisely or live healthy with a narcissist. If the narcissist is interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others, rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted, etc. (—from the DSM-V workbook), well, I simply I don’t see how one can wisely live with this type of person.
To me, narcissism is an overwhelming confusing topic but, and maybe this is too simple, it seems to be basically lies. Lies told to those who are vulnerable. The narcissist uses shame as a weapon to fool you into feeling inferior (—notice this fits so very well into many church programs driven by shame: —in my church: filthy sinners who will not “repent”, etc.) . . . .It seems there are obstacles which keep people trapped in the narcissistic abuse cage: love starvation☑, low shame tolerance☑, guilt and conditioning☑. . . . .Maybe, the only way to not be vulnerable is lots of education, skepticism, logic, reason, solid boundaries (—even with pastors, etc.). . . . .Just a few ideas:
1) Maybe, skill up & empower yourself. Learn as much as you can about Christian Origins; Church History (History is an outrageously insightful teacher!!!); —Science!!! (—YES, Science!!!!!); Psychology too.
2) Maybe, flex your CORE muscles: Challenge the psychological cage and come out of hiding (—like we do here, even if sheepishly.)
3) Even the scales and restore balance to your relationships with solid *boundaries* that foster a strong sense of self and firmly protect you. . . .
4) And definitely listen to the Holy Spirit and make sure “Wise Others” are really wise. . . . You can’t know that if you don’t empower yourself first.
—But, even using prayer, logic, evidence, reason, . . . .the cards are stacked against us because the easiest person to fool is ourselves. . . . .That is why we have to keep asking the *really* hard questions. —Just like science does. Science tries to disprove the things it likes (—to confirm they are true) vs. confirmation basis (“I like this person/idea, now how do I prove they are good for me.”)
. . . .Anytime anyone uses shame as a weapon to fool you into feeling inferior, vastly increase your prayer, your independence, your emotional strength, awareness through education, skepticism, logic, reason, solid boundaries. The gift of knowledge is empowering, and the gift of wisdom from that knowledge is life-changing, even if it deconstructs certain cherished ideas. I always pray: “God please give me wisdom, I will not find the Truth without You. Give me strong, rational critical reasoning abilities. Teach me how to think critically (—no logical fallacies, —no magical thinking), help me be truly aware and please change me. Change me in the ways You know I need to be changed because I can’t see myself. —I’m blind without You.”
When I feel confused about what to believe, I always pray, “God, you are not the author of confusion. Please show me the correct way to go.” I sing songs about being purified and of allowing the fire to burn me. I pray for courage to stand in the fire and to allow Him to show me where I am needing His help in the process. Thank you Lord that I don’t have to be my own savior.
“God, you are not the author of confusion. Please show me the correct way to go.”
—That’s beautiful Linda. I’ll add that to my next prayer. Re:1 Corinthians 14:33
I like the heart cleaning part too!!! Re: “I sing songs about being purified and of allowing the fire to burn me. I pray for courage to stand in the fire and to allow Him to show me where I am needing His help in the process.”
. . . .So, so true. We get to choose if we want to pay that price now (—being totally honest with husbands, friends, children) or “x” years later. —That’s it. . . .the Truth is something that burns. It burns off dead wood. —And I, like others, don’t like having my dead wood burnt off because I’m like 75 percent dead wood. —And believe me, I’m not being snide about that. —It’s no joke. When you start to realize how much of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on just what others say, that is a horrifying realization. It can easily be 75 percent of the things we say and do.
—Anyways, excellent thoughts, thank you Linda. I love when we work on our hearts❣😊 💕. . . . .My counselor always tells me that the cleaner we (I) can keep our (my) hearts, the more of God’s love will shine through the windows into them. God’s love is always constant but we let all kinds of black smudges get on the windows into our hearts.
I agree with Linda 100%.
The guilt I still wrestle with for having stayed with such a man, and for the damage done to our middle child in particular while waiting for my husband’s “diagnosis” — which we never got — is sometimes truly unbearable. If it weren’t for the Lord still sustaining me…and my knowing that God is still working on my son, sometimes I’d rather just crack and get it over with. Nothing like raising my children with a narcissist has made me long for Heaven more.
Leslie, I love your wisdom and I do agree with you in that there are many self-centered people who act like narcs but don’t display quite enough heavy markers for an actual diagnosis. I just wish for the hurting and trapped women out there that your answer hadn’t been so incredibly amplified and dissected… (as if a narcissist is going to willingly trot off to a P-Doc for closer examination). I feel there has been way too much weight attached to diagnosing truly toxic people, where often the time it takes to “get there,” if ever, further immobilizes the victim(s) and feeds the FOG we’re already in. Sometimes we need strong enough words (labels) to penetrate our own trauma bonding, and I am certain — absolutely certain — that God is not the least bit concerned about our possible “mislabeling” at this point.
Kudos to Linda for telling it like it is. She nailed it.
Love your window of the heart analogy, Aleea 🙂 yup, lots of smudges over here!
. . . .me too! . . . the clearing out of all those black smudges (—making them conscious, even my subconscious patterns). . . .then, letting God, the “light of the world” shine into my heart so in need of light, healing-transformation is always what I seek. That cleaning and transformation, I call that going deeper with Christ. My counselor calls it heart cleaning. . . . .One possible idea for everyone (—not married to neuropsychological measures outside that of normal individuals) is to motivate your spouse with your life (—that may not work with neuropsychological measures outside that of normal individuals). . . .But lets assume for a min. we have a normal individual, not someone interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others, rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted (—from the DSM-V workbook), etc., etc. . . .
—ἁμαρτία (hamartia) in the New Testament, is missing the mark. . . .But it isn’t just “I have sinned”, it is the forfeiture of God’s love because I have. Not because God withholds love but because our hearts (my heart) are cover with black smudges that keep His light out. —So, making conscious and repenting of even little patterns of sin is like unclogging a pipe. I want that pipe to God’s love as clean as possible (—or Lord if I really don’t want that, change me so that I do, please!) . . .Change me so I can experience as much of your love as possible. God’s love transforms everything it shines into. The cleaner we keeps our hearts, the more of Christ’s love and joy will flow into them. —The cleaning of our hearts (—making conscious and repenting of) even little patterns of missing the mark —sin, or forfeiture of God’s love because we are missing the mark! —This changes the world and especially our worlds (our families)!!! Christ came to give us life, —real life. . . .Again, if God is the “light of the world” but I am covered in dark, black smudges (—gossip, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, name-the-issues☠ ☢) that are in need of light, healing-transformation —then, we (I) —in Christ’s power, taking responsibility to undertake such a cleaning and transformation allow God to shine His Love more brightly into our (my) hearts! . . . It is so, so good for us and it affects everyone in our families and beyond! . . . .🙏Lord God help me not to just explain it, but please make it a reality in my life/ our lives. . . .✞ Help us all be continuously transformed 💟 💜
I totally agree, Aleea, keeping our heart clean of smudg s lets the light in 🙂
There’s another reality too, though, we have been made new in Christ, already. There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What freedom in this! We stand in His grace, regardless of the smudges!
Lately, I have been thinking of confession to God, more of allowing Him to remind me that I am ALREADY forgiven, instead of going to Him, ASKIng for forgiveness.
This has helped to relieve me a bit of my ever-present ‘works’ mentality.
I apologize for not responding sooner. I was at this Tres Dias (www tresdias org) retreat this past weekend (―NO cell phones; NO laptops; NO tablets; not even watches). . . . .We focused for three straight intense days (Tres Dias) just going deeper and deeper and with Christ. . . . ―Woo Hoo!!!) . . . .And Tres Dias is everywhere: Denmark, Peru, Ireland, Canada, Ukraine, et.al. It was so, so beautiful. ―Talk about getting filled to overflowing!!! ―Wow, it blew me away and I am *skeptical* (. . .as you well know).
“. . .There’s another reality too, though, we have been made new in Christ, already. There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. What freedom in this! We stand in His grace, regardless of the smudges!”
―YES!!! ―And that is so, so beautifully said. There is nothing Nancy can do that would possibly cause God to love her less ―or more. Nancy is already *totally* loved and *totally* accepted by Christ. . . . “That’s a done deal!” ―as Kim Fredrickson, who wrote the blog a few week back about compassion, always says.
“. . .Lately, I have been thinking of confession to God, more of allowing Him to remind me that I am ALREADY forgiven, instead of going to Him, ASKING for forgiveness. This has helped to relieve me a bit of my ever-present ‘works’ mentality.”
―That is so, so beautiful!!! You get it. . . . . .So, you can just move to the praise phase. . . .
Maybe if you don’t know it, listen to the song: “Good Good Father” song by Chris Tomlin . . . “You’re a good good Father. . . .It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are . . .And I’m so loved by You . . .It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” . . . .Totally forgiven, totally loved and totally accepted by Christ, nothing else to do but praise/worship God!
