Catholic married to a non catholic with narcissistic personality disorder


I would like to know if any catholics out there have ever been in this type of a situation and how they managed their marriage. I pray, read books and go to a counselor. I would appreciate any suggestions anyone might have.

Thank You,

Hi Ana, Im thinking that MAY be MY husbands problem,but Im not sure.Has your husband been diagnosed by a professional? What are the symptoms?:confused:

Ana, eventually that problem takes care of itself. Been there done that. My xh finally decided that since he was so perfect and I sucked so much that he deserved better and he left me.

Hang onto your faith and don’t ever associate your husband’s treatment of you with how God feels about you.

(P.S. no, I don’t miss having every decision of my day revolving around whether it will please xh or not.)

My ex always threatened to leave me…but things got so out of control with his demands and treatment of me and the whole family that I finally left. If things are still in the manageable state for you, I would recommend that you go to some individual counseling so that you can get a better perspective and learn to put up some appropriate boundaries. Narcissists tend to erase our personal boundaries and treat us as conquered territory rather than human beings.

try growing up with a mom like that…

There are some good sites for support and info about it… some good advice on how to deal with loved ones like that… My sis sent me links but I don’t have them anymore.

I was married to a man who I think had that problem as well. Many narcissists become this way because of being neglected as a child, which my xh was. I always thought he was an enigma, not a bad person, but so incredibly self-centered that he couldn’t see our daughter and I as individuals, but as props in his life. If we didn’t act according to his plans, he perceived it as not having control and it drove him crazy. I began to notice that he was rarely happy, and only when absolutely everything was going his way. Any deviation, however accidental, necessary, or justified, threw him into anger and depression that lasted for days. He had absolutely no empathy, compassion, or sensitivity for us, and consistently put his wants above our needs.

He changed dramatically after marriage, from a devoted and caring boyfriend, to a self-centered and indifferent husband. I couldn’t understand this change, I thought I should have had some indication of his true nature before we were married and had a very hard time reconciling this. I felt I must have been at fault, or responsible somehow for this change and dwelled on it after we got divorced.

To find some answers I talked with a counselor. I learned that his behavior was a textbook example of someone with narcissistic personality disorder. They can’t handle responsibility, are incapable of sacrifice, and feel very vulnerable if they are tied down with commitment to others. This often does not materialize until after marriage or the birth of a child. Unfortunately those individuals have a very hard time maintaining lasting relationships. Tragic for them and their families.

I feel for you and know what your are going through. I’ll keep you in my prayers, after my experience I try to remember people in relationships with those who have NPD. The emotional, physical, and financial drain is overwhelming and heartbreaking to say the least.

I grew up with a mother (and arguably, to see degree a father) like that. hugs It’s unspeakably difficult, but never stop trusting in God’s Providence.

I dated someone like that. It was so, so, so painful. I’m sorry that you are going through this.

I just echo the PP as far as doing some individual counseling. And making sure that you are letting yourself be loved by God. I don’t really have anything else to offer except my prayers.

In my eyes, that’s simply a fancy word for selfishness. It’s almost impossible to change a person like that. It’s a pity people don’t date long enough to pay attention to things like that before they marry; however, now that you have, the only thing left to decide is whether you and your family are better off staying IN such a relationship or getting out of it.

You can pray all you like but a person like this is so unlikely to find fault with himself/herself that the resulting effect could be minimal.

Tracy, it goes beyond mere selfishness. And that’s why they’re so hard to spot. I dated my xh for 18 months before the wedding. When you love someone, you cut them slack here or there. Yeah, everyone has a selfish streak, so you ignore something here or there that they do. You think they’re normal. And NPDs are pros at capitalizing on your sympathy, good nature and kindness as you forgive them over and over. As one of the PP said, after the wedding or the child comes along, their NPD goes into full-blown mode. Now it’s not all about them anymore. It’s time to put someone else first for once. That’s when it gets real bad.

Unless you’ve dated and married one of these charmers, you can’t know how different they are than your normal garden-variety sometimes selfish person who is otherwise human.

NPD personalities lack compassion or empathy. Not only are they selfish, when they are confronted with the results of their selfishness and the pain they cause, they BLAME THE VICTIM for feeling that way! It’s NEVER their fault. They’re NEVER sorry.

It’s one of those train wrecks in retrospect. And your comment about how people should date longer so they know what they’re getting into is not helpful. Anyone who has been with an NPD personality has already been blamed for everything for years, from the coffee being too cold to the dog barking, to the baby crying, to the shirts not being ironed. You now informing them that “tsk, tsk, you should have dated longer. Now you’re stuck, deal with it” attitude… well, that lacks compassion toward people who live in a world of pain you obviously don’t know a thing about.

