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  #1  
Old Oct 23, '12, 3:42 pm
pensmama87 pensmama87 is offline
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Default Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Hello all,

I am a long time lurker on these forums and could really use some advice concerning my marriage from a Catholic perspective (especially other spouses who have been there.)

My husband and I have been married about 2.5 years (we've been "together" almost 7). We have one child (18 mos) and another on the way (just about through 1st trimester). While we are both Catholic, neither of us were taking our faith very seriously until after our son was born. We cohabited, I was on birth control, we didn't regularly go to Mass. After our son was born, I experienced a "reversion", and came to understand how destructive these behaviors were to our relationship. My husband disagrees and thinks all that we did is fine.

Any time I am hurt or upset, he acts completely bewildered as to the cause, even if I explain it to him. I have become a bit of an expert with the "I feel [x] after you do [y]" language, and have tried really hard not to accuse him of any kind of flaw because he becomes very angry if I insinuate at all that he has done anything wrong. He is not violently angry, but becomes passive-aggressive, and every disagreement we have ends in me apologizing to him for not understanding why he behaved the way he did, or somehow "driving" him to the behavior. If I want an apology, I have to specifically ask for one and it is not given graciously (which leads me to think it's not genuine.)

There have been times that I have suspected that he has manufactured illness or injury to take any kind of pressure off of him (for instance, about two weeks after our son was born, my husband "tripped" on the stairs - I didn't see it happen - and complained of a sore ankle. He did not want to go to the doctor, but lounged around the house "unable to help" for several days. After a weekend away where he seemed to be doing much better, he "reinjured" himself and was back on the couch.) More recently, after about 4 weeks of some really cruddy morning sickness, I went to urgent care and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. My husband drove me there and made sure to remind me every five minutes about the important meeting he had at work and what a sacrifice he was making by taking care of our son. After he came home that afternoon, he complained about how exhausted he was taking care of the two of us. I have already apologized several times for inconveniencing him, but have received no sympathy.

We have been in marital counseling with two different counselors. I had postpartum depression after our son was born, but it was not diagnosed until after the first marriage counselor did not work out (he was referred to us via Catholic Charities and claimed to be Catholic, but much of his advice contradicted Church teaching and he seemed to think I was some kind of religious nut, which thrilled my husband but offended me.) I then entered individual counseling. My counselor is very kind and suggested some communication strategies to try and help my husband "get it", but after trying to implement them over several months they were not working. I asked my husband to come with me and he said it would be hard with his schedule but he'd do it. I told him that I was really hurting and that I needed him to show some sign that he cared about our marriage. He told me I was ridiculous to think that but he'd come to a few sessions. After three sessions, he "forgot" to write down our next appointment down and we missed it. The counselor called him three different times before calling me to try and schedule. I asked my husband about the voicemails and he said he never got them, but that I can't schedule the next one because of his work. This was two weeks ago and he has yet to call our counselor back.

There is a lot of other stuff going on, but I've come to the conclusion that my husband may be a narcissist. He seems to have little to no regard to my feelings unless they directly impact him (e.g. he'll be sweet when he wants sex, and then afterwards he goes back to the previous behavior.) I have threatened to leave him, but I don't really have the means to do so and I have no family or friends nearby (my parents live on the other side of the country). I don't even know if that is an "okay" option. I suggested Retrovaille but he claimed it wouldn't be right for us to leave our son for an entire weekend, and he didn't want his family to talk about why we were gone. I have gone through Dr. Popcak's books and tried to get him to follow along with me, but he gives up after a few chapters.

I don't know if I'm supposed to throw in the towel, if it all really is my fault like my husband says it is, or if I'm responsible anyway because I didn't choose a husband responsibly so it's now my duty to lie in the bed I've made. I don't know if there are ways a person really can cope with a spouse who is narcissistic or just extremely self-interested. There were signs before we got married that I ignored or attributed to "just being a guy and not getting it" or general immaturity. If I had a do-over, I would not marry him. It really hurt when I finally admitted that to myself.

Since I think it's unlikely that my husband will ever contact our counselor, I may set up another individual appointment and tell him exactly what I suspect, but he is not religious so I'm not sure he'll understand why exactly I find the idea of leaving so problematic. I really would like our marriage to work, but my husband doesn't seem to think there is any problem we're having - except the ones I'm making up to prevent him from having a good time.

Does anyone have any suggestions of resources or personal experiences they can share on dealing with incredibly self-interested people, or insight into his behavior that might offer an alternative explanation for it that I haven't considered? I just really don't get it and I am sick of feeling like I don't matter to the person who was supposed to choose me.
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  #2  
Old Oct 23, '12, 5:52 pm
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

I have a lot of thoughts for you, but not very much time, so I will just say this:

When you have a problem, don't do the "When you do [x], I feel [y]." If he runs toward narcissism, he isn't going to know what human emotions are, or care what you feel. Just flat-out tell him, "Don't do that any more." Make your statements very simple and not involving feelings whatsoever. You can be more polite, "Please do not do that, I don't like it at all." But there is no point in treating a narcissist as you would everyone else, because they are not like other people.