We Christians have always historically and even now have always been a bunch of crybabies. . . .ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .but it is so, so, so beautiful. You can’t deeply heal unless you deeply, *seriously* feel.
Like a spotless lamb, I’m blameless in His sight . . .with no trace of wrong left to right. . . . .I’m clean, clean, clean!!!!! ―1 John 1:9, John 15:3. . . . ἤδη ὑμεῖς καθαροί. . . .and on and on and on it goes. . . .Woo Hoo!!! ―I so deeply appreciate you Nancy!!! 💗 ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ 💗 💖💜 💟. . . ❣♡ ۵ 😊 💕.
Linda, I agree with you on your experience. You nailed it when you mentioned that it is very difficult to explain what is really going on because the examples seem petty and trivial until you understand the deceitful nature of a narc.
My therapist gave a good example of how to describe what I was going through and my decision to file for divorce: “??? (his name) is the director and star of his own movie/show and the rest of us are extras. As long as the extras do what the director and the star want, we’re in the movie/show. But, if we don’t do what the director or star want us to do, then we’re fired. And I don’t want to be part of his movie anymore.”
For some reason, that connected with some folks when I used that explanation. I have been blessed that some close friends have walked through this with me, along with my sisters — researching along with me so they know how to help. That was a blessing and an encouragement to have folks willing to learn about NPD and to be able to be a sounding board as you work through the process. Lots of prayers for all those in this type of toxic environment and may they all find their path to peace and a healthy space.
Becky, Great analogy. I thought of an addition. The extras can never become more successful and take the spotlight away from the star. When this happens the star will do whatever it takes to get the spotlight back 🙁
. . . .Absolutely. . .I always ask myself: Why is divorce in so many churches usually peddled as some sort of staged (stepped-down) last resort? ―Maybe it is an immediate first resort? . . . .And, maybe it could be that there is no show, no real movie/ no Ocsars to win, ―there is nothing. ―After reading these heart-breaking stories for years and years, and praying over them week after week, I see no winning movies. Life is very tragic and reality is very harsh, but in all things, if we can *somehow* deal with our reality ―directly, ―proactively, ―preemptively, maybe that is the way to go. . . . .I am always amazed at the strength of people who can deal with reality head on. . . . I look at lots of people, they have skin as thick as a rhinoceros. Look at Trump, classic NPD. ―But no worse than other politicians, corporate/ church leaders, areas where it appears NPD is the norm. . . . .When I face reality head on, it deconstructs everything for me, all my hope is terminated, so I run back to wish fulfillment/ magical thinking. . . .Here is my definition of reality: Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away. Love must face reality, if it is to survive. . . .I have a very hard time, ―not digesting the facts and evidence, ―not researching things, ―not verifying those facts and evidence, ―not working hard with primary sources, *but* with facing and accepting the implications. . . . ―Anyways, people should do what the Holy Spirit tells them to do. When we break our idols of addiction to certainty —a really hard process for me— everything seems to breaks with it. It all seems to go. . . .
So, maybe my point is this (Lord Jesus help me say these things correctly!!!): If all these “great” Bible scholars and “serious” Christians of the past totally, completely, utterly missed it on slavery (Missed it HUGE), why would the “greats” of today not listen to the Leslies’ and others points of view unless they are just protecting “Power”. . . . .And very importantly, what else are we totally missing it on? Aren’t wives of abusers just the slaves of today? Does Christianity just float along with what Christian culture will accept? . . . .Studying the past should totally, completely, utterly humble us and cause us to listen well to anyone with a good argument (the arguments are more important than the people making them, the degrees, the denominations, etc.) So, why is divorce usually peddled as a last resort? Maybe it is a first resort? Every situation is different and no one ultimately can tell women what to do except the Holy Spirit of God. Importantly, the Bible says *a lot* of different things anyway, re: divorce, remarriage, etc. Again, when we break our idols of addiction to certainty —a really hard process for me— everything seems to break with it. It all goes. . . . .Maybe it is perfectionism, but God is perfect. How can it always be such a mess of definitions, interpretations, “conclusions”, etc. Again, it seems crazy that divorce is usually peddled as some sort of staged (stepped-down) last resort. ―Maybe it is an immediate first resort? . . . .Untold amounts of women would have been better off with that stance. . . .Reality isn’t the way we wish things to be, nor the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are. Either we acknowledge reality and use it to our benefit (—no matter what the Bible “says”), or it will automatically work against us. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, it doesn’t go away. . . . .I was reading “How Trauma Lodges in the Body”. They say in that research paper: “Unlike other forms of psychological disorders, the core issue in trauma is reality.” ―I think, what does that mean “the core issue in trauma is reality”? —Then it hits me❣😊 🙏.
I love the movie star analogy. Thank you. It is perfect.
Once again, disappointing to see not one Scripture reference and not one mention of Christ. How can this be viewed as “Christ-centered” counselling? Although there is always a reference to Leslie’s own book for sale. That never get’s missed. Starting to see through this.
I personally want to reach out to you and let you know that if it were not for Christ, as revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures, and the power of His Word and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I would have had no hope of surviving or no source of truth by which to look for authority. If I have not included scripture as encouragement or credited Christ for His love and rescue, please know it was not my intent. If I made mention of Leslie’s book, know that it was a tool provided to equip me with knowledge and conviction and did indeed point me to a deeper relationship with Christ and Trusting in Him and Him alone. Because of what I have personally been through, I have been prompted to reply to this specific question to provide hope to others who may need to see the harsh reality of the dangers of having a narcissistic or toxic person influencing their life, with the effect of such clouding or darkening the truth… like a dense fog.
I pray that what you may see through as you read these posts will point to Christ and His love, and not simply the tools. So much more at stake here than the sale of a book.
Could you please mention specific things that you think are contrary to Christ’s teaching?
I disagree with a large part of Leslie’s teaching (*gasp*), as do most true Bible believing Christians. Nevertheless, my point is that, if advice is not being given with the lense of Scripture (which it, distressingly often, is not), this is no different than fallen worldly psychology. So let’s call it what it is, rather than “Christ Centered” counselling.
jkelly ….I am a Bible believing Christian and am enrolled in Bible College at this time…I have been following Leslie’s books and site for a long time and find it very Christ centered…and a much needed place of spiritual refreshment for women in difficult and destructive marriages. Praying for us all !!
Are you familiar with west minister theological seminar? They offer a program in biblical counseling. That means all counsel is biblical only. Leslie has claimed to be Christ centered. That is not the same as biblical counseling. There is no fraudulence here, rather a misunderstanding in the forms of Christian counseling.
I think you are bringing up an important point but I would want to understand how you might define the two and the differences?
Would you expand here;)
Lilah, I am Christ centered for sure, but have worked for CCEF a very prominent Biblical counseling organization for over 10 years. I do not refer to myself as a Biblical counselor as much because as much as I believe the Bible, I center myself in Christ.
Why the sarcasm and attitude? What is it you are looking for? You sound like you are looking for something and not finding it. You will find many people here very willing to help as we have all been in very difficult situations and Leslie has helped us all by pointing us back to scripture and the love of Jesus on more occasions than any of us can count. It’s not helpful to insult people. We will help as much as we can.
Your response seems like you are in some pain. I’m sorry. Many of us here are either married or in a relationship with a person(s) who are professing Christians yet their behavior and attitude reveal their heart, and their mindset which is key to the lens they are looking through.
Also, some are here with a history or past that has been hurdle and hurdle seeking Gods Kingdom for our hearts.
And some are here working through destructive behaviors & patterns that are in a transformative process based on the truth of Scripture and the Love in truth it has for us💜
Here is some scripture that I believe is essential to our souls.
” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘aYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the great and 1foremost commandment.”
There is a second commandment, but I would guess you already know what it is and the importance of it for the Glory of God and the building of His kingdom.
See one of the most precious characteristics of the Lord is His profound Empathy for His own~ I don’t find a hint of empathy in your post above.
Anyone can read and study the scriptures from a head level, but not many can offer them in application at a ‘heartlevel’ which is why the scriptures teach so much about the importance about integrating ourselves with the knowledge of scripture through behavior and action.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
One of my favorites;)
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
Blessings to you and your journey, may God give you eyes to see and ears to hear🙏
To answer you question Aly, I would recommend that you go to a few graduate school websites and review the degrees and their focus. There is great variation in this field of practice.
I would also like to state that I was writing in favor of Leslie. I was trying to help jkelly consider that their are various forms of Christian counseling.
I read your comment to be in favor with Leslie’s opinions and how they are biblically reinforced.
I was just curious about the differences of what you noted. For me the entire bible points to and reveals Christ and His love.