Thank you for posting this… it is exactly what I was trying to figure out how to say… but with more charity.

Yeah, that. :slight_smile:

I’m not a psychologist, but I have dealt with NPDs for years as a professional of a different sort. If, indeed, this fellow is truly and profoundly NPD, you need to run, not walk, to the exit door.

There is a scale to it, but my understanding is that truly NPD people have no instinct for humanity at all. That’s not to say some could not train themselves, by rote, to be more human, just as they used to treat hallucinatory schizophrenics by training them to “not accept as real” inevitable hallucinations, strictly by tedious rote learning. But the likelihood of a truly NPD person doing that is virtually nil, because they would be very unlikely to accept the validity of the purpose of such rote learning. They’re always perfect in their own minds, so why should they learn to be different?

The spouse or child of an NPD person becomes, in some degree, a “reverse template” of the NPD person. In other words, he or she must hammer his or her own personality into a truly bizarre shape in order to cope. Thus, the NPD person “remakes” the normal person by requiring that the normal person do it in order to survive, because the NPD person won’t change, period. An aspect of the “training” an NPD puts one through is to extinguish in you the ability to see the reality of your situation.

I’m not an advocate of divorce. God knows there is too much of it. And I am not qualified to diagnose a mental illness. But if you know for sure that’s what you’re dealing with, I have learned over the years that the only answer is to get out, and to do it without a moment’s delay.

There will be hell to pay, because NPD people absolutely cannot tolerate rejection, (they are always automatically in the right, you see) and they don’t like to see people get out of their power. But eventually most of them go on to other victims. Perhaps their greatest single virtue is their laziness. Eventually, taking revenge is just too much effort to sustain their interest.

I don’t know that the psychiatric world has ever really figured NPD out. I don’t think it has. It’s an enigma. Most mental healthcare professionals will tell you it’s impenetrable and incurable. I don’t want to sound creepy here, but the actions and thought processes of a truly NPD person are profoundly evil. I have often wondered whether this is one of those situations where, at some point in life, the person has assented to evil in a very profound, fundamental way. To me, it’s not too great a stretch to think of it in terms of a sort of “possession” to which one has given full assent.

You need an advisor on this who knows a lot more than I do.

The spouse or child of an NPD person becomes, in some degree, a “reverse template” of the NPD person. In other words, he or she must hammer his or her own personality into a truly bizarre shape in order to cope. Thus, the NPD person “remakes” the normal person by requiring that the normal person do it in order to survive, because the NPD person won’t change, period. An aspect of the “training” an NPD puts one through is to extinguish in you the ability to see the reality of your situation.

Oh, Ridgerunner, that is SO helpful! That paragraph encompasses a world of pain where one must tiptoe around in their own soul in order not to arouse the persistent anger of the NPD.

The bizarre shape you hammer your own personality into… yes, for years every time someone said something innocuous like “your car windshield sticker needs to be renewed.” Oh! Immediately a panic-filled litany of explanations of why it hadn’t yet been done and the justifications for why I was legitimately too busy…

From normal people you get a blank stare. They don’t understand the excuses and explanations.

Finally a psychiatrist I was sent to to verify that I was actually sane for an upcoming custody hearing told me “Never explain. Never justify. You are an adult.”

:eek: I had been crammed into the role of the subservient underling for so long, I had forgotten that in a world of adults, you don’t have to grovel so your spouse doesn’t get mad when the small details of life (that he never dealt with) are taken care of.

Why was I even having to go to a psychiatrist? Because my spouse had decided I was an unfit mother because I HAD MENTAL PROBLEMS. That is the reality they bend. They make YOU think YOU have the problem. YOU are crazy. YOU need to be on medication. So the person who actually took care of the children alone for 8 years has to prove they are not a danger to their own children.

Another key indicator you are with an NPD: You lose your sense of humor. After all, every joke you tell is met with stony silence. “Was that your attempt at humor?” “Is that… like a… JOKE?” “Am I supposed to laugh?” Eventually, you stop trying. You are told you aren’t funny so long you stop finding things to laugh at. God forbid you laugh at NPD. Though they are a minefield of humor… from a safe distance.

You stop knowing what your idea of a pleasant afternoon is. You become so out of touch with yourself that you would not know what to do with yourself if given a free afternoon. (Once NPD is gone, because until then, your job is to wait on NPD hand and foot.) After all, you only do what NPD wants to do. You stop even asking yourself “What do I want??” Dangerous question, that. You don’t go there. You might go mad.

I remember standing in a clothing store after the divorce having no idea what to buy. For a decade or more I had dressed to please NPD’s idea of what I should look like. Who was I anymore? What did I like?

Yes, they eventually find new victims. And yes, they are LAZY! (But don’t ever tell them that. Or tell them they’re mean. That will enrage them. Because in their own heads, they are the hardest working kindest people around. When you pry too close to that white hot truth, you are in danger!)