More later or tomorrow.
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  #3  
Old Oct 23, '12, 6:31 pm
horselvr horselvr is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Both need to want to put a marriage back together. If he is really a narcissist and has no interest in reparing a marriage(unless it benefits him and only him) then you are wasting time. A true narcisist NEVER feels they are the problem because the problem is you. I'm actually surprised that he even went to a few counseling sessions. They will do whatever they need to do (fall down stairs, imaginary illnesses) to "take the attention off the kids and back on them as it should be" according to the narcissist.

More time should be spent in gaining a group of friends for support and also going back to school to further your education or acquiring a part time job to get yourself back into the workforce in case the rug gets pulled out. I say this because you sound isolated and without a way to support yourself (financially/emotionally) if things end abruptly. It is then up to you to pick up the pieces and run with it to support yourself and the kids.

It would have been wonderful if you had married a man that is worthy of his family---a real man. Unfortunately, your husband doesn't sound like one.

I am not a believer in being dependent upon a husband for the very food in your mouth or the roof over your head. Besides a marriage falling apart a spouse can become ill, injured in accidents, die and potentially leave his/her family in a pickle fianancially.

Everyone male or female, needs to be able to take care of themselves and to be more self reliant just in case.

Spend your time on making yourself more independent emotionally and finacially and much, much less time trying to diagnose him.
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  #4  
Old Oct 23, '12, 9:15 pm
MidnightSun12 MidnightSun12 is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by horselvr View Post
It would have been wonderful if you had married a man that is worthy of his family---a real man. Unfortunately, your husband doesn't sound like one.
Unfortunatley, I have to agree.

The lifestyle of sexual immorality have blinded so many men these days. Frequent masturbation has the effect of stunting a boys spiritual and emotional growth that we now have married men who are literally "boys in mens bodies". I don't know if this is the case for your husband, but it was definitely the case for me before I had my conversion to the faith.

I don't have much advice to give you. Miracles do happen and your husband can be brought into the faith like you have been, so pray hard and try to engage his intelligence as much as you can about why the Church teaches what it does (ie. the birth control pill creates the possibility for chemical abortions, etc...). If your husband can develop a personal relationship with God, then I certainly think it is possible for God to eventually change how he relates to other people.

My prayers will definitely be with you. God bless!
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  #5  
Old Oct 24, '12, 12:52 am
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Trishie Trishie is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse


Praying for you and your husband and your little ones.
__________________
JESUS who died once for all persons
who gives Yourself wholly in Communion to billions throughout time
please pray in me for every person
as if each person is the only loved one.
JESUS please welcome each person with love, healing, and great joy!
Thank You JESUS


Mother Mary at the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-12)
though JESUS protested it was not yet time for miracles
you successfully interceded with Him for a family's temporal need
please now intercede with your divine Son
for each person's temporal and spiritual needs.
Thank you Mother


JESUS please grant our prayer for this person


Catechism of the Catholic Church http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM
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  #6  
Old Oct 24, '12, 7:05 am
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by horselvr View Post
Both need to want to put a marriage back together. If he is really a narcissist and has no interest in reparing a marriage(unless it benefits him and only him) then you are wasting time. A true narcisist NEVER feels they are the problem because the problem is you. I'm actually surprised that he even went to a few counseling sessions. They will do whatever they need to do (fall down stairs, imaginary illnesses) to "take the attention off the kids and back on them as it should be" according to the narcissist.

More time should be spent in gaining a group of friends for support and also going back to school to further your education or acquiring a part time job to get yourself back into the workforce in case the rug gets pulled out. I say this because you sound isolated and without a way to support yourself (financially/emotionally) if things end abruptly. It is then up to you to pick up the pieces and run with it to support yourself and the kids.

It would have been wonderful if you had married a man that is worthy of his family---a real man. Unfortunately, your husband doesn't sound like one.

I am not a believer in being dependent upon a husband for the very food in your mouth or the roof over your head. Besides a marriage falling apart a spouse can become ill, injured in accidents, die and potentially leave his/her family in a pickle fianancially.

Everyone male or female, needs to be able to take care of themselves and to be more self reliant just in case.

Spend your time on making yourself more independent emotionally and financially and much, much less time trying to diagnose him.
I agree with this advice. Once you have seen very clearly that your husband is NOT going to be emotionally supportive, only self-interested, then you can see that if you don't provide the attention that HE needs, his focus will not remain on you, then it's time to make some decisions.

Don't make any more threats you don't intend to carry out. That merely suggests to him that you are weak and won't do what you say you will.