JKelly- I’m fine with you disagreeing with a large part of my teaching but I don’t think you are accurately portraying that most true Bible believing Christians disagree with my teaching since I center my teaching on the Bible. However, we may disagree on what the Bible is saying or meaning in various passages. But there is a variety of opinions here on this blog, which I have always welcomed even if I don’t agree 100% with them. But our goal is to treat one another with Godly truth with loving grace – always.
I don’t think I’m misrepresenting when I say most conservative Christians disagree with your viewpoints. When we have to convolute clear Biblical teaching to mean something other than what any plain reading suggests (for example, God hates divorce…this is continually interpreted as, well, God doesn’t REALLY hate divorce under these 50 scenarios…just to give one specific example), then this is not a Christ centered approach. It is, rather, telling a small subset of people (the faithful subscribers to this blog) what they want to hear. Why is it that so many who post here say that their pastors don’t get it? Are all of these pastors and leaders of inferior intellect? Are they immature and unspiritual? Or is it that their opinion is that this is at odds to what they think the Bible clearly teaches? That’s a pretty strong indicator to me. I have talked with numerous spiritual, mature, wise and gracious Christians about what is publicized on this website and have yet to find someone who agrees with its teaching (in general – I don’t suggest they disagree about every point). If we have to do gymnastics to re-explain simply understood verses, something’s wrong. I don’t think God intended to make the Bible confusing to the point where it doesn’t mean what it appears to mean.
Ok JKelly or Tim, Now I’m not sure if you are a different person or the same person posting under a different name.
Since you are the knowledgeable one, according to you, what do you suggest for all of us who are under various degrees of destruction with our spouses?
What is the Christ centered approach? You are the knowledgeable one, again according to you, so enlighten us. That would be much more helpful that accusing.
I absolutely adore my pastor and his wife. However, they absolutely cannot advise me against divorce unless they have lived with my spouse and interacted with him on a daily basis and not just on Sunday mornings.
In fact, why don’t you come into each and every one of our homes and then come back with your theory or thought.
Give any pastor(s) and leader(s) a scripture out of the Bible and just watch all the different interpretations. Think tithes, heaven and hell, saved and un-saved, faith, love, etc.
Leslie is not putting a gun to anyone’s head. It’s almost as if you are suggesting that to divorce is to be hell bound and to stay and live in miserly is the pathway to heaven.
If so, no wonder the non-believers gap is widening.
When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you.
I agree with you that God hates divorce.
I agree with you. But even when God shows what he hates, He also allows it. To hate something doesn’t me you are for it.
My opinion (not a majority but my individual opinion) is that This blog and Leslie’s teachings are not about divorce or those focus of divorce.
Sometimes divorce is an outcome, sometimes separation is also, but many times a marriage isn’t always a casualty when facing these difficult marital situations in truth & love.
Do you believe God divorced Israel? And if so, why did God do this?
In Proverbs is states;
“Whoever corrects a mockery invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you;rebuke a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”
Proverbs 9: 7-9
There are many things that God detests that are biblical truths.
I think that deception and false witness are among the top list.
My husband will tell you he broke his marital covenant at a heart level (promising to give his heart and protection of the marriage) and that betrayal was warranted for divorce.
We didn’t divorce but my husband had to define what a marriage was & deeply look at the covenant vows ‘he took’ and how many of them he broke, not only to me, but to God!
The offense was against God and his daughter.
God allows for divorce for a few critical examples but also because of hard heartedness and I believe that this is allowed because it’s impossible to call it a marriage or a relationship when dealing with such an individual. Jesus walked away from many hard hearted people.
” I have talked with numerous spiritual, mature, wise and gracious Christians about what is publicized on this website and have yet to find someone who agrees with its teaching (in general – I don’t suggest they disagree about every point). ”
Do you consider yourself spiritually mature and wise? A gracious Christian?
How are you measuring and accessing your own maturity and intellect?
To bring up the point about God hating Divorce is clear and valid.
God is not a linear God only. He’s abstract and in terms of divorce this is critical.
Divorce does a lot of damage to our society and health as a community. But also those that are in a Marital union and are modeling ‘divorce’ day in day out are also very damaging!
This means that a person may be married but divorced in their heart and their head and that is just as damaging if not more in ways as it causing a cognitive disconnect and it models unhealthy roles and responses to sacred spouses… which get passed down and passed down.
Very sad 😢
It’s true that on this blog, you will find many examples of women whose pastors “didn’t get it”. Rather than taking that as proof that these women are in the wrong, I would challenge you to consider the possibility there there are many in leadership that have had little to no experience or training in helping women in abusive situations. While there are many reasons behind why a pastor “didn’t get it”, the tragedy is that there is a woman looking for help, crying out for someone to help her make sense of the hurt and hell she is trying desperately to rectify, and rather than being supported and loved, she is dismissed, discounted, discredited. That must pain God’s heart immensely.
Perhaps what we don’t share here often enough is the other story. So I’ll share mine. I opened up to my pastor, our assistant pastor, and their wives about the abuse I was enduring. The confusion, the hurt, the manipulation and control. I was wholeheartedly supported. In fact, I was told, God doesn’t want this for your life. The evil and hurt that is being done to you grieves his heart. I wasn’t told to divorce, I wasn’t told to stay. I’ve been offered a place to stay, a place to run, help with childcare, and any other resource I need. I’ve been reassured that I will be supported in whatever choice I make moving forward. In fact, as I’ve become more transparent, opening up to others in the church, the message has remained the same. I have a “family” who is steadfast and will support me and remind me who I am as a child of God.
One other thought. If you knew a neighbor child who was being abused, what would you do? Would you refuse to help because God’s plan is for family? Or would you intervene because this child is God’s child and no child should be abused. How is God’s plan for marriage any different than his plan for family? Whether a child of God is a wife or a daughter, is abuse tolerated for one but not the other?
the traits of narcissism are spoken about in the Bible all over the place. Proverbs speak of people who are fools, who refuse instruction, who are proud, who oppress the weak, who talk their way into the homes of widows. These are traits of narcissism. Psychology names these traits as manipulation, the trait of being unteachable, oppression comes through robbing of identity and the ability to perceive right from wrong. These are all traits of narcissism and the Bible tells us to stay away from people like that. Proverbs 26:4-5 says “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” This advice is especially important for dealing with a narcissist and you would only know it if you have studied the psychology of narcissism. So you see, it is a synthesis of the truth of the Bible and knowledge of psychology that is helping us to decipher through all the lies and manipulations of narcissism.
2 Timothy 3:1-9…..very poignant description and clear instructions to avoid such people. I’m always intrigued that a very clear section of Scripture is rarely mentioned when we are confronted with those who live this way habitually. It is part of Scriptural teaching, after all.
Let me add that this seems to be clear guidance from the Lord that we are permitted, and yes even instructed, to guard our hearts against such wickedness. We do not need to be shamed for this.
Just because something is not called out in the Bible, it does not make it invalid. There have been a number of things that man has learned of after the Bible was written. For example, cancer, diabetes etc.
If that is a genuine question (i.e. “what is the Christ-centered approach?” – I have my suspicions that there was a meaningful amount of sarcasm in it, so I’m not too convinced that you’re genuinely looking for the Christ-centered approach, but I digress), it is extremely easy to find. Get out a Bible, and a good search tool, and look up verses that talk about the instructions to wives. And then verses about Christ’s character and actions Himself when He had every right to strike back at those who hurt Him. If the Scriptures were written by Christ (I certainly hope you would at least agree with that), that’s where one would expect to find the Christ-centered approach. But don’t do it if you’re insincere, since God expects us to act based upon the truth of His Word. Best not to go through that exercise unless you’re willing to submit to clear teaching (yes, I realize no one likes that word – submit – but I’ll use it anyway).
And, no, I’m not Tim. That’s a bit paranoid to ask.
That’s ok to have that suspicion. It happens. I had that moment. Glad you cleared up that you are not Tim.
However, in the few minutes you spent posting to me, you could very well had picked any post on this page and counseled us on the, “Christ Centered Approach” and let open dialog happen.
I’m here to listen.
And that is the gist of emotional manipulation. A barb is used to break down boundaries and gain access to the heart. “IF YOU really want to know…” it’s like “If you REALLY want a relationship with me, you’ll accept this pain and that pain…all designed to break your heart so I can put in my poison.” Jesus told it with honesty and integrity. He never manipulated anyone. Being in CORE is maintaining your integrity just like Jesus. And guess what? When you’re able to do that consistently these abusers get bored and walk away. So it’s not ungodly teaching to teach people to maintain their integrity. And the divorce that follows is not caused by the person maintaining Christlike integrity (CORE). It’s caused by the unrepentant abuser who can’t stand not being able to break your integrity.
Wow Linda. That’s it,” a barb is used to break down boundaries, and gain access to the heart.”
That is exactly what emotional manipulation is. And yes, divorce (or failure of any relationship, for that matter) is not caused by the person maintaining integrity, but by the one who can’t stand not being able to break your integrity.