That training and conditioning they do… involves withholding presents, dishing out punishments, violence, threats of violence, silent treatments, arguing in the late hours of the night, showering kindness on everyone around you BUT you, and cutting comments that go straight to the inner places of your self esteem that you only let NPD in to see (back when you trusted NPD.) Now that they have the key to your self esteem, they use it mercilessly against you.
To break you down, to remake you into what they think you should be.

If you know someone who lives with a person like this, you cannot help them by denigrating the NPD or telling them to get out. They are held back by very real but unseen chains. You have to help them unlock themselves. One way to do this is to talk about the old days, remind them of the person they USED to be. Help them find their sense of humor, let them make decisions about their lives if only what they’re going to have for lunch… THEIR choice. You might be the only person who lets them make a choice all day.

Because they’re trying to survive and not cause fights with someone they love or still want to love. Any disagreement with NPD’s choices is “acting up” or “don’t start!”

If you’re with an NPD, go find a picture of yourself from BEFORE NPD entered your life. Sit down alone with that picture and you give that person in that picture advice on what would make her/him happy. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s very effective. You might be surprised the things that come out of your own mouth.

VERY interesting post! Absolutely fascinating parts about “rediscovering” that one, in effect, exists. I have dealt with NPD people for years and years, and the people who have to deal with them. (I’m a lawyer, and boy have I seen a lot of them. Interestingly, while I have certainly seen NPD people in criminal work, I have seen a lot more in divorces and custody fights.) But the circumstances have never been such that I knew what people who escape do in order to “come back to life”. I mean, nuts and bolts practical things. Thank you for that information.


(And your name is instructive) I think you could render a significant service to others (and perhaps you do already) in talking more about some of those “nuts and bolts” ways of “coming back to life”.

Also, of course, you came to some point where you recognized your situation for what it was. I am not sure how people do that either. I remember vividly when a woman came to confer with me about how she was thinking of filing for divorce. She was being terribly abused. Obvious to anyone. But she didn’t really seem to have quite grasped what was going on. She made excuses for things that no one on earth could possibly excuse, yet she kept struggling with it. Then she mentioned one particular thing her husband was doing. (You don’t want to hear it) It struck me that this particular thing was very cleverly designed to rob her of her femininity, in effect. The rat was not to be contented until he absolutely reduced her to total nothingness. Somehow, I heard myself explaining it to her. It was clear enough for even me to understand. She suddenly jumped up and ran out of my office. In a few minutes she returned and explained in an embarrassed sort of way that she had run to our restroom and thrown up. But it turned the light on in her head. After that, she never looked back. Not long after she divorced him, he tried to burn her house down. She and her father had taken an old house and totally renovated it by hand, themselves. But his attempt was unsuccessful, and he came within a hair of going to the penitentiary for it. After that, though, he left her alone. My guess (though I don’t know) is that the house renovation was a sort of “rediscovery” of herself through altering her physical environment in a way that affirmed her own existence. She is an artistic sort of person, and really did it well, I’m told. The ex, of course, couldn’t stand the thought that she was “coming back to life” in that manner, which is why he targeted the house. But, as I said, he did eventually move on.

Ah, so you are a lawyer. Having been married for 17 years to an NPD and going through a divorce from one, I would say that must be a challenge to actually try to work with one professionally. My ex just could never get that x was x. No matter how many times his lawyer would tell him something or my lawyer would tell him something, he could never accept it as being the way that it was.

When I left him, it kind of made his whole imaginary world start collapsing. He had to reconstruct a whole different reality for why I left in order to continue to believe the things he believes about himself. What he believes about me is just outrageous fiction.

What got me to start remembering who I was and seeing reality for what it was, was a lot of time spent in prayer. After I left, I have had a lot of counseling.

One other thing that you might want to advise people who are having to deal with a narcissist, is to communicate as much as possible only in writing. That way you don’t get sucked into their nonsense and can see it objectively in black and white for for what it is. I also recommend not investing any emotional energy in arguing or reasoning with an NPD.

Dulcissima is absolutely correct… you cannot reason with them. Ridgerunner, my dealings with lawyers (I had four through two rounds of divorce… he used filing for divorce to control me and punish me. On the eve of the second go-round he called and asked if I really wanted this divorce. I told him he didn’t get a third chance to destroy me.) Now he tells people I divorced HIM! (He was the one who filed both times. But he had to tell people that so he could see himself as the victim.)

I have to say for the most part the lawyers I paid even sort of treated me like I was the problem. One did nothing for me. The second convinced me to give him a second chance, which led me to move 1700 miles from my family and then when I wanted out when the women started calling my new house, said lawyer told me if I took the kids home, I’d be charged with desertion. So I was stuck for the inevitable abandonment far from where I could be helped. Yes, it was planned. Yes, his mother helped him. Yes, it was diabolical and designed to get me away from everyone who knew the person I had been.