Now that you realize the way the deck is stacked, don't waste time in therapy unless it benefits you. It might, but getting your own source of support together may help you more. Now, be warned, he might leave you once he sees his narcissistic supply waning, but he might leave you anyway, so either way, you need your own strength.

Make friends at church who can help you in tangible ways, such as when you are ill. Don't keep going to him for emotional support, because you aren't going to get it. You can't get water from a dry well. Your bucket will come up empty every time. Yes, it does really stink that someone who promised to love and cherish you really has no comprehension as to what that truly means or involves. But so be it. Don't waste your life trying to understand or fix him. There is no fixing anyone else. You have 1 little child and another one on the way. Gotta be practical here and work around the problems.

I'll be praying for you.
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  #7  
Old Oct 24, '12, 7:56 am
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Luvz2travel Luvz2travel is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by pensmama87 View Post
Hello all,

Any time I am hurt or upset, he acts completely bewildered as to the cause, even if I explain it to him. I have become a bit of an expert with the "I feel [x] after you do [y]" language, and have tried really hard not to accuse him of any kind of flaw because he becomes very angry if I insinuate at all that he has done anything wrong. He is not violently angry, but becomes passive-aggressive, and every disagreement we have ends in me apologizing to him for not understanding why he behaved the way he did, or somehow "driving" him to the behavior. If I want an apology, I have to specifically ask for one and it is not given graciously (which leads me to think it's not genuine.)

Sounds like he's a manipulator. Those type are never satisfied with anything, nothing is their fault and every argument is turned around on you so some how any blame is diverted from them to you. Again nothing is ever their fault they are narcissitic by nature.

There have been times that I have suspected that he has manufactured illness or injury to take any kind of pressure off of him (for instance, about two weeks after our son was born, my husband "tripped" on the stairs - I didn't see it happen - and complained of a sore ankle. He did not want to go to the doctor, but lounged around the house "unable to help" for several days. After a weekend away where he seemed to be doing much better, he "reinjured" himself and was back on the couch.) More recently, after about 4 weeks of some really cruddy morning sickness, I went to urgent care and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. My husband drove me there and made sure to remind me every five minutes about the important meeting he had at work and what a sacrifice he was making by taking care of our son. After he came home that afternoon, he complained about how exhausted he was taking care of the two of us. I have already apologized several times for inconveniencing him, but have received no sympathy.

Don't ever apologize for having him do something that is his responsibility. Taking care of his child and his wife is his responsibility and I would have told him so.


There is a lot of other stuff going on, but I've come to the conclusion that my husband may be a narcissist. He seems to have little to no regard to my feelings unless they directly impact him (e.g. he'll be sweet when he wants sex, and then afterwards he goes back to the previous behavior.) I have threatened to leave him, but I don't really have the means to do so and I have no family or friends nearby (my parents live on the other side of the country). I don't even know if that is an "okay" option. I suggested Retrovaille but he claimed it wouldn't be right for us to leave our son for an entire weekend, and he didn't want his family to talk about why we were gone. I have gone through Dr. Popcak's books and tried to get him to follow along with me, but he gives up after a few chapters.

If I were you anytime he pulls this stuff I'd remind myself it's not about you but about him and he needs to take responsibility and grow up.

I
Does anyone have any suggestions of resources or personal experiences they can share on dealing with incredibly self-interested people, or insight into his behavior that might offer an alternative explanation for it that I haven't considered? I just really don't get it and I am sick of feeling like I don't matter to the person who was supposed to choose me.
I would check with abuse hotlines or your councilor for resources in your area.
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  #8  
Old Oct 24, '12, 8:00 am
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Luvz2travel Luvz2travel is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by horselvr View Post
I am not a believer in being dependent upon a husband for the very food in your mouth or the roof over your head. Besides a marriage falling apart a spouse can become ill, injured in accidents, die and potentially leave his/her family in a pickle fianancially.

Everyone male or female, needs to be able to take care of themselves and to be more self reliant just in case.

Spend your time on making yourself more independent emotionally and finacially and much, much less time trying to diagnose him.
Yes agreed. This is the only smart way. Find out what the finances are and where the money is. Get a lawyer and see what your options are before leaving. Also check with shelter to see what resources are available.
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  #9  
Old Oct 24, '12, 3:30 pm
pensmama87 pensmama87 is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I agree that I am isolated and that I need to branch out. I have started volunteering at church and there are a few moms groups that have get-togethers near me. I do have a Masters degree, but hiring in my field is really limited where we are, and guess who wasn't willing to consider relocating? I do have a part-time job but it doesn't bring in much. I have been looking for more work and would love to find something before I start to show too much, because something tells me that finding a job when obviously pregnant is going to be a very big challenge.