Very well said !
Linda & Nancy,
I agree with both of you here!
Well said Linda on the part of who ‘is actually’ the one failing their part of the relationship, or breaking the convental marriage?
Sometimes this takes time to sort through~ but with patterns of behavior they reveal overtime.
I have come to accept that often there are many who want ‘interaction’ or a form of physical presence but they don’t want an actual ‘relationship’.
I believe I would be doing them a disservice and harm to call it such.
I’d like to know what you think about this:
I’ve been thinking a lot about respect. Of course much of my own work has been around how to respect myself (not allowing the ‘barbs to penetrate my heart’ as Linda so accurately described emotional manipulation). But I also need to show others respect. And what is respect? Ultimately it is respecting another person’s limitations, I think…?
So…,where is the line between ‘requirements of being in a relationship with me.” and respecting a person’s limitations. Specifically with regards to my mother. I think the Bible would describe her as a ‘fool’. She just doesn’t get it. There are times when my actions are strong enough to penetrate her denial, and other times, not.
The bottom line is that she CANNOT rise to my ‘requirements’ for a healthy, mutual relationship. It’s God who opens eyes….without His intervention, it’s just not going to happen. Those are her limits, and I need to respect her as a person made in the image of God?
I guess where I’m getting stuck is, setting ‘requirements’ for my mother’s behaviour feels disrespectful.
If I see it more as ‘requirements for trust’ then I could do that while still keeping the ‘honour your parents’ command’. I would think that ‘honouring’ would require me to have some form of interaction ( even if she never changes her ways).
You addressed your question to Aly about respect. Maybe my experience with my husband will help. One thing the pastor who counseled the two of us told me was to make female friends because my husband was probably not capable of having a relationship with me. It took me a while to accept that, and I had to go through a grieving process. Maybe your mother does not have the emotional aptitude to have a relationship with you. Accepting that does not mean you are dishonoring her. If the only relationship you can have with her is taking about recipes or whatever it is, that’s all you can do. Expecting her to relate to you at a level higher that she is able to will only cause resentment and disappointment in you. But at the same time, having strong healthy boundaries is important so that you do not allow her to abuse you.
I have come to the same conclusion.
For sure I cannot trust my mother with my heart. She is not capable of a healthy relationship with me, and although this is grief filled at times, I am accepting that this is the reality of our situation- that we cannot be anything but superficial with one another (exchanging recipes, as you say, with strong healthy boundaries).
I THINK that guarding my heart, while respecting the fact that she’s not capable of more, is what ‘honouring’ her means.
What I am struggling with is this: to honour my mother…what level of interaction does this require OF ME? Honouring certainly does not mean that I need to have relationship…but what level of interaction?
Does your mother live near you. Does she pressure you to spend time with he’d?
She’s 30 minutes ( drive) away. She doesn’t usually pressure anymore, and she doesn’t call. When I call her (once every month and a half, or so), she either receives the call happily, or acts like a victim because I haven’t called enough.
Birthdays and holidays are loaded. She called our 10 year old on her birthday ( two weeks ago) and made arrangements with her to come by to drop her present. She didn’t check with me. So I phoned back to tell her that she put me in an awkward position by doing that ( I had clearly told her in the past that she was not welcome to drop by without checking with me). She argued that, “I wasn’t going to stay! I was just dropping the present!”
I told her that it didn’t work for me because she had not respected my limit. My h ended up driving our daughter over to her grandma’s a week later.
This is the kind of thing that is typical ( on these loaded occasions).
Actually, what is typical is that she’s unpredictable ( either happily receives call or victim).
We saw her at Thanksgiving (Canadian) and she was able to receive a limit that we set and apologized for crossing the line. So…my job is not to try to predict, it’s just to stand firm regardless of how she receives me.
It’s tiring, though. So I can’t expose myself to her too much. I have to be able to think of her as ministry. When I can do that, my heart will be guarded.
I think you answered your question- view it as ministry and guard your heart. It’s interesting that she plays the victim and abuser. My husband does the same. When he is in a self-pitying mood, he is the victim. When he is in a superior, haughty mood, he abuses. I guess both roles keep them from taking responsibility for their actions.
Getting here late on the comments, but I have been living with an OCD/Narc for many years. The one apparent mindset which you seem to be using as an argument about God hating divorce, etc. is taken out of context as it was an Old Testament law given to those of the Mosaic Covenant. Today’s Christians are not under the Mosaic Covenant per se.
I am curious that you use the pronouns ‘we’ or ‘Conservative Christians’ who you know, whom you are using as the ones who would not agree with most of what Leslie is counseling women and men to seek God’s will in their own marriages. But I am not seeing you OWN individual thoughts on the subject as though you are using Conservative Christians as your basis for your beliefs.
What concerns me, is, I was in a cult group of Christians for years, and when Biblical subjects which had been taught among that cult group were discussed in a manner to negate the truth, based upon the cult’s scriptural teachings based upon what had been taught as the truth, it was a cult-based truth which was the attitude taken, where the individual could not ‘trust in the Lord with all their heart’. No, they had to trust in the cult’s mindset, and creeds, and dogmas, which had been taught over 75 years, with ‘no questions asked’ or you were immediately pronounced ‘an heretic’ as you had ‘gone against’ the cult’s teachings, which no one was ever allowed to contest.
I found in your approach the ‘we’ mindset, not ‘This is what I believe (yourself) as a born again believer in Christ’. God says himself that we have no need that any man teaches us that we have the Holy Spirit of God who can lead us into all truth. I believe this to be true. As I have ‘let go’ of many teachings which had me in chains to ministers who thought they were saving people from themselves, yet it was doing just the opposite, and were keeping them in bondage to their false selves, which kept people in the ‘fear of man’, and not in a healthy fear of God; which our Lord tells us that ‘The fear of man brings a snare.’
So, with that being said, anyone in a marriage whose spouse exhibits narcissistic tendencies, on the other hand, the spouse who is attempting to ‘do God’s will’ should not be living in ‘the fear of man’. There is no joy nor freedom in a marriage such as that, UNLESS the spouse who is attempting to ‘do it right’ by God’s will, has come forth like sliver tried in fire, as that is exactly what one feels like when in a marriage such as that.
And no, I am not saying God is trying the faith of the spouse who is attempting to be in God’s will. Sometimes we can’t KNOW the situations life may present to us today or tomorrow. We can’t KNOW the future, but we can definitely learn from the mistakes, and move forward, even if we are still in the marriage, we can grow in grace and knowledge and find solutions for ourselves through the scriptures.
And God DOES give a way out/a way of escape so one can bear it; for the wife who lives with an unsaved spouse, she can separate.
You mentioned Conservative Christians as though you are one yourself. Are these your own opinions or have you too, been sentenced to a life of ‘believing’ just because you have been taught certain precepts, where verses are taken out of content and not the Whole Council of the Lord has been sought?
I have read, and re-read the account of Abigail and Nabal, over, and over, and gone to many online sites, where the story has been analyzed in depth,to prove a point about the Godly life of Abigail. I have singled her out as my mentor to give me hope in the struggle a wife finds herself in, in order to keep her sanity in the subtle, covert, manipulations of a narcissist. Those successful, smooth talkers, whose end is to only protect themselves from being accountable.
I find Leslie’s blog, and the comment section refreshing as far as the women and men being honest, and truthful, and upfront. I don’t want to say what my opinion is of some of the ministers of whom I was under the thumb of for years. Nor was the congregation a healthy spiritual one, which I used to be in; as far as people knowing what God’s place in the body of Christ was for them as individuals.
It is the individual, personal, relationship one has with our Lord and Savior which is at stake here, and also our honored position as saints in the body to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the LAW of Christ, and that is to love one another with a pure heart fervently. The law is fulfilled in this ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’
I have been studying for two years on my own, delving into scriptures to commit my own life to the Lord more fully, and I have not yet had a clear indication to separate from my husband for my own reasons.
So, do we turn our heads in the other direction when we see violence happening in the lives of a brother or sister in Christ in their own marriage, or do we snatch them out of the fire? I think we snatch them out of the fire, and pray to God for the accountability of the offending spouse.
And I can’t agree more with all of the descriptions to confirm the characteristics of a narcissistic. Linda was ‘spot on’ with using dogs as a definite ‘bred’ showing evident personality disguises/or personality disorders which were so ingrained in the dogs portraying individuals who would have a very difficult time ever changing.
Just wanted to note and agree wholeheartedly with this comment you wrote;
“where verses are taken out of content and not the Whole Council of the Lord has been sought?”
This is essential and important to each of our processes in ‘transforming’.
As you probably see a pattern in cults and especially in ‘family systems’ .. often scriptures are grabbed and misused out of context on a continual basis for all sorts of chaos and added dysfunction.