My next lawyer actually yelled at me for talking to my soon to be ex. She knew I was battered. She knew the divorce filing was such that NPD was LIVING IN MY HOUSE FOR FIVE MONTHS AFTER FILING FOR DIVORCE. How could I not talk to him? We had three children. NPD didn’t want to live alone till his mommy retired and came down to take care of him.

So my new lawyer reduced me to tears and told me I was the “most bitter woman she had ever met.” She informed me by mail that NPD wanted full custody of the kids and wanted to kick me out of the house. She was not helpful.

Even my last lawyer made me feel like I was part of the problem and a judge could take the kids from both of us if I didn’t sign the agreement. Which left me indefinitely here till the youngest is 18. No job. No family. No support. He had me go to a forensic psychiatrist who verified that yes, I was quite sane.

No one ever checked out NPD. I remember filling out the psych eval and thinking how NPD would answer it. “Yes, I feel all the time like when I enter a room everyone is watching me.” “Yes, I feel all the time that I have knowlege of what others are thinking.” “Yes, I feel all the time that others don’t understand me.” “Yes, I feel all the time that I am smarter than others.”


He was a prize.

I’m saying all that to let you know what you already know. The lawyers in divorce cases can be very unhelpful in helping an NPD’s victim begin healing.

It wasn’t until NPD gave me final divoce papers (Six years after the first filing, 3.5 years after the second filing) that I could go to the chancery and file for an annulment. NPD told the kids that maybe he and mommy would get back together. He wouldn’t come get an item from the house (I won’t say what), because he told the kids when he came and got it, it would really be over. That item is still sitting here. Hahaha. In his fantasy world, he could still control things and fix it if he chose. He’s on his second fiancee in 6 years.

Finally the chancery dealt with me like I had some dignity and wasn’t part of the problem.

The NPD will try to control the divorce too. My lawyer let him drag it out for 3.5 years. Maybe it was a blessing and the NPD feeling in control that way kept him from becoming violent in other ways. When they lose control, they become violent.

The aggressive confrontational legal system we have in our divorce courts does NOT help. It’s a double edged sword in that it allows NPD to do legally what he/she can’t do physically anymore. But it also allows the victim to see how cruel things really are and to get really mad and that can be the beginning of healing also. The problem with no-fault divorce is that the NPDs can get away with blaming the victim. Their own infidelities, beatings, cruelty and lies don’t come into play at all. The legal system pretends it doesn’t matter. So they aren’t confronted with their own part in it all. Or the victim has to prove they were abused. Which when you are with an NPD, you have spent years hiding the reality from the world of what was really going on. Because NPD enlisted you in helping present a facade.

I’m going to think about what you said and come back with a post, RidgeRunner, about ways to help people come back to life.

Narcissists typically either grew up starved for attention, or quite the opposite–they were given too much, and their parents often times, didn’t teach boundaries to them as kids. Scott Peterson has been dubbed a narcissist…he believes that he is right, everyone else is wrong. To decide to kill one’s wife and unborn child so you can merely have your own way in life, is narcissistic behavior really gone awry. Not all narcissists are abusive, but because they believe they are right all of the time, and everyone else is wrong–life with them can be difficult. I had the misfortune of dating someone like this, who was abusive, before I met my dh. It was pretty bad. I agree with Ridgerunner, that a lightbulb moment needs to occur (if a narcissist refuses to seek help and continues to verbally/emotionally torment his/her spouse and loved ones) for someone who is dealing with a narcissist to leave that person. For me, I read a lot of self help books back then, and went to church a lot, prayed a lot…over time, I started to realize that it wasn’t me at all, that I was dating someone who was toxic to be with, and I needed to break free. It was when he said…‘you are not nice, all i asked is for you to do this…’ (and ‘this’ was unreasonable, as usual) And I was always nice to him, so at that point–despite all the other red flags, I knew that I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t see me as a good person. Why be with someone who only wants to make you feel horrible about yourself?

Counseling and surrendering to God is the only healing, and saving grace for a narcissist and his/her family. I will keep you in my prayers!

Wow…even after a year of counseling after my divorce, reading this has helped me. I dated my ex for almost EIGHT YEARS. For the most part, he seemed a caring guy. Almost as soon as we were married, I felt abandoned and ignored.

I suspect that he was unable to be really emotionally intimate with anyone because of fear that his facade would be discovered. So it was safer for him before we were married.

For the OP…has your counselor suggested the book “The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists”? I’ve just started it and it seems a good read. Mine spoke highly of it.

Praying for everyone here…

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