Honestly, the more I think about this the more I feel like a total idiot. I know that the charm gets turned on only when he wants something, but it is just so tempting to think that maybe, this time, finally, he really means it. But he hasn't meant it the other 500,000 times. I have been doing some research in addition to posting here and it is just amazing how much the characteristics of NPD fit my husband to a T. He only helps out when it directly benefits him, and then he has an incredibly disproportionate understanding of what he is "owed" thanks to his good deeds. (I think he agreed to go to counseling primarily because I put up a fight and would not let up about it - he probably figured that the nagging was worse than just agreeing to a few sessions.)

I don't think that leaving right away is in the cards because my financial situation doesn't warrant it and the closest people I would feel comfortable staying with are out of state, so I don't want any sort of "crossing state lines with children" issue to come up. I am not sure that he would care, ultimately, but it might annoy him enough that he would try to annoy me because of it (it matters very much to him that he appear as a good husband and father). I do think I need to stop apologizing to him for things that are not apology-worthy (thanks to the posters who pointed that out). Today I was much less of a doormat and I think it surprised him (it probably helps that the medication I got for morning sickness kicked in and I'm finally able to eat and drink again.) He actually agreed to vacuum while I was at work. We'll see if he actually did it when I get home. I did not beg or plead, just told him, "Please do this, the floor needs it" and he said "OK, I will."

So I guess the plan is just to cope for now while I figure out an exit strategy if/when I need one. My mom is aware a little bit of the situation and she has offered to help in any way that she can. It's just so hard being away from all "my people."

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  #10  
Old Oct 24, '12, 3:36 pm
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Thanks for the update. I don't think anyone was suggesting that you leave your husband at this point, only that you start considering what you can do for yourself in case things don't work out.

Sounds like the blunt approach might at least work for the household chores...for now!



Keep us updated as you can, and VERY GLAD you can eat and drink again! Been there, done that...3 mos. with the 1st baby and 4 mos. with the 2nd.
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Old Oct 24, '12, 3:45 pm
pensmama87 pensmama87 is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRealJuliane View Post
Thanks for the update. I don't think anyone was suggesting that you leave your husband at this point, only that you start considering what you can do for yourself in case things don't work out.

Sounds like the blunt approach might at least work for the household chores...for now!



Keep us updated as you can, and VERY GLAD you can eat and drink again! Been there, done that...3 mos. with the 1st baby and 4 mos. with the 2nd.
I think the "leaving right away" scenario is, unfortunately, a fantasy I keep concocting. I need to keep reminding myself that although leaving may eventually be the right thing to do, or that I may be left if I stand my ground long enough, that it needs to happen in a way that is going to leave me in a position to remain a good mother to my children.

I was really amazed at the difference after the medication kicked in and after getting fluids at urgent care. I told one of the nurses, "Wow! I feel like a person again!" I am amazed I went on that long - especially when they told me about my vital signs. Wowza.
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  #12  
Old Oct 24, '12, 3:55 pm
TheRealJuliane TheRealJuliane is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Quote:
Originally Posted by pensmama87 View Post
I think the "leaving right away" scenario is, unfortunately, a fantasy I keep concocting. I need to keep reminding myself that although leaving may eventually be the right thing to do, or that I may be left if I stand my ground long enough, that it needs to happen in a way that is going to leave me in a position to remain a good mother to my children.

I was really amazed at the difference after the medication kicked in and after getting fluids at urgent care. I told one of the nurses, "Wow! I feel like a person again!" I am amazed I went on that long - especially when they told me about my vital signs. Wowza.
My doctors and midwives and the dietician kept telling me that the babies would be just fine, even if I didn't eat more than about 2 tbsp. of food a day. It was impossible for me to believe with my first. After he was born healthy, I didn't panic when the same thing happened with his brother, but it was far from a pleasant experience.

I will add you to my prayers.

Just be sure you don't go back to that well for water, when there won't be any. Get your water from a different well.
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  #13  
Old Oct 24, '12, 8:42 pm
PartoftheBody PartoftheBody is offline
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Default Re: Marriage Help - Possibly Narcissistic Spouse

Pensmama,

I feel for you, my sister. It sounds like you and I have similar situations. I posted on here about mine, too. [There are some good, wise people here] My situation is still a work in progress, but I think we're going in the right direction now.

I can't say I have the answer for you, but here are some of the things I found helpful:
-Talking to a parish priest. I actually printed out my post here and let him read it.
-Keeping a log of his inappropriate behaviors. This served several purposes: helped me get these incidents out of my head, gave a visual of what was going on, and gave me reassurance when he insisted it was all in my head or something didn't happen as I remembered
-Set the appointments for counseling yourself, but at a time you know he will be available. Remind him often enough so he can't "forget"
-Stand up for yourself, your needs, and your family's needs
-Pray for wisdom, courage, and peace

I'll be praying for you!
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