My family of origin system is trapped in this as the gospel gets redefined and Christ gets shaped from the lens of just independent scriptures and not the weighing of the whole council of the Word.
It’s a tragedy of stagnation and of distortion. Who is really being worshipped and followed?
I myself have subscribed to this web-site for years. And actually I have witness that this web-site is commonly replete with Bible references.The testimonies of the woman I have responded to personally have been filled with Christ-centered commentary. To take one instance where a specific example of Scripture is not included is an unfair assessment. Also the fact that Leslie’s book is mentioned often is in my eyes because of the fact woman are looking for Christian centered guidance. My pastoral counselor pointed this resource to me many years ago and I have been an avid follower for years. I suggest you go back to the many
blogs that are full chock of Scriptural references that have helped to support many of us who have used this resource to help us lead a life with closer connection to Jesus Christ. Even in instances where you may not see direct use of Scripture God’s help is definitely visible to us who look to Leslie to help us walk with Jesus in our struggles and with faith past them holding onto Christ.
God Bless you jkelly.
I like the barb explanation also. Reminds me of my post about snakes and venom.
When I was in the thick of my dysfunction with my husband, it was ‘why God why?’ and I didn’t see Christ as much as I focused on the problem. But one day, when our relationship went viral effecting our friends, one of them asked me, “Teena, if you believe in Christ, why hasn’t He delivered you from this situation?” That made me question my beliefs.
I already could diagnose every problem from reading Leslie’s materials. I could tell you everything my husband did was wrong. I could tell you how bad I felt and how it effected our children, but I couldn’t tell you why I was STILL going through it some 35 yrs. later. I found out that my belief system had been compromised by my own ignorance. Afterward, I began to believe that I AM delivered from destruction in Christ. I started to speak what WILL happen in my family because Christ went to the cross nailing every sin there. I began to live in the truth of what God’s Word says about me and my family. This isn’t an us versus them. This life is about living! Even our words must bear life. Speak God’s Word over your home, husband and children for them to live victoriously.
I said, “I do” to a man who was not taught to be a man by his dad and ultimately was pushed around by his mother. She wasn’t a bad mother, she didn’t know any better. She didn’t have the resources we do, but she did go to church.
These men perceive us (their wives) to be like their mothers pushing them to do everything we want done. Trust me, I know how they should share in the responsibilities of our family, the question becomes, how will they come to the knowledge of that truth without God?
97% of all families are going throught this because we live in a world that wants to push God out of it. It’s a fallen world even with Christ which only means that we have to identify which God we serve, and live our lives reflecting that. It’s not a coincidence that there is much sexual dysfunction being reported in the media. Many of those men have families. What do you think is happening to families not in the lime light? Our families.
First acknowledge to somebody that your family needs help. Repent for your participation in the dysfunction. Then proclaim God’s Word over situations. You’ll have to do it discreetly at first. Stand firm against the powers of darkness. Eventually breaking through the mess. But relying on and trusting God through it all.
Now my husband and I have to stand on The Word of God for our family, friends, neighbors and anyone willing to receive Him. He just started changing 2 yrs. ago. I still have to speak the truth in love dripping with respect toward him.
Here’s an awesome scripture I copied for those concerned about their children.
But the LORD says, “The captives of warriors will be released, and the plunder of tyrants will be retrieved. For I will fight those who fight you, and I will save your children.
Well spoken Leslie.
Thank You you for thoughts on counselor Tim to your blog community it is giving me the courage to speak up now. While I didn’t agree with many things Tim said there were things I did agree with because of my own experiences with this blog and in life. My husband has struggled with an addiction to pornography. After 18 years of a destructive marriage God through our pastor of spiritual growth (I’ll call him Pastor D) helped me out of denial to face the reality of what was happening using biblical counseling your book “How to act right when Your Spouse Acts Wrong”(best book I’ve read on marriage). I then went to your website read somethings and got her book “destructive relationships” (this was about a year before destructive marriage came out).I took your quiz and it showed I was in a destructive relationship. Through Pastor Ds biblical counsel and your work ( also three Godly friends)I was being healed,given courage to speak up about my husband’s destructive behaviors, dealing with my own sin, setting boundaries.That was 51/2 years ago we have had ups and downs since then but are on a path to becoming a healthy Godly couple (family)and individuals.
After I counseled with Pastor D it took 4-5 months of confronting my husband before he was willing to talk with Pastor D and I . He was then recommended to biblical counselor connected with our denomination. He went and when he was done he was going follow up with Pastor D. Some repentance and change happened but then he fell into the pornography again.i felt God through the Holy Spirit was saying give grace stay but stay well. I continued to counsel with Pastor D and friends and stand up to my husband. My husband ‘s behaviors were not as severe as what many of you have experienced but still very damaging to the soul. But what Pastor D did for my husband I will never forget. My husband stopped wanting to follow up with Pastor D. Pastor D pursued him after he bugged my husband my husband would get together with him. Pastor D would encourage him in any way possible and challenge him about his life. He said my husband was not very responsive. After it became clear that my husband didn’t want this he stepped back and we prayed. About a year ago my husband was again going to be unemployed (not his fault but if he had made different choices the first time he was laid off from his job of 15 years this might not have happened). He went to Pastor D and opened up. After a couple months of accountability and an intense emotional month of me confronting him on some things. He got real with me and explained how the pornography crippled him and his relationship with me. He repented to me and the Lord. Both Pastor D and I have said we see a different man even from 51/2years. Over the 51/2 years I still have struggled to break sin patterns of my own. Everyday with God’s help we are doing a little better. As I have shared with others parts of my life they have begun to share more with me and I have desired to learn more about giving Biblical counsel especially because of dear friends of ours who are struggling. I of course turned to your blog and resources. I had not been taking time to keep up with your resources because life with four kids and I am receiving great spiritual encouragement from my church body. Recently I read one of your blogs and commented. I had a different outlook than your blog community. I felt things I said were taken out of context and I was misunderstood. In hind sight on my part I wrote like I was talking to a friend and not a general audience who have varying beliefs and experiences. The situation with our friends sounds very much like counselor Tim’s first question\situation. Pastor D along with other church leadership got involved with counseling our friends. The wife has sought separate counsel for good reason but it seems this counselor is siding with her in saying that our church has done things wrong. Evidence has repeatedly shown her to have a hard heart in many areas and her husband has shown a humble heart and submission to church leadership and a willingness to change. I would not want my friend to continue in a bad relationship but I find it hard to believe that Pastor D and our church in general have handled things badly. They have in countless ways been faithful to the Word, loving, and supportive in my situation. As I was talking with Pastor D about being on your blog he cautioned me saying that he was frustrated by another situation where someone took something on your blog out of context and it is now being used to hinder counsel with that person and there situation. I feel confused! Our ultimate authority is God and his word. He is using you and Pastor D to speak truth to my life but both of you are just like me sinners saved by Grace. We all want to shine God’s light into darkness that is very complex and our enemy doesn’t want us to win the battle of reconciliation.i hope you will take time to prayerfully consider this thought: In a world that is out to destroy Marriage and the unique roles God has given us as males and females is there anything you and your blog community could do differently to promote the hope of reconciliation?
Thank you so much for your courage to share your experiences.
Personally, I have found Leslie’s counsel/ advice on this blog quite consistent. It’s always to either stay well, or leave well; and to work on CORE strength, to that end. The Lord has used this process ( specifically of separation with the hope of reconciliation) to help save my destructive marriage!
We are all, on this blog, in different places in our healing journeys. We cannot control wether someone else uses any material to a hinder counselling situation; we can only be responsible for our own heart and actions.
Part of why I’m here is to be supported, and to support others. The other reason I’m here is to be challenged and to challenge ( iron sharpening iron).
Jo, thanks for your words. I think reconciliation is always the goal, but I’m realistic enough to believe that there can’t be any reconciliation without repentance. Even God doesn’t reconcile sinners to himself without repentance. When and if that happens can’t be said. A woman or man who lives with a partner who refuses to repent of serious sin and who has broken the marital trust especially over and over again should not be held to a standard to reconcile when his or her partner refuses to repent. I ache for people who use God’s word out of context to prove something and I don’t want people to take my teaching out of context as well. But I imagine it happens and I’m not sure how I can prevent that from happening. My blog posts are long already without me having to make lots of disclaimers to people not to take it out of context. In fact, I usually try to provide the context in the blog to help people not take it out of context.
Leslie you wrote;
” I think reconciliation is always the goal, but I’m realistic enough to believe that there can’t be any reconciliation without repentance. Even God doesn’t reconcile sinners to himself without repentance. ”
I agree with you and I think it’s been a sad long generational pattern to have these ‘illusions’ of relationships or marriages where no repentance has been part of the union.
Repentance has not been a requirement or standard to align relationships toward healing and health but I believe it has been incorrectly influenced to be this;
as ‘more of a hope’ if only we love enough, or a certain way toward our offenders etc. then maybe by our actions of grace and love~ then repentance may happen?.
It is my belief that the more we offer a relationship of any kind without healthy requirements, then we are only doing both parties a disservice of not authentically loving our brother/sister.
Granting anyone a ‘phony’ relationship image not only damages the parties involved but those also witnessing this and being influenced by it.
Everyone is effected😢
Amen! And if the foundation is weak, sooner or later there will be problems.
Could you give specific ways that things are being used out of context on this blog? I think that will be helpful.
Could it be that since your husband has issues with porn and your pastor believes porn is wrong, he was very helpful.
When it comes to abuse, when both spouses are in counseling together, the abuser is well versed in manipulation tactics and unless the counselor has experience/training he can be deceived. Manipulators pretend to repent, but only people at home know if that’s the case. And if the victim is not responding using CORE, focus will be on the victim’s behavior.
Sometimes men who are in sin are very good at appearing repentant and creating situations where their wives, abused for many years, appear hard hearted. Unless you live behind the closed doors of the home, you don’t really know the truth. My husband, for example, went to church elders and cried about how repentant he was and how I was unforgiving. He then came home, told me all about it, making sure to emphasize how they all believed him, and laughed at me as I cried. Going to the church ended up being another avenue he used to abuse me.
I am married to a narcissist, but I am staying for my kids. In my town, both parents are awarded joint custody. i also know that he will fight tooth and nail if and use the kids as pawns if I pursue divorce right now.
I believe I am staying well. I have emotionally distanced myself from him and as much as possible do not rely on him for anything. I was in joint counseling with him for a little while with our pastor. I was told that the Bible teaches that as wives we are not to withhold sex from our husbands. But the very next morning, my husband would be verbally and emotionally abusive and I would react poorly. Then in counseling the pastor would reprimand me for my behavior. I soon learned that it was impossible to behave in a Christlike manner as long I was emotionally bonded to him.
Some guiding principles that Leslie teaches have been key to staying well
1) Do not repay evil for evil, but leave vengeance to God. When my motive is to please Christ, I will do good to him. This many times does not mean giving in to what he wants.
2) Respond using CORE.
I am responsible for my behavior. Even when he taunts me and is constantly trying to provoke and make trouble.
A major motivation has been my kids. I would like them to see a flawed human being, who Christ is working on every day to be more and more like Him. We have many discussions about narcissistic behavior. My family and extended family met my husband before we got married, and they were deceived by his charm too.
One thing I have learned about my husband is everything revolves around him. Even when he does something good.
Thanks for sharing, Maria. I’m happy to hear that there is an open dialogue about narcisstic traits with your kids. This is so key for their emotional health- to be able to name and voice feelings about his attitude and behaviours.
Message for you Maria. Not sure if it will post close to where you posted.
I know the scripture. 1 Corinthians 7:5 – Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Would this apply to those in a disappointing or destructive marriage? Or, does it still apply to both?
I understand when you say, “but the very next morning, my husband would be verbally and emotionally abusive and I would react poorly.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
For the first time in my marriage, I am denying that aspect to my husband who could at a drop of the hat dishonor this scripture to punish me. I have asked the Lord to forgive me because I desire to honor his scripture. It is very important to me. However, I just did not want to continue giving away my body to someone who showed so much disrespect and disregard for me as a person. I need him to understand.
Does that make sense?
I have separated myself (emotionally, sexually) from my husband. There was no way I could survive if I didn’t. I did not follow my pastor’s counsel. He was trying to save the marriage by putting bandaid fixes.
God created sex to be enjoyed between husband and wife who love each other. In my case, because of my husband’s illtreatment of me, I had to separate myself from him. When one feels used instead of loved, something is wrong, and it’s important to get to the bottom of the problem. If one of the spouses feels entitled to sex,and thinks it is ok to ill treat the other, there is a major problem. Giving into sex will not only feed the entitlement, but also demean the person giving into it.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [John 10:10]
You all are about to head down a rabbit trail again. I was learning about narcissism and the narcissist then all of a sudden. Don’t let the thief take over the life that was being spoken into the post.
Remember “JADE” ladies.
Just to comment a bit to this post. One thing I have seen with Leslie so far is that she does incorporate scripture in most cases. I say most cases because I can’t say I know all of her work. Either way, I don’t find her approach abrasive.
And if you disagree, why did you feel a need to post just to deflect from what was really being discussed?
I can assure you; this has been the best discovery that God could have ever blessed me to discover.
Good night ladies
Jkelly, I think we have gotten off topic, yet I would like to respond to you. What advice would you give to a woman suffering under the cruel hand and tongue of an abusive, Satan like husband? What do you suggest she do when she is yoked to an unrepentant fool? What do you tell her when she is repeatedly lied to, raped or beaten by her spouse, yet again?
I would to suggest that rather than discuss divorce, let’s discuss marriage. Do any of the above situations sound like a reflection of Christ’s love for the church? What is the solution to such torture? Do you advocate martyrdom? If so, it is martyrdom to the man made concept of ownership rather than anything remotely resembling Christian marriage.
You’re right. That’s a bit off topic. Martyrdom is not exactly the context of most people’s marriages on this blog. This is, after all, America. Not too many wives (or husbands) staying in life-threatening marriages. Let’s try to stay away from extreme hyperbole to make some point, and talk about the real situations that people commenting here are dealing with. Of course, separation from a physically violent person is reasonable. Now, perhaps we can get back to the actual experience of the majority…
I think you don’t know your audience.
Unfortunately, jkelly, Lilah is right. Her explanation is precisely what we are talking about. Such is the nature of most unions in this group.
I take the luxury of an additional reply. This time on topic. To the question of how to live with a narcissist, I ask, why? Why live with such a person? Why? It makes no logical sense? It may make practical sense for financial or protective reasons in home or child rearing. Yet, at it’s very best it is a life of sorrow and evil. It breaks my heart to think that Christ died so we could have life and live it abundantly and we sell him short by yielding to the dominion of a household terrorist, the narcissist.
Well said Lilah!
I think the concept of living with a narcissist is ridiculous. I see it as equivalent to deciding to keep a cobra on your living room sofa.
No one wants a dangerous snake in their home. Yet for multiple reasons we find ways to work in and among the snake. We get it to go in a box sometimes and we feel much better. On occasion we need the snake for company or to earn us money at his circus job so we tell ourselves that his presence really isn’t that bad.
When we leave or go to sleep, we can’t trust the snake. We feel good about anything we achieve while the snake is in home. We call it boundaries or living in our CORE. Yet, deep down we all know the elephant in the room is a snake!
We do know for sure that we don’t want our children to get bitten by him and desperately fear our precious children may absorb his venom when we are not there to shield them. We buy antidote just in case. We overcompensate by devoting our selves to our children, thinking that will protect them from the snake.
Yet, a snake is a snake is a snake, who are we really fooling? Just ourselves, right?
There are some situations in which one cannot sever ties with the narcissist. One such example is when you have kids with a narcissist. That doesn’t mean it is not possible to live an abundant life. And it also doesn’t mean that one has to be blind to the situation. It is truly amazing to see how God works even in a less that ideal situation.
Oh yes, Maria that is true. I wonder if greater awareness of this issue would help people end such relationship before they have children with such a person. I really like some of the healthy dating seminars that are offered to teens so they can discern the characteristics of a suitable mate. A program like that might have helped many of us.
These people are very good at deceiving others. That is why pastors and counselors side with them. My husband is all about his image.
I agree! I was just wondering how we help others before they make the same mistake. How do we help young people see the red flags before they get tricked? We have that information and spiritual discernment to sense the deceiver, yet we gained that information the hard way. How do we spare future generations I wonder?
It’s impossible. God has been trying to teach people from the beginning and all we do is think we know better. We all want to live in lala land thinking all Christians are safe. The devil wins by deception. He hides his power to deceive behind more deception. And God allows him to remain in order to test our hearts. Every single person has to go through the testing. Every single person has to get victory over the devil in whatever way they are captivated by him.
These are great points, Linda. This is a much deeper issue than ‘education’. It’s about Satan having a stronghold, and it is only by the Grace of God that we persevere and come through to victory.
I think one way will be to teach future generations not to ignore the red flags. I think another way will be seeing more examples of healthy relationships. Education will not be as effective without some of those elements.
I saw the red flags in the beginning. I saw anger. I saw lack of trust. I saw jealously. I saw control issues. I saw from the both of us lets ignore the elephant in the room. We separated from dating for six months. However, we did absolutely nothing during those months to eliminate those problems for him or to raise the bar for me.
Instead, I put his needs above what I needed and ignored mine. Saying ok, he was coming from two failed marriages and a ruff family background so love will eventually conquer all. Just continue to nurture and he will see you can be trusted, etc. Well, here we are with the same issues.
Unfortunately, I see no end to the issues because he is not honest during counseling. And when I would bring up an issue during counseling, he would deny or the counselor would not question him as if I was not being honest about what was taking place in the home.
FYI~ I’m trying to find your other post.. so I can reply to you.
I will try later this evening. (I don’t have specific answers but I can share my experiences and what things I had to do)
I had and have no control over my husband but I also had to decide what were the stages or steps where I was participating in any ‘hint’ of his denial.
Which was complicated to say the least 😉
Counseling is essential.
The Lord is faithful and he continued to grant me strength and boldness where I needed to go. He comforted my heart and held my tears (there were lots and lots of them). I asked for Wisdom, I also asked for His will over my will but he was gracious for me to be intimately honest about my loss and grief.
He revealed consistently just how much of a ‘non-marriage’ we had.
In fact, my non~ marriage was reflected of other non~relationships I actually was accustomed to and willing to be a part of. Love conquers all right.. like you mentioned.
The question that’s important to ask is …Define Love?
The highest good for the other person might be not participating at all in a counterfeit love, history of denial and immaturity in relationships… etc.
If it isn’t counterfeit, then two God fearing surrendered people are capable and equipped with God to build a healthy foundation and relationship.
Not all of us are in a relationship or marriage with a person who is God fearing (reverent) and having a heart surrendered to Gods purpose and will.
Ok.. I’ll try to find that other post.
I appreciate you Aly. I pray that God continues to shower you and your husband with his favor.
Thank you for that prayer! Praying for you and your husband’s journey also.
When your husband chooses to look at his trust issues openly and honestly, he might see that you were not the cause of his trust issues, nor are you the cure of them!
Can you at some point come alongside to support and help encourage him to face them~ ?maybe, if he does his part in getting healthy and safe to do so…
Bandaids~ don’t treat heart surgeries
I saved myself for marriage. I only dated when decided I wanted to get married. I I was ok with not getting married- if I met the right guy, I would consider it. My family met my husband and gave me their blessing. He was perfect on the outside-well educated, well behaved, good reputation, good Christian. It took a long time for him to show his true colors. I know of women who dated their husbands for a few years, went to premarital counseling and only after several years realized they had married a narcissist.
So what now?
So now we are back to Autumn’s question, “I was just wondering how we help others before they make the same mistake.”
I think it’s important to remember there are people out there who intentionally deceive others. Another thing is to watch carefully to see if their actions match their words.
So what now? How do we help others?
In my opinion- by doing our own work. By walking in CORE strength, into health and healing. By focusing on our own hearts. And then by asking God to use us for the good of others.
( we cannot love our neighbours before we have learned to love ourselves.)
Exactly! The thing is, each narcissist tailors his barbs specifically for each victim. He knows more about your weakness than you do. So we have to teach our children to walk in integrity. To know themselves and to be healthy and brave. They have to hunger after righteousness. And that requires parents who hunger after it and teach them the wonder of God.
You asked about respect. All it is, you respect the boundaries and limitations of each person. That’s all. If someone, like your mom, isn’t trustworthy with your heart, then don’t give it to her. Don’t share anything with her that you would be hurt if you got the “wrong” response. So you have to know yourself and what would hurt you. You can’t change people. You can’t make them respond the way you want them to. So get happy with them as they are and relate to them on that level. They also will be happier when you remove your expectations for something they can’t give.
Linda & Nancy,
Can’t or won’t?
Nancy I plan to reply to your other post soon🤗
I think that ‘the can’t and the won’t’ may have different places of grief.
I also think that these postures confuse me when they are professing Christians on a journey of growing and having a teachable heart.
This is a good question….can’t or won’t….?
And yes the can’t or won’t would have different places of grief.
I really don’t know where my mother’s limits are born from. Are they an inability, or an unwillingness.
I could think on this/ pray about it ‘until the cows come home’, so to speak, but ultimately, is it any of my business to even try to know the answer to that question? To even be spending time trying to ‘figure her out’?
Her limitations are between her and The Lord, aren’t they? Just like her walk with God, her choices, her values, and her motives. That’s what makes her a separate individual from me; and respect is about recognizing and treating people as separate individuals.
What I know for sure about those limits is not their origin, or what she intends ( or not) to do with them, but only that those limits exist.
I think that needs to be my starting place. Just recognizing them.
If I delve into her interior life, then I see that as disrespectful ( and maybe even trespassing?).
I’m sorry I haven’t responded in more detail to your other post.
I started to and had to pause it.
Since it is a longer response.
“Her limitations are between her and The Lord, aren’t they? Just like her walk with God, her choices, her values, and her motives”
Yes you are correct.
I do believe that often our relationships with others reflect our relationship with God.
Similar to a symptom of sorts ~
I’m not saying always here but just using at why many of us have been hurt by those that seem to show the signs of emotional immaturity.
No worries about the other post, Aly 🌷
I understand generally what you mean about our relationships with people being symptomatic of our relationship with God. I don’t get, though, how this applies to our conversation. Just can’t make the connection.
I’m sorry that my post was not very clear. I was trying to draw the importance of why it’s hard to honor in my opinion.. ‘behaviors’ that as you describe your mother to be like the ‘fool’ in the Bible.
Does God call us to honor.. unhonorable behavior?
From what you have described, your contact with your mom is very very little. I went no contact a while ago so I’m speaking from my own experience here (painful) and why I felt the need to do so.
My mom knows clearly, the door is always going to be open if she chooses to want to have a healthy ‘honest’ relationship that would be safe for me to invest even the smallest amount of time into.. I’m more than willing and want nothing but that. I guess I don’t do well with dishonesty and the lies that hurt others.
I wish I had good answers for you Nancy, I really do, but I’ll try my best …I have similar questions and struggles, pain and loss.
I’ll share from my experiences here and maybe they can be of benefit.
The denial my mom chooses is going to have natural consequences. I feel extreme sadness and grief through this process but I can’t pretend along with her that we have a relationship ~ when we don’t and she doesn’t desire to, that’s at least her most honest assessment when you try to define a healthy involved relationship that has 2 people existing. Is this a limitation or a choice?
(To me this is where I circle back to the though; ‘can’t or won’t)
Plus, I find that to be helpful in this process because many settle when they here ‘can’t’. There are REAL ‘can’ts’ out there but then there are the ‘wont’s disquised as can’ts and rarely get challenged to grow!
For me, ‘my mom’s criteria’ of a relationship is unhealthy. Especially at the season of my life as I’m trying to help foster Character and Christlike qualities within my own children.
Grandmother being in the picture ‘saying….’ And modeling that those behaviors are not important to the Christian faith I find problematic & contradicting in raising up a child to Love the Lord. As if my children need more influence of the already confused christian faith from such a pivotal sacred role as grand-parent.
This is only one part of the multiple unresolved issues that are going to need repair before I move forward at any level with her.
“I guess where I’m getting stuck is, setting ‘requirements’ for my mother’s behaviour feels disrespectful.”
Requirements to me are similar to many things in life we all have choices in. I can require something but that doesn’t mean the other person will do it.
The questions I have for you Nancy is this,
What do you need from your mother?
What do you desire she have the capacity of?
Do you feel any of your desires or possible ‘requirements’ are reasonable and will they assist in you and her growing into more of a Christlike person and thus a healthier relationship dynamic?
You also wrote this;
The bottom line is that she CANNOT rise to my ‘requirements’ for a healthy, mutual relationship. It’s God who opens eyes….without His intervention, it’s just not going to happen.”
This is true Nancy but God also sometimes allows many forms of interventions to get our attention.
“Those are her limits, and I need to respect her as a person made in the image of God?”
You can indeed respect her as a person (and even love her as a person) and not respect or be involved at any level with her behavior that I’m assuming is the problem….
I know these are not simple dialogs and I hope my response here helped in any way. I do understand the pain at some level Nancy and I’m sorry.
As you know some of my marital struggles are similar with the things my mom struggles with so as my husband got into a recovery path, we were not prepared for the fall out and how when someone is serious about behavior change it’s critical to take inventory of ALL of the influences around them.
Our health & family needed to take priority.
Prayers for you always and your precious family 💜
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Aly.
To answer your questions:
‘What do I need from my mother’ – 1) at the most basic level, that she respect me. 2) More than that, from my mother, I need to know (and experience) Godly love.
‘What do I desire she have the capacity of ?’- 3) repentance
Of these 3 things, I have not seen any. ( with regards to respect- she is capable of ‘responding to’ my respect of myself, but it does not come from inside her).
So the things that I need from her, are just not going to happen. Removing those expectations is, of course, essential to grieving what I did not (and do not), have.
But my question has more to do with what is required of me, in God’s command to ‘honour your parents’. No, I agree that God does not command honouring the behaviour…but what is required of me, in ‘honouring her”?
And to me it keeps coming down to respecting her for who she is, and for who she is not. God does not require me to enter into relationship with her, but He is requiring me to respect her.
What I have learned from Prov 4:23 [above all else, guard your heart], is that I need to respect myself. What I learn from this commandment is that I need to respect her.
Because maintaining respect for myself in interacting with her is very difficult, I need to be very, very careful. As I heal, and walk in forgiveness of her, those wounds are not so sensitive and I am stronger to maintain my boundaries in her presence.
I had a talk with our 13 year old last night about how her ‘grandma experience’ is not healthy. I spoke about how healthy grandmas know how to love their grandchildren, without putting pressure on them to perform, or be anything other than themselves.
Healthy grandmas love their grandkids for who they are.
And that when we do go to see her grandmas, we are practicing a different kind of love, and that’s loving ourselves ( and them) enough to say, ” that makes me uncomfortable” or simply, “no thanks”.
These are important skills for them to learn with loved ones, and it is important for us to model this; and it is good for us to practice this together. I think this last piece ( of our kids practically learning how to ‘guard their heart’) is what drives me to want to ‘heal faster’, and might make me step into the trap of interacting with the grandmas more than is healthy for me. I certainly can’t model ‘guarding my heart’ and support them in ‘guarding theirs’ if I’m not strong that day).
One thing I know for sure is that I need to invite some ‘healthy church grandmas’ over to love on our kids!
Thanks for the safe space 🙂
Aly, after your post stated: I showed often many things I was reading to my husband, but this is dependent upon the situation, sometimes this isn’t the safest thing to do.
Well, I took that step yesterday and shared all books I’ve been reading recently including those of the past. [Back From the Looking Glass, the Verbally Abusive Relationship, Should I Stay or Should I Go, Boundaries in Marriage, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong, the Emotionally Destructive Marriage, Love Busters, His Needs and Her Needs.]
Today I shared with him from my end of the book where it said, read what he has written for the exercise in Chapter 9 and 11. See if he owns his actions or making excuses. Well, needless to say it went to them wanting you to judge me and him questioning the accuracy of the book.
Today he cancelled his counseling session for tomorrow saying he has to first catch up on his co-pay part of the bill before it gets out of hand.
Just wanted to thank you again, Aly, for all the time you have dedicated to not just me but others this week.
I am going to focus back on me and see how things play out and try to give the teens a great holiday.
I really do care for all of us in these ‘relationships’ I feel having support is so essential. I have been so blessed by this blog and Leslie’s ministry as I’m still in the thick of my journey.
So glad you are celebrating and giving Thanks even in the trials and chaos. God is strengthening you and making the path. 💕
I saw a couple other posts you wrote,I’ll reply briefly to them but wanted you to know I saw them😥.
Also I really think that the 14 page Chapter 1 that you shared about ‘should i stay or should I go’ is critical! Thank you so much for mentioning it. I think it dials down to the fundamental level of what my husband was anchored to.
Even though we didn’t have this resource, but had other interventions.., this seems to cut to the chase. So again I want to thank you for posting that I hope others were able to see it and print it off maybe even to weigh out if they can relate?
A big root issue we had was my husband having such an attitude over my complaints or any grievance where they would be dismissed, discredited and shot down at any length.
It was several years ago, I believe God showed me more was going on and my husband’s thoughts were so disjointed. His behaviors patterns reveals his true beliefs.
Beliefs he thought were normal, healthy etc but they were infact upside down ‘wrong thinking’ .
Seems like you must have been getting too close to the truth. That is why he really cancelled the appointment. What are the consequences you implemented because he cancelled the appointment and chose not to do the mental health work you asked him to do.
Autumn, I have no answer in regards to a consequence(s). Normal behavior is for him to never speak of a situation again or hold it hostage. For example; something took place on a Sunday and it will be Thursday before it is brought up again. But it is only brought up again on Thursday because I brought it up again.
Right now, I desire to see what takes place. What he does? I also know that I need a consequence in mind if he does not pick back up with the counseling. So I’m reading the all that I can to get an idea.
I would be curious to know what your response was to him when he told you that he wasn’t going to continue his pace of counseling of sorts 😏?
I totally get you when you describe the scenario by the way ..Sunday to Thurs and you being the initiator (not all that inventive right?)
Ok so not sure if this is helpful but this is my heart for you~
Being in this type of a dynamic can feel like one of the most ‘alone’ places. But you know the scriptures, and your never truly alone even when you cry out in your closet or where ever.
I also want you to envision your sisters here praying for you and praying for your journey.
Personally, I think the best place for your body language is to be unmoved and not surprised or heightened. (Not saying you feel that way on the inside)
Maybe you are already doing this. …
But this is good detachment as you read and continue to gain strength and clarity though many resources.
Similar to “oh that’s disappointing husband that you don’t see counseling as imminent for the situation”
As you anchor yourself in Jesus’s arms you will feel a peace and comfort.
Continue with your counselor and you keep walking this out even if your husband isn’t interested in joining you.
That’s on your husband.
May you be comforted and feel our prayers 💕
Aly: Personally, I think the best place for your body language is to be unmoved and not surprised or heightened.
I am working on unmoved and heightened.
Well-crafted damage control is not repentance.
It takes discernment to know the difference.
by Garris Elkins
Isn’t that the truth
First, I want to say my heart aches for you. And I will be keeping you in my prayers. You are not alone.
My ex husband was actually diagnosed with NPD. I began counseling and learned about boundaries, people pleasing, assertiveness and who I am in Christ. That was the beginning of me getting healthy in the midst of a very painful “marriage.” Not only did I learn about these, but God gave me an opportunity to put my faith muscles to work and to actually practice these ways. Easier said than done. But so very worth it!
As I set boundaries and consequences and began expressing my own opinions and needs, I got more and more pressure to change back to being a compliant non-person. That was not going to happen by the grace of God! I continued in counseling and learning to separate myself from the tangled mess my marriage had become.
Consequently, the abuse rose to such a level I had to get a restraining order and file for divorce. I froze the divorce proceedings and allowed 4 years to go by, hoping that we could become more healthy together in counseling, but that didn’t happen. All of our problems in his view were my issues, and he did not have the ability to look at his own behavior and heart to make necessary changes nor participate in a mutual relationship. I hated the idea of divorcing and I felt like such a failure and ashamed. Just being honest here. It also triggered a lot of feelings and lies God wanted to heal from my abusive childhood.
But God is so good! All during the excruciating divorce battle, God gave me strength to continue and wisdom to grow in Him. He made it abundantly clear that I was his daughter, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that he wanted me to continue to grow and seek him all the days of my life, no matter what challenges I am facing. God is faithful and promises never to leave nor forsake us. He loves us with an everlasting love. His Word and who he is became alive to me not just words I read in the bible. Like Job, I had heard about God, but now I was getting to really KNOW him.
Without God and his healing power I doubt whether I could have made it through. How I dealt with a narcissist was to lean on and trust God for direction, comfort, strength and his definition of my value. I learned to get healthy myself and learn and practice relationships the way God desires us to. I grew so much during all of this. I found that allowing someone to continually sin against me is not good for me or the other person.
One of the challenges I had was taking my eyes off of another mere human and walking out my life with God, who I will give account to for my own life. It is important for me to stay focused on how God expects me to conduct my life with Him. Walking very close with him each day is vital for me. And to stay focused on His Word and Him vertically as I live out my life here horizontally with others.
Reading Leslie’s book was so helpful and comforting, as well! Even after all of these years, I am still learning about life and growth. One of the really important things I keep close is that I don’t want others and situations to ever make me into someone I don’t want to be. Compassion is a huge issue here for me to keep close in heart. Being strong, yet having compassion is something I try to remember. I want to be pleasing to God.
I also learned about what I am responsible for and what others are responsible for (boundaries, again). I can give and love from a much healthier place now. All of this came about living with a narcissist. I also learned to pray for him who was my enemy and what true forgiveness means. My ex husband is a very broken man and God eventually gave me compassion for him. God used this abuse and challenge for my good and his glory, truly. I wouldn’t ask for this again, but I am thankful that I grew closer to God and got to know him and (myself even) in a way I would not have had I not gone through that living hell.
And the other good news is that I can share hope with others who are going through this type of thing and that there is healing if we focus on our great God and his awesome Word. Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted and that he has done! All praise to his and his power and glory! Be encouraged! Much love to you! <3
Dear Karen: Thank you for your encouraging note. I relate to your situation so well, since it so parallels mine. I also praise the Lord that He is my true husband and redeemer. and will never forsake me (or you and our other dear sisters on this blog).
For this is God, our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. Psalm 48:14
With my love & prayers, Sandra Lee <3 +
I second that Karen. Very encouraging post.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you for that Karen. Very encouraging to see how God has used your very painful and difficult situation for your good and his glory…….and for the reminder to daily depend on the Lord and His strength. We are only “whole” in Him.